"Your bag is like Dzo" Namgyal said. "What's that?" I ask, thinking it meant cool, vintage or some other such nicety. "No, it means Yak". Look, there is one there.
Right. Well, I guess it kind of makes sense. I mean, it carries all my stuff and seems to take everything that is thrown at it.
And so now my bag has got a name.
To give you a bit of background, I had been looking for a canvas rucksack; something that had a bit of character; some history; but crucially something that would get me through the trip. I didn't want the latest, brightly coloured, all mod cons rucksack. Although those would be up to the job, they would look out of place in dusty, hectic India. So I set about looking for something that fitted my brief. I visited army surplus stores, trawled through The Stables in Camden Market and the vintage shops of Notting Hill Market. I scoured eBay to see what was available, most things going for £150+ so well above my budget. And then a fine looking 1964 canvas Karrimor rucksack came up. I couldn't resist. It was previously owned by an avid outdoors enthusiast who spent his days with the likes of Joe Brown and Don Willians so, it must have been on some incredible adventures.
Dzo, as she is now known, arrived a few days later and I spent some time giving her some TLC. I washed her canvas and tried to remove the rust stains with little effect. Her canvas got three coats of wax to provide some level of waterproofness. Some of her leather edging has been replaced as well as further modifications to make her more comfortable and sizeable (I have a second canvas bag strapped above the main bag as I needed to take more than just a sleeping bag and tent!). Her metal frame has also been de-rusted (tip: soaking rusty in vinegar works a treat) and given a waterproof coat too. And we've made it out to India together.
However, come day one, Dzo wasn't too keen on what she was about to undertake and promptly popped one of her leather straps that was holding the second bag in place, taking some canvas with her. By lunchtime, she'd shed most of her vital stitching that held the shoulder straps in place. Lucky I caught that before she was able to escape causing permanent damage. A little lunchtime knitting with some paracord and she'll last until I can get a local Indian to pay her some proper attention and give her a new lease of life. But that might be some time.
Despite all the TCL I've paid her, she still kicks and bites every time I put her on my back and by the end of each day I have bruises and scratches to prove it. It's a love-hate relationship, but it's something we're working on. We will get through this together for we have embarked on our journey of discovery so we shall finish as one.