Powered with a few days of uphill walking and fresh mountain air, Doc and I looked ahead to a few more excursions. Unfortunately, time permitted only one — Deoria Taal. A small lake, situated about 2,400 metre from the sea level, Deoria is a mere two-and-half km ascent from a small village called Sari, about 10 km from GMVN guest house. Thus there was no hurry to leave our blankets. After a warm-water shower and a breakfast of eggs and paranthas (complete with butter cubes) at the local market, we slipped into the Xing for the day ahead.
The dusty lane which led us to Sari village offered us little scenic view. The sun was bright and it had become pretty warm when we parked our car. Help came even before we could stretch our shoulders. A young boy offered to play the guide to the Taal for Rs 200, lest we lose our way. We accepted the deal. In hindsight, though, it wasn’t a bargain; for it is difficult to lose your way from Sari to Deoria Taal. It is a small zigzag tract trailing which one reaches Deoria in less than an hour.
The ‘jungle’ route was shorn of any greenery and rarely a bird cooed to amuse us. The sun was getting warmer and our foreheads shone with beads for the first time during our entire trip. And then, suddenly, we ran into a shock of green. We were close to a plateau that was on the top of the hill. And it brought us into a cool green surroundings, offering mighty view of snowy Chaukhamba peaks. As we crossed two small hutment, selling chai-maggie and ciggies, a serene lake showing reflections of snowy peaks, made the picture complete.
The clean waters were so tempting that I was down to my undies in a flash, looked back at my guide for an approval and splashed as soon as he nodded. Woooooo.... the icy cold water was a real shocker. As I raised my head, shaking and screaming, I saw the guide too had taken off his clothing for the dip. Doc knew better and merely enjoyed the scenery and serenity from the fringes, smiling at my wet looks.
The sun was still bright but it was soothing on the skin now. A few hours passed without notice. Over a cup of sweet coffee, the hutment owner told us there is a trek route from Deoria Taal to Chopta, via thick rhododendron jungles. But one would require a guide. Yes, there was arrangement to stay overnight at the Taal and party. "Bahut log aate hain, (many people do that)," he said without any enthusiasm in his voice. Promising him to come back soon, we turned back.
We reached Rudraprayag via Gopeshwar in time for a late lunch. My lips had dried beyond immediate repair, thanks to the snowy winds they faced at Chandrashila, and eating a spicy lunch was torture. Doc offered lip balm, but it still hurt at every smile. I have always find downhill, homeward journeys depressing, and this time the bruised lips added to the woes.
A night spent at Dehra Doon, after some frantic drunken driving, and we were soon off to Delhi. Doc took over the wheels since I was getting snappy at fellow drivers, at smallest provocation.
I love Delhi which has been home for my entire existence thus far, yet compared to a parental hill, the city of growing shopping malls looks like a mighty hostel, devoid of family food, doting father and sibling sports.