I just finished with the book ” Into the thin air”. I was willing to read some good stuff on mountaineering and mountains for a long time. While selecting this book, I did not pay much attention to the reviews and ratings, somehow the title of the book hit the chords.
Certainly, high altitude climbing is much more about the struggle of human survival against the diminishing oxygen. Every materialistic desire at the pinnacle seems futile. I wonder about this amazing feeling which is attained after bearing all the physical and mental breakage and sometimes even risking lives. It is appalling to read that towards the summit of Mt. Everest, climbers find the scattered human bodies, which will continue to mark their presence till the death of the universe. Perhaps there is no second chance to rectify the mistakes at a height of more than 28000 ft. It feels terrifying to continue with a journey that might ends up with some known fate. One starts a journey with twelve , and ends up with four ; but still the zest for conquering the summit is alive and the ascent continues. I guess this fearless attitude is only vital to mark the beginning of the ascent. But being fearless is not the only tool; there are some of the most brutal prices which one must pay to claim the presence on the highest point of Earth. Sometimes mountaineers make the toughest decision of leaving the living bodies alone on those heights, the bodies which are trapped under snow and just marking the presence of few signs of life. At such situations, it become necessary to negotiate the quantity of human lives which could be saved at the risk of just one. It seems cruel to leave someone to get killed just because at the cost of one, many other lives could be saved! But it is heart wrenching to imagine someone in that brutal and helpless situation. I guess these are all the prices which need to be paid to conquer the zenith because nothing comes without price. Watching our own body parts getting paralyzed and unresponsive are something which cannot be explained in writings but these are the emotional struggles for which these warriors are also well prepared.
“I conquered Everest not through my feet but through my brain” – I heard this from one of the best mountaineers in the history and it is so true. It is not only the struggle against physical potential but more about the struggle against mental strength. While reading this book, I cannot figure out the thin line between obsession and passion, for the mountains. I guess that such line doesn’t exist at those heights. It just vanishes .
It is so inspiring to know about the mountaineers who claim the highest summits on the Earth. I believe it teaches everything, right from the leadership and team building skills to never – say – die attitude.
So let’s conquer those peaks and master our own fear.
Ever since I visited this land, it feels that whatever has been written or described about this land is not sufficient to justify the cosmic beauty of Valley of Kashmir. War over the geographical boundaries could not destroy the blessed beauty of nature. Moving through the valley seems like moving through the path which is covered by snow laden mountains all around the corners. View of Himalayan mountains and the constant companionship of river Jhelum would never leave anyone alone. Sometimes humming and sometimes roaring, but the presence of Jhelum would always be there. Leaves of Chinar are as fascinating to watch as it always feels while reading about them in the books. For me, it is like unfolding the pages from my books. I wish I could have also seen the apples in the apple valley, white flowers have covered the entire orchards. It is so exciting to imagine the presence of apples in those orchards, just in a few months. And there is not one or two orchards, but there is valley called apple valley while going to Pahalgam. While driving through the valley, I feel that those perfect paintings and photographs in the books and websites are part of my vision too.
Tulips, I have seen them alive for the first time in my life and I fall in love with them. Massive collection of Tulips in almost every color I can imagine it to be, are there. There are rows after rows dedicated to different colors of Tulips. Forget the colors, there are also contrast in the color combinations of these flowers. When you follow the end of these tulip’s rows, your eyes would meet the clouds almost dropping down from the mountains. When you follow these clouds, you would meet the snow-covered zenith of Himalayan ranges. That’s like a never-ending process, seems like treasure to the eyes and peace to the mind. But above all, solace to the soul comes from the warm approach and hospitality of the local people. In a true sense, they treat their guests as their God, as per our own tradition. They are delighted to receive you as their guests. I stayed with a local family for few days I spent in Kashmir and I would never forget the honor and happiness which they expressed by making me as a part of them for those days. Geographical boundaries have not succeeded to create any marking or boundary in the thoughts of normal people who want to be the part of normal lives.
History and future, both the aspects of this valley are soulful. War over geographical boundaries have injured the lives of normal people. Kashmir is said to be heaven on Earth and off course the natural blessings to this land is divine which is even difficult to document. But the common civilians who want to be the part of common lives shall never be judged and given the opportunity to be the part of them. It is dreadful to live in an environment that is constantly under the rage of fire. Paradise on the Earth cannot be remained as paradise until or unless the population of beautiful human beings living under the roof of Himalayas start living like any other human being in different part of the same country. Then I guess that this saying would be true in real sense “People call it heaven; we call it home “
“Running is nothing more than a series of arguments between the part of your brain that wants to stop and the part that wants to keep going” .
I read it somewhere and instantly I discovered my motivation for participating in 21 Km Marathon. Certainly for ‘not so regular runner’, like me it is definitely a challenge to complete 21 km track in a decent time. I had always ran 10 km and it had never been the question of ” DO or Die” for me but completing 21 km marathon seemed to me somewhere the same. I really wanted to challenge my own potential but on that particular note. Honestly I had the feeling that I am all eagerly ready to bear that physical pain which I face after completing 10 Km. And this time in more than double doses and might be worse than that. But I was sure that I was unnecessarily getting apprehensive about it because being an avid trekker I never faced such occasions much (Do or Die one). So with complete self-motivation I ran on final day. Since I had the practice for 10 km so half of the distance didn’t cost me much. But after that the same mental blockage started building up. “Oh my God! , you have to run the same distance again , with this high-speed breath and perfectly tired feet “ . And this mental blockage was creating the perfect scene for giving up. But I was not at all ready to leave it incomplete anywhere. I gathered all my thoughts to those memories in the mountains and hills where I trek around tirelessly in the rough terrain for 4-5 hours or sometimes even longer than that. I kept myself isolated from my own negative visuals and continued running.Of course I was tired after sometime but never thought of giving up . I completed my track of 21 km in perfectly decent time and decent shape.
So, I can never deny from the well explained and well-intended meaning of these beautiful lines but definitely a powerful one.- “Running is nothing more than a series of arguments between the part of your brain that wants to stop and the part that wants to keep going” .
History has its own beauty which is always vintage. No matter how rugged everything looks , but there is always a legendary feel attached to it. I think beauty lies in the stories hidden beneath these structures. Beauty of the historical places need to be decoded from the stories and the feelings attached to these stories.
I went to Amer Fort in Rajasthan , few days back. I think the feeling of royalty touched upon me , the moment I saw the staircases towards the Fort. And then, the huge and massive structures and the historical figures and stories attached to those structures , everything makes the place a historical treat. Amer Fort is recognized by the name of Raja Man Singh and his descendants . Even after centuries we retell the stories of the king , descendants, family and everything attached to him because everything is intricated in these structures, somewhere. Such places have the quality of taking us to that era and feel the essence of that genre.
When the call of mountain arises, it become irresistible to ignore the calling. Sometimes I wonder that what else we achieve other than the serene beauty of nature, after conquering the peak with all the bruises and physical pain. And it comes straightforward that is the immense satisfaction of conquering our own challenges and fear. This journey itself teaches us lot many things, in a nutshell probably the journey of life where we walk, run, trip, arise, have fun and sometimes set apart from loved ones, but subconsciously we all are moving towards own goal in our own path. Certainly, this is the reason I enjoy hiking because somewhere it relaxes the nerves of brain to relate to new things which we casually ignore and never feel related to in our daily lives.
Recently I went to Kullu, Himachal Pradesh. Although I was excited to deal with the snow but unfortunately snowfall started the day I left the place. But there is something in the aroma of hills and mountains that ultimately soothes my nerves. And I guess it happens with everyone. This is some sort of meditation which is difficult to explain in words.
Nature has its various versions of beauty but I always have crush for its raw version of beauty which is found in watching the sunrise and sunset sitting on the edge of a cliff. And I am sure its worth all the attention and pain endured to reach this.
Life is a treasure of beautiful opportunities and blessings if we really seek to create one. And in the long run, these blessings add to some unforgettable memories in the chapters of our life.
Our World is beautiful and humanity is the greatest contribution, in an effort to save this beauty. I believe, volunteering injected this belief in me, in a far stronger way than I have always tried to apprehend this.
When I decided to volunteer for Lighthouse project (non-profit initiative) , I was sure that this will add to new learnings and experiences in my life. But in actual when I really onboarded the journey, it was more than just an experience.
At the training session of the program, we all volunteers were provided with an envelope containing the details of our mentees. With a sense of responsibility, I joined this program. But, the moment I removed the form from the envelope, bright face of a very young girl in the passport size photo met my eyes. All of a sudden, the value and sensitivity of my commitment banged my head. A feeling that, this innocent face and kind smile needed all my sincere efforts. Later on, I came to know about her background and the background of other students as well. And certainly, moments like this, make me more humble and thankful towards almighty, instead of being a difficult child for him. Living in my own space has never been a big deal for me, this is something that I always took for granted. But this is a privilege to the uncountable population in our country. It is well said that the hardships and struggles of life carve strong character out of a human. The urge to come out of the darkness becomes so strong that it pushes to reach the heights which are a dream to many of us. Well, this was only day-1 but filled me with lots of inspiration and compassion.
One week later came the day 2 – Somewhere; it was in my head that it would be fun since it was an ice breaking session. And seriously, I believe that we (me and my mentee) melted all the gap between us and major contribution goes to the little girl who never let me feel that I was a new member in her world. The sweet and kind smile was an indication of warm reception which made me comfortable to start our conversation. As instructed, we were supposed to know about each other. I briefed her about me and then she started about herself. Well, forget about the hardships of her life, this is the thing which I knew very well before meeting her and evaluating her on the account of her hardships; I don’t think that child needs all these things to identify her. Well, I told her about my profession and asked about her aspirations. Very energetically she declared “Didi, I want to be an archaeologist and a filmmaker”. Seriously, I was not prepared for this reply; we are so much used to the preconceived notion that anything out of the box surprises us; at least for me, it was quite an amazement. And very true to her aspiration, she was fond of history and arts. I really appreciate that a 13-year-old kid was able to neatly distinguish her likes and dislikes.Once done with a formal introduction, special activities were designed by lighthouse team to enforce the trust and warmth between the mentor and mentee pair. And that was real fun and I overjoyed the moment of sharing a very little part of my life with her. Life is long and, in comparison, the time which I am contributing to her is almost nothing. But these few hours were full of real laughter and fun that will remain with me forever.
I am anxiously looking for rest of the journey, and these blissful moments are going to leave some irreplaceable impressions in my life, which will continue to challenge me with its innocence.
“Only a Child sees things with perfect clarity because it has not developed all those filters which prevent us from seeing things that we don’t expect to see.”- Douglas Adams
Live like children! Childhood is the most innocent form of human phase in this life. I wish that innocence remains with us forever. I think this is the only phase when we live our life like “LIFE”. No regrets of past and no worries about future. Whatever is there, that is just in hand which is ‘PRESENT’.
They will laugh like anything almost uncontrollably when happy and cry at the drop of a hat, no matter what others think. Whereas, we are more worried about other’s perception rather than our own emotions. Sometimes we don’t even realize that what tickles them so much that they laugh hysterically. We lose this madness to enjoy the moments, once we start stepping out of our childhood. Whatever we strive to be in our lives; but this innocence should not diminish because the pure happiness of life lies in this innocence and celebration of emotions.
I also feel if we could have learned to have faith and trust upon others like children do. Once they believe us, they will surrender completely; laying their tiny body against us. They remain clinging to us till the last possible way, unaware and not bothered about themselves. Whom so ever they trust, they do completely; giggle like anything when we throw them high up in the air while playing because they believe that nothing going to happen to them. We would again hold them in our hand. This is the trust of the little heart which we forget to bestow upon someone; somewhere in the process of growing up.
Children have the most honest and purest form of perception about anything or anybody. They will list out all positives and negatives regardless of whom they are speaking about. We term this ‘fearlessness’ as their ‘innocence’. We ourselves develop this fear as we gain so called ‘wisdom’. This is the fear of status, society, money, fame and countless of things which eventually develops its root crushing the truthfulness of childhood.
Surviving in the world with childlike innocence is tough, the world around us has to be impeccable enough to understand and honor this trait. But until then, laugh like a child, cry like a child, dance like a child, fight tirelessly like a child and be a free soul like a child.
Every land has its own tale. It has its own aroma and freshness. Bhutan is one such land that has the taste of happiness and peace along with serene calmness of nature. And certainly this is the attraction of this beautiful Country which can’t be left unnoticed. Another attraction is the peculiar culture and tradition of the country that can be felt in almost everything; be it the chanting of the lamas in the monasteries, prayer flags all over the land, traditional clothing of men and women or even the exclusive architecture of the country.
The Journey started with Phuntsholing and marked across Paro, Thimpu, Punakha and Wangadu. And every land has its own distinguish identity; Phuntsholing and Paro are subtle towns reflecting the preserved heritage; be it in terms of culture of the city or the architecture . Whereas, Thimpu being the capital city has the bit of modernity thrown in but still holding the essence of original Bhutanese identity. Punakha holds the peace and serene feeling of a Hill – Station. But no matter where ever the feet move, journey is always accompanied by the beauty of the pink flowers of cherry trees, positive vibes of the prayer flags, recitation of mantras with the rotation of prayer wheel and off courses the beautiful traditional cottages over vast stretches of hilly land. The pleasing beauty gets further amplified with the flow of rivers along the hills.
Tale of Bhutan is untold and inexperienced in absence of Trek to Tiger’s Nest. Dedicated to the devotion and belief of the country to its King Rinpoche, Tiger’s Nest is a Monastery situated at a height of about 3000 ft. above the Paro Valley. Legends are associated with the monastery that King Rinpoche destroyed the devil and negativity and protected the country from evil at this holy place. So, local people always trek to this prominent Himalayan monastery in their traditional clothing Gho (Men) and Kira (Women) in order to pay respect to the sacred land. Although it’s high up in the mountains, but one can never get over with the prayer flags and so its blessings.
Among several memories, the royalty of the kingdom can be experienced at the Palace visit and the amazing Flag down ceremony. It’s always special to feel the patriotic touch; no matter you are in a different country.
Celebration of Tsechu festival with the performance of Cham dance is also something which should be seen in order to make the image of Bhutanese culture memorable . Costumed and masked dances depicting the legendary tale associated with Guru Padmasambhava are definitely to be captured to understand the glory of Bhutanese culture.
There are several places with their own significance either the gigantic Buddha Dordenma in the mountains of Thimpu or Chime Lhakhang at Punakha district known for its founder Lama Kunley “ Divine Madman” and his unorthodox ways of teaching Buddhism and outrageous behavior. But the reflection of cultural heritage of the country is quite evident in almost everything. And it is very pleasing to the eyes and good to find that the land is still holding its distinguished identity and grooming it constantly.
Elephanta caves had been introduced in my wish list since the day I gathered a bit of it in my school course books.There had always been an itch to know more about it. Basically, the name itself is more captivating and being a kid the childish imaginations were more adventurous. Years passed but it was still in my imaginations. But when I finally shifted to Mumbai I can’t hold my excitement to visit this heritage.
It was an almost two-hour journey through the deep waters of Arabian sea. But upon reaching the entrance, I was astonished to see the massive structures. The splendid rock-cut architecture of the caves whose creator and origin is still unknown and a subject of mystery definitely deserves all the admiration and attention. Although these are said to be caves but to me, it seemed adobe of lord Shiva. This adobe houses various statues of lord Shiva which depict several significant instances from Indian mythology and Scriptures. Although most of these statues had been damaged several centuries ago but it’s not easy to destroy the admiration of the travelers who still find it more impressive, massive and subjective. Several legends and archaeological facts are linked regarding the originator and as well as the origin of these huge caves, residing sculptures of Hindu and Buddhist sect. Well, it could ever be revealed or not we can’t say but whoever has created it several centuries ago has indeed built a masterpiece.