25th Feb 2015, Wednesday……Day(9) Harsil
It was a challenging night. My sleep was broken by barking dogs. It was around 2am. I was feeling cold too. Tried to sleep again but could not. Felt like urinating. Mustered up courage and opened the door of the car. It was pitch dark and chilly outside. Temperature was around -9 degrees.
I was feeling uneasy though. Mustered up courage and walked outside. Peeing was a great relief. Came into the car again. I was shivering now. Put another set of clothing on. Shrunk the entire body inside the sleeping bag. After sometime warmth was back and sleep too.
I was sipping 2nd cup of tea at Mini Swiss restaurant when I felt a silent sound of something falling from above. Came out and saw light snow flakes falling like cotton. The intensity of snowflakes grew faster and faster. Suddenly everything around was looking white.
It was like a dream. At 7am morning the entire Harsil was turning into snow white. Snow flakes falling from the sky were heavenly. My heart got filled with joy. Snow on the road and flakes falling from above could not stop me from walking and enjoying the whole thing.
Soon I heard screams of joy. The three young boys also got up and joined the celebrations. They were very young and full of energy. What they saw after coming out of the room on the first floor of the hotel was a sheer bliss. They were more than half of my age, students, having a very mature head on their shoulders. Very gutsy and adventurous as well. They came here last evening from Dehradun on a white Hyundai i20 and a bullet.
Snowfall made us come closer. I learnt that the young boy in the hat in the picture (Devendra) rode bullet. Vijay Sapra, seen in the background in the picture, drove hyundai i20. Pragyan is seen holding a camera standing outside a closed shop with Devendra. They were passionate riders and have ridden extensively in Uttarakhand. They gave me lot of information and tips for the rest of the my trip.
Snowfall was now continuous and steady. The entire surroundings got filled with snow. I drove a little further till the bridge in Harsil village to view different landscape. Crossed the entire village till the bridge. Parked the car in the middle of the road and watched heavenly snow fill every vacant nook and corner. Trees, branches, brooke and every object around was getting filled with the white of snow.
There was total solitude. Nobody was around. Silent music of the falling snow. I just gazed and gazed. The white magic happening all around. That was a stock for future times. When I would go back in my crowded city, I knew this scene would come back and give me joy again. Spent more than an hour soaking in the silence and magic of the surroundings.
Suddenly a thought came to my mind…what would happen If I got stuck in the snow here? How would I spend the night here if my car was not able to get out of this?
Keeping this in mind, drove back to where I was…..Harsil bazaar, near those dhabas, the most happening place.
It continued raining and snowing throughout the day. Luckily BSNL network was back for some time and I was able to call back home. My wife was worried as she was not aware where I was. We had not spoken for the last 24 hours. It never happened before. I explained to her that I was stuck up in snow in Harsil and it might take few more days to get the road open. That she need not worry as I was with friends. That she should not worry if she would not hear from me in next few days.
The first half of the day was spent enjoying snowfall. I had never seen so much and so continuous snowfall ever in life. This trip ‘IN THE CAR ON THE CAR’ was turning out to be an extraordinary one. This was the 4th time I was experiencing snow in this trip……first time in Dalhousie, second time near Narkanda and third time at Kharapathar. But this 4th time at Harsil was truly magical.
The second half of the day became bit dull. As it got murky. Electricity was off and excitement of witnessing snowfall was wearing out. Most of the time was spent eating, plenty of tea and chatting with fellow friends. The teachers told me about the hardships of their posting in this remote area.
Chatting with the young boys was however more fun. As we exchanged our travelling experiences…shared information about roads, routes and destinations. Mr Rana, Manager, of Punjab National Bank, took me to the branch. Since there was no electricity, there was no connectivity too and they were not able to open the branch working. An old employee of the bank had put fire in the bukhari (Local heater) for heating which was very good. We sat around bukhari and chatted about various aspects of working of the branch, hardships they faced and also how difficult it was going home on the weekends.
In the evening we enjoyed drinks and lots and lots of chatting….followed by dinner. Mr Panwar had good stock of provisions. He did a good job of preparing and providing wholesome food. The teachers were also an interesting lot as they were busy narrating their tales while serving one of their auditors.
That day I was bit apprehensive of the cold and snow. So heeding to the advice of Mr Panwar and Mr Rana chose to sleep in the room instead of car.
I did not enjoy it though!!!