This week on ‘The Garaja’…our whip-cracking boss Raja Sahota swaps his Royal Enfield for our hardworking mechanic Bunty. Poor sod. Stay tuned for our weekly misdventures every Friday. By the way, he’s not really a whip-cracker. We all love our Chief!
Chimrat is a small village in the Miyar Valley, an offshoot of the legendary Pangi Valley. This valley is a sharp valley formed by the Miyar river, a tributary to the Chandrabhaga River that makes up the East-West running Pangi Valley.
In this little village we met an old man called Devi Singh, who turned out to be a legendary guide and climber. Devi assisted International and Indian mountaineering teams to climb the peaks we see around us. He agreed to walk us to Urgus and back. Urgus is the last village at the head of this narrow valley. From Urgus, you can climb the glacier-covered passes into Ladakh or East towards Chamba. The Peaks around us were Gardhar, Karpat and Urgus. Devi Singh has climbed and set some records on Karpat.
As we left this village, we realised there were 3 more landslides and had to wait for the workers to clear the roads. Right across from the river, there is a little chai shop and a few lean-to shelters. One of these shelters had this old woman. She was local here, but her family had died/left long back and finally she found herself alone. Too old to till her land, she finally lost everything and moved to this side of the road under a yellow tarp. She lives on whatever she can forage and sometimes, relatives send her money for sustenance. The loneliness and the self sufficiency leave you with conflicted feelings. You keep arguing with yourself over what should be and what should not. Our societal programming objects to leaving old ladies to fend for themselves, but the euphoric, hippie side of you thinks it is almost romantic to live within your means. Both are wrong, as we don’t know the story behind her loneliness. On posing the question, her eyes fill up but she doesn’t say anything. We cannot say anything without sounding like assholes. So we politely leave her to her memories and silently apologise for bringing it up for her again.