True Romance: Bear Necessities in the Dhauladhar

Rhododendron in DhauladharI was trekking in the hills above Dharamsala with my better half the other week when a man offered me a beautiful red flower. Standing next to my man I felt kind of awkward that another man had produced a floral gift, however this feeling soon subsided.

What he’d given me was a rhododendron (known locally as Guras) and little did I know it was a tasty Himalayan snack. Apparently it is used to make jams, juices and chutneys by the locals and it is even thought to have properties that help with heart ailments and blood pressure. It tastes good, slightly bitter but yeah, nice. And here comes the best part – bears love it. No, we aren’t talking Winnie the Pooh here. Forget your cute red-t-shirted bear with a sticky honey pot. We’re talking about the Himalayan brown bear folks, otherwise known as ‘Dzu-The’ or yeti, and yes he likes to eat flowers. Badass.

So, there are two lessons to be learned from this incident…

Firstly, if you’re trekking in the Dhauladhars or some other part of these here mountains, you know what to do if you come across a big brown bear: pacify him with his most favourite delicious snack, then recover from your heart attack and lower your blood pressure by partaking in some guras yourself.   Not sure what to advise you about your soiled undergarments, mind you.

Secondly, a flower is not always a romantic gesture. It could very well turn out to be a great chutney ingredient. Get over yourself.

Know your physical sustenance from your emotional sustenance; they are but mere morsels for us mere mortals.