Shit. This is not looking good.
I’m pretty much fucked.
I spent yesterday screaming myself hoarse.
I got water - not as much as I would like, but enough to get by for a week. After that is gone I could collect the snow lying around. There's also quite a bit of water percolating through the rocks.
I got plenty of petrol. I had 2 five litre containers - one burst, went tumbling off somewhere off the side of the cliff. I got some crackers, and biscuits. That's all I had in my knapsack.
I still got my sanity, what's left of it anyways. And a kilo or more of the finest Manali weed. Looks like I'm set for a wild weekend.
Ok so look, this is how it went.
It was those crazy Manali boys. That’s what got me into this trouble - actually it was swiping all that pot that got me in this pickle, but I digress.
They had a few plantations going outside Shimla, and had I known it was the Manali boys involved in this skulduggery, I wouldn’t have come ten feet of it!
After missing the turn off to Reckong Peo, I was pretty knackered from riding the Enfield Bullet from Shimla, now 200 odd kilometres behind me. All I was thinking about was a warm bed, some warm food and maybe a beer.
The little inn on top of the hill had a room available. They put me in a room next to a bunch of loutish guys who were smoking charas outside their room, basking in the sun. They seem friendly enough, and in the morning as I was nipping out I noticed they had an oilcloth pack tightly bound on the table next to the window. I could hear them speaking loudly in the back balcony, and there was a shower going on.
Suffice to say I pinched it. I stuffed it into my knapsack and stealthily made my way down to the reception. The innkeeper smiled and asked me if the Manali boys gave any trouble. I smiled secretively back. That's when I realized I was in trouble.
There wasn't any point going back to replace the charas. And the Manali drug runners had a bad reputation. I wasn't going to hang on to find out the veracity of the rumours I have heard.
They are going to figure out the friendly guy in the next room was gone with their best weed. This could end badly. It was best to make myself scarce.
I was speeding along the craggy mountain roads just outside of Puh. I had a bit of distance to go - I could carry on to Nako, and find some shelter there. The Enfield was running good, and I was making time. But I thought the best bet was Tabo - a further 100 kilometres or so. They never get that far, especially since I had such a head start. They probably assume I’d stop over in Nako.
The little sewing machine engine on the Enfield Bullet was purring, the front suspension bouncing off the rocks with just the right mix of rebound. I was in a good spot. Running for my life might have given me that little burst I suspect.
It was looking like a great ride.
I passed into the mountains proper. Its summer here in the Himalayas, though you'd be hard pressed to notice that. There’s still quite a lot of snow on the ground, and all the mountain peaks are cosseted in a blanket of snow. In Spiti the roads take a while to clear, and all you need is a little bad weather to shut the roads down.
The roads degenerate into roughly hewn rocks. A lot of them stick out of ground like sharp incisors, waiting to gleefully to slash tires.
The tone of the Bullet’s engine changed as the air got thinner. We climb several passes, the rear end of that Bullet now sliding on the loose scree. The mountains were huddled above me, pressing down with their menacing presence.
I was getting skitterish. The altitude was beginning to affect me. I was gulping down air, what little of it I could get. My throat was dry, and the wind was making my eyes smart.
The road curled around a massive outcrop of rock, the ground a slush of water and ice mixed with pebbles that made the little Enfield slide and slosh. I pull the throttle back a bit. The front wheel bounded like a happy puppy over several rocks, slithering like a snake, and I didn't see the sloping angled boulder till it was too late.
When the front wheel smashed against the boulder, there was a moment there where I thought I could save it. I think that was wishful thinking.
If I ever get out of this hole (and that looks bleaker by the day) I'm going to have to pay the Enfield factory in Delhi a little visit and teach them how to make proper spoke rims, because what they actually put on the bikes is more like putty!
The rim collapsed with a dry crump! and for a second the bike tittered like a drunk. I tried turning, but I could have tried for all the good it would have done me. The front rim pivoted and the bike's forward momentum carried it forward. The rear wheel bounced over the same boulder and I was almost pitched off the bike.
Then the front was riding on air. For about a micro-second. Then it all came tumbling down over the cliff.
My right leg somehow got wedged into the Enfield's engine, underneath the gear lever and clutch cover. That fucking bike was planning to bring me along.
Like a pair of bad dancers we went head over heels. My ankle cushioned the bike - the weight of the frame and the engine snapped my ankle in half like a rotted branch before letting me go, and we tumbled for a bit.
Imagine been flayed and set on fire. Well, it's nothing like that. It's a lot worse.
I had landed on a small ledge maybe 10 metres below the road. There was a slight bower just off to the side. My knapsack had fallen besides me, and the plastic 5 litres container full of petrol had come to rest next to the bower. The Enfield was gone, though I could still hear its engine chugging away far below me for a while before it fell silent. Who said Enfield's weren't tough - this one took a pretty good licking.
There’s something strange about David Attenborough. He’s way too hairy. And he’s naked. How can he stand this cold? I’m freezing my toes off, while he seems to go about without a care.
He passed by my little abode two, maybe three days ago. He appeared surprised and startled. He made as if to turn back, but seemed to reconsider.
Ho! he said.
Where’s the camera man Mr Attenborough, I asked.
Weed! I need more bloody weed!
Let's see. It was Sunday I went cart wheeling off the mountain road.
Wait! That was last week. Nine fucking days ago. It's Tuesday today. My first proper meal, if I can it it proper, or a meal. Wow, bloody wow. Would have been more amazing if I didn’t throw up most of it.
The weed is mucking my mind. Drinking melting snow doesn’t help either. Or having a raging fever. Or being stuck on the side of a mountain with nothing but a monkey for company. Or freezing every night. Or eating your leg for dinner.
Fuck. Fuck. I'm screwed. Royally.
Fucking hell! I didn’t think it would hurt this bad. Or smell this bad. Or bleed this much.
So look. I loaded up on the ganja. I got my knife out. My right leg from the knee down was pretty screwed anyway. Looks like football is out of the question for me. It may take a while for gangrene to put his grubby claws on my leg especially in this cold, but it was a matter of time.
I'll admit. It's not the smartest plan, or even the most practical. In fact, its got stupid written all over it. But here now, after a week my drug addled brain was willing to try anything. Never mind that I’m no expert in the human anatomy. Or that Im so high on weed I was pretty much floating.
"Well, goodbye chum. Its been nice knowing you. You really knew how to carry my weight," I whispered. I plunged my trusty Swiss Army knife into the fleshy part of the ankle just below the back of the knee. I drew it hard and down, slicing off a fillet of me.
"Holy cow, it doesn’t hurt!" The sweat was in my eyes, and really there wasn’t any pain. At least not for about five seconds. Then it felt like a bolt of lightning had exploded in my calf. The pain was intense, crawling out from the edges of the cut and inwards – it felt all my molecules were screaming in unison.
I took a hit from my reefer. A long drag. The smoke sputtered out in a shaky cough. My hands were shaking something bad.
I took my shredded t-shirt and start to bind the wound.
Another slow long hit on the reefer and it was starting to take the edge off the pain.
I had collected some twigs and had a small fire going using the petrol. I threw in some rocks, and cooked my calf over them. The smell it gave off was pretty rancid. And I could hear the skin crackling in the fire. Crispy pork anyone?
Richard Attenborough said he won’t eat me. Not because he didn’t want to, but because human meat tasted pretty awful. He says he knows because he ate a human once and it gave him the shits. He said ever since that unhappy incident he hasn’t much cared for human meat - even though he comes across plenty.
He’s quite right - I ate my leg last night and it was crap. It tasted like beef that’s been left out too long past its expiry date. But then it could my leg - it’s past its expiry date too.
Well, it doesn’t matter anymore, because most of the leg is not there anymore!
Well, let' see. I started on the foot. Shit, I should have been fat because there has hardly any flesh on it - especially the toes. They were all just fucking bones. You've seen those chubby guys, 150kg or something of lumbering mass, with tree-trunk thighs and big fat juicy ankles and feet so bloated you could live a week just eating that one fucking foot! Damnit, why did I have to be skinny?
That little restaurant by the side of the road on the downhill section in Shimla had pretty good butter chicken. Really good chicken. And that butter is something else - someone said they added some yak butter to give it that kick.
Chicken sounds very good. Or how about those pizzas they got in every shop. What I wouldn't do for a pizza. With a beer. A cold Kingfisher Extra Strong to wash it down.
Fuck, where's the charas. I need that breath of Buddha to waft over me right now.
Its not me you have to worry about, David Attenborough said. Its the snow leopard you have to keep an eye out for. He's been sniffing around, and he's not picky about what he eats.
Fuck you, I muttered. You're a monkey, you hairy bastard!
I'm a yeti, Davis Attenborough said.
I was beginning to hate that monkey.
I have thinking about those great banana leaf meals. They are hard to come by here in the Himalayas, but down South ...
Rice, with chicken curry. A bit of potatoes, brinjals, masala chicken, some mysore mutton. And some papadums.
Masala chicken. That sounds really good.
David Attenborough has been around again. He didn't say much, except to tell me the snow leopards are around.
He took a good look around. He didn't look approving. But then again I wasn't much to look at.
I have been slicing off bits off my thigh. The weed has been a good painkiller most of the time. Most of the time I have been stoned out of my head.
The rest of my right leg was rotting away. Good thing I had it wrapped. That way I didnt have to see the startlingly white shin bone, and all those bones in my feet. The wrapping also helped keeping the smell away.
Fried chicken, masala chicken, butter chicken, chilli chicken, stir-fried chicken, garlic chicken, coconut chicken, pan roasted chicken with lemons, chicken tenders, grilled chicken ...
Where the fuck am I going to get some chicken?
I saw the bastard.
He was handsome one. He had a large head, with sharp clear eyes. His body was lithe and muscular, his shoulders powerful and short stocky paws. His coat was long with dark streaks, and he blended into the rocky environments.
He raised his nose and sniffed cautiously. Considering my state, I would have done the same.
He was prowling about. He was a couple of feet away, looking at me like a good meal. If I couple speak snow leopard I would tell him I wasn't going to be much of a snack. What he wants is a fat fuck to dine on. Something that will last a couple of days and leave a wide grin on that teethy mouth. I'm just a morsel.
He didn't look too perturbed though. He studied me contemplatively, and as the first rays of the sun burnished the valley below, he turned silently on oiled springs and slid quietly away, his large pads barely disturbing the ground.
Well, that's pretty much all I needed to know. Its time to have a major smoke out. Gotta get that buddha breath wafting through my fucking pores.
Looks like I will be contributing to the endangered species fund.