Saturday, 5 November 2011

Born in the 80s

Read this somewhere and liked it. So posting it here:

I was BORN in 80's. The last SANE generation! - We are the last generation that learnt to play in the street, we are the first who've played video games, seen cartoons in color and went to amusement parks. - We were the last to record songs of the radio on cassettes and we are the pioneers of walkmans and chatrooms... ...We Learned how to program the VCR before anyone else, play with the Atari, Super..................... Nintendo and believed that the Internet would be a free world. - We are the generation of the Thunder Cats, the Transformers, Silver Hawks, Gumby, Highwayman, Manimal, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, fawlty towers and twilight zone - Traveled in cars without seat belts or air-bags - lived without cell phones. - We did not have Play stations, 99 television stations, flat screens, surround sound, mp3s, iPods, computers and the Internet, ...but nevertheless we had a GREAT Time !

Thats all folks ;)

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Epilogue (Sar Pass trek)

Day 11:

The day we took leave of Kasol, and the Himalayas, and begin our journey to our boring, monotonous, daily life was today for some of us. We woke up that day quite late and went to have breakfast in the hotel where we were joined by all. Remember Nikhi and I wanted to go to river rafting earlier, but didn’t, we had decided to go on day 11(today) and by now everyone wanted to do it too. So in a way it was good we didn’t go then ‘coz now we went with the whole gang :D. The para-gliding got left out though :( Boohoo :’(.

So morning we discussed our plans and I wanted to buy something from Kasol as a souvenir. Problem was we were all lacking money, we had brought some cash and got ATM cards but but but there are no ATMs in Kasol!!! You have to go upto Jari for that. So with what money we had, Keerthi and I went to the Kasol market to buy some stuff. I got a nice cosy shawl :) and I don’t remember what he got :P and after that he went in search of Ashwyn for some photos and he didn’t join us in the rafting. Nor did Pranav and Kalpit.

By the time I left Kasol, I had fallen in love with it, it s so beautiful and so nice after all. It was a place I could now reckon with. Sometimes, when I look back, other than the obvious feelings I get of returning there, and the Himalayas, I sometimes feel like I should settle down there or in Grahan eventually :).  When I told this to Keerthi later, he was kind enough to suggest an alternative profession for me :P. Kasol has the 2nd best hashish in the world and there are a lot of people selling this illegally(maybe) over there. So he suggested that I settle in Kasol and sell hashish for a living :O :O :O. And when I told Shyam about my ideas, he said that he would need a free supply of hashish when he comes next for trekking :P. So if you ever find me in Kasol, I would definitely not be selling anything :P. I think I should probably settle in Grahan and teach at the school there (Like Amir Khan in 3 idiots opening a school in Ladakh :P). Anyways that’s for future to decide :) :) :). Back to where we were.

We had missed the bus and we booked a vehicle to go to a rafting location in Bhunter (There are several). Since Jai and Rajni uncle didn’t want to do rafting and as the vehicle only accommodated 9 people, Nikhi, Naveen, Shyam, Nirav, Sandeep, Chatur, Yugi, Vikas and me set off. I slept through most of the journey and we withdrew money at Jari and finally reached the rafting location. We kept our luggage including the cameras and mobiles and took only Sandeep’s camera along so we hardly have any pics of the rafting. We had 2 rafts – Nikhi, Sandeep, Yugi, Naveen and Vikas got into one and Me, Shyam, Chatur and Nirav got into another. I don’t remember the level of rafting but it was not a difficult one. We went and the chilled water splashing on you rapidly is an awesome experience. I guess this was the Baes river. Rivers Parvati and Baes combine and then the water flows as Baes river. I can’t describe the rafting experience, you have to experience it yourself to know it :).

As we rafted, we chatted with our guide or boatman or however you describe him. He is the strong guy who does the actual oaring and has full control. We just do it in some parts as per his directions. He was a nice guy and he told he takes part in rafting competitions :). He said he was from Nepal and he asked us where we were from. For this Chatur gave such a fundoo reply that I still laugh when I think about it :D :D :D. Chatur replied “Bhaiya hum upar se hai, Sar Pass se”. Hahahahahhahahahahhahahaha Chatur had made us natives of Sar Pass just like that :D :D :D.  At one point we could get into the water. I don’t know to swim but wanted to get in the water too. So, trusting my life jacket, and the guide I got in holding the rope. If I had found the water chilling before, it appeared warm compared to what I felt now *Burrrhhhhhh*. I came back in the raft along with the others and now no more felt a chill when water splashed :D. We soon reached the end point which is a distance away from the starting point.

After having delicious pakodas here, we set off again but not in a raft this time but in  the back side of a transportation tempo :O. It was a extremely bumpy and Shyam the Sherpa hung out of the van for most part of the journey :D and here too, they drive like crazy on the narrow roads :D :D :D. Awesome :D. We reached the starting point, where we met some of our fellow SP22 mates who had come for rafting too. We bid adieu to them, changed(you have to get dry :P) and set off to find our boarding point for bus. We got into a local bus(but missed out sitting on the roof top because there was place inside to stand :( :( :( ). The one thing I remember was the songs being played in the bus were of Hindi movies of the 90s. It reminded us all of the school days since these were the songs we grew up listening to :). We finally reached the boarding place which was some hotel. Keerthi, Sudhakar, Manju, Ashwyn and Neeloy were already here, each with a  colourful long beaded string from some part of their hair and Keerthi with a colourful goatee :D :D ). We had dosas there (inspite of my protests ) and soon the buses arrived.

Sandeep, Nirav, Shyam had decided to go to Manali. Initially, Nikhi and I had this plan too, but we had to collect her luggage from her friend in Delhi and since I had not seen Delhi before, we decided to spend the next day in Delhi before returning to Bangalore the day after. We later learnt that going to Manali would be a waste because it was spoilt with the tourism and we had seen the upper Himalayas. So they bid farewell to us and Keerthi and Naveen got into their bus for Delhi and Nikhi and I got into ours.

As we left, we were not just leaving the Himalayas , but also a bunch of very good friends. We of course stay in touch :P thanks to social networking and mobiles etc etc but it still isn’t the same as up there in the mountains :). Thinking of the days spent there, always brings a big smile to my face :).

Thats all folks ;)

Miles to go before I sleep - Part 9 - Back to Kasol

Disclaimer: This is not an instruction on how to do a Sar Pass trek. This is more about the experience of doing it. Each group and each member of each group has their own memories. These are mine :)

The preceding parts:
Part 1:
Part 4:
Miles to go before I sleep - Part 7
Part 8:
Miles to go before I sleep - Part 8

Return to Base Camp:
Day 10:

Woke up that day thinking we are returning to base camp today. It was mixed emotions. You don’t want to leave the mountains but you want to return back to civilization too and have a bath(It had been 6-7 days since last bath 
:( ). I remember having noodles for breakfast that day. We formed our lines, took the counts(Our number significantly reduced since many people had left the previous day) and we set off again, chatting, laughing, joking, the usual. We met some locals on the way, there was a man who had his baby tied to his back, saw some animals. One moment Naveen would be behind us and next, he would have reached ahead of us due to his superb trekking skills :). And walking along, we finally reached some civilization.
Back to civilization
We had to stop to let them pass

We had to walk through it to reach the Barshani Road head. I found walking on the roads irritating, I preferred the uneven earth. We were too tired by the time we reached the road. The plan was to travel via bus to Manikaren(17km) and then trek to Kasol Base Camp(5km). We decided not to wait for bus and booked a vehicle to take us directly to Kasol(We were too tired!). After we sat in the vehicle, about a 100 meter away was the parked bus and near it we saw the people who had reached earlier, amoung them Shyam, Yugi and Kalpit. I remember Shyam saying to us, “Saalo main tum logon ke liye bus chod ke yahan khada hu aur tum log mujhe chod ke jarahe ho” :D. We waved to him and left. Riding along we finally reached Kasol. Needless to say the accompanying scenery was good, but now that we had seen the higher Himalayas, this beauty looked quite ordinary :O. Its all about perspective after all.
Base camp again

When I saw the base camp, I felt like I had come back home :), even though we had stayed there for only 3 days before we lelft, and this was my 1st visit to the place. Maybe it was the return to civilization and the crowd :S. Reached base camp all sweaty and dirty, after some time we were joined by the people who came in the bus. After doing the formalities, we chatted with the Field Director, our batch mates and now we were the ones giving advice and tips and tricks to the batches going next day :D :D :D. It feels great to do that. We are after all experienced now :P.
Lunch point in base camp

We soon had lunch and now the temperature of Kasol felt quite hot contrary to the cold we had felt when we had come here. But then again, that journey had been from Delhi up to Kasol, and this journey was from Sar Pass to Kasol(13800Ft to 6500ft). The water now was no more chilling, it appeared normal, it didn’t leave me numb now :D :D :D. Due to some reasons, we decided to check into a hotel that night instead of staying in the tent, and the others decided to do that too. We went out and met the rest of the gang in a cafĂ© where the food was quite okay. We found a nice hotel and Nikhi and I checked into a room while the guys checked into the others in pairs. Amar decided to leave that day itself to Delhi after collecting her certificate. We went back to base camp for the valedictory function(Fire fire camp fire) and had fun shouting the nicknames as each of us were called. Only our group(nicknamed the tent 14 gang) was left for the function. Culprit gave some thank you speech and my name was spelled wrong in the certificate :(. Mithun Sir corrected it and gave me a new certificate and told us to add him to the Sarpass group that we would create for our batch :). 

10 days back we had come here with with expectations and hopes and of not knowing what exactly we would find. Now we had returned back, triumphed, having SarPass-ed successfully (Well that’s not the right word but I like to use it :P). The trek met my expectations more than ever, except for a snow fall :(. But probably, next time I would experience it. Oh yeah I want to return back again to do it  again and again and again:). I have fallen in love with the mighty Himalayas, its pure and unadulterated beauty, the delicious water (though the water taste of Belgaum comes 2nd, which I always loved is now replaced with the taste of the roaring Parvati river), the joy of walking through the mountains and the snow, not a care in the world, the awesome friends I made there in such a short span of time whom I will cherish forever :), and as Calvin says, having made my knees green daily so that I need not re-examine my life :) :) :).

That ends my tale of Sar Pass trek but the journey doesn’t end here, I have an epilogue left (in which I am going to bore you with my love for Kasol) :P, so bear with me a little longer :P.

Thats all folks ;)

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Miles to go before I sleep - Part 8 - Picture Perfect

Disclaimer: This is not an instruction on how to do a Sar Pass trek. This is more about the experience of doing it. Each group and each member of each group has their own memories. These are mine :)

The preceding parts:
Part 1:
Part 4:

Next Destination: Bandak Thatch - Ht. 8000 ft. (10 kms) 6 hrs
Day 9:

When we came to Biskeri Thatch, we had descended to 11000Ft. It was all descend now(Cmon, you have to come back some day :P). 
Next day I woke up earlier than usual and I was off mood that day because I had fever. I wished that that day itself we were in Bandak Thatch and that we were returning to Kasol that day(Fever makes you stupid :( ) . As we had tea all of us gathered and chatted. We knew that Aniket and his brother Aniruddh had left the previous day itself but the details we came to know now. They had to descend until they hit the main road. There was no other way to go and since Aniket’s shoulder was dislocated the guides could carry him in only some places. He himself had to walk most of the time. And they walked all night stopping and going again!!!! He was then admitted to a hospital for a day in Kullu.
Biskeri Thatch top view
Pintya (Our guide)

And we started off again after forming the usual lines and walked, me having taken a paracetamol. The accompanying scenery was beautiful. We walked on green grass with distant snow capped mountains catching our eyes. We walked and walked until we reached a certain point which made us rappel down. What we had learnt on day 3 came in handy now. But this one was a bit difficult than the one we had practiced on as the surface was uneven.  Naveen having reached down already gave us tips and tricks while, Shyam and Keerthi had gone to a narrow wooden bridge and sat photographing. Meanwhile Nirav found an axe somewhere :O. Shyam helped us all cross the bridge which was very narrow. On the other end we saw that the river that was flowing had a cover of ice on the mountain side, below which it flew freely. After resting and having the delicious water, we started off again.
View on the way 

That white thing above the water was ice
By now I was too tired due to the fever and Naveen, Keerthi and Shyam(whom I had already burdened with my camera :( ) insisted that I give my rucksack to them. I kept refusing and fighting them off. They gave me extra time to rest. As I kept refusing to allow them to carry my rucksack, once Shyam snatched it which I took back and then finally Keerthi snatched it from me and set off fast so that I couldn’t take it back. I finally had to give in and in a way I was thankful to them. I could walk faster now and save their time too. I was really stupid and silly that day(I am not gonna mention what though :P) and I blame the fever for it :P. We finally reached the camp site and it was nothing like we had ever seen before. Beautiful meadow, distant snow capped mountains, a few tents propped up,. We passed mules and some other animals grazing the grass as we reached this. I was beautiful, mesmerizing, call it whatever, God at his/her artistic best :).

Bandak Thatch camp site

Picture perfect. 
Can you imagine a more beautiful place? I wish I had a house here and also a helicopter for transportation. Now that I am wishing for things, I might as well wish for powers of Superman to fly so that I can fly on my own and save petrol :P

Around 30 of our batch-mates had decided to reach the base camp that day itself instead of the next day, including the group leader. This camp was optional and you could still get your certificates on missing it, but who goes there for certificate? This is beauty at its best :). So they went off and only a few of us were left behind and Rajni uncle being the deputy group leader was left in charge. Since it was the last day, the guides(who had carried the luggage) wanted to have a game of cricket that day :). And they asked for spare socks(which I think someone gave of Chatur without his knowledge :D ) which they converted into a good cricket ball. I wanted to play but couldn’t and so along with Nikhi and Amar watched from a side. There was 1 game followed by rain and then another. The camp leader had told us not to sit on the stones here as the locals considered the stones to be God. So we oblidged and sat on the soft grass and as always had an awesome time.

Since the population was half , we had extra sleeping bags today and I used one as a mattress :D. Next day we would be bidding adieu to this awesome place to go back to base camp.

Thats all folks ;)