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Thursday, 25 December 2008

The Bonus Life

The process of hemodialysis can be very painful at times. The last time I was having dialysis, my BP dropped to less than 50 and I was not able to even see the face of the nurse who was attending to me. Then the pressure went so low that I vomitted. The vomit itself would have weighed around a kilogram. My weight reduction was so high that it was around 25% more than the actual weight gain. When I came home I could feel the dehydration. And I was not able to sleep the whole night as I was getting bad bouts of cramps.

The lower back was paining like hell. But then these things happen. they are part and parcel of the process.

The other typical problem that occurs is rigours. There is violent trembling of the body and its like the body is revolting the process of dialysis. This invariably ends with high temperature and terrible weakness.

Well these are just some of the problems that occur during dialysis. The pain areas are quite a few. Someone asked me "Why dialysis?"

Well in the earlier days the moment you had a kidney failure it meant the end of everything. The life expectancy wasnt there beyond a time. Dialysis means extending that life span. It is a process that lets you live beyond your time.

Life goes on. At least dialysis helps you go on in life. Even though it does not ensure a great quality of living, it keeps you going. It keeps you alive when otherwise you would be no longer alive to enjoy the fruits of life.

Life on Dialysis is like a bonus. And when we are on a bonus life span we should just enjoy.

In fact not just enjoy.....Celebrate.....Celebrate Life!!!

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Blogging is Special

Blogging is something I have started to enjoy. It has become an outlet for me to express myself and my deepest thoughts.

I have been extremely tied up with work for the last 2-3 months and my frequency of posting on this blog has reduced. However, I do not miss any opportunity to do so.

It gives me great pleasure when I get compliments from those who follow my writing. Some compliments have gone to the extent of wanting to compile a book of all my posts. That was quite touching as well as a humbling experience.

Blogging has given me a great sense of rejuvenated confidence and awareness of my abilities to write and write well at that.

Work keeps me busy. Work pays me for what I am doing. Treks are my passion. They are my connection to the mystic element that exists in nature.

Blogging is special too. It connects the various aspects of life that seem disjointed but have this mystic connection between themselves

Friday, 19 December 2008

Better than the Best

During the course of my job and career, I have tried my level best to compete with healthy individuals on an equal keel. I have never requested any favours with respect to responsibilities except that I leave my workplace at 6 pm on the days I have to go for my dialysis. Even when it came to meeting requirements of clients, I have always ensured that I delight clients with timely work before I tell them about my health problems.

But sometimes I really feel tired. I take my dialysis at nights post working hours. At times it goes on till 1 am and I get to sleep only at around 2 pm. To add to it sometimes I get bad bouts of cramps.I hardly get any sleep sometimes. Yet I go to work in the morning, as if I am a normal person. The other day I was in a similar situation. I hadnt slept at night. I went to work and was in such a bad shape. But as I said I never use the premise of me being on dialysis as a handicap. I dont like to. My lower back was hurting like hell. My blood pressure was so low. At times I blacked out in my seat. It was really scary.

But I had to complete a task at hand. I was focussing on it as much as I could. I completed it at around 1030 pm and then left for the day. The task was now achievable the next day. I left office. I somehow managed to reach home by cab and went off to sleep.

When the task was to be presented to the client, we realised that I had missed out on some of the detailing. Well I really felt guilty. But I had really put in my best effort. Sometimes the body simply does not respond. In fact it revolts.

But then I cant give that as an excuse. Work cant suffer. I have to compete with normal healthy human beings.

I have to better them. Do better than the best!

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Island on the horizon

It was only me and the deep blue sea.

Daybreak was setting in. Along with it dawned a new perspective. The sea was vast. The ocean calm despite the depth of its waters.

The bright sun in the horizon beckoned to move on. Giving hope of a new kind.

The task at hand was important at the moment. As Swami Vivekananda said once"If you are born in this world make a mark before you leave"

Time was short. There has to be some activity to achieve the given task. The island of hope was visible in the horizon. But in the deep seas no one knows how far or near the distances would be. It could be a mirage for all I knew.

But the ship had to move on. The anchor was required when the ship was stationary. When it needed to dock. At the moment it was time to explore. The whole universe was waiting to be explored. How could an anchor distract it from its goal.

The goal to take up the impossible. The goal to make it possible.

Again as Swami Vivekananda once famously said "The history of the world is the story of a few men who had faith in themselves"

It is time to make that story.

Deep Sea Anchors

In our lives we have anchors. We have a set of people whom we depend on and consider a part of us. These are the people you turn to when you really need to talk or really need to have an open discussion. We know that whatever the discussion the anchor would remain.

Thank God for such people. They could be immediate family, our close circle of friends, and definitely some with whom there are special relationships. These relationships are very special because they cant be given names. They are sublime. They go beyond the ordinary definition of brother and sister, man and wife, father and son. These along with your immediate family are the strongest anchors that connect us to the outside world.

Suddenly if it happens that this anchor is no where to be seen. It has disappeared and the person suddenly starts behaving as if we were never close friends, it raises a lot of questions as to the reasons for this sea change. It suddenly feels like you are all at sea with the vast ocean (beautiful in other times) out to engulf you. It is so scary.

We wish to have that anchor back. We wish to at least know what was the storm that suddenly made the anchor disappear from our lives. I for one am not able to comprehend what hit me. This feeling is very funny and it hurts.

As a patient on hemodialysis, it becomes difficult to control anxiety and hence erratic pressure levels and moods exist. But I guess anxiety and mood swings would happen to even normal human beings.

If the ground on which it was anchored was not firm it would not have lasted for the duration that it lasted. If there has been so much trust over the years that we used to share everything with each other, why this distance suddenly. If there is a problem there is a huge chance that the anchor that the friend is looking for could be provided by me. This I believe has happened on several occasions earlier.

I so hope and fervently pray that even if the anchor has to be away from my life, the disappearing act could be done in a more humane manner. After all some relationships that have stood the test of time cant just be disappearing in the deep sea.

I really wish that this anchor remains connected to me but have no clue on where it is heading. No clue whatsoever on what is the right approach.

As of now it looks like its just me and the deep blue sea.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Life has to go on

Today I heard another piece of news that has become quite common. On an average once every month or two I hear that someone I knew and was on dialysis is no more. Today also I heard this kind of news about someone who used to care a lot for me. Yes, I felt sad that the person is no more. At the same time there was a queer sense of relief that the person would no longer have to be with the ups and downs of being a patient on dialysis.

I know how it feels and despite me being very positive most of the times, even I have preferred secretly that it would be preferable to not exist at all rather than go through all this pain. Then again I put in that huge effort to pull myself out of the rut and get back into mode positive. All over again.

Its not easy.

I was trying to analyse what would it be that gives us that funny feeling in the belly when we hear such news.

Is it fear of death?
Is it the fear of loved ones having to bear with the grief of losing someone they loved?

Well when we are no more we would not have to see our loved ones grieving for us. While we are alive we can see the pain in their eyes. We can see them caring for us, worrying for us when we are not upto the mark. So for everyone else there is a mix of a little bit of ease and convenience but a whole lot of grief. And as we see in the real world, most of us are able to get over the grief as time passes.

We need to take life in our stride and move on.Life has to go on.

I guess then it would be the fear of death. What are we worried about. After dying we will not be around to feel anything. So while we exist isnt it folly to keep thinking of the inevitable and spoil the time that we have on our hands. Yes we can grieve for the departed soul for some time. And we are normally able to get over the grief as time passes.

We need to take life in our stride and move on. Life has to go on.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

The Terror Strike

The day the strike happened will remain etched in my memory for a long time to come.

I had just had dialysis and was home. My blood pressure was very low and I was feeling extremely weak. There was this one day match between India and England that was happening which was being telecast live. Since the Indian cricket team was in smashing form, even my parents were wholeheartedly watching the match. The normal cribs about having to miss their soaps wasnt there.

When the match got over, I was on the sofa, quite weak and feeling very giddy. I was able to hear loud and clear that India had managed to successfully chase the English total thus leading 5- 0 in the seven match series. Despite the giddiness I was able to see the lost and forlorn face of the English captain leading his team off the field. It was a lost cause. England was one of the best teams in world cricket. Was.

Post the victory, there is usually a long commercial break before the ceremony happens. During this break I normally tune in to news channels and find out the latest happenings.

There was a breaking news in the ticker. It talked about some gang war related firing at the prime terminus in my city. I discounted it as a small happening and kept surfing channels. Another news channel was reporting the same happening along with reports of blasts in a top hotel in the city. This was one of the most reputed hotels and an iconic one at that.

These two incidents could not have been a coincidence.They were barely a couple of kms away from each other. The other incident of firing was also in the vicinity of the same hotel. This was not gangwar.

And then we heard a blast that shook our house. We started getting calls from our neighbours. We were sure this was something big. Something we had not experienced in my 35 years of life in this city.

I forgot that I just had dialysis. I was planning to sleep immediately after the match. I was feeling giddy. I was not able to sit straight due to the low blood pressure. Was.

No more. Everything else was forgotten. Except for the attack.

This was a defining moment in the history of the world. It was happening barely a few kms from where I was.

This was definitely not an underworld gangwar. The underworld was not openly involved.They were killing innocents. This was not by any gang

It was War!! a continuation of the proxy war.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Dousing a Fire

It was late afternoon. A day off since it was an even saturday. I ran some chores in the morning and had a sumptuous meal at home. My sister was to leave for USA at night and hence my aunty who lives nearby had invited us for ice cream.

I was just having the icecream when my phone rang. It was my mother. She sounded frantic. She asked me to rush to my best friends place...my childhood friend, we had grown together, seen the world together, had lots of fun together that we were ever so close to each other. There was a fire at his house I was told.

Unfortunately for the ice cream already served in the bowl (it lost a most vocal consumer, I ran. The house was a couple of buildings away. I tried calling my friend but his line was busy. I was not able to make out whether he was at home or at work. His residence number was also not reachable. He stays on the third floor. There was a huge crowd at the building entrance. I looked above. I could see fumes in the air. The fire was quite huge. I could not see anyone in the balcony. So either my friend and his family were safe inside the house or they were not. There was no way to find that.

And anyways someone had to extinguish the fire. I rushed up. Just as I was at the start of the third floor, I stopped. The flames were gushing down. Something fell to my side. I stepped aside just in time. Then something else fell and I was not able to dodge it in time. Fell on my head. No one was around.

Looking behind, I saw two youngsters (I had never seen them before in the colony) carrying a cylinder of fire extinguisher. I was relieved. I was not able to carry the same as it weighed a lot. The colony watchman also came in with another fire cylinder. They started spraying the chemical to douse the fire and in no time there were fumes all around. These mixed with the fumes of the fire and it was so bad that it was difficult to breathe. I was now not able to see anything.

In some time the smog reduced and we realised that the fire had died down. Thanks to the youngsters whom I had never met, who were obviously new to the surroundings.

I got a call from my friend and I informed him that things were under control. He was at work. I went in and got him to speak to his mother and at this point we heard the fire engine come in. Some kind person had intimated the fire department and they had made it in good time.

Things were under control now. All were safe. It was now that the police came in to lodge c complaint and investigate the fire. They were doing their job.

I took the permission of my friends family and came down. There was a much bigger crowd now. Most of them were people who knew us since our childhood, since we were growing. Some were our contemporaries. All watching the show. It was like a reality show, but it was for real.

I guess we need to realise the difference between reality shows and stark reality.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Halady - Where I hail from

Mangalore is my native place. For all practical purposes, it is. I was born here. I lived here with my maternal grandparents for a couple of years when I was a kid. But Halady is the place which gives me my surname. For 4 generations noone from my family had been to this place.

When I fell ill, an astrologer told me about this village. Some incidents are difficult to believe leave along comprehend. But when it happens to you, there is no choice but to believe.

The astrologer told us about an ancestral temple along the banks of a river. The deity of the temple was the mother Goddess. He also told us that for four generations none from our family have visited this place and the Goddess wants us back. Well difficult to believe, but there could be an element of truth in it. Our surnames are derived from the name of the villages where we hail from. So we went to the village. On inquiry we actually reached a dilapidated temple as accurately described by the astrologer. Now there was no option but the believe the story. The description was so accurate and the place was several kilometres away from the location of the guy who predicted its existence.

Well adventures need not be only those with physical exersion. They come in all packages and sizes.

There is a legend behind this temple and the village which is quite fascinating in itself. The legend seems difficult to believe but then it has happened to me........

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Mangalore

Mangalore is my native place. My family originally hails from this city. It is also my place of birth. Maybe that is the reason whenever I land in Mangalore I feel a strange sense of belongingness.

I had rescheduled my dialysis from the night slot to the early morning slot. The hospital authorities were nice enough to accomodate me on this one. I finished the process at 12 and went home. I had a flight to catch. The flight was scheduled for 4 pm which meant I hardly got any rest post dialysis. But I was excited. I am excited everytime I am travelling to that part of the country.

We landed at Mangalore airport at around 6 pm. Our family friend had arranged for a taxi to take us to Kundapur from where the village of my origin (Halady) was around 12 kms.

The moment we stepped out and the car took off from the airport, this quaint sense of belonging started engulfing me. The smell of the mud, the beautiful landscape, the tiled roofs brought back that nostalgic feeling that I enjoy so much.

It was such a memorable experience. As it always is............

The very unique feeling that one experiences when you belong to the place. A feeling of homecoming............

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Vacations

We have to go for hemodialysis every third or fourth day. As a result going on vacations is an issue for us. To go on longer vacations we have to do a research on the dialysis centres in that place. Once that is done we have to find out which ones have slots available for one extra patient.

Its an advantage if we know someone in that place so that they can check out the centre personally and ensure the hygiene etc. that is required for that place.

Then once we go to that place the whole process of registering in the new place what with repeating all those blood tests which are necessary precautions and the purchase of equipment to facilitate dialysis.

Well, the whole fun of a vacation is lost. So best way is to make put at home or take short breaks from the hustle of the city.

As they say "Good things come in small packets"

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Friends and Poetry

Friends are a real pillar of support in our bad times. They are the ones that keep you going when the going is tough. There are others who categorise you as close but disappear when they are really needed.

Everyone has all kinds of friends. It is upto us whom to be in touch with, whom to keep at a distance and whom to avoid totally. It is also upto us whose advise to take seriously, and whose not to.

I have got rave reviews from friends who follow my posts in this blog. Most of them appreciate my style of writing. Some prefer to read the shorter reflective posts while others prefer the long descriptive ones. Many of my friends tell me that those descriptive ones take them to the venue of the incident and they can actually visualise the happening. Others prefer my reflective posts because of the "twist in the tail" so to say.

Lots of friends have been suggesting to me to start writing poetry. They opine that I have sufficient command on the language to do so. I do get tempted to attempt that at times. However, I have not yet done so. It is my firm belief that if we can make our prose so beautiful that it sounds like poetry then its a greater achievement. It is like a main course tasting like dessert.

It is difficult to measure how much confidence I derive when my friends give feedback on my posts. Some have subscribed to the posts and I dont even have to remind them to read.

When it comes to close friends, I inform them personally about new posts. Well, I guess they have better things to do than read blogs. Or maybe as the classic hindi saying that goes "Ghar ki murgi daal baraabar"

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Karnala




Karnala was my very first trek. I had been there with the students of Nature club of Wilson college when I was studying there. I have been to Karnala twice thereafter, but everytime I felt nostalgic. This was the beginning of a beautiful journey which took me to so many beautiful places so near to the concrete jungle where I stay and yet so cut off from civilisation. Its an amazing experience.

Karnala is located in the midst of a bird sanctuary. Hence it is a nice place for bird watching. Well I am referring to the birds that can fly.......It is located around 15 km from Panvel and the trek route starts from the apiary at the bottom of the fort. There are 2 routes to the top. One from the right of the tar road and the other from the side of the gate of the apiary.

We had a lady with us and hence we chose the easier one. We wanted to reach the top.

The road was not so tough as it was well defined. I had my dialysis the last night and I was quite dehydrated. My lower back started complaining just 5-10 minutes into the trek and I had to take a seat and rest it for a few minutes. I was not able to understand the cause of the back pain. Then I took some fresh lime water which we were carrying. I had a glass full and I felt better. I got back that energy that is required while trekking. The view of the fort was spurring me on to move ahead.

We were resting in between as it was quite sunny and humid. We were losing lots of fluids from the body. I knew there were water cisterns at the top, but had also heard that the area around the cisterns was now infested with honey bees. Hence it was extremely dangerous to go near these water sources.

But we were losing water and we needed the same to move up. The view on the way was nice to say the least, but maybe was not comparable to the one on the way to Bhimashankar.

The last stretch started. One of our members was too tired and was unable to manage the steepness of the climb. A couple of us decided to give company to the weaker person and let the remaining go to the top.

I missed the nostalgia of reaching the fort, however it was important for us to be with our group member as she was also the lone lady.Plus we had come to trek and not reach the top.Reaching the top was only a threshold from where we could go no further.

We had some snacks as they returned from the top. And then made our way back.

The way back was too slow again. Our weaker member was finding it difficult to take every step.

Finally we reached the base and checked out the apiary as well. We took a mini bus run by a driver making extra money after dropping his hosts somewhere. We started for Mumbai after a sumptuous meal in Panvel.

It was a nice feeling after losing all that sweat. Well urine is something that I am not able to pass. Hence any detoxification is anyways welcome.

Maybe this post should have read Why I trek 4!!!

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Why I trek 3

I am person who is normally reticent and take very long to get close to people. I take time to start trusting people. I take time to start sharing my self with them. I take time to make friends.

When we trek we are in the jungles. Some of them are very dense and there is no one else in the area for many kilometres. We are just with the group. Some of these jungles are infested with very dangerous species of animals and insects. We have to be on our guard all the time. Also there are no restaurants, hospitals, public toilets etc which we find on highways to add to our convenience. Conditions are adverse most of the time.

All we have for company are our trekking group members. We depend on each other. We are there for each other. We start trusting each other. Isnt that what true friendship is all about.............

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Why I trek 2

With a state of health like chronic renal failure and the problems that occur with regular dialysis it is very tough to live life normally. We also have our own ambitions etc. which normally take a back seat. These constraints become a bit too much for us to face life and move on at a pace that is natural to our potential.

But then the goals remain. Whatever the constraints.

During trekking too we reach a point of no return. A place from where there is no going back. We have a tough way ahead of us. Yet our physical self is exhausted and does not have much left to reach the goal (summit)

In such times, we delve deep in our reserves and get out that hidden energy. We do not even know most of the times that so much additional energy is stored in us. Its a mind game. Getting that emotional and mental strength out when it is absolutely essential.

It is quite the same with life on dialysis

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Why I trek

All of us have some moments in life that we cherish and feel happy about whenever we think of them. There are the times when we have are exhilarated and ecstatic about something in life. Interestingly these are also the times when we are thinking about nothing. The feeling of nothingness stems from a state of non desire. This is about self actualisation. We are so satisfied that we dont need anything more in life.

Being on dialysis for a while now, we get to see so much suffering, so much pain, so much agony, so much trauma that these moments to cherish are very rare.

Nature in its own way is so beautiful that in return for the exertion in trekking it offers some beautiful moments. The mountains, the valleys, how they complement each other. The good times and the bad times similarly.

The Heat of summer and the chill of winter and the wetness of the monsoon in the tropical areas complement each other. The moods that we have similarly.

The water of the rivers, the fire of the forests, the mud of the countryside all complement each other.

The balance is so sublime the beauty so pristine. When I trek I am stunned by the beauty of nature into a state of nothing ness. Each moment a unique experience to be cherished for a lifetime.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Article in DNA featuring me



How can I think positive when my life is falling apart? What have I done to deserve this? Why me?” These were Rakesh Sharma’s thoughts when he found out that he needed an angioplasty. Seven years back, he had a bypass surgery after a severe heart attack. Being Christmas, the doctor who conducted the surgery wasn’t the renowned cardiologist Rakesh would have liked. Six months later, when he came to Mumbai to visit his family, the 40-year old NRI was rushed to the hospital with chest pain. The electrocardiogram (ECG) showed unusual activity and his cardiologist suggested the possibility of an angioplasty. A second — and third — opinion revealed the same thing: His cardiogram showed a flaw in the bypass — one artery had not been operated upon and this was now showing a blockage. Disturbed and disillusioned, Rakesh put
his foot down: “There’s no way I’m getting this procedure done. I can’t afford to get my heart operated upon every six months. I’d rather die, if I’m fated to.” His cardiologist spent an hour explaining why he was lucky to know what the problem was and that he still had a chance: An angioplasty is safe and will definitely improve things, he said. But it was his mother who managed to convince him: “This is what God wants. It’s for your own good.” So after numerous tests and consultations, Rakesh agreed. Last year, when he came to India, he paid his doctor a visit. “Doc, the positive discussions that I had with you and my mother really helped me,” he said. “I’ve had a completely asymptomatic five years. And when I think back to those conversations, I still feel motivated. It still helps me control my diet and lifestyle.”Like Rakesh, a number of people who suffer from chronic diseases — like cancer,hypertension, diabetes and AIDS — believe that approaching the doctor with an open mind and staying positive throughout the treatment has helped them get better faster.
“If one stays positive, vital physiological parameters stay normal,” says Dr Ramakant Deshpande,surgical oncologist at Lilavati Hospital. Doctors agree that
staying optimistic is important for the patient, family and the doctor.
“Sometimes, patients with chronic diseases feel that they are hooked on to the treatment for life. This can be a depressing thought,” says Dr Jatin Kothari, nephrologist at the PD Hinduja Hospital. High cost of treatment, constant
vigilance and the time consumed by procedures such as chemotherapy and dialysis,
can take its toll on the entire family. “If patients stay positive, they are more
likely that they will follow up with their treatment. This improves recovery,” adds
Dr Dehpande. “We have seen that patients who get depressed and lose the will to live
can develop complications.” It is important for the doctor to spend some time with the patient and the family to explain the procedure.
“The doctor should make sure that there is no fear that can lead to negativity,”
says Dr Siddharth Dagli, consultant cardiologist.
“Medicine does not adequately describe this, but it has been seen that attitude
plays an important role in recovery.” And this is entirely scientific. “Staying
optimistic releases neurotransmitters — chemicals that conduct electrical impulses
in the brain — that liberate endorphins in the body. These endorphins are natural pain and stress relievers and enhance the healing process by improving the body’s immune response,” explains Dr Dagli.

Exercise, agree doctors, plays an important role in releasing these endorphins. Various studies have shown that exercise after chemotherapy boosts the activity of infection fighting T-cells. It also improves physical functions, such as endurance, body strength and volume of oxygen intake. Whether it is cancer, AIDS or heart disease,exercise reduces weakness,muscle cramps and fatigue, say doctors. The knowledge a patient has on his/her illness is also dependent on the attitude. “A person reads up on the disease and prepares himself to deal with the pain and
cost of the treatment,” says Dr Deshpande. Instead of brooding, if the patient considers the short-term effects of the illness, it becomes easier to take it one day at a time, says Dr Kothari. Like Samiir Halady, who has to undergo dialysis twice a week, every week, for the rest of his life. Diagnosed in 2002 with
Membranoproliferative Glomerulonephritis (MPGN), the 35-year-old MBA read up
about the disease on the internet and decided that since he had to live with failed
kidneys, he might as well get used to the idea. “I realised that I shouldn’t be comparing my problems with those of others,” he says. “I didn’t let myself get into the mould of ‘why me’ because I knew that I had to get emotional strength from myself, not from others. So I live the way I want to, and take my illness one day at a time. I’ve told myself that everyone lives with problems… and this is mine.”

For both Samiir and Rakesh, and most patients suffering from cancer, diabetes and ther diseases, the family plays a very important role in helping the patient stay optimistic and happy. Support groups for cancer, Alzheimer’s, autism and AIDS, among other illnesses, play a tremendous role too. “Knowing that someone else is dealing with the same, or similar problem as you, makes it easier to stay happy and move ahead with treatment,” says Dr Deshpande. Sometimes, there are religious groups and individuals that step up to help bring in this positive attitude. “At the end of the day, whether it’s the family, a priest or the doctor, what is important is that the
patient remains happy and optimistic about his/her chances,” adds Dr Dagli. j_geetanjali@dnaindia.net

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Rajmachi to Kondivade





Normally we carry a lot of glucose powder and ORS products when we trek. This time I was trekking overnight after a long time and the others for the first time. We were not having sacks big enough to take everything. Hence our stocks of these important supplements were low.

Our hosts told us that the way down would take us around 2 and a half hours. We started. The starting of the route itself was mucky. We were scared after the scare the previous day. WE kept to the rocks. It was taking time but we were ok with losing time. Losing our legs in that muck was definitely more scary.

The rocky patch started. There were luckily nice arrow marks made by trekking groups to make life easier for all of us. That was a really nice gesture from someone. This route as I remember was full of diversions and it was very easy to lose our way.

The rocks were slippery. It wasnt raining as heavily, but the way was quite dangerous. One slip and it would have become the slip of a lifetime. I had a fistula on the left hand. I had to guard it very carefully. Hence the levels of concentration required for me were much higher. The way was very steep as well. Thankfully there was no muck now, but there were rocks.

We would have trekked for around 2 hours. We reached a huge opening and met a group of trekkers ascending. We exchanged pleasantries and chatted as if we had known each other for years. It is so surprising that in the city when we meet anyone we know we dont have time to even shake hands, leave alone have a meaningful conversation. And here we were chatting with guys whom we had never even met, never even imagined that we would meet.

We asked them how long it would take us to reach the base. Pat came the answer ...3 more hours............we asked the same question again. We thought we had heard wrongly.

Maybe the villagers have a different benchmark of time. Maybe their watches run slowly or their feet move faster.

We continued the trek. It was like one steep descent followed by an opening with some beautiful scenery and then another steep descent.To add to the confusion were some insects which on the outside looked like mosquitoes. They were all over the place, in our face, stinging our legs and making the effort to concentrate even tougher.

Tough it was. My limbs had started aching. We stopped by a nice rivulet and had a bath. I actually lied down along the flow of the river and it was so refreshing, something that needs to be experienced more than expressed.

Maybe the photograph says more than words anyways.

We started from here refreshed and energised with some biscuits. Somehow, we managed to reach the village and had lunch at Vanvihar and pulled our weary legs back home.

I had managed to do an overnight trek. Yes, I ended up with aching thighs and red dotted designer legs (courtesy the mosquito like insects) but it was all worth the effort.

What an end to a most eventful and memorable trek!

Rajmachi Accomodation

We were in Rajmachi village. The place is a small hamlet with around 15 houses. There is no electric supply in the village. But the mobiles can catch a signal. Speaks volumes for the difference in efficiency when a service is privatised.

The house where we stayed belonged to the Janere family. They were very warm. The place was also very clean and food was freshly cooked. We had the basic food of that area, nothing spectacular but it was tasty and very refreshing.

The fare was bhakri (bread made out of grains, rice in this case) vegetable, lentils and rice along with the staple pickles. After lunch, I was feeling very tired. I realised that I had got hardly 4 hours of rest post dialysis and had walked for around 20 km. That too with the scare of my foot getting stuck in the quick sand. I opted out of climbing the fort. I handed my camera to our group to capture the photos and rested at our abode. I changed into dry clothing and pulled out my sleeping bag, wrapped it around me and sat by the wall.

Just thinking. The last time I had come to Rajmachi, we were a huge group. That trekking group has now disintegrated though most of the key members are in touch with me. How my kidney ailment brought with it so many years of inactive life till I decided to take the bull by the horns and get back to trekking. Trekking was my passion, my life, the source of the force in me.............I guess it still is.

We had an early dinner and sat chatting. There were so many facets of our personalities which we were unaware of. In the hustle of the city we never have time to even look in the mirror in a relaxed manner. As Keats had once famously said "We have no time to stand and stare"

On the contrary we had nothing to do and I for one could actually sense the body starting to demand its share of sleep. These are small things which we seem to have forgotten since we have grown up and opted to become a part of the rat race.

And then sleep happened. It happens in the city too..........but then it was different. The place was different. The air was clean. We had wholesome freshly cooked food. And we didnt even realise that there was no electricity. At home, I would have got so restless and impatient till the current was back and here we were getting into that beautiful state called sleep.

We had a long way to travel the next morning. I remember it had taken us some 5 hours the last time I came here.

What we didnt contend for the next morning was that there was no lavatory. Yes, we had to take a walk into the wild and help ourselves. It was raining heavily in the morning and I actually took a long walk in the wet wild and found a spot totally isolated from civil life and good enough to defecate without being spied upon.

We were back to the basics. Back to where we came from..........

N.B. The place is wonderful to stay and the hosts are nice. They can be contacted on the number 00919850104191 and the name is Suresh Janere.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Lonavala to Rajmachi

This was the first time I was trekking immediately after dialysis. I had dialysis till 1 am at night and then had taken an early morning bus to Lonavala. The bus was late and made me feel I missed out on an hours sleep. But the journey was comfortable. We reached Lonavala at around 11 instead of the scheduled time of 930. We started the trek at around 1145.

The way was long. Around 20 kms in distance. I had just had my dialysis the previous night. I had slept only for 4 hours after that. I knew it would be tough.

It was also raining heavily. There was no sigh of respite in the rain. The fog was also very dense and visibility was low. We started off. The villager who had arranged for our accomodation had told us that he takes around 2 hours to complete the distance and we would take a maximum of 3 hours. But I knew from my experience that it would be much more.

The Tungarli dam in the front was a cursor of events to follow. The huge rock wall right in front. We started off in earnest. Taking nice pictures along the way.

The scenes on the way were really beautiful. There were several waterfalls. One more beautiful than the next. But we had to complete the distance and then the forts. We were already more than 2 hours behind schedule. Hence we took only brief halts at a couple of waterfalls. We didnt go under them lest we get enchanted with them and choose to stay in them for long. We had miles to go before we slept.

The views were simply great. Simply enchanting.

We met a group of trekkers returning and asked them how long it would take. They said 3 hours more. SO maybe we had covered around one fourth the distance we thought. After around an hour and a half, we asked another group of trekkers who were going in the reverse direction. Three hours they answered!!

Vow...three hours seemed to be a standard answer. Were we moving ahead at all or moving in circles. It was difficult to imagine that the walk was so long. But it was. it was a test of our endurance.

The path had lots of rivulets which we had to cross on foot. These rivulets were having very strong currents and there was always a fear that our ankles might sprain and we had a really long way ahead of us. The rain was also not showing any signs of abating. The visibility was poor. The rain and the flowing water was helping the mud accumulate in low lying areas and there was the wind as well. At one place I knew there was mud, but it was looking quite ok. So the risk was only that my shoes would get covered in mud. i stepped into it.

Whooooooooooooooosh .. the muck was almost like quick sand. My leg went in knee deep. It was going further in. Luckily my other leg was on firm ground and with the help of my friends I could haul myself up. The force that I had to exert with the stuck leg was so much that even after 5 days that knee is still aching badly.

From now on I was a bit shaken and a bit scared as well. This was a close shave. We met another group of trekkers .How long would it take we asked. We heaved a sigh of relief when they said two and a half hours. Finally...time was moving.Finally!

The walk continued in beautiful weather and amidst waterfalls. On the way we saw a couple of SUVs stuck in the muck. Thanking our luck that we didnt meet the same fate we carried on. We took a brief halt at a stream to rejuvenate ourselves with some biscuits and then moved ahead.

We reached the base village at around 4 pm where our host was waiting for us. But they had not cooked the food as they were not sure whether we would make the distance. They didnt want the food to get wasted.

But yes, we had reached our shelter. Our home for the evening as we called it.

This adventure is quite long and deserves more space than just one post. I would like to take this from here in my next post. The fort and the stay and then the way down to Kondivade were all an adventure in itself.

My limbs were aching by then. Now my arms are aching.........so till my next post adieu.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Rajmachi - Preparations

Rajmachi is a beautiful place which is in between Lonavala and Kondana. The base village is around 22 km from Lonavala by foot. There is no level of difficulty as it is a bullock cart track. But due to the distance it requires decent levels of endurance.From the base village one can go to the twin forts of Shrivardhan and Manoranjan. There is a route from here that leads us downhill to Kondana via the waterfalls which we covered in the last adventure.

This distance cannot be covered in one single day. Hence we need to spend the night in the rajmachi village. As the organiser it was important for me to make everyone as comfortable as possible. We had to look for accomodation (either tents or a roof to stay under), food, if required the implements to cook the food, and sleeping bags etc. to spend the night in comfort.

We plan to visit this place on the 15th of August which happens to be the Indian independence day. It is also part of a long weekend. We look forward to a great adventure and fun.

But I was worried for everyone. I have trekked overnight on numerous occasions, but no one else had done it. Even I was going for an overnight trek after around 7-8 years. So I was not used to sleeping in alien conditions.

Thanks to the internet and my old trekking contacts, I could get the phone number of a villager who lives in Rajmachi village. I could arrange for food and a roof to stay for everyone concerned. That would mean everyone would have to carry that much less. We now had to carry only our bedding. More than half our load requirements were eliminated. Yet when it was communicated to the group there was dissonance in some quarters that we had to carry the bedding. Well, anyways I could not do more than this. So I let it be.

Human beings are so used to a certain degree of comfort that we expect these conditions wherever we go. We are ready to pay for it, but when it comes to organising voluntarily, there is no one to take the lead. Nor is anyone ready to lend a hand in the process. I guess it is because we have never faced a situation where we have been forced to meagre resources only to survive. Survival is the key. This is what dialysis teaches you. At least that is what it taught me. Live from day to day. Survive. Hang in there. There is truly so much in common between dialysis and trekking.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Kondana - The waterfall of Joy




Mumbai local trains are really crowded except for unearthly hours. And it suits us as we start off on treks during such hours. Our group wanted to introduce their kids into trekking. Something that we discovered at a much later age.Consequently, for Kondana, we were travelling with three kids of 4 years age and one kid of 10. We decided to travel at earthly hours.

The night before we were to trek there were a whopping 23 confirmations and I was really worried how we would manage such a group with the kids and the rivulets we had to cross as part of the trek. But it was really raining heavily...pouring heavily in fact and there were many last minute drop outs. We were 8 adults and 4 kids finally.

So we took the 7 am train from CST for Karjat. The train started getting crowded at Dadar. One of our friends could not board the same bogie as we were travelling in. Few others were in the same bogie but it was so crowded that we were not able to locate each other. Finally the crowd eased at Ambarnath and we were able to wave hands and console ourselves that the group was in one place.

We reached Kondana at the Vanvihar at around 10 and had breakfast there. It was a great feast of Kanda poha and upma, freshly cooked and piping hot chai.

We started off with the kids in tow. It was raining very heavily and I was worried about the rivulets being difficult to cross as the currents were really strong. I nudged my friend Shyam and confirmed whether he had carried the rope. Yes he had. Thank God for that. I heaved a sigh of relief.

There were around 6 rivulets which we had to cross along the way. The road led to the beautiful Rajmachi but we had to take a diversion on the route to reach the exquisitely carved Kondana caves.

These are Buddhist caves many centuries old yet the carvings are quite intact. The beauty of the caves was accentuated by the waterfall which was like a natural curtain in the front end. It was sheer beauty. We took shelter in one of the caves and had some light snacks. We had ordered for lunch at Vanvihar.

The fall was so enticing that I went under it immediately and the waters falling from at least 4-5 storeys height was so refreshing and invigorating that I went under the fall at least 6-7 times.

What a feeling it was. Nature is so beautiful. It is life giving. Yet when its time, all life has to cease and make way for new life.

And all treks however beautiful they might be, have to end. The same happened with this one. We returned to Vanvihar, had our lunch and made our way back to Mumbai. This time we took a different decision. We bought a first class ticket. The kids had bonded well and also enjoyed the trek. We wanted them to enjoy the journey too.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Dialysis - An adventure in itself

5th August 2008
Sir H.N Hospital
Mumbai

I was on dialysis. I had loose motions in the morning and had taken a half day off from work. Hence I had rescheduled my dialysis for the 4 pm shift so that I could get enough rest at night.

It was three hours since it had started. I was feeling tired. This normally happens during dialysis. Normally the last hour itself is equivalent to the first three hours. I was feeling slightly uneasy as well. Suddenly felt extremely uneasy. I called out to the nursing staff. By the time they came I was not able to see anything. I was totally blacked out. The world for me was a blank slate, colourless and without any life in it.

They were trying to measure my blood pressure. They kept trying. No success. They were giving me saline through I.V. Well it was not making any difference. Suddenly life was restored. I started shivering. I had got a bout of rigors. I was feeling extremely cold, thus realising that along with the blank slate, the world was truly very cold.

While I was shivering, I could feel my body temperature going high. When there is coldness in the air, it ends up in so much unnecessary heat which hurts everyone concerned.

And to add to this, I suddenly realised that I was not able to breathe. I was gasping for breath. All the above symptoms have occurred sometime or the other during my five years on dialysis, but breathlessness was something I had only heard of. This was the most scary thing. I was writhing on the bed now. Trying to get that one whiff of oxygen. I was gasping for air, for life.

They put me on oxygen. And dialysis was stopped. I was in this state for at least 2-3 hours (I realised that after I recovered). It was like I was back from another world. Totally blank, cold, hot and yes lifeless.

I was back home........................

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Love - The million dollar question

With dialysis it is a known fact that life span is compromised. Even with transplant the quality of life can never be compared to something that is totally normal. And yes cadaver transplant don't last forever.

Being single, I always felt that it is not fair to the other person if I want to get married. But at times, one does feel the need for someone to share your sorrows, your joys. Someone who can understand what you are going through and be there even if just to listen to you.

There have been times when I did start liking someone, but I have restrained myself from communicating my feelings to the person as I felt that things wouldnt work out. Either there would be a rejection or acceptance. With my physical condition I might not be able to accept the reality (would be tough for me due to my fluctuating BP) as well as do justice to the other person.

Then how does one resolve this issue. This is the million dollar question.

Option 1 Communicate your feelings and risk deterioration of health and injustice to the person concerned.

Option 2 Live with the feeling and continue to hide my feelings which is not being fair to myself.

Either way it is being unfair to someone...either yourself or the loved one. Love had truly ended up being a four letter word.

Its a catch both ways

That's what I understand by Catch 22

(I have always settled for the second option. I dont mind being unfair to myself, but not to others...........)

Comments are invited to this post

Bhimashankar - The return journey

Well the trek was over. So were the prayers at the temple of the Lord. But the adventure was far from over.

Since the trek was long, we had two options. Either stay at the village and trek down the next morning or return by public transport. Since we wanted to rest a day before the next working week started we decided to take a bus back home. We were all famished and really hungry. But the buses back were very few. We had really trekked quite far. The time taken for a direct bus to Mumbai was also around 8 hours. And we had missed the direct bus. Now we had two options

One is travel to pune and take one of the buses to Mumbai. There are buses between these two cities every fifteen minutes.

The second option was to get off at a place on the way and then take a connecting bus to Mumbai. There were two such places which were fairly important towns on the journey and there was a high likelihood of getting transportation to Mumbai. MAnchar was one and the other was Chakan. The local shopkeepers advised us to get off at Chakan as the chances of getting transportation to Mumbai was better.

We got into a state transport bus bound for Pune. We were really hungry but we skipped our meal as the next bus was not in the next hour and a half at least. WE thought there would be some food available on the way. We finished our stock of biscuits and boarded the bus to Pune.We were to get off at Chakan. One of our friends got off at Manchar (on the way to Chakan) as it was more convenient for him to return home to Kalyan from here. The bus journey was very bumpy. Though the roads were good (this place is really in the interiors and the roads tend to be not so good here), the bus could belong to any museum and it was a memorable journey all the way.

At Chakan when we got off, the ST stand was nowhere in sight. Well when we found it, we learnt that there were no buses to Mumbai at this time of the day. We were stuck. And extremely hungry too.........We decided to take care of the hunger pangs first and then address the issue of return transport. Worst case we would have to stay in a hotel in this small town. Our credit cards would come in handy then (None of us were carrying that much cash!)

Food was also difficult to come by. There were no clean restaurants there too. It is very funny. When we trek we enjoy tea and snacks at joints which are just makeshift, forget the hygiene. But when we are in a town we expect lot of cleanliness. I guess its something to do with the environment. If the air is clean anything goes, thats the real hygiene factor.

We decided to have whatever we could get our hands on.We found a joint which sold "chinese" food. Well this chinese food found in interior India is really spicy and is very much unlike true Chinese. And he didnt have much on the menu either. Just a couple of preparations, which we had to gobble us because of lack of choice.

I was very tired and this time I forgot to request the chef to make the chinese without the MSG. I realised it when they served us the food. I was scared. The interdialysis weight gain really goes haywire with that chemical.Also it puts a lot more pressure on the already failing kidneys.

But I was really famished and quietly had the food that was dished out. We were already thinking of how to make our way back to Mumbai. The restaurant guy told us about a junction where we could get jeeps and "other" transportion to Mumbai.

We went there.

The jeeps are 7 seater vehicles (SUVs) and they were travelling to Mumbai to pick up the morning newspapers for sale in Chakan. The going rate was around 90 rupees for a ride to Mumbai. They were planning to have 11 passengers plus the driver in the 7 seater vehicle. Even cattle are treated in a better manner. Maybe because they would have protested this kind of treatment. But humans take it lying down. I could not imagine myself shoved into the vehicle and spending around 5 hours to Mumbai when all my limbs were aching. I would rather spend the night in a hotel and return the next morning.

We looked for the "other" transport. We were also exploring the option of travelling to Talegaon from where Mumbai buses were supposedly "more frequent"

A young lad came to me and asked me where I wanted to travel to Mumbai. I replied in the affirmative and he led us to a tempo which was carrying milk to be delivered to Mumbai households early the next morning. He said he would charge 80 rupees. We were to sit next to the driver and travel to Mumbai. We were told that there was one more passenger who would get off soon. Till then we would have to adjust and thereafter it would only be the driver and us in his cabin. We took the offer.

When we actually sat we realised that the other person was to get off at NewMumbai which was roughly 20 minutes away from Mumbai and the lad who alked us into the deal was also going to be around for the whole journey. We were too tired to even think of getting off the bus, so we stayed put. One of our friends decidd to stay back with relatives in Chakan, so it was two of us, the driver, the lad and the other gentleman in the drivers cabin. It was a lesson learnt in capacity utilisation.

We reached Mumbai after several halts. My friend got off at Andheri as he lives in the western suburbs. The driver promised to drop me home. We reached Sion after several halts. Delivering crates of packaged milk everywhere. I enquired with the driver how long he would take to reach my area and he coolly said at least a couple of hours. It was already 230 am and I paid him off and made my way home.

Home Sweet home!!

I reached at 3 am, had a shower, put on the ac and slept off.

Lots of satisfaction, some lessons and an unseen smile on me..........

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Bhimashankar - The trek




We left from Vanvihar at 7 am and reached the base point Khandas at around 8. I was quite nervous as it was known to be a tough trek. And I being a kidney patient was not very confident about whether my body would take it.

To add to the nervousness was the fact that I was the only one who knew the route and it was at my encouragement that we had undertaken this trek in the first place. I had to set challenges for myself.

Bhimashankar has 3 stages. Each stage is a climb with forest walks in between the climbs. The first one passes through a Ganesh temple hence the route is knows as Ganpati ghat. We completed the first phase without much trouble. Yes we were tired as it took us around an hour and an hour of climb can be tiring. It started raining heavily as we moved on to the plateau at the end of this climb.

But we kept going. And the best part was that we didnt keep to the beaten path. We explored areas of the forest which I had not done during my earlier trips to the place.

Some of the views which we saw were truly breathtaking. Awe inspiring. Absolute stunners. The camera could only take in a fraction of the true beauty in its lenses. After all they are mere devices. The real thing was a sight to behold. At such points the phrase about beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder is negated. Beauty is absolute. It cannot be negotiated. Simply ....simply beautiful.

We had our share of glucose powder and water etc. and moved on. The forest was so dense. The suns rays simply refused to reach the ground level and the shadow of the trees created a darkness as well as a shade which had to be experienced.

It was impossible to express the beauty of the forest in words. We spotted a giant malabar squirrel one of the inhabitants of these forests.

Then came the waterfall. This waterfall is roughly the half way mark in the trek and is most refreshing. The waters are so sweet and tasty. The natural coolness in the water makes it an ideal thirst quencher. Water it was. The real thing, without any chlorine or additives to make it "safe" for us.

The trek moved onto a tough part now. There were trecherous rocks. These rocks were slippery due to the scanty rains and one slip would have ended our journey in the valley. It would have been an unfortunate ending to the efforts that one has to make while taking dialysis. Truly unfortunate.

Due to my experience, I was able to negotiate the rocks in a manner that I had to make minimal use of the left hand which had a fistula. However, at one point I had to. I had stepped on the wrong rocks and there was no going back. The only way I had was to haul myself up on another rock and I had to use the fistula hand to do so. I prayed to Lord Bhimashankar to give me the strength to do so without any major issues. Well I did it. But it left an imprint on my mind. I could do much more than what I could imagine. It did give me so much more confidence to face life.

After these tiring episodes we were looking for a break which we got when a local had taken the effort of climbing this much and starting a tea stall. IT was a rustic setting but tea was definitely on the cards.

Along with the tea we had some bread and butter that we had carried with us.

The the trek began again. This was even tougher. I was really tired now. Most of us were. All the trekking groups were taking a break by now. The breaks were becoming more frequent. Then we met a gentleman who was coming downhill. To our surprise we were told that the peak is at least an hour and a half away. Vow and we were spent....almost.

We had three ways out. To go back - this was not possible as we have covered 70% of the distance

To stay put in the jungle - We had seen hoardings at the entrance of the forest to beware of Leopards

To move ahead and complete the trek...............sometimes the toughest options seem to be the best. Most of the times actually.

We kept going. Each sinew in our body was strained. We were puling on with the final reserves in our body. Glucose water kept us going. Finally we saw the opening that was the summit. Finally......it was around fifteen minutes after we first saw it and after 2 stops we made it. Yes we made it to the top.

It had taken us more than 7 hours.

We had a face wash in one of the streams there and felt refreshed and then kept moving to the temple that was the main point of this place.

We prayed from outside as there was a huge queue and returned to Mumbai. There were so many spots to see here but we kept it for another trip. We came home by bus. This was an adventure in itself, maybe I will cover it in another post.

But I was very happy. I could complete Bhimashankar in one piece. I had taken up a challenge and completed it. I had set new standards for myself

Friday, 18 July 2008

Bhimashankar

I have been to Bhimashankar a couple of times earlier. Every time it has been a memorable experience. It is quite a tough trek. The route to take in the monsoons is the Ganpati ghat route.

This route is most beautiful with several divine galleries along the way. We get to see what a tropical rain forest is all about. Yes, it is a dense jungle all the way.

The last year we had planned this trek. But because I was not feeling upto the mark, I cancelled my participation. After completing the trek, my friends (definitely in good intention) remarked that the trek was so tough that I would not have been able to complete the same. It was good that I had not joined them. That really hit me where it hurts. It was me who had planned the trek, told them the route and also went to the extent of telling them landmarks in the forest where one had to take turns in order not to lose the way.

It was a challenge to me. Yes I agree that Bhimashankar needed a lot of endurance. There were some stretches which were scary and extremely trecherous. If we miss the route, then we have to climb rock to make it back. And with my fistula it is really tough. But yes, it was not impossible.

As a dialysis patient, we see death very frequently. I have seen so many of my fellow patients ending their innings and that has sort of diluted the fear of death in my mind. So the trecherous rock was just another part of the same story.

This time we kept the group very close. We were only four of us. We dissuaded the less fit from joining us (I guess fitness is in the mind otherwise how would I qualify). And we set out...............I had taken the challenge......the challenge to set new benchmarks for myself

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

VanVihar - Your home in the forest

 
 
 

Bhimashankar is a great trek. It is one place that has always held a lot of awe in my mind. According to me the route is one of the most scenic ones in the region. It was also a long trek and hence a test of endurance. It passed through a dense forest and one could get a true taste of the tropical rain forest.

To save on time we stayed at a place called Kondana around 30 km from the base point. This helped us get some well deserved rest after a gruelling week at work.

VanVihar offered us this chance to rest before the trek. At a very reasonable rate, we got to stay in a rustic Indian village kind of environment. The cost of food was also included in the tariff. There was a fearsome dog guarding the place. The floor was smeared with cow dung. The room was clean though the interiors had the feel of an Indian village home. The owner of the place himself took care of all of us.

The food had a limited spread, just like it is at home, it was cooked well without too much spice yet tasty, again the hallmark of home cooked food.

The Gogate's who own this place say that this kind of setting without mobile phones, vehicles and other urban amenities to disturb help in busting stress. Well, we spent a night there and found ourselves quite relaxed for the long trek ahead. It was indeed a home in the forest


The numbers to contact in case you visit this place are 0091 2148 222930 / 226844



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Friday, 4 July 2008

Lohagad beckons

Lohagad_29_06_08


Lohagad was also one of my favourite spots. Basically because it offers a most beautiful view for a next to nothing effort. This was hence an ideal spot for first timers to trekking. Also the monsoons add some glamour to the mountains with its greenery and the moistness.

We were to start very early. The driver of the vehicle that we had booked turned up late and the whole plan went for a huge toss.

We reached Bhaje from where the trek starts and started trekking around 9 am. According to the original plan we were to start trekking at 7 am.

The Bhaje waterfalls were a sight to behold but nothing more than that as we were behind schedule. We had to complete the trek, return home early enough so that we could all work the next day.

The view on either side was beautiful and the awesome twin forts of Lohagad and Visapur were looking majestic in the fog and the rain.

The fields on the mountains were also unique in the way the inclined land was converted into flat strips for cultivation.

We got to see some beautiful flora on the way the best being the flower that I have captured on my camera.

At this time, very stealthily hunger pangs were attacking us. We had had no breakfast. Hema kept asking for the kanda poha that I had told her aboutand it was quite a wait before we reached the joint where I had my best kanda poha ever. We also decided to reduce the weight in our bags by eating some food stuffs that we carried from home along with good old chai.

The steps to the fort were quite high. One of us found the going tough (due to the weight and girth). The rains were blessing us from the skies and the clouds / fog caressing us all over.

The view of the Pawna lake from the steps of Lohagad was breath taking to say the least. Some of the stretches had flowing water which was the only real adventure in this trek.

This time we were carrying lots of glucose and hence glucose water was the drink of choice. One of the trekkers was carrying a bottle of tang which was also very refreshing when we had lost a lot of fluid.

The tricky issue here for me was to determine how much fluid was lost, as it was raining and very foggy and the sweat would have got lost in the rain. I was scared of consuming more fluids lest it add to my intra dialysis weight gain. Whichever way, it was definitely more easy to trek when it was raining rather than when it was sunny.

At one point on the fort, we observed a unique phenomenon. Due to the gusts of wind water from a waterfall was flying upwards when it should have been falling to the base of the fort. It was like a huge natural spray and was most refreshing to get drenched in.

We looked around the fort in extremely poor visibility and intense fog. But I guess it added to the beauty and the ambience.

I was really enjoying myself. Really living life to the fullest. Living 100%. Because I had chosen. Chosen to live!!

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

A glass half full - the wrong example

I had gone for my friday dialysis. I was very excited as I had a trek scheduled for sunday. That too to a place which was easy to reach, the trek being easy and the scenery at the place being divine and inspirational.

I expressed my state of mind to a fellow patient. Well that was it.

I got a firing of my life after that. Since I was suffering from end stage kidney disease I was not supposed to exert myself. He felt that he himself was not able to climb four storeys to reach his residence. He wondered how I could go trekking. Not to be satisfied by this, he came across and told me about dire conditions I would need to face while going uphill.

The opinion was that since we are having a kidney issue, we should not live life to the maximum. I am of a different opinion. Yes, we need to take care of our diet etc. but why should we stop living

There is a famous example of a half full glass of water that is always cited. Either you take it as half full or half empty. Unfortunately, the same does not hold for life.

Till we are alive we are 100% alive. There is no such thing as half alive. So till we are alive we need to live life.......live it 100%

There is nothing called living life 50%

Either we live life or we dont. I choose. I choose to live!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Trek to Kotligad



Normally we used to travel through the night to Karjat, take the first bus to base point (around 545 a.m.) and reach there by 7. We used to complete the climb by around 10. After exploring the place for around a couple of hours we used to climb down and reach the base point just in time for the last bus which used to be around 430.

This time we made a different plan. We thought it was prudent to catch up with some sleep. So we reached Karjat (from where the bus to the base point was starting) in the night itself. We stayed at a household known to me (since I have been trekking for the last 18 years). This household offers accommodation to genuine trekkers only at a nominal price. This time the place was not as cozy as usual and most uncomfortable. As a result the idea of catching up on sleep didnt work out as expected and we were sleepless throughout the night.

The first bus to the base point was cancelled. Commercial considerations have forced the state transport undertaking to cancel buses which do not have enough passengers.

I was tired to start off with. Also I had dialysis the previous night and hadnt slept well. To add to the discomfort was the fact that I had a bad bout of cramps during that round of dialysis and cramps continued into the next night as well. AS a result when we started trekking th pain due to the cramps was fresh and hence I was sceptical whether I would end up being a spoilsport by dropping out mid way through the trek.

There is a nice inclined walk to a table land. On the way we saw a snake (looked like a python) and several species of moths and other insects which we rarely get to see in a city like Mumbai.

The view from the table land itself is so divine, it is difficult to express in words. The sight of the thumb shaped fort/ watch tower at a distance is so awe inspiring as well as humbling. Along with that the mountains and the waterfalls that line the valley is a sight to behold.

The link at the bottom of the post would give a more accurate expression of the beauty.

We rested here and emptied the packets of glucose powder that we had carried. I normally carry these during treks as I am not sure how much fluid I can consume. I feast on glucose and gulp it down with small sips of water.

Around a couple of kms walk from here is a village from where the real climb starts. The village has a couple of households who run a restaurant. It serves only one dish that is kanda poha (pounded rice diced with onion and other spices)and you have to oder for meals. Meals normally constitute bread made of rice (bhakris), vegetables, dal and rice. We decided not to order for the meal as we were carrying enough food stuffs. We had tea and poha and went up. This climb is a steep one and in rocky terrain which had become slippery and treacherous due to the intermittent rain.

I was very tired here and had lost a lot of fluid due to excessive sweating. To add to it was the fact that it was a sunny day. I had to sit for a while. I almost got blacked out at a point of time. But I had to make it to the top. I was trekking with normal guys after all.

My friend Shyam was always with me. He has been a great support even since we met around 17 years ago and he taught me how to trek. Hence it was a great source of solace that Shyam was around. He offered to hold my bag. He did too for a while. Then I took it back as the climb was too tough to do with two bags in hand. It was tough for me. I guess it was equally tough for everyone else. This part of the trek was really quite steep.

Finally we could see the ramparts of the fort and it was a relief to me. A sense of achievement as well. I had made it ....despite the cramps...despite the hypoglycemia....I felt great.

I simply didnt have any energy to go anywhere else.So I went to the cave at the top and lied down on the rock. The cool rock face was so refreshing. IT was amazing in fact.

I took out my bottle of water and had a huge gulp. I felt that even if I consumed more fluid than necessary, the machines were there to take it off me. This was heaven and I had to enjoy water....that heavenly drink.

On the way back we saw a couple of more snakes which we were not able to capture on camera as they were too quick for us. The best part of the whole trek was that during the whole trek I didnt slip even once. And I was having pain in my calf muscles due to the cramps as well as the hypoglycemia.

What a wonderful adventure it turned out to be !!

What a wonderful way to celebrate that my transplant didnt happen!!!

http://picasaweb.google.com/euromoney2007/TrackingOnTrekking

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Aborted Transplant

I got a call for a transplant on tuesday. I was asked to be starving and everything was kept ready so that I could go on the surgery table at 4 pm.

At 330 I was informed by the hospital authorities that the relatives of the donor whose cadaver I was to get have changed their decision to donate.

I was upset.....very upset. The last time around as well I missed out on a surgery, but this time no one got the organ. That was most depressing. I came home. Had a bit of rest and then went off to see a movie. That was the best decision I could take then. It also turned out to be a good decision as I felt nice after watching the movie. It was a welcome break from the rigours of the daily routine.

But I really needed to have some fun. I needed to make the most of the opportunity that not having a transplant offered. Being monsoons the mountains are really beautiful and ester is available in plenty.

Nothing better to do than go for a trek and I decided to go to my favourite place Kotligad.

This decision happened on friday and we had to leave on saturday. Hence, it was difficult for people to take time off at such a short notice. However, as luck would have it, five guys confirmed their participation. It was a great trip. The photos are yet to be uploaded. Hence I will write about it when they are up. As a result everyone can see the pictures along with the description of the trek as well as enjoy the pristine beauty of this wonderful watch tower / fort.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Some people really dont

While we are so obsessed with our normal functions, we are at times very insensitive towards what others in our midst are going through.

Last week I had to get hospitalised due to an infection. Some incidents were so funny and at the same time stark.

When i got admitted as usual one ward boy came with a urine pot and told me to store my urine in the same for testing. i politely informed that the same was not required as i do not pass any urine. With surprise written large on his face he left. Maybe it was difficult for him to believe.

The next day, another ward boy (duties change with shifts) came and asked me why i havent kept any urine sample in the pot for testing. The aggression in the tone was itself very disturbing. Howqever, i again laughed it off saying "Bhai i do not pass any urine"

In the evening again there was a change of duties and this time it was a nursing staff who came with a similar query. " Why dont you store your urine in that pot" Now it might have so transpired that the nursing staff had admonished the ward boy and now taken it upon himself to ensure compliance that the patient would save a urine sample for testing purpose. That was his holy duty to do the same and no force on earth could stop him from doing so.

From my side as well there was the same response. However, my mother who was witness to these happenings got a bit irritated. She pointed it out to the dutiful nursing staff that the earlier ward boys were informed that no urine is passed and hence the issue of storing the urine does not arise.

We requested the nursing staff to make a note of the same in the patient register so that no one has to go through the ignominy of asking me for the urine for testing.

The next morning at around 530 a.m.

I was fast asleep. This ward boy wakes me up rudely "Pishab kidhar hai"

I replied half asleep " No sample for you"

He responded "Looks like you havent passed urine for the whole night"

Me: " Not only for the whole night but for the last 3 years "

He (Absolutely stunned): " Arre.......havent you told this to some doctor"

I woke up and shouted at him ........... how many times have i told you that i dont pass any urine.........thats the reason i need to take dialysis......do you realise how much it hurts when you ask me why i dont pass any urine............i really dont know. Doctors too dont know. But they have a word for it....idiopathic.........but yes, it hurts ..........especially in hospital where people are supposed to know.

It hurts like hell...........Many people really dont pass any urine.......

Saturday, 5 April 2008

An Opportunity

To live life with a handicap yet perform like a normal person is an adventure in itself. My friend Nagesh referred me to a company where I went for a business meeting and got offered a job instead.

An opportunity is an opportunity

that too in a field which is one for the future and has a lot of potential. Add to it the fact that it was related to my marketing qualifications and experience. It was a different matter that my qualifications were not regarded due to my health issues. There were two ways in which I could face this situation. Either keep sulking or take the bull by the horns. I took up the job. An opportunity is one nevertheless!

And for kidney patients they dont come by so easily..............

The challenge was to be able to perform in a high pressure scenario. That too in a creative field where the levels of subjectivity was quite high. It helped that I had a background in design development and also a bit of grounding in ecommerce applications.

Whats more, the job location was not to far off from where I stayed. Also the employers were nice enough to allow me to leave office at 6 pm whenever I had an appointment at the hospital.

At first it was very funny working under colleagues who were several years junior in age and also a bit junior in experience. Now I am used to it. At times you feel that there could be a better solution to issues but cannot take decisions as superiors feel otherwise.

I have had the great privilege of managing the most demanding clients for the company. This has been a learning experience in itself. I have learnt time management even more deeply now. It is sort of getting ingrained in me now. The work is quite exciting. Nowadays, I hardly rest 6 hours daily and on an average around 4-5 hours after dialysis before I come to work. This is quite surprising. I dont know where I get this kind of energy from. Maybe, it is the work that keeps me involved and interested. Or it could be that my health is improving over all. Either way, it is a huge positive.

At times, I made mistakes, everyone does....just that most of us dont have the balls to raise our hands and take responsibility. I am not cut out in that mould....I guess.

At times, I felt my body was giving way. As if I needed to go home and rest so badly that if I didnt do so, I would simply collapse. Yet I mustered the will power to complete the work at hand and only then leave. I was competing with normal human beings. I could not give up.

An opportunity is one nevertheless!!