One of the most important things when we were getting ready for this trip was to pack light. Everyone was allowed one medium-sized bag to fit all their worldly possessions it - or whatever they needed for a week on the road.
The clothes alone posed a problem. We would be travelling through varying terrain: the rickshaw run would throw everything India and Nepal had in our face - sweltering heat, lashing rain and the cold of the Himalayas. I started with taking things out of the cupboard and piling them on the bed, choosing very, very carefully.
The T-shirts had to be strong and worn in the pants sturdy but light, so they would dry easily. A raincoat. Warm clothes. Maybe a vest to add layers if it gets cold. No point taking anything pretty, even for the starting and end party, it'll just be a waste of space.
Even so I ended up with two tallish piles. But after two rounds of whittling down, they were reduced to the barest minimum. Five t-shirts, two trousers, one pair of shorts. A sweater and a windcheater that could double as rain protection. Five sets of undergarments, four pairs of socks, two of them warm. One towel. This included the clothes I'd be wearing. For the rest, I would have to wash and reuse. When I couldn't wash, I could give an old t-shirt away and buy a new one.
Toiletries? Shampoo, check. Conditioner, waste of space, live without it. Facewash, errrm…okay, but double it as soap, so you have to carry one thing less. Toothpaste and brush. Spare spectacles, notepad, passport, medicine kit, comb, recorder, laptop and charger. Shall I take something to read? Tempting, but no, it would be space consuming, just look out when you're bored, there'll be plenty of new things to see.
Shez is a regular boy scout. She rolled everything she needed into the smallest size possible and fit it into a small backpack. Then she surveyed my pile of clothes like a schoolmistress, okaying things as I showed them to her one by one, and making me remove some. The next morning when Akshay showed up with a bag half his size and two cameras, we almost attacked him.
Since then, we've been roughing it out. Washing clothes when we get a chance, drying them where we can. Back of chairs, window sills, curtain rods, balconies when we have the luxury of one, and even on a string stretched across the rickshaw (which won us many laughs, and almost lost me a T-shirt). Akshay is a bit lazy in these matters, so he prefers to buy T-shirts. Now his bag has expanded to the point that Shez and I are planning to bully him into giving some clothes away.
But with each passing day, our packing has become more efficient. Shez is the expert and I beam with schoolgirl joy when she looks at my bag approvingly, and praises its increasing compactness. Each day we find a better way to sling our jerry can of extra fuel or fit our bags into the back of our tiny rickshaw efficiently.
We know what is the best way to pack out things so that everything can be neatly out of sight, yet the medicine kit, the pen knife, the tool kit, the jackets and our papers are easily accessible when we need them. For that, we consider ourselves minor heroes.