The chill of the lower Himalayas is ever-present. It envelopes you from the moment of arrival and despite concerted efforts at mitigation the freezing adversary remains. It nestles deep inside your bones to the point where nothing can absolve you of it.
You wear layers of clothes upon layers of clothes. You refuse to shower because removing those garments even for a short time means succumbing to the fanged bite of winter and for what purpose; it is too cold to sweat and so the travel size bottle of Purell sanitizer becomes both shower and soap.
The room comes standard with a bucket of ice-cold water; fresh every morning. One of the hotel amenities. Splashing a handful on your face wakes you like nothing else. Thousands of pin pricks sear your cheeks. Towel drying with urgency is important otherwise your eye-lashes become places of refuge for rouge wanna-be icicles.
You are now more alert than at any other time in your life!
The pursuit of warmth ends only when your eyes close at night but reaffirms it’s all important status immediately upon waking.
At night you sleep fully dressed in a sleeping bag zipped tightly so that the hood is secure around your head. Inside the bag lies a hot water bottle yet still the cold prevails.
The morning brings with it hot tea on the balcony. Being drenched by the rays of the rising sun is nothing short of bliss; the new day begins.
It is cold and we are only in Solan…the very first stop on this Himalayan journey to bring much-needed medical supplies to small villages in the outlying regions.
Even though Solan is one of the lowest stops on our itinerary, altitude wise, it is by far the coldest. As we ascend into the mountains of the Himalayas, heat becomes a necessity not only for us but for all people and therefore ways to provide it had become the norm.
In Solan I am not sure if the hotel owners were just a tough bunch or a stingy bunch who figured they could save some rupees on heating expenses…I am kind of leaning towards the latter.
To find out how this all came about; click Beckoned Skyward by an Earthquake.
To see more photos of India; click India – A Photo Journal