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Day 3

Ballu woke us with bed tea from the cafeteria at 5.30. He could be heartless about it - by his standards, it was already late. We dressed and woke and dressed the kids and were at the cafeteria for breakfast by 7 a.m. "You want rice for breakfast?" they asked, raising eyebrows at me. "Yes, please," I said. We'd told them so already the previous evening. It turned out that they would not make rice for one person - not worth the effort. So I got last evening's rice with last evening's rajma and pretty foul it was too.

We started walking at 7.45 and by 3.45 we'd reached - a good eight hours. Not all good, actually. We took innumerable short breaks to keep the kids entertained and one 45-minute break for lunch. We'd carried packed rotis and boiled eggs for the kids to munch on along the way. Around noon, we stopped at a dhaba for fresh omelettes and hot tea. By that time, we were told that we'd done 10 km already. With only another 3-4 km to go, we were all in good spirits after lunch. The walk was easy enough, with a good path, the river running along far below, green water turning to frothy white when it met enormous rocks. Around us rose green hills and in the distance snow-capped peaks were already visible. The kids finally agreed to walk with the porter, Deshraj Rana. He walked at top speed and the girl accompanying him scrambled to keep pace, while the girl who walked with us grumbled and complained. In the end Mrini and Deshraj and Amit reached ahead of me, Tara, and Ballu. Mrini was up in the room, sitting in the window and waving and shouting to us when we walked in to the village.

Even with 13 km under their belts, the kids were energetic and active the rest of the day. There'd been a couple of times along the way when I'd thought they were really tired and couldn't go on, but Amit thought they had energy enough and to spare and in the end he was right. All they needed was a bit of distraction, a bit of a bribe and they'd be good for another hour or two.

Everyone was impressed. "But tomorrow there's a continuous climb," Deshraj and Ballu warned us. "Do you think they can make it tomorrow as well?

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Copyright 2008 Amit and Anamika Mukherjee. All rights reserved.