5 Questions with Swetha Tawker, 42
Q: Which is your favourite travel destination?
It is my 11 day trekking trip to Pindari Glacier in Uttarakhand, India.
Q: What did you eat on such inhospitable terrain?
We had three men from the local hills, who were porters, and three mules at our disposal. Our group had eight people. The rice, wheat flour, oil and basic Indian spices were carried by them along with stove and cooking gas cylinders. The men would cook mostly the same kind of food all of the 11 days — rotis, rice, dhal and potato. There were two interesting additions however given the place we were in. There were thick rhododendron forests all through our trek route and a kind of fern that grew in the hills and rocks overhanging our path. The cooks used to make a juice with the rhododendrons every evening and we used to look forward to it eagerly. They used the fern to make a sauteed green vegetable dish which was delectable. It provided us with the necesary nutrients in an otherwise carb and protein intense diet.
Q: How was your stay like?
Most evenings, once we finished the day’s trek, we used to pitch tents that could hold two or three people. It was a huge learning, and also a liberating, experience. Things however got a little messy at night when it drizzled because we had to go out to use the makeshift toilets.Some camp sites had rudimentary government cottages with bare essentials like a bed and a covered toilet with an Indian closet. Nothing more.
Q: Did you have access to clean drinking water?
We carried our own bottles from home and refilled them from the the clear Himalayan natural springs which were a dime a dozen along our trek route daily. Our leader instructed us to carry two bottles. We would fill one and save it, and drink from the older bottle. The water would thus be warmer after being in contact with the body.
Q: Why is this place your favourite?
On a purely physical level, that was the toughest outdoor activity and challenge I had faced. On a mental and spiritual level, I experienced a merging of my soul and entire being with nature and its magnificence. It gave a completely different perspective on life and post that trek, I started looking at many things differently.
(Part of a series of travel pieces that focuses on people and places.)