It snowed heavily for most of next day. Everything went white. I went to brush my teeth in the morning. There was no water. Only ice. So I used my drinking water to brush my teeth. This is what I would do every morning that I would stay at the base-camp. We did side-rappelling and stomach-rappelling later in the day. Was easy. And then in the evening, it snowed again.
The next day was the first time we walked to the glacier. Cold, white, pure, shining, bright hard ice smothered with soft-snow. The kind of place where Shiva sits. And that same very day, I got inflicted with snow-blindness. Well, kind of.
I was feeling quite great and healthy in the morning when we started walking towards the glacier (where our ice-craft training would commence). It was a two hours walk. I was using goggles borrowed from Video-camera. Video-camera was an Indian vagabound who had worked in US for a while, had chucked his job and was roaming around the roads of India on his Bullet. He had even reached the HMI campus in Darjeeling on his bullet itself. And he carried a tiny but good quality video camera that recorded everything on memory-cards. So I was feeling quite great and healthy and I started climbing up very fast. Overtaking people and stuff. I started panting soon. And then coughing. And then coughing badly. I weakened myself like shit by the time we reached glacier. And then, just when I thought it was time to collapse, we were asked to put on our crampons and get roped in.
Getting roped-in meant groups of eight being hooked to a common rope – at fixed intervals. That also meant, each roped-in member necessarily walked at the same pace. And if someone roped in ahead of you walked faster, the person tied behind would get dragged. This roped-in glacier walk was such a pain in the ass I tell you. I mean I couldn’t keep my eyes open most of the time. I would feel like collapsing and then suddenly I would get a good jerk because because Northy tied to my front would just not reduce his pace. Siachen sir was in the front. He was bloody dragging us all. Itna zulm to Ghayal me Danny ne Amrish Puri pe bhi nahi kiya tha. MRP would latter tell me she didn’t like Siachen sir because he kept on pushing and was rude.
Once we were done with the glacier walk, it was time to descend down after a tea-break. I couldn’t feel any energy within me. I still felt like keeping my eyes closed. Everyone was having tea. Garma garam chai in the glacier is all that one can ask for. And poor me. I wanted to have tea too. But I just couldn’t. I was motion-less. Energy-less. I kept my eyes closed. And kept sitting. Like a stone. Like a fuck-ass frozen stoned stone. And I kept sitting even when everyone started moving down. The instructors took notice. And so did she. The instructors passed on a medicine or two. Gaoma sir – the chief instructors, asked if I had severe headache. I didn’t. But I nodded anyway. I didn’t want to say that all I wanted to do was close my eyes and keep sitting there, just like that. So I took diamox and whatever else that I was given. I did have a vomiting tendency. The medicines didn’t really help and the 1.5 hours downhill walk that followed was painful. MRP walked with me. Real Estate and Adventure Sports Shop (ASS) also stayed around and ensured that I didn’t trip or fell down. ASS was a professional rock climber from Delhi and also operated an adventure sports shop in the city.
I met the doctor after reaching the Base Camp MI room. His name was Major Bond. And when he met someone, he asked ‘aur bhai – kya hua’.
‘Aur bhai – kya hua’, he asked me. I told him jo hua. I still didn’t want to open my eyes. Then Major Bond went out and inquired with MRP. When he returned, I found that Video-camera’s goggles were broken. I had snow-blindness, he informed me. I assumed that he had broken Video-camera’s goggles, because they probably sucked and were the reason why my eyes had got fucked. Only the next day would MRP tell me that she had accidentally broken them. LOL. Pehle maine apna chasma toda, aur ab isne maanga hua chasma bhi tod diya! Andhe ko kaala chasma bhi naseeb nahi?
I kept my eyes closed for rest of the day. The doctors offered me more medicines. And eye-drops. And MRP kept getting for me Parle G. And chai. And soup. MRP was my nurse for the evening. I loved her. The head-ache first went up and then went away. By evening I was alright. She took care of me like a mother takes care of a child.
If you are thinking snow-blindness was the worst thing out there, you are wrong.Ye to ek din ka pain tha.
For the first few days, we were so totally unable to sleep well. I would get up after every few hours. Same with her. Same with many others. The instructors told us this happened at high altitude. But if you are thinking this was the worst thing out there, you are wrong. Ye to do-ek din hua.
The worst part, out there at the HMI base camp was washing the mestin after every damn meal. She and I did that together most of the time – probably the only thing we did as a couple. And we cried together as we did that. Every single day. Vo bhikarion vaala tin ka ganda bartan. And that icy cold water that froze you till inside your core. That was the biggest pain we would go through three times a day. Every day. Aaj bhi sochta hoon to raungte khade ho jaate hain.