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Monday, 29 November 2010

Happy Birthday V Hikerz - Clean up of Kondana Caves Trek Route

When V Hikerz was formed, one of the common bonds we had was love for nature. We completed one year as V Hikerz on 27th. It was an occasion to celebrate. And We celebrated for sure ..... in a different way.

One of the pain points for me in person and as a group has been the amount of litter that was all over the place whenever we trekked. In fact we used to always identify the correct route based on how many wrappers were littered on it. So if we didnt find a wrapper littered we used to doubt whether we are on the right route.

We wanted to make a difference to nature, something we always keep talking about. It was time to stop talking and do something. albeit in a very small way.

Kondana Caves is a very short trekking route near Karjat. There are waterfalls and Budhist
caves at the top that make it a very popular trek. So the amount of litter on this route was bound to be high. At the same time it was a short route, so the clean up would take less amount of time.

We left on saturday and bought items to have a mocktail and dessert at Karjat Station. Rajesh and myself left early and Shyam and the kids came later just in time for dinner.

It was a great atmosphere. The kids were in great spirit and the whole group enjoyed the introductory sessions for the new comers. Then there was a session on "how to pitch a tent." The kids were so eager to experience this that they chose to sleep in the tent at night. So the tent went into the dormitory acco that we had arranged for and slept in that.

In the morning we left at around 830 am and completed the trek in an hour and a half. We played a game on "Identifying Landmarks" and they were told to identify the same landmarks on their way back. This is the first lesson of trekking.

The kids were encouraged t0 enjoy nature as well. They had a wash in flowing water (rivulets) drank mountain water (free of cost) and also had a shower under a waterfall. The waterfall was a bonus really as we didnt expect it to be live at this time of the year. This was the best part as the kids (we became kids too) enjoyed the water falling on our shoulders massaging them.

On the way back we collected some sacks from the workers of the Archeological survey at the site and starting picking the garbage. We kept a boundary of around a foot and a half from the path( path included) and came clearing the garbage. Rajesh had organised some plastic gloves so that we didnt need to clear the garbage with bare hands. We had to bend our backs and it was getting very tiring. Shyam was carrying the sacks in both hands.

It was very tiring, yet very satisfying.

We collected around 4 sacks full of rubbish including wrappers, plastic bottles etc. and carried them in our hands till Van Vihar.

It was a great experience. Satisfying yet humbling.

There is so much that mother nature has offered us. There is so much that we can give back to mother nature.

So much more...........

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Just a Chance

But you are egoistic they say. You are feeling insecure they say. If you ask them why, there is no answer.

You are labelled the bad guy. Based on some version that another friend has shared. It might not be the truth. It could just be a misunderstanding due to lack of communication.

But no one would want to confront and ask questions. Its easier to make a judgement and break off. Well it could be the truth, for all you know. The person concerned might really be at fault.

But even if he is, then it is better to let the person know what the mistake is. It is always better to give an opportunity to share his version of the story. Then and only then is it fair to make judgements and take decisions.

This is in fact even more important with people who have been close and you have shared so much in the past. How can you simply break off with someone with whom you have been so close without giving him a fair hearing ?

Imagine what the person concerned would be going through or simply try to imagine how you would feel if someone close would treat you in that manner.

Make judgements, break off, do negative propoganda against the man, but before that have the courtesy to hear his version of the story.

Give him a chance damn it !!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Change and Learning

There have been many ups and downs in life. So much so that the mind has got trained to view any incident as just an incident and not an up or down. This is because even if it is a down in the short term sense of the word, the learning from it is very high. So in a way a "down" is not a down but an "up"

We keep moving from one incident to another, one course to another, from one set of people to another, from one situation to another, from one job to another. We might keep changing internally as well, as they say change is the only constant. Change is irreversible and cant be resisted. The most successful people in my opinion are those who can accept change more easily and learn from each cycle of change that they go through.

Change is truly inevitable. One needs to remember this all the time, and in fact internalise this reality. Nothing lasts for ever.

In my short but full life, I have seen so much change, so much uncertainly, each incident introducing a totally new set of variables, making life a much more interesting and complete experience. Its time for one more change and yes to thank all those who have supported and nourished my learning in this phase.

So in a way change is not the only constant. It has a partner that makes the process of change worthwhile and much richer. Learning...........


Sunday, 19 September 2010

Peb a.k.a Vikatgad

In our attempt to explore new places for trekking, we decided to go to Peb. I had heard that it was a difficult one, but one of our groupies was very keen to go there. So we decided to do the pre-Ganesh festival trek to Peb. One of the advantages was that it was accessible by local train and hence cost would be less. Also we could do this trek in a single day, that made it an attractive proposition.

This fort known as Vikatgad was the mountain adjacent to Matheran. We set out from Neral at around 8 am, reached the base point at 830 and after a round of introductions set out on the trek at around 845 am. At the onset there was a small stream that needed to be crossed. Some members were so interested in not getting their shoes and clothes wet, that we lost at least half an hour there. This was a great beginning to a most memorable trek.

The route kept getting steeper. There were rocks, steep climbs, rocks to be negotiated against flowing water, and so on. The route was tricky. There was a dense vegetation on the way making even the half a foot path barely visible and hence we had to be careful that we were not stepping on any creeping animals. We were moving rapidly.

During my previous dialysis, I had wanted to experiment. Normally I keep the sodium levels at 138 and whenever I have done so, I have not had any trouble while trekking. However, this time I had requested them to keep the sodium controls at 136 to understand how my body would be able to take it.

It made a difference. At a certain point, I developed lot of cramps in my stomach. This could well have been due to the pressure I sustained while stepping on those huge steep rocks. Hence i am not able to say for sure whether the cramps were on account of keeping a low sodium or due to the terrain in general.

Then there was a rock patch to be climbed. My friend Rameshwar was a star. He led the way and helped all of us (more experienced trekkers) to climb this patch. His enthusiasim was exemplary and his idea of getting a unique birthday gift for Ananth. The gift was a Banana flower that is used to cook curry in a typically saraswat fashion. It is quite a delicacy indeed.

When we reached the top it was quite a relief. This relief however was shortlived. We soon realised that we had to get back. We felt it was safer to take a route to Kalyan Darwaja of Matheran and take a transportation from there to the base.

After a snack, we started moving to the summit and the route got quite slippery. There was a ladder that took us to the top. The view from the top was breathtaking. Simply awe inspiring. However due to the tough terrain and heavy rains, I didnt have the heart to get my camera out and take pictures. Those scenes would have to be etched in my memory I guess.

At a point, we had to choose between 3 paths moving in different directions. We were lost. We didnt know which direction to take. At the same time, we had to move fast. We had to reach Matheran (or some semblance of civilisation) before it got dark. At one time, I am sure it crossed everyone's mind where we would get to stay the night just in case we needed to. This would have been the first time it happened in my so many years of trekking experience.

The route to Matheran was found. We had to get down to a ridge using some steep ladders. The ridge again had some breathtaking scenery. The path was around a foot in width and a cliff on both sides. Rain and fog meant very poor visibility and one was not able to see beyond a few feet. The path was very slippery and had to be covered carefully. however compromising on speed was not possible as we were already beyond 530 and had to reach Matheran before it got dark. We were so relieved when we reached the railway tracks on way to Matheran.

Suddenly I realised that I was hungry and started gorging on whatever I could get my hand on. This was such a relief. We walked to the Dasturi (from where cabs were available ) to take us to Karjat from where we took a train back to Mumbai.

This was one of the toughest treks that I had undertaken. When I went on dialysis, I never imagine that I would be able to complete such a trek. It was aptly named Vikatgad.

Life teaches us so many things. So does trekking. There are so many twists and turns in life. Similiarly for this trek. Any kind of experience we gain is only a stepping stone to the ultimate learning. In fact I guess there is no ultimate learning. We keep encountering incidents that are unique and need s special way to navigate through. Similarly for Vikatgad.

This trek Peb is like a crash course in facing life.

Sagargad

V Hikerz was a very active group. We had been to our regular trekking destinations. Our new members were now more or less accustomed to what trekking was. It was maybe the right time to take to uncharted territory. We thought of going to some place where we had not been before. Sagargad was one such place. It was known as Sagargad due to the wonderful view of the Arabian Sea from its ramparts. Sagar means Sea.

The trek started from Khandale village near Alibag and was around a couple of hours duration. We crossed a stream and then few of us went uphill. Some others waited for a couple of groupies who were to join us from Alibag. It was a wonderful trek. Quite easy and with beautiful scenery. There were no tricky stretches neither were there any dangerous patches. The path was well defined. Also though it was very humid the river towards the middle of the trek was a great relief. We frolicked in the waters for a long time and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We took 3 and a half hours to reach the top. The view from the top was also awesome, specially the Vanar Tok which is a pinnacle adjacent to Sagargad. We sat here and had a superb mimicry session by Rama. Rama and myself go back a long way and know each other from almost 18 years. It was the first time in years that I saw him play the mimic. We came back and took the same bus back to Mumbai. Since it was already quite late, we had dinner on the way back.

A trek that was meant to be a couple of hours durations one way (around 5-6 hours totally) took us around 8 hours. It was not the amount of time spent that counted actually. The time was spent in enjoying nature, in frolicking in the flowing waters, in breathing the fresh air that the place had to offer, in getting immersed in the wonderful scenery around the place, in checking out the nooks and corners of the fort. In fact while checking one of the corners, we saw some flowing water coming out of a funnel that was shaped like a cows mouth. This was called the Gow mukh (Cows mouth).

We filled our empty water bottles with this water. It was so sweet, so refreshing so rejuvenating and quite the right temperature (wasnt too chilled nor warm). I am sure it had a huge load of natural minerals (not added artificially as in bottled water)

Bottled Mountain water costs around Rs.25/- a litre in Mumbai on an average.

This one was unlimited and we got it FREE !!

Bharat Bandh - A Memorable Trek

The prices of fossil fuels in India are monitored by the government. In fact all the petrol/diesel prices are determined by them. And whenever these prices increase, all transportation rates go up and leads to an overall inflation. The prices start pinching us all the more.

To protest against the unprecedented rise in fuel prices, the entire opposition had called for a protest strike on a monday. Our trek planned for sunday had just been called off due to lack of participation. However, those who had confirmed were a bit upset due to the cancellation as they were looking forward to the trek.

On sunday night, I received a text message from one of my colleagues that monday was a declared off at work due to the impending strike. This happened at around 930 pm. This was also exactly the opportunity that we were waiting for. We wanted to trek badly. It was more than 2 weeks since I had trekked.

I called up a couple of regulars who readily agreed. It was like the old days. I felt so nostalgic. In the 90s when we were trekking we used to meet at Dadar station at around 1030 pm start making calls to our regulars and set out by the last train that went to Karjat. This train left CST (terminus at Mumbai) at around 1245 am.

This was the plan that we thought of following. All those who had confirmed for the cancelled plan were contacted by priority. The others contacted were those whom we know are passionate about treks. We were able to collect a crowd of 4 in about an hour.

We set out by the train and like old times decided on the train that we would go to Kondana Caves. The caves are Buddhist Caves with nice carvings as a wonderful waterfall makes a natural curtain to those caves.

The train took us to Karjat at around 3 am and then we took a walk to a junction in Karjat from where we were lucky to get a ricksha to the base point. We know a place called Van Vihar ( a forest lodge) in this place. We woke up the owners at around 530 am. We had a change of clothes freshened up and started the trek.

We were up at the caves by around 830 am. We took several breaks along the way. yet we had completed the trek in no time. The waterfall was empty, maybe due to the bandh. It was like our private waterfall. It was such a wonderful feeling. Enjoying the water with no one to disturb us. Specially the kind of crowds who come to the waterfall to consume alcohol and end up creating a scene.

The caves were wonderful. Though I had been here once before, I was unable to enjoy the pristine beauty of the carvings and the splendidly serene environment due to the crowds. The birds were chirping away to glory. The waters were flowing. The air was as pure as ever. Whatever needed to refresh us was there and there were no crowds.

Maybe because nature didnt depend on fossil fuels to live...........to survive and just being themselves !!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Introduction to Trekking

Lohagad is a very easy trek. In fact its one of the easiest ones. Hence it is a very popular trekking destination and has also become almost a picnic spot.

There are a few members in V Hikerz who do not enjoy going to Lohagad. The crowds there make it a very noisy place. But the beauty of the place is unquestionable.

Also since it is an easy trek, it becomes a great advertisement for trekking as a hobby. A means to get urbanites to appreciate nature. I have seen so many friends starting off with Lohagad and taking to trekking as if they are a fish in water.

Hence we always have a trek to Lohagad in our itenerary at V Hikerz. This is double important as there is a nice waterfall towards the end of the trek which refreshes the tired limbs.

This year too we planned Lohagad towards the beginning of the season.

We had a whopping number (32 to be precise) for this trek. This was the second trek this season where we had 30 + participants.

It was great fun overall. After my experience at Naneghat I was also very circumspect. I was not sure whether I would be able to trek.

I have been a founding member of V Hikerz and also happen to be one of the most experienced trekkers in the group. I know the routes. If I end up getting cramps or something its an awkward situation to be. I should be the one supporting others who might get tired or develop some problem. Fortunately for me, our group is very understanding. They adjust to my limitations and dont make me feel left out. This was weighing heavily on my mind.

But this time I didnt leave anything to chance. Post dialysis I slept well on saturday, I had lots of water and had hydrated myself enough for the outing.

Luckily I didnt face any issue.

We had a great trek. Though there was no water in the waterfall, the awesome view from the top made up for it. The clouds passing by showing us with a drizzle were the crowning glory. A few inew members really enjoyed the trek.

Maybe there was no rain, maybe there was no water in the falls, maybe it got quite hot at times, but there was a silver lining to the cloud.

A few more people were now introduced to appreciating nature, to the wonderful hobby of trekking........

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Naneghat - The Return Journey

I was in a bad shape. A very severe bout of cramps had me. One group member had her shoes torn and I had offered her my shoe. Which meant that I had no footwear. We were 3 of us. A couple of my group mates offered to give me company by road so that I need not travel along to Junnar.

From the top of Naneghat there is a road that takes us to Junnar in around an hours time. But getting a transport to Junnar was a huge ask. The nearest village was at a distance of around 5 km from where one could get a bus to go to Junnar. But with my torn shoes and cramps it was next to impossible to walk those 5 km. There were a few vehicles that were waiting near the cave.

My friend Anurag is a go getter. He has been one right from our college days when I started knowing him. He sought out the owner of one of the cars waiting there. We requested him to drop us to the nearest village from where we could take a transport to Junnar. The person was so nice that he infact offered to drop us to Junnar where he was headed. This was a great relief to us.

We waited for an hour or so for his family to enjoy the scenic beauty of the place, before we could start moving. It turned out that this gentleman was quite an influential person in that area. He ran a few schools and showed us at least 2 of them as we travelled towards Junnar.

They made us feel comfortable in their vehicle as we drove towards Junnar. It was so relieving. We told them about V Hikerz and they were quite impressed with what we are doing.

Finally at Junnar we got dropped off. When we were about to get off the gentleman inquired about our professions and our names.

We bought a pair of floaters at Junnar and had a snack. We started looking for transportation to take us to Murbad where one of the vehicles that we had got from Mumbai was to wait for us.

Buses were not available at that time. Finally near the bus stand, we saw a hoarding that displayed a phone number. We made a deal with the taxi guy and went with him.

It was a ride of more than an hour. Almost 2 hours actually.

I started wondering. The trek to Naneghat was around 3-4 hours duration. The drive from Naneghat to very near to the base point was again around 3-4 hours distance.

The trekking route was actually an ancient trade route. This trek to Naneghat was the route taken by traders to go to the deccan from the konkan. The same distance was covered by car in a comparative period of time.

Just left me wondering though. What with our claims of being scientific, about using transportation models, about using modern techniques

Have we really progressed ?

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Naneghat

I had missed the first trek of the season, Dukes Nose as I had to attend a family function. I could not have missed it. So I missed the trek. It was heartening to note that there were more than 30 members who came for the first trek of the season. Now this was a relatively easy trek but nevertheless it was great to have more than 30.

It had started raining and so we planned Naneghat next. Naneghat was a long trek which was not difficult but needed huge levels of endurance. The climate was quite pleasant when we left early in the morning. due to some last minute drop outs without intimation, we got delayed considerably and our schedules went awry right in the beginning.

I was very worried about my weight gain between the last trek. I was keen to start shedding weight as soon as possible in order to get into the trekking groove. I had dialysis on friday night after which I slept till around 8 am. I had a lot lined up for the day. It was quite a hot day. I think I lost a lot of fluids due to sweat, which I should have replenished, but I was so enthusiastic about the trek that I didnt replenish.

The trek starts from Vaishakhare just beyond Murbad towards Malshej. The level of difficulty was not much but it was a long trek. There were a lot of new members in the group as well. We has got delayed due to some last minute drop outs without intimations. So the group started the trek at around 9 am (around an hour behind schedule)

It was very humid, the temperature was high as well as the humidity. I was losing a lot of sweat. But in my enthusiasm to lose weight, I didnt consume any water that we were carrying. Also there was no water available on the whole trek. As a result the idea was to preserve whatever water was possible for an emergency.

The new members of the group in their enthusiasm moved ahead. The first aid kit was with the first group. The second group was only three of us. We were tired. I had lost a lot of water as well and was in a bad shape.

I started getting cramps in my stomach. My pressure started dropping. I started seeing black dots in front of my eyes. At a plateau which was roughly 30% of the trek duration, I almost collapsed. My friends asked me to rest. Those who had gone ahead were far ahead and there was no point for them to come back.

My head was groggy and I was not able to see anything. My old friend Rama was with me. He and Rajesh offered some Tang. I had some Tang after which I felt better. So I tried to sit up from my position. I was lying down. However in my attempt to sit up, I again got cramps in my stomach along with giddiness thus rendering me totally unable to even sit up. I needed more fluid + salt + sleep.

While we could somehow manage water and salt in that place, sleep was something that would render our plans a waste. One of the options was to go back to the base point and abandon the trek.

I was determined to complete the trek. I had to. I really dont know the reason, but I somehow was possessed about completing the trek. Thanks to my two friends who were with me all the time, I was able to sit up after some more fluid. And continued the trek. I was still groggy. I was still unable to see clearly. I was still able to feel the tense muscle in my stomach.

But I had to reach the top. Slowly and after a lot of breaks in between, I managed. The rest of the group was on their way down, when we reached the top. I was in no condition to trek down hill immediately. So I offered to come to Murbad by road from the top (There is a road at the top) and a couple of friends offered to give me company. The rest of the gang went back.

The journey back to Murbad was another experience in itself and merits a separate post.

The group was on their way back. They had their food. They had their fluids. They had rested well. I was craving for all of that.

One of the reasons I trek is that I tend to forget that I am down with end stage kidney disease. That along with me every one else gets tired and needs rest. During this trek, I was reminded not once but several times that I am a patient. I have a huge set of restrictions. in food, in fluids, in taking rest where it is required.

On the way I gave it a deep thought. Maybe if I wasnt a patient, I would abandoned the trek half way (when I got the cramps). What kept me going was my will to go on and complete the trek like any other normal person. To me not completing the trek would make me a loser, in my own eyes.

How could I lose................I am a winner!!!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

V Hikerz Blog

Being busy has its own consequences. We tend to forget everything else that we enjoy doing.

In my case I have been busy with work and treks. Well in my case at least I have been busy with what I love doing. One part of my life that I have not been able to allocate time in the last couple of months however is this blog.

But there is one more blog in place now. This is the V Hikerz Blog to which I have been one of the contributors. This is meant to be a ready reference to trekkers about the various places to trek around Mumbai.

There has been a lot of effort around this blog by members of V Hikerz.

Along with that I have been busy with work and actual treks. Maybe I will write about my experiences during each of the treks in the ensuing posts.

I will be back and with a bang.

As they say, you cant keep me back for long :-)

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

True Happiness

There was a time when I got started on dialysis. My world collapsed. I was at a loss as to how to live life.

It was not easy to accept the fact that

  1. I would not live a normal life again
  2. It would not be fair to my spouse if I got married (even if I underwent a transplant)
  3. I might never get to trek again (Trekking has always been a passion for me)
For a while I kept my business going. I had done some good creative work for some top corporates in India. However, some people took advantage of my health issues and weaned away my clients using my name. Some clients still stayed with me. They stood the test of time. Some of them are still in touch with me.

Some friends stopped keeping contact with me. This was the worst part. I was not someone who would "use' them to my advantage. Well what advantage did I have on my side is another question.

At this point I suddenly started feeling lost and forlorn. I needed a companion badly. I needed someone who would be there for me, when I need her.

I ended up being miserable. Feeling low all the time. Feeling depressed. It was tough to get positive. And then one day I said, I am going to be happy. Why should my happiness be conditional. Why should it depend on whether some "friend" talks to me or not. Why should my happiness depend on whether someone cheats me in business or not. I realised how stupid I had been.

I decided to take the bull by the horns. I started a consulting service that got me in touch with my current employer. I have been fighting it out since then. How could I give up ?

I have had a lot of ups and downs healthwise, relationship wise and otherwise. However, in my opinion I have grown more wise.

I still need to go for dialysis twice a week. I work the whole day. I take dialysis twice a week from 10 pm to 3 am at nights, and manage to go to work the next day.

I resumed my tryst with my passion (trekking) and now have a group of almost 200 members.

I might still be single, lonely and still would love to have a companion who would be there for me, committed to me in reciprocation, but I am not miserable. I am happy. Unconditionally.....

True happiness is always Unconditional

Sunday, 18 April 2010

The Challenge

I have seen dialysis from close quarters. Its really tough to face all the time. I have seen some friends lose their lives while on dialysis, very similar conditions to the one I went through last time.

Doctors keep saying that the intention of doing dialysis is to ensure that we can live as normal a life as is possible. However, we need to realise that every round of dialysis is an unique experience and therefore its a different challenge to come back to normal after every such experience. An unconditioned mind can really get nervous and lose their cool and confidence once faced with such experiences.

What is required is the mental strength to let go of the happenings and move on. The challenge is to simply forget whatever happenes as a bad dream and take it in your stride. This is the really difficult part because physically as well as emotionally you are drained of all energy.

What is needed is to dig deep into your mental and spiritual strength to get back into action.

To get back into life in the normal mode. Not just alive but alive and kicking.

At least thats what dialysis is meant to help us do................

Breathless

I have been extremely busy with my work and hence have not been able to write much lately. My schedules have been such that I hardly get enough sleep. In between I had been to Karla twice though the saving grace was that we hadnt trekked due to the heat.

Or Maybe I was missing the treks.I really dont know. But I was feeling quite listless and bored. And weak and uninterested in life.

There were too many things happening in my personal life as well. Lies, betrayal, and rarely have I been in a situation where I dont know whom to trust and whom not to trust. But I guess life presents us with all kinds of new situations all the time.

In the middle of such a situation, I went for dialysis. The moment they started dialysis, both sides of my chest and my lower back started hurting. I called out to the technician and nursing staff at the hospital. Luckily I called out to them just at the right time as by the time they reached my bed, I was totally out of breath. I was unable to talk. I had terrible pain in my lungs as if they were about to burst. Similarly with my lower back. If I remember correctly, this pain was in my kidney area.

I was unable to communicate. I was gasping. Gasping for breath. For life. I felt as if it was all over. Suddenly my visibility became poor. I started progressively seeing less and was extremely scared. I knew I was getting a phone call or maybe I was just dreaming.

What I remember next was that I was sitting. I had an oxygen mask on my face, the phone was ringing and I cancelled it. My finger was having a probe attached to it to measure the saturation and pulse. But somehow I managed to sms the friend who had called 3 times till then.

My intention was just to inform that I was unable to take the call due to my ill health and not because of the misgivings that we had with each other in the last couple of weeks.

I smsed my dad to come to hospital and also my employer that maybe I would not be able to report to work the next day.

I dont know why I did this. I was truly not in my senses. But somehow it was my reflex that I communicated to whoever required about my state.

Slowly, my condition improved. I heard that they had stopped my dialysis for a while and kept me on slow speed dialysis that night.

But as i replied to the sms of one of my concerned friends. I was Alive and Kicking. !!

Tung

After my hairline fracture, V Hikerz went ahead with a couple of treks. The group was not so comfortable going ahead without me, but then the group is alwyas more important than the individual. and the group went ahead with the treks. My foot was now fine. the summer had set in but we wanted to do one small trek to end the season.

Tung was the one.

We started early in the morning and took the vehicle to the base point. On the way to Amby Valley take a detour towards Tung wadi and the trek starts from a Hanuman temple.

We had some inexperienced trekkers with us who started with great enthusiasim. They wanted to reach the top as fast as possible. I guess they wanted to be the first to reach the top.

We were hardly 150 metres on the trek when a couple of the members went breathless. Luckily we had experienced trekkers with us. We coaxed and cajoled them to move on (Its almost done...i can see the walls of the fort) and complete the trek.

Yes the trek was short, but it was really hot. Summer had truly set in. We had told everyone to carry a lot of water, which helped a lot in the ultimate analysis. The Glucose, the tang and everything else that we had carried helped. We had a breath taking view of the Pawna river valley from the top along with a couple of smaller temples. The members who were tired were not feeling better once we had our refreshments.

We started on our way back after a session of jokes and this time there was no issue faced even by the members who were breathless while climbing.

They had paced their descent and planned it better.

Isnt life so much about planning and pacing ourselves to be able to keep running till the end........

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Redifining Success

With Social Networking and the internet, I have got back in touch with a lot of old friends. Friends whom I know from school days, my undergraduate days, my B-school days as well as old colleagues from my previous organisations.

It is a very nice feeling to know that my friends are doing so well in their respective careers. Some are heading their companies, some are heading the marketing department of hige corporations, others heading business divisions so on and so forth.

It feels really nice to note that my friends are successful.

While speaking to them, one thing is evidently missing. The satisfaction of doing something that is meaningful. I get a feeling that they have got so entangled in the rat race that they really are missing out on doing something meaningful. A couple of them have even admitted as much to me in heart-to-heart conversations have admitted as much.

I lost a lot of years as well as seniority due to my health. Also it is quite a blessing in disguise that I am not married. I have seen the priorities of so many of my friends change post marriage.

It's really tough for me to manage work, rest, dialysis and other activities like trekking and working on building a cadre. That has been my dream ever since I was young. Experimenting on how to build a cadre. A Cadre of leaders.

A system that would generate leaders. I dont know whether I will be successful. Success once used to mean doing well in a job. Getting great designations in the shortest period of time.

Today along with my job, my dialysis, my trekking and other problems, I am also following a dream. Something that means a lot to me.

Success is in doing something that is truly meaningful.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Accept the Situation

The hairline was a blow to my trekking plans. But I had to take it in my stride. Yes it hurt. Every step was painful. Everytime I stood on my own feet it hurt.

But I chose to do just that. Just as I had all the time.

For Kidney patients, analgesics (pain killers) are poison. So the only analgesic I was allowed to use was paracetamol which is a very mild one. It was not something that would give a lot of relief, but nevertheless, I had a choice.

I exercised that choice. I chose not to take any painkillers. I decided to take the bull by its horns. This had a logic applied to it.

I have observed that when we dont consume pain killers, the wound heals faster. Or it could be that our body developed a tendency to bear the pain, however intense it may be.

I accepted the pain as being a part of me. Something that was connected to my being. Just like dialysis or my failed kidneys.

When we accept something as it is, somehow from somewhere we get the strength to face it. Tough things become matter of fact. I could walk and live a normal life. The pain in my ankle was sidelined to just some niggle out there somewhere that was now not able to affect me adversely.

So much so that I started believing that the injury had healed. Around 4 days before we were to go to Harishchandragad, I did an X ray. The fracture had healed !! But there was still some swelling in the soft tissue.

I suddenly realised then that there was still some discomfort in my foot, which I needed to rest. I dropped out of Harishchandragad trek. Just to ensure that I could do more treks in future.

But yes, it was a learning that I will never forget.

Any pain, hurt or adverse incident does not affect us if we accept the situation as it is.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Joy of Doing

Post Karnala, I continued my routine life. We had plans for a trek to Harishchandragad for the long weekend coinciding with holi. I was so excited. This was my dream trek. When I started trekking again this was one trek that I really wanted to do.

I was so excited that the date was nearing.

After Karnala my foot started hurting. In fact when I started for the trek from home, the area around the ankle was painful. But I went for the trek. I was excited that there were so many first timers trekking with us.

The pain if any recedes in a day or two. However this time it started aggravating. The pain was so intense that I found it difficult to walk.

Finally around 10 days later I visited the doctor. He suggested I take an X ray and meet an orthopedic doctor. Which I did. I wanted to get this out of the way before Harishchandragad trek.

The ortho had some bad news for me. He could see a hairline fracture in my ankle area and advised me to wear supports for the ankle and no trekking for 3-4 weeks.

We were planning Bhupatgad on Valentine day. And I had great valentine day plans for the trek.

It was not to be. I had to be at home. Maybe I might even have to drop out of Harishchandragad trek.

Well I accepted the situation. I did all the planning for Bhupatgad knowing very well that I would not be able to go. I also planned everything for Harishchandragad expecting that my foot injury would heal by then.

So what if I could not join the trek. I could plan and organise it. That also gave me so much joy.

Joy is not just in doing something that you love doing. Joy can be derived even from organising your favourite things so that others can love it.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Creating History

I have been very active in the social arena since a long time. I was involved with a socio cultural institution for a long time and thereafter some more bodies which were voluntary and whose objectives were to bring the community together.

Somehow most of them didnt take off as they were planned to.

One socio cultural institution is now dominated by the older generation who are averse to new ideas. Any voluntary institution runs because of youhg feet. The youngsters need to be enthusiastic. But if the people who control the activities are not in tune with the pulse of the next generation its a non starter, however good the intentions may be. There is also no intention to allow the younger generation to work independently, allow new ideas to happen as there is insecurity.

There was a group where I was a part of that more or less disintegrated because of the issue of credit, or the lack of it. Any group activity needs the whole group to contribute to its success, but when there is a propoganda to credit success of the group to an individual, then the rest log off, simply. Its good to see a group getting formed afresh in that project and I wish them all the best.

There was another friends circle that started out with good objectives, they got pulled in different directions due to ego issues. For a time the group moved with the majority opinion, but at one point the 'leader' (founder) of the group put his foot down again due to insecurity that others might usurp his position. Again the same story. Insecurity crept in and the leader felt he needed to compete with the group.

Its clear that a leader cant be a competitor. But then what is leadership.

How do you define a leader.

A leader is someone who is supremely confident about himself/herself. He does not feel insecure that someone else is a threat to him. A leader is someone who does not compete with the rest. He doesnt need to .... he is not insecure.

A leader does not compete. He is not a competitor. He is a leader.

This is so much in sync with what Swami Vivekananda once said

"The history of the world is the story of a few men who had faith in themselves"

Hope I can create history some day.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Meherali Center at Tara



Tara is a small village around 4 km from Karnala. On the way to Tara there are a lot of small resorts. Few of our members were tempted to stop at one of these for lunch. However, I had already informed the people at Yusuf Meherali Center that we were coming and they would have cooked for us.

Another speciality of the institution is the kind of work that they do in the neighbouring areas to educate the masses. They also provide employment to the villagers in their premises. They run a soap factory, an oil mill, a bakery and a carpentry where they manufacture goods of top quality.

I had been there before with my college group (courtesy nature club of Wilson College) and also with the students camp that we organised for Kanara Saraswat Association.

It was always a great experience to visit this place. The spirit of being independent in a small way and yet churn out goods of the top quality is a challenge.

The best part is the people who are running the show are people who have migrated from the cities. It is such a difficult thing to do. Give up the luxuries of urban life to go to the village and make a difference.

Another very important reason was the fact that the gentleman who led my first trek (Bhargav Sir) who was an inmate here was unwell. He was also suffering from crf. and was living on dialysis. I had heard that he had grown very weak. This person was so active and so lively, that I felt like coming all the way to meet him. The fact that I met him after a trek would also in some way encourage him to get as active as her was earlier. I fervently hope and pray that he does.

we had a sumptious meal here for a very reasonable price. A full meal of homely food was really what the doctor ordered us after a trek.




Then after some rest and chit chatting we went and saw the various mills that they run.

On the way back we had some kokum sarbat at their restaurant (which was separate from the mess where we had our food)

The kokum Sarbat was so refreshing. It was difficult to imagine. We bought some items are the store like kokum, syrups as well as the dried variety, the hair oil and some other items and set out for Mumbai.

The experience was so exhillarating. Imagine people who came from the city to live in the villages, run cottage industries, educate the rural folk, generate employment and live like any other villager and most importantly make them financially independent.

I am sure its a huge learning experience. Learning that would hold us in good stead for the rest of our lives.

When Gandhiji talked about Gram Panchayat maybe this was what he was referring to. India is truly in the villages.

If we want to change India we need to begin from here.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Karnala with Newbies

The trekking bug was catching on. Facebook contributed in no mean way to the spreading of this bug.

We had more and more people wanting to join V Hikerz. It was a great feeling. Not only about the incremental numbers in our group, but for the fact that most of the joinees were new to trekking. It felt good that my passion was getting more popular.

In order to ensure that more beginners could join the trek, we wanted to plan an easy one. While thinking of where to go, I went back in time and remembered where I had started my trekking life. Karnala. Yes Karnala it would be for the next trek. The advantage of the place was that it was very near to Mumbai. It also was on the Goa highway, so it was easily accessible as well.

The trek was scheduled for a sunday. On thursday we had 13 confirmations so we booked a 17 seater mini bus. However by friday the bus was overflowing and we had to infact decline around 4-5 people from joining us for the trek.

I was really touched by the tremendous response.

We started early as we normally do and after breakfast on the way at Panvel, we started the trek at around 8:15 am. Given the fact that the group was inexperienced, they were quite quick. We had only a couple of breaks on the way and reached the top by around 10:15 am.

On the way a disturbing incident occured. Just when the steps leading to the fort were about to start one trekker from another group, a much older gentleman fell and hurt his shoulder. Some members of our group witnessed this incident. This scared them no end. To add to this the steps leading to the fort are exposed and look quite steep. They are not as difficult as they seem to be. Nevertheless they can be intimidating.

After administering first aid to this person who was an orthopedic doctor, I cajoled our new members into completing the trek by telling them that they could do it and such incidents are really rare and can be avoided if we concentrate while trekking.

Finally we reached the top. We had a nice session of jokes and anecdotes at the top followed by a snack session. We started from the top at around 12:15 and made it back to the base by around 1:30.

We encountered on the way a huge group of girl students who were on a college / school picnic and had to spend a lot of time on the way as we gave them the first use of the beaten path.

We completed the trek and went to Yusuf Meherally Centre Tara village which was around 3-4 km from Karnala.

As we were moving towards Tara for a well deserved meal, my thought went back in time again. The journey from my first night trek to Karnala, my health issues, my resolve in getting back to something that I loved doing and today we again completed Karnala with a group of newbies as enthusiastic as I was during my first trek. It is another matter how many would continue trekking as I did.

But yes Life had come full Circle !! As it so often does

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Nayaks and Khalnayaks

There are several people who make a mark on us. There are some who make a difference. There are some that matter a lot to us. We expect them to be there for us and reciprocate our feelings and emotions. Some people have really made so much of a mark on us that when we think back about what has gone through, we have very fond memories about them.

Then there are some who really dont matter to us. Simply because we dont know them well enough. And maybe because of this we do not expect anything from them. Not a thing. And when we dont expect anything and yet we get so much from anyone, we end up being touched. Touched to the core.

When someone goes out of his way to help you, when it is really not needed, when one has just met someone and just cares for the person for the sake of caring, it touches and touches the core of your being.

In our lives we meet the Nayaks and the Khalnayaks.

The Nayaks are the good guys while the Khalnayaks are the others. Since we encounter the second category more often, the definition of the Nayaks keep changing. We get more liberal with identifying people as Nayaks.

But when someone just cares for you, just for the sake of caring.

When someone helps you, just for the sake of helping.

When someone ends up touching your core, but this time without any intention of touching,

You have just met a true Nayak

Online Trekking

"Who said its tough ? Its a walk " said a friend. I looked at him and started wondering. Either he has been for that trek several times or he is a might accomplished trekker.

I knew he had just started trekking last year. So he hadnt been to that place. And he has trekked with me ever since he started. So I knew how accomplished he was.

Wondering to myself, I asked him "Have you been there ?"

He said no. I read about it on the internet.

Great to know that the friend had done the research. But unfortunately, his assessment of the trek was based on judgements of others who might be much fitter than most in our group. It could also have been written by someone who wants to show that what others find tough, a walk in the woods for him.

Another friend who wanted to join this particular trek asked me. I said I wouldnt encourage beginners to join the trek. But its definitely a beautiful place.

This friend agreed quoting a friend saying "He feels this place is great in the monsoons. But you can also go now"

Thanks for the permission I felt. Also thought to myself. There are so many experts all over !!

On further inquiry the person who expressed this opinion turned out to be a common friend. For one I know that the person who made this judgement was someone who had just been for 3 treks till date and never before been to the place where we were planning to go. But yes he knew that its good to go there in the monsoons, but thank God for small mercies, we could also visit the place now.

I have been to this place during monsoons as well as the winters. It so happens that the sunset is the most beautiful sight from this fort. And in the monsoons though it is beautiful, its much more beautiful when the sky is clear.

I started wondering, what made the person get this impression. I confronted him and asked him the logic behind this opinion. He said he had read it somewhere on the internet.

I have been trekking since 1993 and have never made judgements about trekking routes and destinations.

I have observed that on a particular day when our energies are low (in my case it happens mostly when I have had dialysis on the previous day), the easiest of treks become very tough and vice versa. It is about our mental frame. Its about how well hydrated we are. Its about how well rested we are.

It definitely depends on how tricky the rock patches or routes are. It depends on the distance.

But it definitely does not depend upon what some Johny has written on the internet

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Korigad




After Sudhagad and the wonderful pictures that we put up on facebook, we were getting lot of inquiries to join us for our next trek. The word of mouth was also spreading.

When I started trekking, it was not such a popular hobby. Today with the advent of digital cameras and the internet, lot more people have a desire to see the natural beauty of these places themselves. Today more and more people find the hill stations that are already tourist destinations very crowded and hardly provide the peace that they would give a few years back.

The membership of V Hikerz started growing by leaps and bounds.

Also after the strain of having lost our way on the return at Sudhagad, we desired to do an easy trek. An easy trek was also the demand of the hour as there were a lot of first timers who wanted to trek just for the natural beauty part of it. They were not sure how much of physical strain they could take.

Korigad is located very near to Amby Valley which is an exclusive township off Lonavala. In fact one of the routes starts from Ambavane village which was the original name of Amby Valley.

We got some 21 confirmations. Most of them were courtesy my friend Varun whose entire childhood group joined us. It was a very vivacious group and it was a fun journey.

The route that we took was from Peth Shahapur just 3 km before Ambavane village. It was an easy route that took us to a stone staircase that took us straight to the top of the fort.

There were a few small lakes at the top. But the view from the top in all directions is breathtaking. This was one of the best views that one could get in the Sahyadris with such less effort.

This is an ideal trek for first timers.

We looked around the fort and had tons of fun in the lakes.

We had some snacks and started our way back.

On the way back we stopped at a restaurant at Khandala and had a very late but sumptuous lunch.

However, it was one of the most enjoyable treks that I have ever had. Thanks to all the lovely people who we trekked with that day.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Games

We have all played games when we were kids. All kinds of games. I used to love playing catching cook, with marbles, with tops, (Dont see such games being played nowadays.) .Dumb Charades, Truth or Dare and antakshari were some other games that we used to enjoy. One of the most interesting games was Chinese whispers.

Some friends used to sit in a circle and someone would start. The starter would whisper something into the ear of the person sitting next to him / her.

This would then continue with this person whispering what he/she heard to the next person. Finally when the last person in the circle heard it, the sentence was supposed to be announced. In all likelihood, the sentence would be distorted and mostly distorted beyond recognition.

As we grow up we remember these games fondly. We also try to replicate some of these in real life.

We talk about people we know in a lighter vein or loosely. And then the whisper continues. And this happens in full public gaze.

In this case the whisper is not within the group but spread from one to many and then to further many more.

This is a dangerous game. Even though we might be doing things innocently without any malice, it hurts.

In this case the whisper has spread far and wide and the distortion is not only beyond recognition, its beyond repair.

Have we really grown up ?

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Image and Reality

A camera has been something that has always held my attention. When I was a kid I remember my father taking snaps of me and my sister in his click IV camera. I guess that brand is extinct now. It was a black and white camera and we used to be overawed by seeing our own imaages on a piece of paper. They were in black and white but they were pictures nevertheless.

For a while my dad used a Yashica. This was when I clicked my first photograph.

I instantly loved doing that. Capturing what I see and keeping it for posterity.

When my uncle got a Canon AE-1 I was so fascinated by it. The way the objects in the lens came so close when we zoomed it. It needed a photo roll to be used and hence it was an expensive proposition. I learnt the basics of apertures and shutter speeds with this one and the play of light and the images that were captured therein. The prints were the only output then.

The next generation was the digital camera though it was an expensive proposition in the beginning.We would see through a bigger window what we were about to capture on camera. Also the photo roll was eliminated and pictures became more and more true to life.

The better the camera the better the output. It was really a great experience. The advent of social media signalled the age of sharing. And the camera that could shoot videos became a means to meeting this objective. I carry my Sony Cybershot everywhere now. I trek regularly. Despite all my health problems one thing that I have not given up is the love of photography.

I still am amazed by the replication of reality into a photograph. I cant stop being amazed.

But I also think sometimes.

An image is an image and reality is reality !

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Sudhagad - The Descent



We had just 2 litres of water left. The water that the local family (there is one family living on the top) pointed out to us as potable was brown in colour. (exhibiting the sad state of affairs of our natural resources)

We set out for the route to Dhondse. On the way we found a cistern where there was water with some small fish in it. One of us bent down to fill the water in one of the empty bottles. By the grace of God it was clear and potable. (Mountain water sells at Rs.25 a litre in cities)

We filled the rest of the bottles. On the way we felt hungry so had the fruit and biscuits that we had been carrying. Till we reached the hanuman temple. The hanuman temple was supposed to be the end of the tough part and the village Dhondse was very near. We met another group who were trekking uphill and they directed us to move in a certain direction. Apparently they were themselves quite lost and we went in a route that was never ending. But now there was no going back. We kept moving as there was a beaten path. (Normally beaten paths lead to some civilisation)

We walked for more than 2 and a half hours from here and finally could see a village in the distance. On inquiry we realised that we had reached Pacchapur !!

We could not pin point where we had lost the way, but these things are part and parcel of treks.

Luckily and again by the grace of God there was a rickshawala waiting here to ferry us to Pali from where we got another transport to return to Mumbai. He charged a bomb, but we had no choice. We were too tired to walk the additional 6-7 km to the phata. So much for commercialisation.

It was a great weekend. A wonderful journey and a memorable trek.

Well in hindsight, I just realised that it was the mountain water that helped us get till here.

We got it free!!

Sudhagad - The Stay



We were quite tired. We needed to rest our bodies for a while. But we also needed to cook the food. We were also feeling hungry. Also we had planned to move out of the wada at around 430 to look around the fort, the temples etc and then catch the sunset.

Two of us rested while the remaining two cooked maggi noodles. The water that the villagers said was potable was brown in colour and we were scared to fill our water bottles with that. It just seemed like dust at the bottom but nevertheless it was scary.

We decided to use it for our cooking though. After cooking and lunch we set out to look around the fort. The Shiva Temple there was so nice. The Bhorai Devi temple was shut from outside. But it was not locked.

We opened it and prayed inside. The vibrations in this temple were so powerful. You have to experience it to believe it. We could feel the divine presence there.

We did some photo shoots and then moved to an area where we thought we would be able to get the best view of the sunset. We kept walking in the direction of the sun. It was a never ending walk. Well almost. Finally after around 45 minutes of walk we reached the end of the plain and we could see the valley from there.

We took so many photographs. It was quite an unbelievable sight. Something that had again to be seen to be believed.

After the sunset, I was in a daze as we walked back to the Wada. I was getting lot of cramps in my stomach as I was fresh from dialysis the previous day. I was really tired and my body was demanding rest. I requested the other members to take care of the cooking for the night as I needed to rest for a while.

After dinner we were chatting away into the night and the next thing I remember was that I was awake at around 6 am. One of the group members was also awake. We tried to wake up the others but maybe they were not destined to see the beauty of sunrise.

We set out and after a stop over in the denseness for defecation we reached the sunrise point.

We also did a rece for the route to go to Dhondse. We found it and we came back by which time the other two had woken up to rue their missed chance.

Well after seeing the photos I am sure they would come back once more

Just to see the sunrise.............

Sudhagad Overnight - Ascent




Sudhagad was one of the most beautiful places that I have been to. The scenery was so beautiful and there was a valley sighting in all directions.

It would have been brilliant to capture sunset and sunrise at this place. Imagine sunset with one set of mountains in the background and sunrise with another. I could only imagine. But I wanted to check it out myself. In the monsoon it would have been tough as the whole area is like walking in the clouds. However winter seemed to be the best time to do so.

And yes we had to go overnight. So we had to carry provisions for cooking, vessels and the like. I knew that there were some implements available at the wada at the top, but was not sure whether they were in good condition.

We were four of us. One of my friends came to stay over at my place. And we started early in the morning. In order to be able to take the right ST bus we went to the ST stand at night and were told that the first bus to Pali was at 7 am and to Wakan phata was at 630

I remembered though that there were plenty of buses going to Ratnagiri/ Deccan via Mahad that would have gone via Wakan Phata. To the risk of my group feeling let down if there was no bus that early, we assembled at the Mumbai Central ST stand at 445 am

And yes there was a bus waiting for us as well. This was the Indapur ST and would take us to Wakan. We got into it.

On the way we had some piping hot bhajias and chai at Pen ST stand and got off at Wakan. We took a ricksha to the base point Thakurwadi at Pacchapur and started the trek after posing for a couple of photos.

It was quite hot. The cold that we had felt at Pen had disappeared as we started going uphill. We were also carrying a lot of load and we were not used to it. The valley on both the sides was also breathtaking and the view of the tak mak point of Sudhagad was beautiful.

There was no habitation on the way. It was a continuous slope though there were no tricky parts to it. It was a very simple gradient. We were passing through a jungle with valley on the left and the huge motif of the fort on the right. Then suddenly to the right we saw a staircase of the Pacchapur Darwaja. As soon as you complete the staircase the view on the right hand side is again very nice. Some things have to be seen to be believed.

We were also tired here. So the packets of glucose came out and the water. We had some 8 litres of water. We were told that there was potable water at the top but we had to conserve it as much as possible. We had the water with the glucose. Then we resumed the climb and started moving towards the fort. On the way we stopped to get another nice view of Tel Baila and the river passing by in between. We took our own time to reach the top.

Other trekkers would have taken about 2 - 2 and a half hours to reach the top. We took around an hour more. But it was a very enjoyable trek. Amazing scenery in all directions. Something that is so rare.

We reached the top and stopped to take a breath. We had lots of water here, thinking that we would get potable water on the top.

We started out towards the wada and found it after a huge walk. The surface area of the fort is quite huge and no wonder Shivaji Maharaj had shortlisted it as one of the places to build the capital city of Hindavi Swarajya.

We got into the wada and settled down. There was a choolha there that was freshly used. There was a room we were told where utensils etc were kept along with the mats.

The best part was a solar powered lamp that got lit automatically as the sun set and would stay lit till around 1 am

It was a nice place and much better than we had anticipated

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Tandulwadi

After V Hikerz was formed, we badly wanted to go trekking. We were all excited that we now had a group to identify ourselves with.

All the time we had been trekking in the areas around places that the central railway line in Mumbai took us to. I had heard of a fort near Virar called Tandulwadi. This was quite near from Mumbai and hence we decided to visit this place.

We took a slow train early in the morning for Virar. From Virar we left for Saphale. We had planned in such a way that we would get a connecting shuttle train to Saphale. From here we took a ricksha to the base point. The name of the village was also Tandulwadi. There was a huge police contingent in the village that day as there were some local elections being conducted.

We started the trek and kept going. At a certain point we were unsure as to which direction we should start moving in. We looked around and my instinct took me to a path on the left extreme of a huge plateau.

We were on our way. It was a continuous climb and it was getting very hot. We met a local on the way who was coming down with firewood. He gave us a huge sense of hope saying that we were more than half way up. We rested for a while and then started going again.

Suddenly the wrong things started happening. The sole of one of our friend's shoes gave way. There was no way with which she could trek. But the poor thing being so enthusiastic was somehow managing. But yes we slowed down. My friend who was leading the way suddenly stopped. He had reached a point from where he didnt know how to negotiate the rock. Yes it was quite steep there. Some of us caught up with him and guided him on the rock face.

The question marks had started arising in our minds. To facilitate dialysis, I had a AV fistula in my left hand which I need to protect at all costs. It also means that I cannot do proper rock climbs as I have to put pressure on the fistula and it is dangerous.

The heat was sapping. I was also losing a lot of sweat. I had also forgotten my cap at home so I was having practically no protection against the sun. I started feeling weak. Also started seeing black spots in my eyes. I realised my BP was going low.

The rocks were not so tough. I have climbed tougher rock patches before. However I was feeling weak this time. The others were also losing their morale and the fact that one of us was walking with torn shoes also contributed in taking a decision that we should return. So after having completed around 90% of the trek we took the tough decision to return from there itself. We stopped for a break of snacks.

The view from here was breathtaking. The confluence of the Surya and Vaitarna rivers was awesome. I could only imagine how beautiful this would be in the monsoons.

The rock faces of the mountain had this bare beauty. It was a really strong and robust rock face. Breathtaking.

The rocks really give me a feeling of strength. The strength that stands tall in the onslaught of the rivers, the rain, the sun and all the other natural elements.

The rock that can face the wind that emanates from the sea. The rock that stands tall as trekkers like us climb its surface and proclaim victory. The rock who is a witness to all our empty talks. Yet it stands tall, unmoved, unaffected and undeterred.

On our way back the hands were burning as this same rock had gone hot due to the sun.

We somehow reached the base by around 4 pm. We took a vehicle to reach Saphale station again and come home.

Just when we were about to board the vehicle at the base point, I looked back at the huge rock that was standing.

Unmoved, un affected and unfazed.

Maybe thats the reason they built a fort on its top.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Reserved Seats

I had dialysis the previous night and had to travel to an area which is around 15 minutes from my residence by road.

I was feeling fine. So I stepped out. I started walking as there was no taxi available outside my colony gate. I saw a bus coming in the same direction and the bus was going to that area.

I used to regularly travel by bus when I was a kid but once I started earning I spoilt myself. I upgraded to travelling by taxi. But today there was no taxi available and this bus would take my directly to where I wanted to go.

I ran. The bus was just about to take off from the bus stop as I got in. I asked the conductor for a ticket. Another result of my spoilt nature is that I didnt have small change on me. Well I handed him a 20 rupee note and he requested me for change as he didnt have any.

The bus was unusually crowded. For me I am anyways not used to crowded buses nowadays. So I was left holding onto the rod at the ceiling of the bus. I had run and started sweating profusely.

I started feeling weak. I wished I could get to sit somewhere. I could feel my pressure drop. And alarmingly.

I felt blacked out and lost sense. However something prompted me to hold on to the rod as if my life depended on it (maybe it really did) and was rudely awakened by the conductor who informed me that he now had the small change to give me my ticket.

I was back to normal albeit just about.

As I was getting off the bus, I saw the seats that are reserved for ladies and handicapped people.

Handicapped people are physically disabled. One of their limbs are non functional. I agree that they need seats to be reserved for them.

As for me, I am quite active and an avid trekker. Such situations happen with me and I have the will power and strength to face it bravely without anyone even getting an inkling of what I am going through. But other kidney failure patients (those living on dialysis) are more troubled. Most are bedridden. Most are not able to afford the expensive treatment and travelling by bus/train happens to be the most economical mode of transport. I can only imagine what they would be going through. Its not a matter of how much pain one needs to endure but the very question of life and death.

Why not have reserved seats for people who are suffering from other serious ailments

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

V Hikerz

I have been trekking for around 18 years now. I have trekked with various friends. In fact wherever I went a trekking group got formed. I have been that passionate about treks.

I always dreamt of having my own group. We always had an informal thing going. We used to call ourselves Mumbai Weekend Trekkers. But it never took the form of a proper group that organises treks etc.

When the group had been to Naneghat (I missed this one) and returned one of the regulars Varun mentioned to me that we could start a formal group. This was something that I was also thinking about. I felt that if we were doing so we should go the whole hog and this would mean designing a logo as well as think of a nice name.

We decided to start off with the naming process. We circulated some names between the regulars and had a poll. The poll threw up a couple of names one of which was continuation of the current name albeit now called Vkend Trekkerz. However, somehow somewhere it wasnt right. We needed something catchy.

Shantanu felt that the current name described us most accurately. We were weekend trekkers from Mumbai. But we needed a shorter name.

All of us agreed. So we chose V Trekkerz. However I felt that what we do is more of hikes as we go uphill.

V Hikerz was born