Mind in the Mountains

Two weeks to departure and the countdown is very much under way. As usual, there’s too much to do and not enough time. Apart from the usual trek preparations which involve getting out our tent, sleeping bags, warm clothes, assembling cameras and tripods, taking stock of medical and first aid requirements, etc etc etc – apart from all that usual stuff, I also have to think of a birthday gift for my sister and one for my cousin sister-in-law. Not just think of, but also obtain.

And all of that is quite apart from mundane stuff like getting ahead in German, writing an assignment in Archaeology, and keeping the house running.

To add to the excitement, tax filing date is around the corner!

On top of everything else, my second (or is it third?) most ardent wish has finally been granted and I have been given some work to do in office. It’s very far from being glamorous – or even challenging – work, but it’s work nevertheless, and it’s better than nothing.

On second thoughts, though, nothing would have been quite good just right at the moment. Well, I suppose you should be careful what you wish for.

At last, after postponing it for several weeks, I have finally started fitness training for the trek. Currently this takes the form of running 15 rounds at the tennis courts – that’s AFTER playing for an hour. If that’s not enough to impress you, let me add that my circuit consists of two courts side-by-side. It was enough to impress Tennis Sir, who thought I was doing this to improve my tennis – of which erroneous notion I have not had the heart to disabuse him. I should have done, though, because he was so impressed to see my assumed dedication to the sport that he promptly instructed me to add crunches (sit-ups) to my daily exercise routine. My poor stomach hardly survived the first attempt, but after giving it a week to recover, now I’ve done it three days running and it’s only protesting mildly. So, there’s hope for me yet.

Two weeks might not be enough time for all my preparations, but it’s still too long to wait – my mind is already in the mountains. For a naturally slothful person who avoids physical exertion like the plague, I’m constantly amazed at how I’ve taken to trekking, where you spend hours walking every day, for days on end, with no specific purpose.

I also never cease to be surprised at how I love the rustic lifestyle of trekking. I consider myself a fairly comfort-loving person. I was brought up in an urban and fairly westernized environment, eating dinner (AT the dining table, if you please, NOT in front of TV) with three sets of cutlery and all that, and here I am gamely taking to dust and dirt, a complete lack of privacy, outdoor toilets (sometimes communal), two weeks without a bath and other such delights of the mountains, as if they were second nature to me.

Another thing I about trekking that is perverse to my nature, is the complete absence of a plan. I mean, you do need to have a plan when you set out, and your plan should include certain essentials such as food, and a place to pitch a tent in the evening – oh, and a tent, of course. But all of that is “pre” planning – what you do before you set out. Once you’re out on the trail, you don’t have to plan a thing. You just keep going, and when you find a level spot with some clean water nearby, you stop and pitch tent. The only things to think about are where you’re going to sleep, where you’re going to find sufficient privacy for toilet breaks, and when and how you’re going to get your next meal. Life really boils down to the basics. No wonder hermits through the ages have taken to the mountains.

This time it’s not so easy for me to escape the trek planning part, though. Amit’s trekking cousins are accompanying us. Since I’m the only one who’s been on this trek before, I’ve somehow been made de facto “leader” of the team. This is terrible, because I actually see myself as the least experienced and also the weakest link; the trekking cousins have been trekking twice a year for the last couple of decades. And they are looking to me for information and organization.

Unfortunately, my idea of being “organized” for a trek is to get all my/our personal equipment together and get going. Everything else we’ll buy once we reach the trail head. I’m not used to dealing with questions such as: who’s bringing the stove and pressure cooker, and how many tents will we need?

I suppose it’ll all work out eventually and that whatever can be done will be done, and whatever can’t be done will get dropped by the wayside hopefully without any adverse effects. As long as it doesn’t rain up there and nobody falls sick, it should be ok.

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