August 8, 2017

Solitary Trees...

A Solitary Tree. For me, they are inexplicably alluring. As I begin to admire their elegance, my heart skips a beat and my brain is filled with millions of thoughts!

I wonder, how old the tree is? Who spared this tree, and why? Perhaps this tree might have seen many generations in a family? Or it might have shaded someone's graveside? Or, perhaps someone might have been enlighted under this tree?! 

Well, for whatever reasons, I just cannot take off my eyes from this solitary tree that stands firm in a vacant space, setting a solid message - "Solitary trees, if at all they grow, they grow STRONG!"

June 30, 2017

Travel Tales | Hello Stranger...

We often think that people who are closely associated with us are our strength and our biggest source of connection who brings forth laughter or warmth. It so happens that we surround ourselves with like-minded people that we fail to realize we are getting a pretty narrow view of the world.

While wandering in the hot dusty street of Vijapura, I really can't say what made me approach this gracefully aged lady. Is it her wrinkled face, or her innocent looks, or perhaps is it just the groundnuts that she was selling!? Well, I don't have an answer to that. But there began a conversation...

After hashing over topics like her good old days (which she considers as the golden period of her life), her patience level, attitude towards life, and so on, this is how the conversation ended:

Me: Now, I understand, each wrinkle on your face has a story to say.
She: Well,  I see you have been observing my wrinkles all through the conversation, but have you ever observed my nose tip? 
Me: [Eh, what is she trying to say!] No, but why?
She: There are no wrinkles on my nose tip.
Me: Oh yeah! How I did fail to notice that!?
She: No matter what, it is important one should learn to be positive amidst all the chaos. It is then we can take control of our life!  

Wow! There she is!  A simple hello to a stranger led to a million revelations about myself altering my perceptions altogether! 

The learning and the happiness that I derived out of this encounter is something that I shall remember for the lifetime...

A thought of her will always make me think life is not about just aging, but it is how gracefully we age with an undying hope!

Hope to see her one day again...

June 25, 2015

Har-ki-Dhun Trek | How it Started

Way back in time, when I had just managed to swim, I had this sudden urge to learn back-floating [Source for this urge: A scene in one of the Kannada movie].

I wasn’t successful in back-floating in spite of dedicated effort. None of the wiki articles nor the videos helped me to learn the art of back-floating, unless a friend of mine said “Relax, Let go, and Float”!

Well, that was the defining moment, and I think I had got the hang of it! And there I was lying on my back, ears submerged and chin up. I felt as though someone had hit the mute button. The star-studded sky was so mesmerizing that I did not even realize I was floating towards the middle of the pool.  

That was my first Silence, Solitude and Stillness moment!

With days passing by, my quest for experiencing the Silence, Solitude and Stillness moment kept on growing. I have no idea on how many hours I have spent looking at the horizon, the straying clouds, the twinkling stars, the roaring waves, the rustling leaves, the rain drops, the ticking clock, and so on... I must mention that I haven’t even spared the LED light right above my cubicle. :)

Added to this, I unknowingly ended up seeing this pic in the Pinterest site, which made me take some random decision.

Yes, I strongly felt, the mighty Himalayas may offer me some of the best Silence, Solitude and Stillness moments. In addition, I can put a tick mark against the following wishes in my wish list:
  • Trekking. I make sure I experience something new every year just to explore the unknown side of ME.
  • Experience the sub-zero temperature
  • Slide on the snow
  • Stay away from the civilization, technology, and comfort-zone
Above all I wanted to check my inner-strength, and know how adaptable I am in such unpredictable mountain environment!

And thereby began the planning phase…

Har-ki-Dhun Trek | The Planning Phase

The moment you book your tickets, the excitement begins. But hold on, there is another important phase before you book your tickets. It is called the convincing phase! :) 

I believe, when it comes to traveling, if I can convince my mother I can convince any other person on this earth. I had to exhibit my art-of-convincing skill, as the very thought of me being out-of-network for eight long days, annoyed her to the core. Well, how-I-convinced-my-mother can itself be a separate blog topic as it has substantiate content! ;)

The day she gave a nod, I felt I had already conquered the Himalayas! :)

From then on, Suman and I could never stop talking about Har-ki-Dhun. Suman, is my fellow-traveler, who is a travel enthusiast and an adventure-loving person. :)

They say the best way to understand a woman is to go shopping with her. This helped in our case too! In the process of shopping, I think, we got a fair idea on each other's personality type, thought process, priorities, problem-solving skills and what not! ;) Isn’t it Suman? :)

Our day typically would begin with exchanging information on Har-ki-Dhun temperature and how we should equip ourselves to bear the sub-zero temperature. And the rest of the day was spent reading lot of articles, exchanging valuable information, online shopping, and planning for the Decathlon visits. 

Over these two months of planning, even though I had lot of apprehension about the trekking, what I enjoyed the most was the retail therapy. I realized, they don’t call it Retail Therapy for nothing. There is some joy in waiting for the parcel, trying out the product, and the immense sense of satisfaction that you get when your decision to buy that product is just perfect!

With the two months of preparation coming to an end, I was all set to trek the mighty Himalayas, bidding adieu to my family members.

Har-ki-Dhun Trek | The Trekking Phase

DAY 01-Dehradun (640mts) to Sankri (1850mts)

The day started off, by detaching myself from the comfortable foam mattress. Least did I knew that these comforts will not matter to me over the next few days, in comparison to what the Himalayas proffers.

Around 6:30 AM, Suman and I, were at the Dehradun railway station, meeting the fellow trekkers. We all started our journey towards Sankri, our base camp, which is around 250kms drive from Dehradun. 

The Dehradun to Mussoorie is an awesome stretch, and the Black Beauty crossed my mind each time the driver drove through the curves. By the time we crossed the topsy-turvy roads of Kempty falls-Purola-Moori-and-Netwar, our energy level dropped and so did the mobile network’s strength! And there we were in the no-network-zone while the entire world was panicky about the Nepal earthquake! :D

We reached the base camp around 3:00 PM. We were welcomed with a glass of Nimbu Paani. More than the welcome drink, what refreshed me the most was the glimpse of snow-clad mountains from the camp site. Within an hour or so, we had already experienced three seasons. The fleece jacket and the rain-wear were already out, and each of us were almost looking like stuffed toys. :D

The rest of the day was spent exploring Sankri and interacting with the fellow trekkers, the trek-leaders, and the localites.

DAY 02-Sankri (1850mts) to Taluka (1900mts)

The day began by sipping a cup of black tea. Trust me, in that weather, I am sure even the hot water will taste the best! 

Right from dwelling in the 6X6 tent to getting adapted to the Himalayan weather, everything single chore seemed to be new. It took approximately two hours for us to get ready, dismantle the tent and start our journey to Taluka which is about 11kms from Sankri.

Trekking as such is one of the most beautiful forms of travelling. And if you are photo enthusiast and walking in the Himalayan trail, the number of pictures you click will be almost equivalent to the number of footsteps. At some point of my first-day trek, it occurred to me that it is equally important to capture those frames in my mind along with capturing those in the camera.  I later had to shift my focus on enjoying the journey and observing the marvel of nature.
Taluka Village

After quite a number of ascends and descends we finally reached Taluka. Sipping a cup of hot chai energized us to further continue our journey to the campsite which was a few kms ahead of Taluka.

The moment we saw our camp location, right next to the Supin river, we had almost forgot the strenuous journey.
Camp Site
Some Solitude moment
After sumptuous lunch and some solitude moments, we spent some time on collecting the twigs for the campfire. By the end of the day, the fellow trekkers were no more strangers. 

DAY 03-Taluka (1900mts) to Pauni Gharat (~2500 mts)

For someone who downloads all nature-related apps, and locks herself in a dark room to listen to the sound of nature, Day 03 was a treat! To listen to the roaring Supin river for the whole night [without the fear of battery being drained out :)], to wake up listening to the chirping of birds, and to sip a cup of hot black tea amidst the chilling wind; was altogether a splendid experience which I shall cherish for the lifetime!

The wildflowers, the burbling streams, the bridges, and a sneak peek to the PahaaDi culture kept us on toes for the next five hours. By the end of the 7kms journey, we reached our next camp, Puani Gharat.

Why is it called puani gharat? Check this video.

The Penstock
The Flour Mill

Another wonderful day came to an end, after:

  • Having some hilarious conversation with Suman
  • Listening to the some classic Kannada songs 
  • Listening to the trekking tales of the trek-leader

DAY 04: Puani Gharat (~2550mts) to Kalkati Dhar (2950mts)

Puani Gharat Camp

The camp was located on an elevated land, right next to the supin river. It was surrounded by rocky mountains and paddy field. We all woke up to a sweet surprise; the tip of these rocky mountains were coated with a layer of snow. Looks like nature had worked hard to change the backdrop, overnight. :)

Kalkati Dhar Camp
After gathering all our belongings, around 8 AM, we began our ascend towards the next camp location, Kalkati Dhar. En route we passed through Osla, supposedly the last village in this stretch. There was no bound for joy when we got to hear about the availability of the Satellite phones. It must have been a solace for our near ones to hear from us! It was probably after this phone call, the trek-pace was increased!

After the hailstorm
The journey towards Kalkati Dhar wasn't an easy one. We had to pass through a narrow and steep trail. Adding to it, the rain and hail storm worsened the situation making the trail more slippery.
By the time we reached the camp location, we were damn tired. Nevertheless, the camp location instantly changed the mood of tired-trekkers. Each side of the camp was surrounded by snow-capped mountains. It was surely a visual treat  and gave us a sense that we are surrounded with screen savers!                                             

DAY 05: Kalkati Dhar (2950mts) | Har-ki-Dhun (3566mts)| Kalkati Dhar (2950mts)

It was the Summit Day. We started the trek around 6 AM, as we had to reach Har-ki-Dhun and return to Kalkati Dhar camp before the weather worsens. It was altogether a journey of 14 kms.

It was brutally cold when we set out of the camp.My palms were almost frozen and I had trouble holding the trek pole. The gradient gradually increased and further reduced the pace. For the next three to four hours we all slogged slowly, pausing only to gasp, sip water, and click some photos. The intense variety of flora in these trials enthralled us and kept us motivated.

As we continued to walk up the trail, the muddy and rocky trail was now transformed into snow-trail. It was fun to see how each one of us were slipping on the snow. By around 12 pm we finally reached the HAR-KI-DHUN.

Har-ki-dhun is a cradle shaped valley in the Garhwal Himalayan ranges towering Swargarohini and Bandarpunch peaks.

 After gobbling the packed lunch and playing/sliding on snow, I sat there to stare the snow-clad mountains only to feel how it would be to stand on the vertex. The very thought of it gave me goosebumps more than the chill wind!.

With a grim satisfaction, we returned to the camp. As the darkness enveloped the camp we all fell into a slumber...

DAY 06: Kalkati Dhar (2950mts) to Puani Gharat (~2550mts) 

The trail was quite familiar. One strange aspect about the mountains is it often puts you in a challenging situation and alters your thinking by 180 degrees.  I never thought the descent could be equally tiresome and risky. 

Once again thanks to the satellite telephone at Osla for connecting us to our dear ones. It reminded me of my college days of how I would call home to share my exam result. It was definitely a Déjà vu moment, but just that results were replaced by the summit-experience.

After reaching Pauni Gharat, I ended up spending the majority of my time sitting on the bank of supin river. It turned out to be my favorite-spot in the trek.

And yes this was our last day in the tent.

DAY 07: Puani Gharat (~2550mts) to Sankri (1850mts)

By now, we were no more amateur when it comes to dismantling the tents. We packed all our belongings and were set for the final descend. after a slow-pace trek to Taluka, we began our journey to the base camp- Sankri via a jeep ride.

We all settled on the jeep top. It wasn't a comfortable drive, but, none of us complained as it was a mixture of fear, fun, and excitement. Each time the jeep took over a treacherous curve the heart skipped a beat! 

The day came to an end after collecting the certificates and celebrating the success.

DAY 08: Sankri (1850mts) to Dehradhun (640mts)

The gust of wind from the upper mountains was perhaps the Himalayan way of saying goodbye. With a sense of accomplishment and hard-feeling we bid adieu to Sankri, and in course of time we were back to the city.

Back in the city, the ordinary pleasures of life - like connecting with the closed ones, being able to control the surrounding temperature, getting rid of thermals, gloves, and socks, gulping curd rice and pickle - did generate immense joy.

Like all good things coming to an end, the Himalayan trek ended too. I must say, the Himalayas have monopolized my thoughts and the trek imagery continues to permeate my dreams...

Har-ki-Dhun Trek | The Post-Trekking Phase

It is true that I am bitten by a Himalayan-bug. I sensed that there is something about the Himalayas which I am unable to explain effectively. Either the emotions are binding the words or perhaps my vocabulary is not sufficient enough to describe how much I adore the Himalayas!

It won't be an exaggeration if I say that I suffered from Acute City Sickness, until a week after the trekking. [There isn't any term as Acute City Sickness as such. It is something which I cooked up in par with Acute Mountain Sickness. :P]. 

Back in the city, all I did was nothing but to talk about my trekking experiences or be in a state of reminiscence. 

The fact is, I owe a lot to the Himalayas. In addition to loads of Silence Solitude and Stillness moments, it helped me to clear my internal conflicts, it helped me conquer my irrational fears, it shed a light on my physical and intellectual strength. 

Most importantly, I learned how to convince myself and strike a balance between being over-confident and lack-of-confidence. 

Overall, I think the Himalayas strengthened me physically, emotionally, and psychologically.

All I can say is, I am in a state of Euphoria...

Har-ki-Dhun Trek | Thanks Giving

The entire trip would be incomplete if I do not express my gratitude to:
  • Nature for cooperating throughout the trek. Had there been a snowfall, heavy rain, or landslides we would not have reached the summit!
  • My parents for allowing me to explore the world; My entire family for withstanding my obsession. My special thanks to my cute niece for showing keenness on trekking, and helping me in packing and organizing things. I hope she'll be a fellow trekker one day. 
  • Suman, for collecting and sharing information, for bearing my silence during the trek, and capturing some wonderful pics of mine.
  • Nitin-the trek leader, philosopher and a wanderer-for providing us loads of information throughout the trek and being supportive. I truly hope that I make an attempt to adapt his attitude towards lifeLife would be much simple and tension-free.
  • Trek The Himalayas (TTH) group for organizing the trek prudently. I can't think of any flaw. 
  • The fellow-trekkers. It was wonderful interacting with you all :)
  • Friends and colleagues. I am overwhelmed by the care-and-concern messages that you all have showered during my absence in the online world.
  • The porters and mules for carrying the hefty luggage. 
Image Courtesy: Pinterest

July 24, 2014

That Just Made My Day | Day 14

Its been two weeks since I started of with this series, and the fact that it is still on, Just Made My Day! :)

July 21, 2014

That Just Made My Day | Day 13

Yet an other Monday! And I did something really important. I filed my IT returns. Did you? ;)

When you crack a hard nut, it should obviously make your day!!! ;) :p :D

That Just Made My Day | Day 12

I got a chance to meet this lovely kid, who is visually-challenged. I loved her cute deep-dimples, and could not stop myself from expressing it.  The moment I expressed this, I did realize she did not comprehend what dimples are!

While I was successful in explaining her about the dimples, what Made My Day was- The genuine smile that she threw when she understood what dimples are!

I must say those dimples looked even more cute! :)