I have been waiting for this day, since I got the letter from the Ministry of External Affairs on the 1st of May that I would be making the kailash yatra in the 11th batch, starting on 27th July. In the initial weeks it was some serious gymming and training, but as the date approached, I started trying to get details of the trip and get things together. The anxieties grew, especially since I did not know anyone who had made the trip and hence could not get any sense of what to expect.
Finally the day is here – day 2 on the official yatra booklet, but the first day for me, since day 1 was for the out of town people to gather. We reached the Delhi Heart and Lung Institute at 8 am for the medical check up. Since the non-Delhi yatris had already spent an evening together at the Gujarati Samaj guest house, there was a bonhomie in the group and I initially felt a little left out. But, there were many other Delhi based yatris who joined and as the day progressed we all got talking. And as we interacted, most of my anxieties disappeared. The group was a microcosm of middle class India with people from many states of the country (although, Gujarat is excessively represented), of all age groups, a fair number of women and many who did not look particularly fit or toned!! And then there were those who were doing it for the second time, one for the 3rd and another fairly elderly gentleman for the 5th time. So, it was doable……
The hospital was well organized and had made special arrangements to deal with this large group. We had the treadmill test, pulmonary function test, X-ray chest and gave blood and urine samples. We also had a talk by a pulmonary physician on the hazards of high altitude diseases. DIG Nimbadia of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police gave us some useful tips to tackle the yatra. However, his talk also highlighted the dangers of the route, re-implanting the seeds of anxiety – albeit a smaller seed!! But, seeing the faith and resolve of everyone, I am confident it will go well.
So, now the commitment has been made, the passport and visa fees have been handed over, and I am trying to gather all the stuff that was not in the earlier lists, but came up during today’s discussions – polythene to wrap each piece of clothing, large plastic sheet to cover the bags etc. etc…..