Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mountain Medicine

--- In, Tapas <...@...> wrote:
> What? I tried to 'save' you guys? Must have been out of my mind or maybe i
> just wanted that stuff for myself.

Arrey Tapas, I had been trying to save your current reputation as a wanna-be-bad-boy, but you are forcing my hand:

Himankan '82, Pahalgam valley.
(Side note: Who was it that tried to "protect" potential employers from the truth that he was just a participant (and a cribbu one at that) on a trek and disguised it by claiming to have been an expedition leader? Someone claiming to have very high, upstanding moral values etc etc?)

When we were in Chandana-wadi, word somehow got around, since we weren't trying to "protect" anybody from any truth and were not particularly discreet, that Misha and I were trying to score some Kashmiri stuff. We had been tasked with this by our wingmates, and advanced the then astounding amount of Rs.40!

Tapas, that dear boy, found out about this, and already planning his campaign as Sports Sec ("I personally saved one of our top triple-jumpers from a life of dissolution by keeping him from destroying
his lungs, and, look at him now! He can almost reach the pit! Vote Tapas!"), anyway, Tapas approached the Doc, with whom we hung out a lot, and asked him, "Doc, You are good friends with these two boys, Misha and Tate. I am concerned about them, they are young, they know not what they do, they are trying to buy some hash, and you know it will destroy them. You, as an older, more mature, trustworthy and responsible doctor, and their friend, you spend a lot of time with them. So just prevent them from buying any pot or hash or grass." And it was true, we were quite friendly with the Doc.

Evenings, after dinner and duties, while most others would be participating in "good clean fun" listening to some kitschy crap on the mouth organ, some of us would go hang at the chai-wallah.  Until our last evening in Chandanwadi, Misha and I had been completely stymied in our efforts to obtain any stuff. That evening, the chaiwallah wished to thank us for what one of us had done for him and the other villagers and asked how he could repay us. We asked him if we could get any hashish. After a patient explanation to us that the end of winter was hardly the season for any hash, let alone "fresh" hash (Collective "Ohh! Fundas!" from us.) he agreed with his brother to get some from their personal stash. There were two problems, one, his village was a day's march away and we were taking down camp and leaving for Pahalgam the next morning. Two, he could only sell us a hash quantum, known as a golon, for Rs80, and Misha and I only had the Rs40 that our venture capitalist Nikunj had invested in our enterprise. Luckily, we had an obvious and richer co-investor right there, with his savings from his residency pay, who would happily put up the other Rs40 and take his half of the golon. So chai-wallah's brother ran all night to his village and back, and by breakfast chai the next morning we were the proud and sole co-proprietors of 1 (one) golon, a fist sized prolate ellipsoid, hard as old clay, and without any bouquet. We divided it in two right there, and almost fainted from the aroma, but Misha and I could not honestly sample and thus cheat our fellow wingmates. Luckily, our co-investor had no such constraints, was eager to try it out and happily shared with us. Good stuff, man. But not anywhere as good (by a factor of 5 I would say) as the CaliMari you get here. The VC in Bombay was quite happy with the results, as I recall.

Two years later: Bhaiyya, Mayya, Misha and I plan a private expedition to Poorvi Ikualari (Yeah! yeah! Serves me right for the sidey Chandana-wadi joke at Tapas' expense.). Mayya gets bitten by a dog, and is forced to stay under observation to ensure that the canine doesn't contract rabies, and so he can learn to drive. On our way back from the Ikualari basecamp on the Milam glacier, after an expedition that was not only unsuccessful but also non-epic, we stopped two nights in the town of Milam - it used to be a District Court town during the Raj, now, in summer, only a third of the houses were occupied. Already, on the way up, I had acquired the reputation as a "doctor" because the townspeople had seen me treat a bloody infected blister I had on my foot. On our way back, the morning after we reached there and spent the night in the village headman's house, there was a line of 30-40 people who had come to see the "doctor". The nearest real doctor of any kind was 6 days march and half a day's bus journey away. Luckily, Misha had learned something from the Himankan doc, from what he had done that had earned us the Chandanwadi chaiwallah's favour. It devolved on me to clean and dress all the open wounds and for the others, those with more mysterious, internal or imagined ailments, Misha proceeded to listen attentively to each villager's complaints, and then tell me "One pain killer and two multivit.s" or somesuch and I would count them out and hand them to the villager and repeat any instructions that Misha had given.

Until we got to the guy on the litter, with the broken femur.

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