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Sunday, 11 September 2011

Truly Complete

We have often gone trekking when it has been raining heavily. Lots of new comers drop out of treks only because its raining heavily. But we go on. The trek needs to be completed, come what may.

What I have seen is that most of the times these treks turn out to be the most enjoyable and hence memorable. The thrill is more, the fun is more and when we complete the trek the feeling is more complete !

Life on dialysis can be compared to such a situation. Our aims and ambitions in life remain, just the situation is suddenly so much more adverse. But the adventure remains. Life has in store for us so many more surprises, hence the uncertainty is much more. This makes the whole journey so much more thrilling and captivating.

And despite these odds, if I am able to fulfill my ambitions, I am sure I will feel so much more content and happy. And yes truly Complete ! I hope and pray that I am able to do that.

It will be really worth the effort !

Monday, 5 September 2011

Pain and Jokes

When the going gets tough the tough get going !

Swami Vivekananda has been one of my inspirations in life. He had said something to the effect "The solution to weakness is to think about strength"

This phrase has become so internalised for me that I didnt realise till yesterday morning.

I had penned some funny couplets as  my status update on facebook and one of my friends dad asked me what was wrong with me. I replied with the factual answer that I was down with very low bp on saturday and didnt have much to do. In fact trying to remember these PJs kept me in good humour and jest.

When another friend Ranjeet asked me Low BP..Full TP it struck me that I really was trying to humour myself so that I could forget my physical condition. I recollected every moment. It was so scary. I was unable to even sit up, my neck was hurting from the behind. I was feeling so giddy that I could not see anything.

All I could do was close my eyes and maybe think...think of something positive something nice and funny to keep me in the right frame of mind.

This is what I normally tend to do. Dialysis is a painful process, there are times that I am on dialysis and there are BP fluctuations, cramps, rigors and what not. Sometimes its a combination of all of these. I go alone for my treatment so there is no relative/friend accompanying me. I am sorta alone out there, in the big bad world of dialysis.

What keeps me going are the pjs that I can think of. Most of them are originally created by me, some are ones that I might have read somewhere but dont remember when or where. Nothing however is ad verbatim copied from any other source. There is some original contribution in the peejay

Whether the peejay is totally original or not, it keeps me going. It helps me forget the pain in a positive manner.

Like some friends keep saying "Your jokes are such a pain" i keep smiling to myself that maybe the other way around is more accurate.

Monday, 29 August 2011


There was a huge rush for the Bhimashankar trek. So we were dissuading new members from joining that one. One such new member had called to join and I invited the person to join us for the kids trek.

It would be so much fun to see kids enjoying in the midst of nature. The response was something I never expected. Kids Trek - I dont want to come for a kids trek. I would rather do something tough.

Again during earlier treks, I realised some people didnt come as they thought the trek was "nalla" (too easy). It was below their dignity to do treks that were perceived as easy.

There are others who made comments like "I have been there before. Dont want to go there again"

In my experience of around 20 years of trekking, I have seen that every time I went for a trek the experience was unique. Every time the route had changed slightly and nature had its own ways to show its complexities.

There were tough treks that I have done easily without any hiccups while there were some easy treks that I have not been able to complete.

There have been very tricky stretches which I have crossed without any problems while I have slipped and fallen at the easiest of stretches.

Due to my dialysis, I might have more constraints physically than others, but I have observed these kind of behaviour with others as well.

Whether a trek is "difficult" or " easy" a certain level of concentration and focus is required. The mind needs to be conditioned to ensure that whatever the terrain one must have a firm footing.

Nature is beautiful and its beauty manifests itself in unique ways everytime we visit a place. Its not only about the sights, but the climate, the terrain and even the condition of our body and mind that makes it unique everytime.

In fact even nature has its own mind. Its all powerful. Imagine how long the mountains have been standing there. Imagine how it has the power to bear the flowing water, all the plants, the trees, the wild animals, and the whole ecosystem that sustains itself.

We are in fact a part of this ecosystem.

Treks are a beautiful way to observe how we are just a part of this ecosystem and how our bodies and minds and everything fits beautifully into the scheme of nature.

We are just one small part of the jigsaw puzzle. This part of nature is the most enjoyable. This is what treks give us an opportunity to realise and keep reinforcing.

Who are we to call a trek as "nalla" ?

You must be kidding !

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Ash - winner

Ashwin Hemmad and myself grew up together. When I was active in the KSA he wasnt that active in organising events. However, his talent was there for all to see. He was brilliant on stage and whenever given an opportunity he proved himself.

But when he moved to a new place after marriage, we were not so much in touch and barely even got to speak to each other.

When the kids trek was being planned, I spoke to Ashwin and invited him to join us with his elder one. He readily agreed. Then after a couple of days he called asking whether he could get his 3 year old son along. We had stipulated an age limit of 5 years but we had taken 3 year olds in an earlier trek to the same destination. I did mention that there would be stretches that would be a bit tricky but some experienced trekkers from V Hikerz would be around and we would be able to manage.

I knew for sure that Rajesh and Ananth would be around and I could bank on them.

Further Ashwin lives in Borivali. Our regulars from that side were not joining and we needed someone to co-ordinate the bus from the starting point to the end. I spoke to Ashwin and he readily agreed. This was despite the fact that he knew no one whom he was supposed to pick up. He had not even spoken to them !

This spirit was really touching and the way he went about contacting everyone and coordinating with us despite celebrating his son's third birthday the previous evening was exemplary. Even during the trek when their son was finding it difficult to cross some stretches, he never lost his enthusiasm and completed the trek.

Personally, I feel that without his participation the Kids trek would not have been such a great success that it has been. He was a winner all the way !

V hope that the trekking "keeda" has gotten into him and he would continue to join us regularly for treks.

The least it could do is get back in touch with an old friend !

Friday, 26 August 2011

The Kids Trek

Yes, we had a good number. 13 kids and adults that added upto 34. This was despite the last minute cancellations.

For the convenience of the kids we had booked 2 buses one from the suburbs and another from Mumbai. This was one of the best co-ordinated efforts from the V Hikerz organising group and kudos to all who helped manage this huge exercise.

We started slightly behind schedule but there were no hiccups on the journey. The kids enjoyed all the way to the base point and had already become pals by the time we reached. The introduction session was reduced to just a formality or maybe for the adults to get to know the names of the kids.

After breakfast we started the trek. Kids enjoyed checking out Imus at the farm on the way, they really enjoyed splashing water at each other in the rivulets on the way. The parents were getting a bit tired along the way but the kids led the way. Even our V Hikerz regulars leading the way had to do a bit to catch up with the kids.

At every step the kids had a gala time.

When we reached the waterfall it was even more exciting. Since it was a first time experience for them, they had to be led into the waterfall. But once they got in nothing could stop them. They got wet without anyone to stop them, started jumping and shouting !

Some of the parents simply rested at the rivulet at the base of the waterfall, preferring to sit out in the flowing water with their feet stretched.

Nothing to stop the children though !!

It was a wonderful experience. The sight of kids enjoying the waterfall was the high pointof the trek. It was a feeling of great joy, of an experiment that had worked - with flying colours !

The icing on the cake was when on the way back a couple of kids told me. "I Love Treks"

YES "All of us love treks"

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Kids Trek - An Unique Event

When we were kids we grew up in the comfort of home. We were so engrossed in our studies and other "extracurricular activities" that we never really got an opportunity to check out nature. Whats there outside this concrete jungle was unknown to us.

When I started trekking, I discovered the beauty. The fun. The fascinating experience of interacting with nature had me floored.

I have been taking lots of friends for treks and such beautiful places for so many years now. Only once we took kids for a trek and the experience was so awesome.

Kids were feeling so good about trees all around, they had fun playing in flowing water. Crossing streams was also something that they relished doing.

When one of them asked me how they could use the water, one of us prompted them to sit with their feet in the water, wash their faces and one of them even tasted the water where it was clean. (Flowing water is normally potable)

Every moment for them was unique and they seemed to make the most of the day, rather every moment.

We could see the wonder on their faces as they checked out different types of trees, leaves, flowers and even rocks with their unique contours and crevices.

It was a world totally different from that they were living in. It was a world that had nothing artificial, nothing with a mask on it and which prompted them to come into their own.

Their natural selves !!

Then we thought why not do something in a planned manner. And here we go ! V Hikerz are now organising a kids trek on 21st August to Kondana Caves. We are also trying to get along a naturalist who can explain plant families etc to the kids. The idea is to expose them to nature, its beauty and get fascinated by it.

I dont know how many parents will get along their kids for the event or how the whole event would materialise, but our efforts will be to make it a grand success !!

God Willing it will be !!!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Experiments with Sodium Control

When I started on dialysis I studied the process and realised that it was a chemical process along with drawing excess fluid out of the body. The incidence of hypotension/ hypoglycaemia etc was giving me lots of question marks. Once I happened to ask the dialysis technician on what settings he makes in the machine while starting the process and he told me about the sodium etc. I understood that a combination of sodium and fluid levels in the body result in hypotension. In my case since I am a trekker it is even more critical to understand how it works. I tried various combinations and activities and basis that this is some of the results that I have arrived at.

Sodium is a very important electrolyte in our body. It is also an important component of our food. For those on dialysis and specifically those who dont pass any urine, it is critical to control sodium levels in the blood.

For those who live an active life it is even more important. I have tried a lot of combinations in my case ( at times risky but got away with it) and today I am in a position to maybe list what would work in most cases. This is a thumb rule and would therefore change from person to person.

The logic behind the same is basically how much of sweat is expected to be lost from the body during the time before the next round of dialysis.

The more the amount of sweat expected the more sodium that is expected to be lost. This would also be a balance between the fluid loss and sodium loss.

Typically when there is expected to be a higher loss of fluid / sodium (typically before a difficult trek) the sodium that works best for me is around 138-139. In the peak of summer as well (we dont normally trek during the peak of summer) this is the case. If its a long trek then maybe 140.

On other occasions, the best sodium level that works for me is around 136-137

In winter 136 works best.

Winter treks mean same amount of sweat and sodium loss so just before a winter trek the best level would be around 139

So during the process of dialysis the range of Sodium can be kept at around 136-140 depending on the amount of sodium/fluid loss that is expected to happen before the next cycle of dialysis.

This would however vary on body weight and the propensity to consume foods with sodium content during the intra cycle days.

I guess each dialysor should study such tendencies in their individual cases and understand how sodium control during dialysis helps in living a life that is more active and hence more meaningful.

Finally, its all about making life meaningful !!


Kohoj was a trek that someone else from the group was supposed to lead. However the member was extremely busy and expressed inability to take it up.

Kohoj was a place I really wanted to go to. The last time I went, I had abandoned just after starting the trek due to low BP which hurt. So despite a very heavy schedule I took it up. This was a place I really wanted to see !

This time I took care. I kept my dry weight a bit above what I normally do. During dialysis, I had adjusted the sodium to around 140 (normally keep at 137-138 depending on weather).

We were only 5 of us this time. So after a long time a V Hikerz trek didnt go in a mini bus but a smaller vehicle. It was pouring and the traffic on the highway was moving really slowly.

What would normally take us 2 hours to cover took us almost 5 hours. We had stopped for breakfast though on the way.

We started the trek at 945 am, it was really pouring. When we started the trek the villagers warned us not to go, but we had come all the way (travelled for 5 hours) and were not going to give up so soon.

We crossed the fields and reached the point from where the lake looked beautiful.

In a repeat of the Nakhind trek, I spotted at least 3 snakes on the way, one of which was seen by the whole group.

We went around the lake and were looking for a route to go to the other side when we realised that the dam was overflowing and we had to wade through almost waist deep water. Wow the Adventure had started.

We slowly made our way to the other side of the dam. There was a villager who guided us on how to get to the other side. (The route was submerged and the other areas were deeper)

The trek started. It was an easy gradient at first but water was flowing all the time. We were walking in water that was half way to our knees. The ground beneath was not visible and hence it was tough to see where to put our next foot. Hence we were going slow. It was still raining very heavily and the water flow was ever increasing.

There were river crossings in between that added to the thrill. We kept going and the way got steeper and the force of the water faster. It was like we were climbing against a waterfall. The image of the route is shared above. We climbed through that kind of route.

At around 1 pm we were hungry and stopped for a snack, there was no signs of the rain abating and the force of the water was ever increasing. We were worried about being stranded in the jungle if the water level in the dam got beyond a certain level. We decided to go back without completing the trek.

On the way back we lost our way once, though very soon we were able to find the route and complete the trek. Luckily the rains also abated and we had to encounter knee deep water in the dam.

On our return, we were met with a horde of relieved villagers. They narrated how the last weekend, they had to send a rescue party late at night to help trekkers who had got lost in the dense jungle.

We were relieved as well !!

When we were eating, I personally was worried how we would get back basically due to the rains.

We were back to the village and on our way home.

Home and wet !!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


When we went to Peb last year, we had met three guys who had climbed Nakhind and then walked upto Peb and from thereon gone ahead to Matheran via Kalyan Darwaja.

Right from when I was a kid I have heard about Nakhind and how tough it

was. This trek was definitely something that I was looking forward to. My professional life was extremely busy hence it was tough to get time. So I opted out of organising this one. I had also missed the previous trek Tringalwadi and I was really keen to do Nakhind.

Somehow I managed to make time for the weekend and joined the trek to Nakhind. I badly needed to trek.

We set out in the morning and reached Vangani. Couple of our members had missed the train and hence we waited for 15 minutes for them to join us. Till then we had some yummy hot jalebis at a stall just outside the station. I did the rounds speaking to a couple of locals on how to get to Nakhind and about the trek.

All of them were unanimous.

Are you mad ? asked one middle aged gentleman. Do you really want to go to Nakhind in this climate. Set me thinking. Yes it was pouring and the trek was supposed to be steep. He warned us not to go there and advised us instead to enjoy the whole day at the waterfalls nearby and go home. Safe !!

But we had come there to get to Nakhind and that is where we were going to !!

I was too enamoured by the place to let it go after coming so near.............

We got to the village from where the trek started and started climbing the hill. The gradient was consistent and took us in an hour to a village that was on a small hill. This was we thought a precursor to the trek.

We took along a couple of kids from this wadi (village) to show us the way to the top.

There was a wonderful waterfall on the way where we took some time off to get refreshed.

The kids (our guides) were walking barefeet and it was pouring as well. We could see them shivering. A couple of our groupies offered our raincoats to them.

The path was getting very steep and slippery. We were wondering how we would come down this route. It was going to be very tricky.

The rains abated for a while and the dense jungle made it very stuffy and sultry. One of our group members tried to shake the long grass like trees growing thinking this would give him a shower of the moist ness that accumulates on the trees just after rains. What he got was a pit viper that landed first on his hand and then on the floor. He was quick to move away and the reptile was considerate not to bite us as we passed by. It was one of the scariest moments of my trekking life.

The jungle was dense and the width of the patch was not more than half a foot. There were plants jutting into the path and lots of them had thorns on them. Some thorns are still hurting me as I write this note.

I was getting hypoglycaemic and was feeling giddy but there was no place to sit on the way. We had to make our way to the top. It was also pouring hard when we reached a flat point that led to a ridge that connected us to the final destination (the nedhe). Though we stopped here for some badly needed glucose and some tit bits to eat.

This was extremely slippery with cliffs on both sides and the ferocious winds didnt help any ways.

At one point we were on the verge of abandoning the trek but we desisted from doing that and moved on. Dense vegetation, slippery paths and some tricky stretches made the destination look much farther than it actually was.

After reaching the nedhe ( a hole in the rock which is a natural formation) we had some food. What followed was a fun filled one hour where we sang songs and enjoyed ourselves. None of us even thought of how to get back and were truly enjoying the moment.

After a while we set out on our return journey. When the descent started we realised that it was extremely difficult to get a grip / foothold on the path. The grovel was literally flowing down due to the rains and any step meant submerging half the shoe in the grovel.

The only way to go down was on our butts. Butt Naturally !!

Somehow we made our way down very carefully and yet as fast as possible.

Some members who were relatively new to trekking were so psyched that they started singing songs to take their mind off the route.

Finally we could head the waterfall flowing and heaved a sigh of relief. It was a good 15-20 minutes before we reached the waterfall and refreshed ourselves in it for more than half an hour.

What a wonderful feeling it was. The water massaging our shoulders as it flowed and giving relief to the aching limbs.

This gave us enough strength to go to the base village very quickly.

The trek was memorable, one of the most memorable in my trekking career and one of the most tricky.

There was everything in it. Tricky stretches, dangerous patches, rain, fog, dense jungle, thorns strewing the path, an encounter with a pit viper and ferocious winds.

A complete package that I have never experienced before in my so many years of trekking.

As the gentleman at the station had pointed out....maybe we were mad.....but we were enamoured !!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Sharing Lives

When we trekked earlier (in the 90s) it was in small groups. We knew each other well and had that bonding and trust that made trekking with each other such a pleasure. We were a family. Those bonds have even today stood the test of time. I relive those wonderful days when we used to trek with our "families"

Treks created a high level of trust for each other cos in the mountains it was only us for each other.

We used to eat together, share our lives with each other and so on. Once in a when we had big groups for some treks, it was lot of fun.

One of my most memorable treks was Manikgad with Shyam. It was just two of us. Decided to trek on saturday night, took the last train to Karjat, on the way referred to the book that we used and decided to go to Prabalgad.

On reaching chowk some villagers advised us against going there as the place was densely vegetated and infested with snakes. So we decided to go to Manikgad instead. We went to Talavli and set out for the fort. We lost our way and had no clue where we were. So we thought of exploring the forest for a few hours before we started looking for the nearest village. We were enjoying ourselves on the bank of a river with theplas etc till a villager came and offered to take us there.

What a wonderful trek it was. Just the two of us. Wandering in the midst of nature. It was fine if we didnt reach the top, we were just there, enjoying every moment. Enjoying nature !

We have now progressed from those days to V Hikerz, which today has almost 400 members. Our treks have a good response and there are around 20 people even for the tougher treks.

This brings with it the challenges. How to keep the group together. There are a lot of inexperienced guys who are so enamoured by trekking that they keep going on their own and even lose their way sometime.

There is also the challenge of having everyone comfortable during a trek. This means keeping contacts of villagers who provide food etc to trekkers, organising everything at the right time etc. It actually involves thinking of the group as a whole entity.

This is a great feeling to have, being responsible for the group as a whole. The effort is huge. At times thankless, which is fine. It is normal human tendency not to appreciate a job well done.

Even in this case the concept of extended family works. When we trek together the bonding is there and we are there for each other. Again the bigger the group the more the fun.

Today we are a trekking group and new members are joining all the time. When we announce a trek to a certain destination, we ideally want to reach the top. There is a certain amount of pressure that we meet our deadlines in terms of time and destination, cos we have to get back home in time.

Treks are great !

Whether the group is big or small.

But I miss the treks with the smaller groups that we used to have earlier.

Now the bonding is there, the trust is there, the fun is there

But we dont share our lives with each other !

Sunday, 26 June 2011


As we do for

most treks, we took the last train leaving from CST and got off at Kalyan. After spending the night on the platform, we took the 530 am bus to Khubi phata. After a snack of wada pav we realised that there was no transportation available to get to Khireshwar village from where the trek actually starts.

For us it had started !

We covered the distance to Khireshwar (approx. 6 km) and this itself took us more than an hour. The group never realised that there was a long way ahead and was busy clicking pictures of the beautiful landscape. Also it was nearing Shivratri and there was a festive atmosphere in the village. there is a temple in the village of the same deity that adorns Harishchandragad.

In the village we stopped for poha. So by the time we started the trek it was already 11.

Tolar khind is a well defined trek but is a continuous gradient. It gets tiring and the sun wasnt helping us one bit. We had numerous stops for refreshments and finally reached the top of Tolar Khind.

At this point we really rested a bit. We had to now attend to the most tricky part of the trek viz the rock patch just above Tolar Khind.

It is here that my memory failed me. I remembered this patch to be short roughly 100 metres. So when we finished the first part of it we thought we were done with it and stopped for lunch. After an unusually long lunch break we started to realise that we had just about begun the rock patch. There were numerous places where the railings put up by the government had collapsed. There were very dangerous stretches at some places where there was no support and a very narrow pathway (half a foot) with a deep valley on one side. It was scary for some people who were doing it for the first time.

There was a place where we stopped for lack of a visible route. We finally found it but there were some of us who had taken a wrong route and were almost stuck and had to be pulled to safety.

Finally we completed the rock patch. From here on the walk across seven hills is boring and the landscape is also very monotonous.

We could see the sun in the back ground almost setting

We were tired. some of us had moved ahead, while others like me were behind.

We were tempted to have some limbu sarbat on the way and the vendor offered us a mat to lie down. We never realised how time passed and woke up to the fact that we had to rush in order not to miss the sunset at Kokan Kada.

However it was indeed very late. When we reached people were returning from the sunset point. The others who had already reached had identified a cave for us to stay the night.

When we entered though we were greeted by rodents running all over the place. While we were sitting I noticed something slithering below the stones outside our cave.

Also the whole place was full of people (for Mahashivratri) and therefore all the regular caves were full.

There were tents on offer too.

At a reasonable rate. We booked two of them.

Then we had the food prepared by locals which was so spicy we could name a dish spicier than the Veg Kolhapuri :P

In the morning we left early to walk down to Pachnai which was also a very scenic route and completed the trek by 930.

We got to spend around 2 hours at the village till a bus got us to Rajur and then a taxi to Kasara and a train back to Mumbai.

It was a wonderful experience. I was so unsure at the onset whether I would be able to complete the trek.

I did it !!

Was a BIG THING for me !!

The only shortcoming being that I missed the sunset at Kokan Kada.

Maybe thats enough motivation to go there again !!!

Was a good end to a great day.

Will I Wont I ?

When I last trekked in 2001, before being diagnosed with the kidney ailment, Harishchandragad was next on my schedule.

Well then I was unwell and for a while started believing that I will never be able to follow my passion, Trekking

So had missed out on Harishchandragad then.

Last year when V Hikerz had planned Harishchandragad, I was down with a hairline fracture. Couldnt make it then too.

It was lingering in my mind that I had to do this fort. Along with the desire there was a hidden fear whether I will be able to complete this arduous trek, given my medical condition.

But then you will never swim unless you jump into the water. That sight of the magnificent Shiva temple at Harishchandragad was beckoning big time.

The memories of the sunset at Kokan Kada were also inviting me.

This year when V Hikerz planned Harishchandragad it was with a lot of prayer from my side that I should not fall ill or have some obstacle due to which I have to drop out.

The group that confirmed also was unique. There was no one who had done this trek before. I was the only one and I had done it more than 12 years ago !

It was going to be a great adventure, one that I was really looking forward to.

Was just hoping that everything fell into place before this great trek.

Back to Blogging

Since I started blogging some three years ago I have never taken such a huge break in between my posts. Hence in a way this post is something of a come back for me.

I have been busy to the bone. With what ?

My new job requires me to travel more than double that of my previous job. So I spend some 3 hours of a day only travelling to and fro office.

My dialysis times have changed. Earlier it used to start slightly earlier around 9 pm and end in 5 hours. The current slot that I have is 11pm. This means the process ends at around 4 am and I have just 3 hours to sleep before I have to rush to work the next day.

It becomes terribly tiring towards the end of next day of dialysis. By the time I come home, I am ready to crash out. Sometimes I do that without even grabbing a bite.

Weekends are reserved for what I love doing. I help out with domestic shopping (groceries etc) on saturdays and sundays for treks.

If I dont trek I sleep !!

Given this rigorous schedule I have been unable to keep blogging regularly.

Now I know what I have been missing !!

But I guess I had to make a choice.

I have to professionally compete with guys who are completely normal without any ailment.

I guess I am not doing a bad job on that !! :-)