Musings From Sikkim - Prema's Momos in the Mountains
A stall at 15,300 feet above sea level, serving smiles and relief from the cold, thanks to Prema.
Zero point or Yumesamdong is the abrupt end of the highest motorable road in North Sikkim, just shy of the Chinese border. Zero point remains snow covered for most part of the year, and to the tourists, the stalls at the end of civilization are a blessing.
Prema serves tasty momos with a dry chilli pickle, that gave us some much needed heat in the freezing cold. Just removing our gloves to eat was a task!
While Prema served us the piping hot food, she told us about her daily routine.
She wakes up at 4 am, to prepare the day’s batch of momos. Along with them she also packs an assortment of snacks and drinks like Maggi packets, eggs, chips, peanuts, tea, alcohol and soft drinks with a mini gas cylinder and stove.
With her stall set up packed, she waits on the main road from around 5.30 am, looking to hitch-hike. She clambers on to the first tourist vehicle that agrees to give her a lift to Zero Point. Once they reach, more than an hour later, she sets up her stall, overlooking a valley of snow capped peaks.
She told us about how all her chips packets had inflated and burst at the seams, due to the high altitude.
Since it gets dark soon, tourists don’t stay beyond 3 pm. When the last tourists have had their snacks and breathed a sigh of relief, Prema packs her paraphernalia, and takes a lift back to the main road around 25 kms away. Prema’s routine only changes during the monsoons, since tourist permits are not provided during the rains.
Her contentment with the simple life was adorable. She smiled delightfully and said that she had made four new friends that day, when we left. We sure did make a very sweet one, chatting over momos in the mountains.