Day 2: 22 June 2014 : Kasol Cleanup drive
I woke up in the morning and it was drizzling with no one around and so I went again for a nap after getting free from morning rituals. Woke up again around 0900 hrs and came out to see the drizzle still continuing. There was a heavy fog kind of setup in the direction where Parbati was flowing. Perhaps it was mist created by furor Parbati and all that we could hear was the guzzling sound of Parbati making it’s way downwards in the valley, crushing the large boulders it faced.
However, folks were up by this time and they were at far end of the camp under a tarpaulin. I also went there for some photo-op to find Amit, Vipin, Samar, Anuj and one other fellow, clicking and chit-chatting as to how to continue with the event in this drizzle.
By 0930, everyone was up and the drizzle also slowed down a bit. We all gathered and discussed – the morale were down having known last night that the Pradhan has ditched us and no local support will be there. However, we unanimously decided that we have come so far for the event and so local support or not, rains stop or not, we are going to continue with our effort. We discussed that we will attempt to clean the Kasol market to Chalal trail till the bridge as it appeared to be the most neglected area, place dustbins that we had procured at general area in the market and then run an awareness campaign with the local shopkeepers. And yes! I must admit that Om Negi was all support for us and in fact was most active during the entire campaign! 🙂
Since it was raining, we advised our families and kids to remain at the camp and we 20 odd people started for the Kasol market. We first went to the parking lot to get the stuff – spades, dustbins, disposable gloves, large sacks and bamboo sticks with a large nail at one end to pick up wrappers etc.
We came back near the bridge, donned the gloves and masks, picked up the tools of the trade and started cleaning the trail.
The rain gods were smiling and while we were sweating it out, they poured more rains to keep us cool. We started collecting the garbage in the large sacks and everyone picked up a small area. Not even thinking about the rains, we cleaned the entire trail! The high point of the drive was when two persons, smoking and littering were watching us cleaning the area, sitting on a rock. Suddenly they both got up and started picking up the litter spread by them as well as that in the surrounding. When we asked them to use gloves, they denied stating that they’d go away in 5 minutes and just wanted to undo what they had just done! So the drive was making impact! 🙂 We placed half filled sacks, neatly folded so that people would be enticed to throw garbage in the sacks rather than throwing them around.
2 hours in the act, and the trail was completely fresh, clean and marked on both sides with limestone powder. We all had a look at our work and patted ourselves in appreciation. Looking at the changed look of the trail, we all discussed further, and it was decided to move ahead and clean the market area too.
With renewed vigor, we formed groups and started in all three directions, cleaning all the while also talking to the shopkeepers. It took another two hours to clean the market area and while we were finishing with it, some ladies from the local community – Mahila Mandal, also joined us. Many other people talked to us and appreciated the fact that we, being outsiders were cleaning the area. They said that the majority of the problem lies with proper garbage disposal. The shopkeepers also informed that they do collect the garbage, but there is no dumping ground in vicinity and no garbage collection truck comes ever. And then the idea struck – Kasol is a village and so no municipal facilities would be available. However, looking at the influx of tourists and mounting garbage problem, the authorities should do something. The Gram Pradhan has the major responsibility here, but he’s absconding! I have to do something about it on my personal level. The rains had stopped by then.
We then collected all the garbage at one place and were thinking about hiring a tempo to dump it at a proper dumping ground (probably Mandi) when the ladies advised us to let it remain there, as it was already packed, and that they’ll discuss the disposal in their meeting that was already scheduled for Tuesday. In fact some of the ladies were adamant to put the entire garbage in front of the Pradhan’s house, which we had to advise against! 😆 😆
While talking to the ladies, I noticed a warning message painted over the Mahila Mandal building as to people found littering would be fined for Rs 500. I asked the ladies whether this was ever implemented and then came the shocker – They had no elocutionary power to do so and had just put the message as a deterrent, but no one notices it! Well, we can’t do anything about it, they’ll have to get a resolution passed through the Gram Panchayat to the effect – we told them. Finally, we handed over the rest of the items – gloves, bags, spade, brooms etc to the ladies and bid adieu to them with an advise that they should keep the momentum going and we’ll try our best to pressurize the authorities, and then we returned to Om Negi’s camps by 1415 hrs.
It felt much much better walking on a clean trail!
After having a light lunch, I decided to head over to the river bank along with my li’l kiddo. The raging river, gushing down the valley was creating a spectacular view and coupled with the ice cold water, we enjoyed much, shortly to be joined by wifey.
Spending around 20 minutes in the water, we headed back to have a little siesta…
…only to come back after about an hour, this time with Sany and Shikha Bhabhi (not to be confused with my wifey – also named Shikha)..
And Mitthi (my daughter) was more than happy to get again in the chilled waters…
So much so that she would start crying immediately on being asked to come out of water, and would want to venture again…
Spending another half an hour at the river front, we decided to go back as too much exposure to the ice cold water could prove troublesome for Mitthi. So while everyone returned to the rooms, Sany and I decided to take a stroll along side the river.
A good 20 minutes of stroll was fulfilled with amazing views and macros shots.
We also witnessed the truth of garbage disposal mechanism – all garbage directly being dumped into the pristine river Parbati – a river that has just originated from the Man Talai glacier! 🙁
We came back again to find now everyone at the river front.
It was there that we decided to head out to the market in the evening to taste some good food as the food at the camp was very basic. Around 1815, we took the trail again to Kasol Market.
On the way, we noticed some idiots trying to get to the river from a place which was too dangerous. Tourists, do all sort of antics to get a “I was here too” pics. We advised them to proceed further to Om Negi’s camps where the river was in the vicinity with a good approach.
We entered the market and headed to German Bakery to try some of the offerings. Boy! They were yummy! 🙂 The person manning the counter happened to be from Nepal and stored honey from his own farms in Nepal too and so I procured a small package.
Feeling hungry, we strolled through the market of Old Kasol and headed to Little Italy restaurant. Now what do you order in a restaurant who’s name has Italy and in in a place frequented most by Israelites? That’s a European combo! So while rest of the bunch ordered Pizza, Garlic Bread, fries and some exotic soup’s, I opted for trout – fresh and baked. There’s nothing that tastes best like local produce. 🙂 Umm.. Ok, most of the gang was vegetarian and so I chose a secluded seat.
The food looked awesome and tasted great too!
By the time order was served, my kiddo enjoyed running here and there.
Post having our fill by around 2000 hrs, we decided to hop on the second floor of the restaurant to try some pool, while the ladies indulged in their favorite hobby – window shopping! Now this hobby is sometimes tough on the pockets of the husbands, and so we were called to empty our wallets. Some fancy woolen caps etc were procured which are still dumped in some cupboard 😀
After shopping, we noticed the time to be 2200 hrs, and so we started moving back to Om Negi’s camps. We decided to settle the bills at the night itself, as most of the people had planned to leave early morning and I must admire Om, he refused to quote any price and charge any thing for the entire gang’s stay. His gratitude for us doing something for Kasol was not allowing his morale to ask for any money. But then, we wouldn’t have accepted that! We remembered the rates that he quoted when Ashish came to Kasol for recce and paid him according to the same. It was a humbling experience to see someone denying to accept their professional charges. 🙂
Settling the bill with Om and then amongst ourselves, we retired to our rooms. While Dheeraj, Anuj and others decided to leave early, some people decided to visit Manikarn and then leave to Delhi, me and Sany decided to take it easy, wake up in the morning at leisure and then head to Delhi since Tirthan was already postponed to some other time.
The day has been very satisfactory and full with various rich experience. And so we went to sleep in peace… The time read 0100 hrs… and of course Parbati was raging and roaring somewhere in the valley…
Next: Contented we return
Current weather forecast for Kasol: