Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Untiring Porter..

It was on our trek to Roopkund. We were clearly not suited to this environment. Long walks  up and down hills, the height steadily increasing, our lungs burned from a lack of oxygen..

On this day in question we  lumbered up , our bags with our supply of water and small eats hanging heavily over our shoulders. There were times when I've wanted to throw them away, imagining somehow that it would render me weightless and that I would be able to skip effortlessly uphill..As if to make light of all our efforts, we would then see the untiring porter, with as much as 15-20 kg hauled on his back walk lightly up the mountains. His pace never suggesting that he was in any sort of hurry. But try and keep pace with him and you would know how much effort it takes to do that up here in the mountains...

We spent one night talking of ghosts. The setting was perfect. In the middle of nowhere, by the light of the fire on which our freshly prepared meals had just been cooked, huddled up inside the tent, Weary from the days exertions..Our little camp group, diverse as it was had stories to tell.. Stories about people being lured out of tents up here in the mountain, of lights going off and a presence creeping up, of unimaginable evils lurking ready to spring up on a lonely traveller, Of pictures with hazy auras around human forms.
And so our cook proceeded to explain how he had encountered a ghost, a phantom in the form of a porter.. An apparition who asked for Bidi.  Turning around, the porter who had held the bidi seemed to have disappeared , into the thin mountain air.. Just like that!  And so we went to bed, my imagination working overtime, my rational side trying to quell the fear steadily raising ..

The next day, we began early. One hour into our trek, I was slightly ahead of the rest of the group. I passed a turn and froze. There perched on the rocks were the smiling forms of two porters. 'Namaste' they called our politely. Namaste I responded quietly and with an uneasy smile , the conversation of the previous night playing out over and again inside my head. My more rational side clearly annoyed with my reaction goaded me to stop being so stupid.. But fear is not really a rational thing!
They asked about my camera. I briefly hesitated not knowing how to respond and half expecting them to evaporate. Then I decided to put them to the test. I walked up to them showing them some of the pictures I had just taken... And then they asked if I would photograph them. I quickly did and showed them what they looked like through my lenses , silently noting that they had passed the camera test for ghosts (as my wild imagination had decided that ghosts always appeared fogged up on pictures :D..)
I promised to send them pictures. And they wrote down their address in my little notebook.
The rest of the group caught up and after some idle chit chat we were gone.

- Meena Venkataraman


  1. Meena,

    This post brings back memories of our Sixth Sense ghost episode ;))


  2. very interesting! We too have interesting conversations after pitching in, but I don't recall having any ghost conversations :-)

    Guess, the porter might have been hallucinating. Scientifically, high altitude and low oxygen can cause serious changes to the brain like cause hallucinations, get your sub conscious working overtime, etc.

    But again, this is just a theory. Only your porter can answer this question :-)

  3. its more likely that I could have been hallucnating ;)

  4. did u mail them the pictures though? I always promise to send, and never have... but i do feel bad about it!



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