IshkIshkIshk Prod Story 5

Next morning we flew by helicopter to Thyangboche, which has the world’s highest Buddhist Monastery at 14000ft. It was a 10 min journey, but very dangerous one. We had to be moved from one peak to another with a valley in the middle. But the pilot was having lot of problems in landing safely due to awkward wind currents. Dev Saab spent money very lavishly on this leg of the shoot. Other than actor and technicians, things like reflectors and wooden stools too had to be carted by helicopter at an exorbitant cost. We reached here after the sunlight had faded. So the shooting was to start next morning. In the night all of us had some basic dinner with a little rum. There were no beds, only sleeping bags for us on the floor of an enclosure made of wooden planks. The room resembled more like a large box of wood. On my right was Premnath and left was chief assistant director Vishwa. All of us were protected against biting cold and whistling winds by our usual woolens, sleeping bags and the strong Nepali Khukri rum. I can never forget Premji’s thunderous snoring. He had hit the sleeping bag earlier than me so he had no chance to experience my snoring. When everyone snores in a room, it is better to be the first to hit the pillow and doze off; late sleepers have to face the terrible music. The glass of water next to Premji was vibrating due to his snoring and strong winds.
In the morning my eyes opened due to spreading brightness warmth of sun. Premji picked up his glass of water to drink, but could not. The water had frozen. He peeped into the glass, held the glass up side down and then shook it. He then felt so amused and excited that he went on screaming and showed the glass to everyone. He ran to Dev Saab screaming, ‘Devi Devi look what happened to the water.’ He called Dev Saab ‘Devi’ affectionately. Even I was stunned to think how cold it must have been at night. I am sure it must have been the layer of rum that saved us all from freezing.
But due to excessive cold I had a technical set back. My recording machine Nagra did not work. It would go ‘forward’ and ‘rewind’ but not record or play. Dev Saab gave me dirty looks all through the day. He hates people sitting around jobless. Any ways all I could do was to ask the direction assistants to note down exact dialogues that actors spoke, for being of help during dubbing of these scenes. We shot here for two days. On the second day after the shoot we had to start moving back to Everest hotel at Shyangboche. And this time all of us were not going back by helicopter. Mainly junior technical staff was going to trek back and some basic equipment would be carted on Yak backs. Shekhar and I too decided to go with them. For this return journey we had to go down about 1km into the valley and come up again near the hotel.
This walk would also become a part of my unforgettable experiences. Due to our (mine and Shekhar’s) much faster speed we were gradually going too far ahead from the main unit, which incidentally had local guides along with them. We took it for granted that when the right path will come we will easily know it. On the way we met Hersh and some others trudging along on Yak backs. Waving at them, we left them far behind. Shekhar is very fit and he was a good 10 min ahead of me too. I could see him only on the straight part of a mountain, but he would vanish from sight if there were curves. So we both too became lonely in that wilderness. Supposedly there were no wild animals; but as I went around a tight curve suddenly I noticed a Yak in the middle of the narrow path. He was looking at me directly. I had not met any Yaks, so I didn’t know if they are friendly or not. Since I was all alone, I could not take any risk. I climbed up a good 100 feet above the Yak and came down ahead of him. Those were some anxious moments. It was getting dark now. We had to negotiate the distance fast to get back safely. We were not equipped to be in the open at night in such a cold place. Luckily we found a couple on traveling on the same route. Somehow we managed to convey him that we want to go to Shyangboche. To our horror he said it is been left behind. The man pointed a near vertical mountain on our side and said climb up and go back. We were on a very narrow path with a near vertical mountain on right and that 3000ft deep valley on the left. We looked at each other with shock, but managed to conceal our fears. We started immediately. There was no time. The climb was so steep that it could give you vertigo. There was no path. We had to place our feet on raw mud and rocks very gingerly. I had to very small plants or even grass to keep our balance. Everything behind us looked like a deep valley. Any slip and we would not be able to stop on the path too. With the last drop of light our fingers grabbed the edge of narrow flat path to our hotel and then stood on it safely. As if on cue we hugged each other, pumped our hands and were overwhelmed with evaporation of fear, anxiety and exhaustion. We felt as if we had scaled Lhotse.

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