Pure Randomness!

Pure Randomness!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Everest Base Camp Trek, Day 0

Exactly 2 weeks after the deadly earthquake of 7.8 magnitude shook Nepal, we landed in Kathmandu for our Everest Base Camp Trek. We had multiple considerations for continuing with the climb one of them being "let us go and spend some money there to get Nepal back on its feet". 

Once out of the flight the first person I saw was an African American in combat fatigue which gave me a feeling of war. Then aircraft after aircraft full of relief material being unloaded. There were no signs of a Disaster anywhere though. The incredulousness of the travellers on the normalcy of the whole situation was palpable. When the bus which was taking us to the terminal from the aircraft braked suddenly and a lot of people were thrown around in the bus, I heard a lot of people letting out big sighs as if they were holding their breath till then. People were more comfortable after that, the normalcy was broken.

When I visit another country, the difference is what I am going to thrive on as an experience. But when I landed in Nepal I knew I would be looking for similarities and that is what would be comforting for me. I was not disappointed as the first cars I saw were Ford Figos and Mahindra Scorpios. Then the people who really looked like people I have seen around while I have toured the North East of India and I see on a daily basis in Bangalore.

While waiting for P who was arriving by a later flight, I spent my time observing the people around. Two youngsters with hair cropped closely on one side of the head and growing wildly on the other (mirroring each other) came up to two middle aged women and touched their feet, the women animatedly talked to them and they were very respectfully listening, the wild hair and their obedience making a huge contrast. A Caucasian man with a hippie look was waiting for someone. I got a feeling that a guitar was going to appear on him and he would break into hard rock music and some head banging right there. Suddenly he got excited and ran towards the gate when a Caucasian girl made her exit from the gate. Then followed some PDA which everyone around happily ignored. The voyeuristic thought occurred to me that with such a huge number of casualty from the earthquake some of these people around me would have lost their loved ones. I looked around and saw a people who were as normal as I would see in any Indian airport, under normal conditions. I think it made me feel normal and hopeful for a good trip in Nepal. Nothing would have given me an indication on what would happen in 3 days time.

After collecting P when we set off driving, we looked around for spotting devastation which Indian media was reporting as wide spread. We drove for quite some distance before we could spot the tower of a temple broken and hanging. At places we could see small damages to the walls of buildings. When we talked about this our guide and driver loudly abused Indian media for giving such an impression to the outside world, later they made peace by telling may be their reporting helped in getting the support and relief from all over the world.

One difference in getting into the same hotel then and after a week would be the way in which we would end up looking for escape routes on the latter day, immediately on entering the room. This included the option of jumping out of the window with details on where we would put our leg, how we will hang on to the parapet wall and shimmy down and jump to the floor without breaking our legs. We stopped short of going out and measuring the height from which we would have to jump and honestly we didn't do a trial jump, though we were really tempted to.

After dropping the luggage at hotel, taking a few minutes rest and the trek organisers working us up a little bit about altitude sickness, we got out to Thamel to do some last minute shopping before we started the trek. The street which at other times would be teeming with trekkers was quite desolate. While we started browsing we realised what a mistake it was to shop for all that stuff in India despite the organisers warning us against that. The things available were much cheaper and except the shoes which needed to break in before the trek we could have bought almost everything in Thamel. Since the restaurants were closing early after the earthquake, we had a hurried early dinner, went back to the final packing and rest before the trek.