The girls help our homestay hostesses make momo’s while I tried to figure out how to open some giant windows, roughest and most basic version of French windows, in our Komic home to soak in all the sunlight and warmth that has been missing since yesterday as well as the first half of the day today. It’s already 6:30PM but the sun is so bright as his noon self. I think even he’s lost track of time up here in the mountains.
The mountain peaks from the room look magnificent. I am unsure which peak it is though as judging by Harsh Kapadia’s notes, the Spiti Valley has quite a few to show off!
The terrains of Spiti is mostly desert-like and rocky and in many ways, very much resembles the Grand Canyon. That was pretty much what struck us the moment we reached Kaza. On the other hand, there are also stretches that give you the feeling of the Scottish Highlands too. The trans – Himalayan ranges provide great company as you trek. Every time you look up, the snow-capped mountains give you the surging urge to power on no matter how difficult the path that laid ahead was.
If I am left alone here, there is a great chance that I could continue walking the roads not caring where they stopped, if they stopped or if they lead right to the foothills of one of the peaks.
Komic has 12 households while Hikkim had around 15 including the post office and the postmaster’s home/office. Langza, with less than 25 households, has so far been the most developed of all these villages up here at 14, 000 feet. The trail was good but not too tough and Komic didn’t give us the dramatic welcome as Langza did with Chau Chau Kang Nilda (previously Guan Nelda) towering over it like a gentle giant. At 6,303 meters, it is one of the highest peaks in the Spiti region according to Harish Kapadia’s book. The highest is Gya at 6,794 meters. Wait, I think Chau Chau is the second highest. Okay, you need to fact check this when you can access some form of internet.
We reached Komic by 12:52PM. I walk much too fast for my own good but even after a wrong turn, I made good time and reached first followed by Debbie, Sarju and our guide Tashi. Which was shocking considering how many times Debbie stopped to continue her fossil hunting. Although, I should admit, archeology could well have been a profession for her considering how many she found. I don’t know what to make of the others in the group. One thing's for sure: they’re slow and if we have to slow down on their behalf, I’m not going to take that too well. I’m not missing out on anything trekking fast but I’m also not stopping every two minutes to take a picture. I mean, seriously. What happened to being and living in the moment and just inhaling that sentiment of just being? We don’t do that enough. Not just the people in our trekking group but just all of us. We’ve lost the knack of living in the moment.
But here’s what I’m surprised by, the five guys in the group. Judging by how eager they were at the Kee Monastery yesterday, hiking up that hill to get the money shot of the monastery, I was gearing and preparing myself mentally to be on par at their speed. My competitive spirit shone through and there was no way I was going to let them get ahead of me in the actual treks. Clearly, I was setting myself up for nothing because they didn’t offer any competition whatsoever. What a waste.
Which reminds me, I wonder when the postmaster is going to send forth our postcards. Postcards from the highest post office in the world! I mean come on! That is just really cool. Although, considering the luck I've had sending postcards and them not reaching my friends, I shouldn't have such high hopes. The postmaster didn’t have a wide variety of postcards to choose from. You could make out that they were really old and the quality was just not good. He also didn’t have enough stamps so I gave him some of my own for his future use. They were really good stamps and while I kind of didn’t want to give them away, it seemed like he might need them. Although… do people still write letters? Especially up here? The postal service is coming up with really good stamps these days though, so that’s a positive but there’s no replacing those stamps. Right, let that go. That’s not your focus. What I should focus on is that we had tea in the world’s highest post office in the world (4,440 meters/14,567 feet) with the postmaster Rinchen Chhering who has held the post for 32 years with eight more years till his retirement. Yet! I am mildly excited for Sarju's postcard to Debbie to reach Debbie. haha... I think they wrote a postcard to each other. These two are hilarious. If not any, I hope that one makes its way home!
I gave the postmaster a polaroid of himself which seems to have amused him I think. of course, he wasn't as intrigued as those kids in Langza. Maybe he's already gotten one from others. Like our Langza homestay. Some previous travellers had taken some pictures of them with the polaroid and it was now on their kitchen wall.
I wanted to give the kids a polaroid but Debbie and Sarju said it's better I don't because they'll fight for it. I think it must've been like a magic trick for them. I'm certain that travellers who pass by take their picture because 'poor unfortunate kids in the mountains' (what an original idea) so a camera or the idea of a photograph isn't new but the polaroid? I guess it was a pretty darn cool thing to witness. I mean, I still find it cool myself every time I develop a picture!
It’s 6:40 and the sun slowly shy’s away behind the hill I see through the window, his crown still intact. The animals come home as if a silent whistle was blown right across the village. The wind has also begun to sharpen its edges and it’s piercing cold. It’s definitely colder here than Langza but the wind in Kibber was no less. I reckon it has to do with being so close to Kanamo. If this is going to be the case, I’m basically done for. All I have is my $5 Target flannel shirt that is probably losing all its warmth. Clearly layering up is going to have to be the way but honestly, what the hell were you thinking not even carrying a jacket you, idiot!! I mean, for the sake of being light, I have decided to give up on my wellbeing. Great going. It’s no point blaming the Kaza weather since it’s set in a valley. I think Debbie and Sarju are going to murder me if it gets any colder since I convinced them not to carry their jackets too. Right then.
It’s 8:00PM and there’s still light enough for one to walk without a torchlight. Our hostess is a 29-year-old woman and her aunt. It’s a fairly comfortable house if you don’t count the toilet. But that’s just something we were going to have to get used to. The three of us are the most adjustable travellers. We will complain about things in our daily lives but when we’re in travel mode, we adapt to survive. I think we all tried our best to not raise an issue but sometimes, you’ve got to give away. We'll survive but we''re certain about some friends and family who definitely shouldn’t make the trip here.
All the Spiti villages are lodged high up in the mountains which means extreme conditions (COLD). So for fuel, they collect the fecal waste not just of animals but also humans. More often than not, the toilet is just a hole in the ground. I imagine they hope all their guests have something to ‘contribute’.
So our host. She's gotten me thinking... It’s odd having to call her a ’29-year-old woman’ considering we are all 27. She has four kids of which the oldest is in 4th grade, studying in Kaza living with the father. I can't, for the life of me, imagine the three of us in that situation! It's just too terrifying and hilarious. Point being though, do people refer to us as 'women'? I don't think we really care about revealing our age and I for one have no qualms growing old but 'woman' is a term I'll never get used to on myself. It's odd! I don't know.
I shouldn’t be exceedingly shocked looking at the way they live their lives considering that I’ve visited many villages of Nagaland but there are obvious differences of which culture is one. But here’s the similarity: they’re all happy and friendly people, just taking it easy. Life isn’t fleeting for them. Oddly, it’s just been two days on the trail for us and it already feels like time is standing still for us too.
Ever since we reached Kaza, we’ve had absolutely no phone service. Apart from the brief moments of wifi at the Himalayan Café and at that shop which we’ve now dubbed as ‘wifi Uncle’ who charges 40 bucks for 30 minutes of usage. We’ve been utilising the time well by conversing and discussing and reading and writing. I understand that our families may be worrying but being this cut off? I wouldn’t lie. It sure feels free and it’s goddamn gratifying.
Everything we’ve come across since yesterday, since the trek began, has been enigmatic. The highly iconic and photographed Kee Monastery for example. I mean, we got why it’s got the status it has. It’s got so many myths and legends as well affixed to it and thanks to Harish Kapadia’s 'Adventures in the Trans – Himalayas', I am learning more about the places we are visiting at every turn of the page. It’s a big book and maybe it was a senseless idea to lug a book around rather than a jacket, but I reckon I’ll choose literature over my wellbeing any day. So far, the book has been a good read. It has historical and geographical notes but it is also very personal as he talks about the death of his friends during expeditions. I’m not sure how much time I can give it over the course of the next few days though. The only thing bothering me is the editing. He needed a better copy editor or just a better publisher.
It’s 8:23PM and it’s finally dark.