NT and Chhori are stuck in Lukla, but I am back in Kathmandu.
Day 1: KTM-Lukla-Monjo
Day 2: Monjo-Namche
Day 3: Namche-Thamo-Thame
Day 4: Thame
Day 5: Thame-Syangboche-Khumjung
Day 6: Khumjung-Tyangboche
Day 7: Tyangpoche-Pangboche
Day 8: Pangboche
Day 9: Pangboche-Shomare-Dingboche
Day 10: Dingboche-Chhukung
Day 11: Chhukung-Imja Tso-Dingboche-Pangboche
Day 12: Pangboche-Tyangboche-Namche
Day 13: Namche-Phakding
Day 14: Phakding-Lukla
Day 15: Lukla-Ktm
Highest point: Imja Tso, at 5,010 above sea level, which probably means we got to about 5,020 meters above sea level.
Lowest: Possibly Ghat or Phakding, at around 2,600 meters above sea level.
Number of showers taken: 2 [Day 6: Tyangboche, Rs 250 for an inadequate bucket of lukewarm water, Day 15: Phakding, long, rewarding hot shower costing no additional rupiyah]
Number of times the bowels were evacuated: 5: Monjo, Tyangboche, Pangboche, Pangboche, Phakding.
Most difficult climb: Up to Namche, since it was the second day of the trek. Climb up to Tyangboche wasn't as difficult as it was made out to be. Climb to Syangboche, after four hours of walking from Thame, in the high heat of noon, nearly martyred the party.
After crossing 4,500 meters, the air got perceptibly thinner. Breathing became difficult, but there were no other effects of altitude. Walking up to the lake was hard, but I knew it was going to be hard, what with lungs the pair like mine, so I sucked air with every step, and had fun.
The lake was frozen white. The glacier was almost a kilometer to the east. It snowed lightly on day 8, and fairly thickish on Day 9.
Almost thirty interviews--patience started to thin around the 12th interview. On day 11, NTGK and I were locked in a room by three angry community leaders. They asked me on whose authority I had come to do this "research." I leaned forward, said: "pheri bhannus ta?" My instantaneous rendition of "come again?"
Then I said--"Ma ta yeuta swatantra nagarik ko haisiyat ma, aafnai authority ma aayeko." I am here as a free citizen, on my own damned authority.
Most shattering words listened to, in Jagjit Singh's voice:
"Ghalib-e-khasta ke bagair kaun sa kaam band hai?
Roiye jaar-jaar kya, kijiye hai-hai kyun?"
Tastiest dal-bhat: at Thamo
Prettiest vale: just before reaching Thamo. Dyamn. Laligurans, danfe, little kids. Water-driven maney. Dyamn.
Yak steak: 1. Tough, Sinewy. Smelled of piss: hormones, age.
Momos eaten: 2 plates. Milinge and Lukla. Buffalos are slaughtered 2 days south of Lukla; men carry entire thighs, weighing up to 30 kilos each, on their shoulders, and take them north, sometimes all the way to EBC, taking three, four days to carry the load, in the noon sun. Surprisingly, the meat is better than you'd find in momos in Kathmandu. Go figure.
Bengalis with monkey-caps and raincoat to shield from the wind: perhaps half-dozen. Why?
Most pleasant walk: the road built by Pasang Sherpa, from Khumjung to Namche, the most beautiful and frightening ravines, valleys that plunge to the netherworlds, rise above misty ridges.
Age, as guessed by various people: 35, 45, possibly 50
Twice, people asked Saprina--AKA chhori--was my daughter. At Lukla, a lady asked if I was with Saprina [budha-budhi]. I pulled a solemn face and said: "No, she is my daughter [chhori]." The lady started to stammer and apologize. Sherpa people. They made me feel so much older.
more as I settle down.