When winter wonderland goes dud and one has to go through countless frisking hurdles, grumpy prevails
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A guide is the most indispensable part of a trek, especially one who is also supposed to feed you. Imagine my horror then to find myself at the mercy of a passive aggressive guide-cum-cook, Mr X, while on a trek in Ladakh. Disaster struck on the very first day of the trek, when one of our group fell seriously ill with diarrhoea as a result of some elaborate and terrible dinner. So we decided to use the one rest day we had and waited for her health to improve.
We spoke to Mr X nicely. He promised that he’d be careful. The next day, he had hatched a plan with our ponymen to leave us stranded in a deserted camp in a narrow valley so that we’d lose a day, and would have to return home. Fortunately that was nipped in the bud when one of us got wind of the plan.
But that wasn’t all. Although we were paying through our nose to employ his services — we’d been assured that’s the way to trek in Ladakh — we would start our day’s walk without him, and end it without him. The other groups would walk with their guide, who pointed out interesting things to them like lizards and wolves, spoke to them about the habits of local animals, folktales, nomad legends. Often, face to face with an unexpected pass, we would have to stop passing ponymen and ask the way. “Where’s your guide?” they’d ask. For nine days we put up with his atrocious cooking, and made several trips to the mountainsides with runny stomachs. When we finally ended our trek, Mr X announced with a smile that he had had a loo tent all along. I wonder if he would have dared to pull such tricks if the colour of our skin matched that of the other trekkers on the trail.
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