Perched on half of my ass in a contorted yoga pose, that I have now an idea to patent, the speedy 90 minute ride to Badkot from Yamunotri was scenic but tortuous in every way. The bus took 31/2 hours for the same journey the previous day. Now though I was squashed in the back seat of a Mahindra jeep sharing the tiny seat with 3 others. There were guys riding on top as well with women and kids perched on the 'good' seats next to the driver ! Another jeep change at Badkot, whose driver was saying 'aaoo baitho' (come sit) even when there were guys sitting on the bonnet! After more change of vehicles and other small adventures, arrived in Netwar for my night halt. The land cruiser type vehicles operating as public transport in the area leave only when full, so your wait could be from 1 to 10 hours !
Netwar is a small village with shops lining a dirty road . My destination was the forest guest house. After getting lost and going to a couple of stranger's houses finally marched into the place only to be told there were no rooms. There was a hotel in Netwar though, they assured me as i imagined spending the night under the stars. The 'hotel' had 2 rooms and was closed the owner languidly informed me. He asked me to ask at the barber shop down the road. A small entrance at the side of the barber shop was the entrance to a one room one dorm 'hotel'. The room was what I would classify as 'bedfall'. Having seen my share of hotel rooms I have classified them based on their vagabond comforts. I'm sure one day a publisher will be interested in this pioneering work and agree to publish it . Anyway a bedfall room is one in which there is just enough space to step in the room and fall on the bed. Don't even think about taking a 3 step contemplative walk to think about the state of the world ! The teenage dude who showed me the room was desperately trying to impress me with his knowledge of the local treks and women. I liked to travel alone, I said . I live in an ashram too ! Not hard to convince him on the second point since I was dhotified (wearing a dhoti) and had a clean scalp. For some reason he was very interested in the floor of the room and kept spitting there in between imparting his words of wisdom.
To get him out of the room and to avoid flooding i asked him to show me the promised 'attached bathroom'. He stared hard in my direction as if I had uttered the unutterable and grunted 'Come' . I was led into a darkened hallway where I was sure there were masked men with sickles (don't ask me about the sickle part but that's what I thought at the time) waiting to slit my throat after they found out that I had only 200 bucks in my pocket ! Finally we reached a wooden structure jutting into the valley. Truth to be told the views were great over the mountains but that was because there was not much structure to cover the views. Very little flooring and even less plumbing ! The water pipe sang some tunes but no paani was forthcoming. 'Dont worry you will have water' he said to me in that reassuring and confident way that meant that I would be really lucky to see even a drop anytime soon. Later that night after a bucket shower accompanied by admiring the hills, the room was quiet except that there seemed to be a TB patient in the nearby dorm who coughed his way through the night. .
Next morning I wake up in high spirits planning to walk to Sankri, a village 12 km away. Netwar is the starting point for Govind National Park and you have to shell out a minimum 150 bucks for a 3 day permit. Gullible vagabond that I am the guard managed to sell me a 5 day permit. I reckoned i could use the extra days ! The helpful guard also wisely dissuaded me from walking to Sankri saying a jeep 'will come anytime soon'. Ha ! My romance with alu paratha continued but to add to the sizzle had the most amazingly lip smacking dahi(curd), fresh local stuff. I literally almost cried after having devoured 3 parathas and struggling to get to my feet again. Err, the lacrimal glands were activated by my intense gratitude to the Lord for such tasty food and not on account of my physical disability that followed my gluttony !