On my recent trip to the Himalayas, I participated in some kind of a human version of the famous car rally, the Raid-de-Himalaya. Two key points to be considered were that my participation was involuntary and that there was no car involved as I literally rode down on the seat of my pants! Here's how the fall from or should I say the long slide from grace was initiated.
We had panted, huffed and puffed our way to a few kilometres above the town of Gulaba to try our hand at skiing. Our guide, a local guy was as agile as a goat as we plainsmen lumbered and laboured to get to a point where the snow was just right and untouched! Skiiing I must tell you from this, my first personal experience is not easy on unfit bodies. By the time I was done with my three-quarters of an hour of stand-up comedy mistakenly identified as skiing, I was discovering pain in joints I never knew I had, just by standing in my skis and being pushed around by my trainer.
When all 3 of our party were done with making fools of themselves hidden away on the snowy slopes of a Himalayan mountain far from the critical gaze of anyone we knew, we decided to call it a day. To make our descent easier, our guide gave us the advice to snow slide our way down to the parking lot. The activity of snow sliding is as evident as it sounds and involves parking our behinds on the snow & then pushing off down the slope screaming and flailing arms in a rather undignified manner while gravity and the steep gradient did their jobs. We were wearing thick rented jumpsuits, this was supposed to be the most enjoyable portion of our ski trip as most of our descent route was snow-covered. As I was to discover very soon, 'most' was it was snow covered, not all of it.
I was brimming with enthusiasm as I tailed the guide in close proximity. At the end of one slope, the guide pulled up abruptly and asked me to brake. I did. But just when I was about to get up on my feet, I slipped and lo behold, I was bouncing down a muddy slope which had absolutely no snow at all. I turned my head for a brief second to witness the look of horror on my guide's face and then looked ahead at my impending doom. The snow had melted on this part of the slope and there was a kind of slush in replacement. The slope was strewn with rocks and the few blades of grass I tried to grasp onto just joined my hands as I slid down the strictly not for "snow sliding" slope.
I was tossed around like a rag doll from that point on and by some miracle always landed on my ample rear quarters instead of say on my head, or my spine or my hands all the way to the bottom of the slope. My guardian angel must have really worked overtime on this assignment as the 20-25 seconds it took me to reach the end of the slope made my life flash before my eyes at least a dozen times over. When my unintentionally rapid descent started, I was positive that even if I survived this I'd be bound in a wheelchair forever after I came to a halt, but all I suffered were severely bruised and bloody right hand knuckles which were the result of my initial hand brake efforts and the pain was nothing that a man couldn't take.
I laughed like a madman when I double checked the damage to myself and found it negligible. It could've ended in a much more tragic way for me, but I nearly tore my stomach in laughter as I imagined a third person view of me bouncing down a muddy slope shouting and clawing for any kind of a grip. Once more I nearly laughed myself to death again when I heard of my guide's answer to Jimmy, who was following behind me until the previous slope and had managed to brake in time and avoid the messy route I had chosen. Unable to see me, Jimmy asked "Saheb kahan gaye?" (Where is the Saheb?). The guide had just shrugged his shoulders and said "Maine kahaa Saheb se rukne ko. Parr woh toh rukey hi nahin!"(I asked him to stop, but he totally ignored me!)