Sunday, December 21, 2014

Surpassing Sarpass Trek, YHAI Trekking Himalayan Expedition at 13,800 feet - 2

 Day 3: 5th June, 2014 – On the way to Grahan

The travelogue continues from day third here. In my previous blog I shared my experience with the prerequisites, exercises, acclimatization, routine and stuff. It’s time we begin our real trek.
After the very hectic graduation years, this break was a must-have-break-else-you-will-die break for me. My situation was best described in this song.

Aaj Kal Jindagi Mujhase Hai Keh Rahi
Tu Jo Meri Maane Toh Chal Deewaane Sapano Ki Raahon Mein Tu
Saari Khushbuo Saari Roshani Ko Le Le Inn Baahon Mein Tu
Abb Hai Tu Jahaan, Din Raat Saare Naye Hain
Aaraju Jawaan Jasbaat Saare Naye Hai
Pehchaane Saari Muskaane Saari Bhar Le Nigaahon Mein Tu O Ho
Tere Liye Nayi Hai Jamin Naya Aasmaan
Likh De Hawaao Pe Koyi Nayi Daastaan
-      Shankar, Ehsan, Loy (Wake Up Sid!, 2009)

Beautiful waterfall during YHAI Sarpass Trek 2014

Certainly things were all new. This was my first Himalayan Trek. More like backpacking as I was completely unaware of the location and packed everything in 2 days. Guys who accompanied me were all new to me, coming from every corner of the India. And it was Himachal Pradesh – The Land of God! Even the nearest police station was at distant 15 km from Kasol base camp. So, rare were the crimes!!

Today was the day when we were about to depart for the trek and bid adieu to YHAI’s Kasol base camp. We all woke up with ease today. No exercises! No hurry! No standing in bathroom lines! And no feeling of Neil Armstrong!

By 0700 hours we submitted our blankets. Had breakfast. Drank water. Pee-ed! Packed the luggage. Fall in. Gave attendance and by 0815 hours we were waving goodbye to the camp, walking aligned in a line; with SP-35 and SP-36 group waving us goodbye and wishing best luck. The claps were so reverberating that for a moment my ears skipped the gushing sound of Parvati river. Just like soldiers, we were saying hola to the base camp, which reminded me of another song-

Kandho se milate hain kandhe, kadmon se kadam milte hain
Hum chalte hain jab aise toh dil dushman ke hilte hain
-      Shankar, Ehsan, Loy (Lakshya, 2004)

But neither our shoulders were aligning (kandho se kandhe) to each other (as the guys were as tall as Himanshu and Shreenidhi, and as short as me) and nor we were having any enemies (dil dushman ke hilte hain).

We were now on the same path as we were a day before for rock-climbing and rappelling. Slowly I decided to start conversation with every possible guy and know about each other. A little of KT (knowledge transfer) process.
Parvati River with snow-clad Himalayan range in backdrop

I approached the front-runner in the group, Chandrakanth. He was very calm, as if he is alone in the trek. A small grin on his face and broad moustache. I was unable to find the topic to discuss with him. This generally happens with me, when I share very distinct social and psychological background with someone. It’s tough to initiate the talk. So, while starting conversation with Chandrakanth same happened. I ended up with a discussion on Naxal groups in his region. We talked about Prabhakaran. Veerappan from Satyamangalam and Yeddyurappa from Shimoga. We nicknamed Chandrakanth as Prabhakaran (Founder and Leader of Liberations Tigers of Tamil Eelam) hereforth he will be called as Prabhakaran in my blog as well.

The next person I talked was Reshma Di, she works in TCS (that I came to know on the very last day of trekking). The only motto of mine for coming to this trek was to refresh my brain and stay disconnected with the world. Not to think about any other thing beside where to put the next step over the path. To enjoy each and every moment; without any brainstorming. In talking I realized she had been to a Himalayan trek before; Her Ki Doon. She shared her great experience with me. The kind of a trek it was. What kinds of challenges she faced.

Then she explained her wish-list of treks and shared the same with me. I was mesmerized to know that someone does have their own trek wish-list. WOW!!

We kept on moving! The forest was getting denser. Trees were giving the mirage of the horizon. River was streaming against us. I was pretty ahead so decided to take some slow shutter shots of river flow.
!!!!SP-34 group at the height of 13,800 feet!!!!

While doing this exercise I found the first love of my trek – my ‘STICK’wati...!! I found a very nice wooden stick by the river bank. It was all destined, I started believing one shot from movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara – sab likha hua hau, ye trek, ye lakdi ka milna! Sab likha hua hain. The only difference was that I was not drunk alike Hritik Roshan.

At a very beautiful juncture where the river takes a Kejriwal turn (U-turn) in the valley. Most of the people were resting, few were posing, few photographing. Meanwhile me, Himanshu and Nagarjun were in talks with guide bhaiya. He shared his very piece of information which was very useful.

And then I struck with the catastrophe; someone threw my ‘STICK’wati in the water for some photography experiment. The first thing I thought of was to throw his camera in the water for some splashing experiment. But then my ANGEL mind said that there might be some photographs of me in the same camera. So, anger swallowed and apology accepted. Lost the first love of the trek. But life is beautiful when we accept the condition and move-on with it instead of making all the efforts to make any changes.

Circumstances do not define us, our reaction to them does!!

Then I meet a very versatile personality, Shreenidhi D S that’s how he writes his name. I was about to ask him – Did Nikon launches its DS range cameras asking him?? My ANGEL part of brain struck my conscience that this should not be the right one-liner to hit the conversation. So instead I started with a cliché – what you do?? He said – WRITING!! And I was like dude, I am asking what you do for your living?? But his answer was straight and clear. He was a script writer of one of the most famous Kannada serial ‘Ashwini Nakshatram’ which is telecasted on ETV Kannada.

Seriously, this dude writes for his living. And then during the trek I got to know a lot more about Shreenidhi bhaiya. Felt good to have him accompanying me.
Thereafter, I don’t remember having any conversation with anyone else.

With the failed first love of this trek I was offered with new ‘STICK’wati by the same guy who threw it in the water. This was my arranged marriage! I accepted it full heartily. I got my new companion. The only problem with that stick was that, that it was equal to my height and everyone was laughing at me. All I can do was to compare myself was with Kali from movie KaalKyuki kali ko kaal kabhi dhokha nahi deta!

Just like Chandler does in ‘The One with The Joke’ episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S of noting down his jokes to avoid them stealing from Ross. I was writing everything in my small diary. But my reason was being able to write one blog like this even after 6 months of the trek.

As we were heading ahead in the trek the structure of stones was changing and some of them appeared like Paapmani from our childhood superhero serial Shaktimaan. In adult-world we will call them limestone and quartz. The only man-made things were pipelines and electric poles.

Candid shot YHAI Sarpass Trek 2014 -1
I then thought of drinking the fresh Himalayan water (which Bisleri mineral water sells – Advt tagline), but guide prohibited saying that he knows a place where water is more fresh. I bet Bisleri is unaware of it. Somewhere in the route an ice-cream seller crossed us. He was carrying a cylinder, an ice-cream cart and music was playing. To my surprise, he was playing Hindi songs. I was missing songs way too badly. In conversation with him, he told me that he actually belongs to Bihar (so no surprise if he was listening to Hindi songs) and lives at Grahan and takes mere 2 hours to reach our base camp; for same we YOUNGSTERS were taking over 8 hours.

Around 1335 hours we got some glimpse of Himalayan snow and peaks. And then we had our lunch beside river. A guy was already sitting there with maggi and cold drinks to sell. The general talk with our guide continued. His name was Jaychand. I found Chand very common with people here. For a second I even thought if these guys are having a cold war with the Hedge family surname.

While everyone was having lunch I invested my time in sharpening and caressing my ‘STICK’wati. With the help of a grater I tried making it plain and reduced its length. While having a brief talk with three musketeers – Mallesha, Pritham and Vinay. They were all lying down with their bag pack as a pillow.

And from nowhere Chinmay bhaiya came with gilli-danda game. All of us had danda and the broken piece of by stick became gilli. The rules were quite clear, you can only hit the gilli in straight drive and if hit in the forest then out. At that exact moment all I wanted was a Firebolt broomstick, fastest magical broomstick from Harry Potter. But being a Muggle, I don’t have access to Dungeon Valley. The second option was drinking Red Bull – because it gives us wings. But this act meant loss of faith in trek. But even without this I managed to catch a couple of catches. Situational song at this very moment-

Dil Dil Mein Hai
Dil Ki Tamanna Sau!
Dhoop Khile Jism Garam Sa Hai
Suraj Yahin Yeh Bharam Sa Hai
Bhikri Hui Rahein Harazon Sau
Thamo Koi Phir Bhatanke Do!
Uljhe Nahi To Kaise Suljhoge
Bikhre Nahi To Kaise Nihkroge
Hawa Zara Si Lagne Do
Soya Tha Abb Jagne Do
Pankhon Ko Hawa Zara Si Lagne Do!
-      Salim Merchant, Sulaiman Merchant (Salesman of the Year, 2009)

Now our next destination was Grahan camp, 7700 feet. The floor now turned from rock to sand. Footmarks of goats, khacchar, sheep were replaced by footmarks of WoodLand, Nike, Puma and Reebok.

I again engaged myself in talks with our new guide, Karamchand. Another Chand. His body smelt like rotten eggs. I don’t think he had bathed since his last summer. I was also deprived of bath from over 5 days. I was all engaged in talking with him and possibly he forgot that he has the responsibility of over 40 people to guide. Most of the people were lagging behind. The guys behind us were huffing and puffing. If they were left with any energy, it was being utilized in shouting to slow down or best stop. And I got first compliment from Karamchand that I am a strong guy. He said – hatta-katta jawan hain!

Then we passed some sheep herds and then beautiful mountain ranges. Some mountain patches witnessed landslides. The road was now inclined. With few water streams from where we refilled our water bottles.

Reaching the place some huts and people were visible. Then there was an Israeli couple who was walking towards Grahan. The guy’s name was Nadaf. Had a small conversation with them and they were very happy with the beauty of Himalayas. I thanked them for the appreciation and wished them good luck. After walking a few metres Rajesh Kumar was the guy I continued my trek with till Grahan. He was a worker and a farmer. He was building homes during winter in the valleys and during the summer was a farmer.

Mild rain showers welcomed us in Grahan. I started murmuring - Halki-halki si barish thi, pehli pehli mulakat thi...
Beautifully carved temple at Grahan, Kasol, Himachal Pradesh YHAI Sarpass Trek

Once you reach Grahan, you will be surprised to see the built and structure of houses. All made of rocks and wood only. With very beautiful carved artistic works on the doors and windows. People sitting roadside and calves eating fodder. The smell of cow-dung filling the nostrils.

The main attraction of Grahan was an ancient awesomely carved wooden temple. Then we literally captured the tents. Our tent location was in the middle of two snowless mountains and Sivalik range was visible from there and beside it was the Sarpass range. Awesome view it was!
Camp commander welcomed us with the hot tomato soup and then for a ‘SMALL’ address to us. He said our batch reached before time and our batch was first doing so irrespective of having over 12 girls in our group!! We all cheered and then he continued his ‘SMALL’ address. And continued!! And continued!! And was not even close to ending. He seems to be a girl to me now with all talkative and chivalry qualities he imbibed.

He gave a nice and happy piece of information that the temperature will be low here as compared to Kasol base camp. And it was because of the huge mountain ranges between Sivalik Range and our tent site. They were working as a barrier for cold breezes. Vice versa of Kasol base camp where the chilling breeze of Parvati range was hitting us directly without any obstruction.

Then we did some photo shoots, had dinner and went off to sleep by 2100 hours.
Sunset was most beautiful here!!

Sunset at Grahan Camp during YHAI Sarpass Trek

Day 4: 6th June, 2014 – On the way to Padri

The first task we did in the early morning was to protect the Pakistan. Due to heavy wind and rain the toilets that were made of clothes were devastated and one person has to compulsorily stand outside or else sing song & become toilet singer. Tea was out and as I went to take I overheard the song-

Umeedo Ke Suraj
Nikale Chaaron Aur
Iraade Hain Folaadi
Himmati Har Kadam
Apne Haatho Kismat Likhane
Aaj Chale Hain Hum..
-Anish Sharma, Shubham Mahadevan (Dhoom 3, 2013)

I saw the mountain ranges were much similar to those that we used to draw in childhood. It was the 8th day in a row without bath and I was happy with that.
We then gathered and fall-in. Our chivalry camp captain leader with emphatic looks wished us good luck and we departed.

Our new guide was Hukum Chand, OOPS!! I mean Humum Singh. Finally a guide without Chand in end. A small bio of him.

He is the ‘khoji’ of this path and standing with a straight spine at the age of 57. There is one more route to the Sarpass. It’s from Khalipasss via Mandi. With him I got a hell lot of information. Population of Grahan is close to 500 people. To cut trees for the houses you require permission.

I started asking him about every flora on the way. Kaleshi, a flower used to make juice. Shambal, a yellow flower tree was used for treating the eyes. Haham, etching plant, good for blood. Arsada, white poisonous juice. Kharsh, wood my stick was made of.

With this hell lot of Ayurvedic information I meet Khasil. He was selling Ayurvedic medicines. When I shared this knowledge with him, his expression was like Obama if a normal Indian tells him about the NSA scandal in the year 2012.

By now we travelled around two and half kilometre. From Grahan we descended and again rose to find ourselves at same altitude where Grahan Camp was located. That was a bit frustrating.
Sunrise at 4 am at Padri camp YHAI Sarpass Trek
It was 1120 hours by now and we were told to have a tea-break. On the route we can find tea-stalls selling many edibles. Maggi, cold drinks and stuff. By then we were at the height of 8300 feet. All of a sudden I decided to make Maggi of my own in that ambience. I poured water into the vessel and at the right temperature slowly put the maggi cubes in it. Maggi masala being the integral part of the making. Put my timer for 2 minutes and just after two minutes I poured whole Maggi into the plate.

I was expecting a yummylicious taste. But to my distress the maggi was still raw. I thought of launching a lawsuit on the company. But then, thought that at such height it takes some more time for food to cook due to low atmospheric pressure. Cancelled the law suit and enjoyed the taste!!

The seller was having a red coloured juice. After inquiring, we got to know that it is known as the Brass. It is made of a flower and has the medicinal character which helps to digest food.
In my continuing discussion with Hukum Singh he told me that Grahan is also known as Thunja, which means wheat in their language. And the people living there are called Manala.

Around 1330 hours we had our lunch at the height of 8533 feet. The mosses on the trees were getting denser. After a short stop there; Bhanvna, Vainshnavi and I sang Tinka Tinka Jara Jara song. While I was lost in showing-off my hidden talent I lost my pen. And this was a bigger blow than losing my authentic stick couple of days back. Thanks to Bhavna for doing the best favour for me by giving me her pen.

In the next half hour we reached our destination – Padri!! The camp location was just fantabulous. Even Shakespeare would fail in explaining it to the world. Tents were rooted on a grassland plain facing huge snow-clad Sarpass mountain range. By the time we reached there it was sunset time. As the sun was setting, the snow on the Himalayas was showing its vibrant colours.

We were watching the colours of the sky changing from blue to yellow to orange to black. Snow’s was more dramatic. Snow was turning from white to yellow to gold to purple and finally to blue.

We were tired but still managed to play some awesome games suggested by Bhanvna. In the first game I was the winner and second game ended in draw as Mr. Cheater a.k.a Mallesha played some tricks. A song that was describing us perfectly-

Hum Raahi Jab Ho Mastaana
Mauj Mein Ho Dil Deewana
Phir Chalne Waale Rukte Hain Kahan
Yeh khumar yeh nasha jawan bekhudi
Ab na koi nagar na koi gali din vahan rat yahan
-      Udit Narayan, Hema Sardesai (Pukar, 2000)

Soon after dinner heavy clouds started gathering all over the sky and heavy winds started blowing. We were told by the camp captain to collect as many as and as heavy stones as possible and make sure they support tents.

We were so dreaded that we started digging the whole landscape like gold-miners dig for gold. Few stones were taking two guys in place. Tents were still drifting and roving with heavy winds. But we were in relief when the wind speed reduced. Meanwhile, I meet Mr. Ashwath Nadahalli, the entrepreneur guy who has his own company. He has his own company. Plus a data scientist, and plus a very nice and helpful guy. I was happy to share my tent with him.

As the sun set, the stars started twinkling. Before sleeping, I decided to wake-up early and take some photos of our Milky Way.

Our own Milky Way stripping from Soutn to North
To my surprise 100s of people have been already out there in the morning, doing some rituals of their God. Later we found out that it was the annual festival in which they take their God in the height of the Himalayan Mountains and do all the ritual proceedings.

I took some awesome photos of our Milky Way and then went back to sleep.

This shall be the end of my Sarpass travelogue. There are still many stories to tell, experiences to share and things to explore, but the constraint of time is the only thing in-between. Let’s hope if I can write the next part someday in future.

I am also thankful of all of you guys for making my trek the best ever trek till date.
Abhishek, Ashwath, Anil, Himanshu, Bhavana, Nayana, Nitesh, Mukund, Chandrakanth, Chetan, Dayanand, Gautam, Harisha, Jeet , Surekha, Subodh, Khushbu, Kusuma, Mallesha, Preetham, Vinay, Manjunatha, Nagarjun, Reshma, Sagar, Sachin, Sampath ,Sandeepa, Shreenidhi, Chinmay, Gopal Krishna, Mahesh, Phaneendra, Reshma, Sujata, Neelam, Sharfaraz, Ramesh and Sanjay – thanks a lot guys!! :)

My apology goes to all for posting this blog after 6 months. I know there were many expectations from my blog, which I couldn’t fulfil. Many stories remained untold. Gripping nostalgia just lost its flow. Will try if I can continue writing the next sequel.
Till then, CIAO!! Hope we will have one more trek soon.

Candid photo YHAI Sarpass Trej 2014 - 2
God of the Manala people from Grahan

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keywords: sarpass trek, yhai, kasol base camp, kullu, manali, himachal pradesh, 13800, 2014, beskeri, ratanpani, grahan, padri,nagaru

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Surpassing Sarpass Trek, YHAI Trekking Himalayan Expedition at 13,800 feet - 1

Selfie @ Jana Waterfall
This is the travelogue for my first Himalayan trek. Being a verbose guy I might post too long travelogue, but I will try to control myself with least word possible while explaining my pre trek experiences and post trek experiences with the people and the proximity.

It was the Sarpass Trekking Himalayan Expedition spans for an overall 11 days and 10 nights by Youth Hostel Association of India (YHAI). The base camp was located in Kasol, Himachal Pradesh. Our Sarpass Trek trivia in brief:
It is the second highest trek-able peak in Himachal Pradesh at height of 13,800 feet
Sarpass is lying in between Sivalik Range and Pin Parvati Range (highest trek-able peak in Himachal)
-  Grahan is the closest village located at a distance of 2 hours (you cannot count distance in km here. Thus, our 5 min ki duri pe hu casual reply to a friend when asked, our expected arrival time is feasible here)
Winter snowfall was heavy. Precisely heaviest after 35 years. So, woohoo...Lucky us!!

Remaining I am leaving it to include in the blog.

31st July, 2014 – 3rd June, 2014 evening:

Hidimba Temple, Manali, Himahal Pradesh
I left my hometown Shegaon via Maharashta Express. Reached Nagpur by 6 pm. Waited for my trek companion Mr. Prashant Bonde. Then waited for the train to arrive. Meanwhile helped a soldier carry his heavy luggage to his destined platform. Came back. Climbed on the train. Witnessed the Keralites and impossible-to-even-guess language. I was in the minority, so decided to settle down ASAP. Bad experience with heavy air conditioning system. Slept. Woke-up. Reached Delhi. Meet my second companion Mr. Ambarish Gawande. Had lunch. Travelled via Delhi Metro to ISBT – Inter State Bus Terminus. Booked Volvo. Purchased goggle. Climbed Vovlo. Evening. Morning reached Manali. Jay, our booked driver took us to the hotel. Planned to visit Solan Valley. Our booked vehicle failed. Waited for like 3 hrs. Reached Solan Valley. Did paragliding. Don’t even think of missing this. Once in a lifetime experience. And if you are planning to record your flight, do press the right camera button. I pressed the wrong button and will regret this till my next flight. Visited Hidimba Temple. Then Jawahar Nehru Waterfall. Then Mall Road, Manali. Came back to the hotel.

Next day. Ambarish and I went to the post-office for sending a parcel. Realized that you don’t have left-right in mountains. It’s always up-down. Then went to Jana Waterfall. This is an awesome place. Here there are many hotels located beside the waterfall. You have tables placed in ice cool water streams. And we can order our lunch and have it with your legs hanging in the very chilly ice water. But be careful this might hamper your digestive system, as most of blood will flow towards legs instead of the stomach.

I would insist you to order the local thali. The thali is just delicious, filled with vibrant food items. They includes lal chawal, siddu, kadhi, rajma, lingad curry, corn chapatti, aaru’s pickle, dadhiya (sweet), muli ki chatni. And most awesome is desi cow ghee!!

Delicious local thali at Jana Waterfall all items
Day 1: 3rd June, 2014 – REPORTING DAY

After roaming the whole day in Kullu we reached Kasol Base camp. It is located just beside Parvati River, which gets its water from two huge glaciers – Pin Parvati and Dudhon. The gigantic Parvati Range was on one side; with snow-clad Himalayan mountain. And Kasol town on other side. Numerous tents. And so were the participants! Freezing breeze of air welcomed three of us. Rancho Chamaldas Chanchad, Farhan Qureshi and Raju Rastogi; we entered the base camp. Already we were late for reporting. The expected arrival time was 4:00 pm and we trio reached around 9:30 pm. The first thing I did after reaching was plugged my mobile on the public charging port provided by YHAI at Kasol Base camp.

Youth Hostel Association of India (YHAI) Kasol Base Camp photo

Reaching on the reporting desk the guy with stiff voice and spinal cord as straight as Qutub Minar gave us the same look which Raju, Farhan and Rancho gets while submitting paper late in the movie sequence of 3 Idiots. But here the guy was a military guy. Couldn’t do the same thing they did in movie of swapping the forms. So, instead we patiently waited for him to bend his spinal cord from Qutub Minar to Leaning Tower of Pisa; and give further instructions. While he was providing us documents I was observing the cultural event that was taking place in the camp fire.

We were part of SP34 group. And the guys who were enjoying were SP34, SP33, SP32 and SP31. Singing, dancing, chivalry, babbling, peaching; fun, masti, enjoyment.

Qutub-Minar-spinal-cord man ordered us to keep the luggage there itself and have dinner first. We did the same! I am a 24-7-hungry-guy. No doubt I brushed my hands on the food. We had dinner. And few metres away a worker was playing the gazal - Abhi ghar na jaana.

Ye bikhari si zulfe, ye faila sa kaajal
Ye feeka sa ghazra, ye simta saa aanchal
Tere haal se log pehchaan lege,
Tujhe dekha ke lo mujhe jaan lege,
Mujhe jaan lege!
Abhi ghar na jana Abhi ghar na jana
-          Pankaj Udas (Aman 1994)

Meanwhile tents were allotted to us. It was number 20. Being the late comer our tent was all empty. It was just three of us. Yuppie!! And that ‘Yuppie!!’ lasted for few minutes.

When you are in Himalaya be prepared to face everything Himalayan. Roads, stroll paths, buses, ghats, animals, rivers, trees as well as your sleeping floor. The sleeping floor of tent was not plain. I was expecting Ganges Plain and all we got was thorny Himalayan surface. We could actually locate Shilla ht. 7025 m, Solang 5975 m, Pir Panjal 5972, Hanuman ji ka Tibba (that’s a peak’s name) a.k.a. Dhauladhar ht. 5860 m, Pin Parbati 4800m, and many more on our sleeping floor itself from Himachal Pradesh.

After proper study of each and every peak I settled my luggage down and went on to get my mobile back. I was shocked to find out that the whole charging facility was reimbursed and was not there. After enquiry I was informed that every night at 10:00 pm whole settlement is broken and then arranged next morning.
Himalayan floor, no mobile in hand, Parvati river’s gushing sound, chilled breeze, rats and cockroaches inside tent, and to its companion Ambarish Da’s thundering snores echoing in empty tent. This was surely one of the most horrible nights!

Day 2: 4th June, 2014 – ACCLIMATIZATION

Acclimatization during Sarpass Trek YHAI
I was sleep deprived the next morning. The morning temperature was still very low. That made me wore all the warm clothes I had. And with that I became Neil Armstrong. I presume he was more comfortable with that tight space suit as gravity is just 1/6th of that of Earth. My One Step outside the tent was a HUGE step in my Life!

Believing myself as Armstrong I went jumping to drink warm water and tea. First thing I did was to peek into the tent of base camp leader for my mobile. And then we fall-in for morning exercise. Group captain took us to the ground. And the army drill began.

Things in my case are never typical. And if anything is going normal then I can call it calm before supercell/tornado/hurricane/typhoon/cyclone (My blog has global readers. I am bound to use all names used for a tropical storm to make understand everyone).

The exercise was very exhaustive. Freezing temperature, absence of sunrays, Parvati River, snowclad Parvati Range Mountains these all natural forces were insufficient to avoid our sweat bladders to stop. And guys generally have their way of puking this pressure, best way – humour. The jokes were being cracked and we were laughing impishly hiding our face as much as possible. But damn that local-guy; he caught us grinning. Our impish smile turned sheepish. And we mean me and Sharfaraz Khan. That local-guy came to us and charged us of talking. To which Sharfaraz retaliated saying we were laughing over the jokes and wasn’t talking. But then local-guy punished us by ordering a very tough position. He forced us to bend our legs as if there is an imaginary chair behind us and hands straight.

Long 45 min exercise was breathtaking. Leg ligaments were by now strained. Now this! Local-guy was forcing us to name the guy who was cracking jokes. But none of us came forward with the name. Very soon Abhishek Jha came ahead and took the blame of cracking jokes. Eventually he actually was. He thereafter became group leader of SP34 and my nice friend along with Sharfaraz , Ramesh Bhanushali and Sanjay Pasi.
After the exercise we were told about the place where we will be carrying our 6 kg bags for acclimatization process. This is the process in which we carry two blankets and two water bottles with us on a small trek. Making sure that we are fit for the trek and our body welcome this drastic change. And YHAI is not conscientious for any loss of health and wealth.

Reaching back to base camp we see-off SP32. Standing on one side there was SP33 and other side were all of us SP34. SP32 were recording our cheering, uproar and shouting. We were clapping furiously. The sound of claps was captivating Parvati River’s voluble sound. One after another the unwavering faces were vanishing and leaving the Kasol base camp.

We then had our lunch and got up for acclimatization. Packed the bag given by YHAI with two blankets and two water bottles.

Our small trey was accompanied my Thakur – a guy just my age and who claims that he did the Sarpass Trek in just one day; and for which we took 8 days. With him we went on for a 4 km of mini trek and I made few more friends enroute. Sampath Satti, Gopalkrishna Hegde, Mahesh Hegde (at first I thought if they both are brothers) and Phanindra Hegde (this confirmed me that this is a common surname).

By noon we were on top of the hill and everyone was reaching one after another. A surprise was waiting for all of us. Rooh Afza..yumm!! We mixed the Rooh Afza and water that we brought in a bucket. Each of us gulped in an instant and then we had our introduction session. And there I got to know about the Tadas family from Akola, city located in vicinity of my hometown. Sanjay Tadas, Vaishnavi Tadas and Sangita Tadas were those. And very soon I was introduced with four other people from my vicinity; Mukund Chandak, Bhavana Chandak, Nitesh Brijwasi and Nayana Parakh.

BASICALLY it was all basically then!! Bangalore guys BASICALLY introduced themselves. Abhishek – our group leader and one time Sarpass experienced, Ambarish - die-hard photographer and enthusiastic nature lover with great wisdom and experience of nature cycles, Ashwath - the hardcore technical geek who has a Kernel in his head, Anil and Himanshu – both working as teacher in Central Board and adventure hungry, Bhavana, Nayana, Nitesh team of CAs and Mukund, an engineer. Chandrakanth, the calm guy who speaks less, but when speak he always makes sense. Chetan – who was given a jadibuti by his manager for avoid muscle fatigue. Dayanand – married, humorous and extrovert guy, Gautam – resigned his job in CISCO for this trek (that’s what he claims) and going for MS in USA, Harisha – the guy I respected most in the whole trek and will keep respecting, Jeet and Surekha – the HR guys, I am going to forward you my resume soon. Subodh Kadam and Khushbu Kadam – newly married couple. Kusuma -  girl who wanted to enjoy last few days alone before marrying and was going for Roopkhund Trek just after Sarpass Trek. #RESPECT! Mallesha, Preetham and Vinay – three musketeers who studied in same college, joined the same company, working for same project and now surpassing Sarpass together. Damn lucky guys! Manjunatha – most fashionable guy in our group; every girl was feeling envy after watching him. Nagarjun – who believes LOVE THE COMPANY AND not the job; which made him CEO of VOLVO. Prashant - the senior member of our group and mu uncle cum friend who gave me some very important life teachings during the whole trek, Reshma – TCSian cum Bangalorean. Sagar – master of situational songs and shayaris. Sachin – guy to whom after introduction I asked “From Mumbai?”  and his response “Sachin naam sunte hi Mumbai?” and we laughed over that. Sampath – IIT-B guy with 90th AIR rank and I dared to debate with him on thermodynamics principles. Sandeepa – entrepreneur and guy who sustained a brawny hit from me. Shreenidhi – who left his job for the sake of writing and now is the most demanded script writer in Kannada TV shows. Chinmay, Gopal Krishna, Mahesh, Phaneendra, Reshma – all belonged to Hegde family.  Sujata, Neelam, Sharfaraz, Ramesh, Sanjay and Ujas were other guys.

And BASICALLY this way we completed our acclimatization process and BASICALLY we were sliding down to foothill to our base camp in Kasol.

Random adventure during Sarpass Trek YHAI

Soon we had our lunch and following it was orientation session. And then we were allotted some time for shopping. Purchased some basic amenities and we were back in den before 6.

Then we had our dinner and sleep. This time I commit to memory to take my mobile and charger with me.


Me during rock climbing in Sarpass Trek YHAI

Today as I was in no hurry to get my mobile I woke-up a bit late. This made me stand in LONGGG queue for bathroom. Glad I have strong expertise as a tenant for such tasks. Soon we were up for the biggest morning task – exhaustive exercise. Then breakfast and see-off-ing SP33 to Sarpass Trek.
Time was for rock climbing and rappelling.
Situational song can be –

Aaj kal jindagi mujhase hai Keh rahi
Tu Jo Meri Maane Toh Chal Deewaane Sapano Ki Raahon Mein Tu
Saari Khushbuo Saari Roshani Ko Le Le Inn Baahon Mein Tu
Naye Raaste Hai Tere Waaste Panaaho Mein Tu
Tere Liye Nayi Hai Jamin Naya Aasmaan
Likh De Hawaao Pe Koyi Nayi Daastaan
-          Shankar Mahadevan (Wake Up Sid!)

We reached our destination. Most of us took rock climbing frivolously. But after watching that 75 degree stiff slope rock I bet most of ours determinations punctured the same juncture. The rock was so stiff than even Spider Man will reconsider before giving it a try. Yeah! But Tarzan could have done it easily.

Before climbing we were given the theoretical knowledge of the rope, its equipments and all the skills that are required before climbing a rock. Rope has a breaking strength of 300 kg and caravan 1800 kg. Each of us was attempting their best to climb. But precisely I would mention one guy – Harisha. This is the guy you can compare like with Bappi Lehari or Adnan Sami. At first none of us even gave him seriousness to any extent. But once he started climbing up. We all below him were breathing heavily. And the local-guy at top was breathing more hastily; as he was having the task to stretch the rope in case climber falls. Harisha took his first step. Stretched his right leg to a crack. Then pressed the rock with his left hand to shift body weight. Then left leg. With every small step his blood pressure was increasing. And guys standing below was decreasing. But Harisha attained this feat. And I am proud to call this guy my tent-mate. :)

SP34 group during Sarpass Trek YHAI
Then came my turn! Watching everyone climb my blood was replaced with adrenaline. The rock was divided in three stages. After each step we get enough platforms to take breathe and plan our further itinerary. The people keep shouting to guide you, but this is disguise. They ask to take your right leg left, left leg right, right hand left and left leg right. That will simply tangle you and ultimately lead you to fall. Best practise is to map your path before climbing and then at each halt plan again. I managed to climb the whole rock successfully and then visited the river close to the location.

Then did some experiments with photography before climbing a fallen tree over the river joining two banks. Again had Rooh Afza and then back to Kasol base camp and back to same location for rappelling.
I decided to skip this task as I already had an experience of rappelling in my previous treks.

Again theoretical info before practical experiments. Equipments includes deconder (figure of faith), mittens to avoid our hand from burning due to heated rope because of friction. It was no hard task. I tried taking a power nap which was disturbed due to the intense sunrays overhead. After its completion we submitted our extra luggage to the YHAI base camp.

Imagine the serene role of Amol Palekar as Ramprasad Dsahrath Sharma in movie Golmaal (1979); these guys were us. And then imagine the vigorous Spartans from movie 300; that’s guys from Vashi (Mumbai) who arrived surpassing the Sarpass Trek. Their energy level was vibrating the whole base camp.
Positive energy that was scattering from their mouth was sufficient enough to cross Sarpass. They told about many things. Issue, obstacles, barriers, difficulties, hindrances. Next moment we arranged the meeting. I called up everyone from SP34 with the news that we are organizing a meeting to finalize our slogan for the trek.

They were –
Sarpass ke charo aur, SP34!
Machaiye chor, charo aur; SP34!

And few more. We couldn’t conclude with a single slogan. Instead we decided to use all of them during the whole tenure of trek.

Today it was our turn to rock the camp fire. So we guys and girls decided to perform some dance in common. But eventually it turned out that we guys only were the performer. And those include me, Mukund, Gautam, Nitesh, Subodh Kadam and Sampath. We danced on Kolaweri Di. It was a very comic dance which eventually turned more hilarious with us being the part of it.

Our lead dancer ditched us very badly or he just fell for stage freight. During our rehearsal we planned for some other steps and on stage we did something else. During rehearsal we planned to dance on whole song and eventually half of us kept dancing and half stopped in the middle. I saw many people laughing on us. But who cares. We were abusing each other during the steps and each of us turned out to be an expert choreographer during last 30 sec of dance. Doing whatever that was coming to mind. Left leg rhymed with right. Lips were singing the song. To the anxiety this dance was recorded by many people. Am glad no one 
uploaded it on YouTube, else it would have become instant hit.

Then dinner and sleep!! We all were super-duper excited to the trek starting tomorrow. That night even Ambarish’s snores didn’t stopped me from dreaming the Sarpass scenarios.


Apple juice IN Jana Waterfall
That’s it from first three days of Sarpass Trek. Next blog will include the real trek experience. How we reached from the height of 6,500 feet to 13,800 feet. Almost twice of where we were. On legs, with 10 kg to 18 kg of weight on back. Sometimes extra luggage of some other friend. Through the moss. Glaciers. Oak trees. 1  and half kilometre ice slides. Mini Switzerland. Snowfall. Holding the tents. And trying to count each star in the Milky Way Galaxy.

Snow patches. Some returned. Some cried. Some laughed. Some puked. Some fatigued. This was certainly the toughest of trek one can ever have.

One universal fact of the Himalaya to what local-boy says –
Mountain never gives you second chance. Respect it and then you can surpass any Sarpass like trek.

Stay tuned for more fun, adventure and thrills!! :)

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keywords: sarpass trek, yhai, kasol base camp, kullu, manali, himachal pradesh, 13800, 2014, beskeri, ratanpani, grahan, padri, nagaru

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Orkut shutting down - end of an era!! Tchau Orkut!!

Orkut shutting down! Farewell tchau Orkut.

This blog is dedicated to that generation of 80s and 90s who has seen the rise and fall of pioneer in social media website – Orkut!! The social media website which even today has remained undaunted by the encroachment of our younger siblings, parents and relatives. A safe heaven!! Yet everything was so public. It was our own personal space. Our own kingdom and we were its king. Ruled this domain for over 6 years. Now rebelled by Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

All other readers who were CHILD then, enjoy the blog. You will wish if you were born a couple of years before. ;) And those of my generation smell the nostalgia.

Yesterday while browsing a random thought struck my cerebellum. Reminding me of Orkut. Once so called leader of social networking websites. And out of the blue I decided to login to Orkut.
Space that was usually occupied with ‘Status Update’ made me skip my heartbeat. It was written in bold words - Orkut will not be available after September 30, 2014

OMG!!! This came as a jolt to me and most probably to everyone of you who have spent a substantial amount of time of their life here. A hard blow on all the memories associated with this about-to-dead networking website. This was once the lifeline of our lives. Scraps, testimonials, fans, rating card to rate someone as cool, sexy and one I cannot remember. I logged in after 4 years. Can’t blame my memory!! Nostalgia!! And then a deep dive in the ocean of unforgettable memories. And Orkut was named after its creator, Google employee Orkut Buyukkokten. Thank you Google for taking the wise decision of not using his surname instead.
Orkut Buyukkokten - Man behind Orkut

Out of curiosity, I checked the cool new features which Orkut Team indulged to compete with Facebook and Twitter. And the most I loved was is the cool status you can put in there. I tried putting a status, and it went as follows-

Orkut shutting down!! May be this is the last status dedicated to all the beautiful memories it helped me in creating in my life. CIAO Orkut. You will be missed.

P. S. I am pretty sure no one in the world is going to read this status for sure. But yes, I am an Orkut fan even in world of Blogger,  FB and G+. http://ssl.gstatic.com/orkut/img/smiley/r_grin.png http://ssl.gstatic.com/orkut/img/smiley/r_cool.png
Cheers boy! You are 10 and I am 22. I have seen you grow up and fall. http://ssl.gstatic.com/orkut/img/smiley/r_heart.png
My puberty, teenage and adolescence belongs to you. http://ssl.gstatic.com/orkut/img/smiley/r_cry.png

You can colour few words, put those funky emojis, add locations, add HTML links, and use BIU features of MS Word. This is amazing!! FB, Twitter you are still missing these.

The account is as it is when I left it. May be after completing my Higher Secondary School. 4 years ago! I still remember where, when and how I created my Orkut account. I was in like 8th standard when my sisters Avantika and Purva strained and took me to an internet cafe in Amravati. I was unaware of this Orkut thing. We sat, created the account. My age was not legal therefore I provide my fake date of birth. And the next moment I was chatting with them from the same location on two different PCs. It was awesome! I just found a treasure pot hidden in the world of WWW. There onwards, for the next 5 years Orkut remained a platform for scrapping and testimonials. Scrap is more like messages. You have no provision to hide them or edit afterwards. And testimonials are the compliments that we write praising one of our friends, so that another person, sending friend request can know a bit about him/her.

Number of scraps were everything that was deciding how much active a person is on the internet (and for us Internet meant ONLY ORKUT). It was more like cyber war; who gets maximum scraps. Without any time constraint. Google has decided to shut down Orkut now. I am glad that they never checked scrapbooks of our friends. Watching the deterioration of English they would have brought it down for sure a lot earlier. Maintaining the decorum of the English language was a task.

It was the time when cool was coooooooooooooollllllllllllll, or kooooooolllllllll.
Simple one syllable Hi was;
The above Hi was sent by one single person in a single non-truncated scrap (message).

Hello was like,





And teddy bear were coming in many versions, like sitting, standing, dancing, playing;
---------/ ;;;; \ ____----- .;;.
------ ;----- '"-'`----`'-"'----- /
------/\-----------._. ---------/
-----;;;;;;_-----,_Y_,---- _.'
----/;;;;;;;\-`---.___.--- ';.
--; -\ ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;\------;\__--.;.
--|-------`""`- .------._-----/;/;;\;;/
-/ ;------------/;;;;;;;-;/;;;;;;;/--|;/
------'-...----- ';;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;\/

TEDDY BEAR is the sign of FriEndsHip


_,-~-. _.--._.-~-, _______
_________/ .- ,“_______`-. \\______
_________\\ /`__________\\“/______
_________ /___“a___a`___\\ ________
_________|____,“(_)`.____ |______
_________\\___( ._|_. )___ /_________
__________\\___ .__,“___ /__________

I still do not understand who in the world got so much of time to type all these shapes and designs. My salute to that guy. Guy because, girls I expect were busy with other guys and they lack creativity anyways. :P

Orkut brought some drastic positive changes in our lives. It helped us to become proactive in life. As we have to decide the next chat session in cyber cafe and arrive on the right time to get the right PC with flash player and Gtalk installed in it. Cyber cafe owner became a closer friend than tuition mates. Getting 10 Rs discount or extra 5 min for internet session from the owner was enough to carry a happydent smile whole day. Thus, became socially active. English vocab touched the upper circuit in those days. It was like breaking upper circuit in SENSEX (or Bombay Stock Exchange); completely unexpected. Talking with a girl even virtually was like a flight from Cloud No. 9.

But it too had some pitfalls. The biggest nightmare was to type your crush’s name in the status bar instead of the search box. Believe me, this was the biggest embarrassment you can ever face. Indigestible!! No one would love to become the butt of jokes. And you are talking about the same crushes in the PUBLIC scrapbook. Even taking her name without any hesitation and praying God to make her come online and know herself about the secret crush we had on her. Secret and privacy were just words.
But my profile was unique. It was containing a minuscule number of girls, thus I was known as the-guy-with-guys-in-his-account. And I was answering, yeah, that’s my profile. I have always been a decent and sober guy. Or maybe I was a girl-repellent. :D

Many of us might have shared the viral song ‘Emptiness’. Even though most of my friends were unable to sing its English lyrics. All of them were walking in the shoe of Rohan Rathore, an IITian guy who as per the rumours wrote that song for a girl who broke his heart and killed himself. But years after it was in the news that original composer was Gajendra Verma. Feeling pity for this guy, Orkut era was over by then!!

Most attractive things after a cute girl’s profile picture was the various ‘Free Recharge’ spam links. And then after getting wooed away from these links the tough job was to retrieve our hacked account. After years of experience finally now we were able to distinguish between a real existing girl account and a fake profile. This expertise helped all of us while we all shifted to Facebook. Awfully we cannot mention it in the resume.
Things were changing slowly. An American company Facebook was making the news. For many people Facebook was still beyond indulgent. But intuitive mind forced many like me to have an account on FB as well. Orkut saw the creation of new communities; like ‘I am also on Facebook’, ’Facebook Vs Orkut’, ‘Orkut is dead!’ and they were in ample amount.

But things have changed a lot since I created my account. I got a badge from Orkut on 30th Aug,  2011 for using Orkut a staggering-whooping 5 years. I have been an Orkut user since it was mere 2-3 years old. Privacy became a serious issue, which I personally never gave any importance in those days. Most of us used Orkut on a Nokia handset. It was impossible to imagine life without Orkut and Nokia then. Kodak’s role camera was the product which prohibited us from uploading the photos the way we do now from our digi cams. Recess, Duck Tales and Tom & Jerry were our favourites. The IPod was yet to replace Sony Walkman. Radio still used to play Vividh Bharati program instead of Radio City. Upgraded from BSA Champ to Razorback to Honda Twister. Sachin was criticized for his performance in 2007 cricket world cup. And after that he banged 93 and a century against South Africa. On 30th June, 2007 becoming first person to score 15,000 runs. 41 ODI centuries was the tally. Today retired from all formats with over 18,000 runs and 49 ODI centuries. Photo of Katrina Kaif was the most common profile photo by girls. And for guys it was John Abraham!

And the biggest change in Orkut is, it is no more in Beta version also with a changed logo. :)

Orkut login page! I always wish to have my profile photo on Login page. :P
Those were the days when – Happiness was having 5000 scraps in a scrapbook. Awfully I lost my thousands of scrap and now the count stands at 4682. 2668 people have visited my profile. 35 awkward photos that so from my Nokia 3110c mobile and 71 videos from YouTube, most of which are deleted by their owners. And 1 pending friend request. 178 friends and joined 82 communities; and one of them is ‘I’m also on FACEBOOK ~ ‘.

What has remained still is my love for Mumbai Indians, Sachin, Bryan Adams, Sandra Bullock, Backstreet Boys, Rehman, Big B, Federer and Farhak Akhtar. My chat status is still ‘INVISIBLE’. But now the offline icon is replaced with numerous mobile icons. Just a couple of people online now! Where there used to be a long list of online people with a green dot.

I still listen to Kay Kay’s Yaron Dosti Badi Hi Haseen Hain, Bryan Adam’s Everything I DO!, Jaane Kyon from Dil Chahta Hain, Enrique Why Not Me?. Still have my Nokia 3110c even after having a Sony Xperia smartphone, on which I haven’t browsed Orkut even once. Have BPL TV set at home. And the BSNL broadband’s 21,300 Rs bill is making me go around the BSNL office. But all those friends I made on Orkut are now connected well on Facebook.

Orkut is about to enjoy its grave, Nokia is no more that ‘NOKIA’. But one question still prevails – whose hands were those shaking in every Nokia mobile?

If someone still loves the things from more than 6 years, how come we shall forget Orkut?!?! If someone asked me what is the difference between Orkut and today’s social media, I would say the same difference that is between Cartoon Network and CN. Or Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan and today’s Ramayan. A Maruti 800 and Tata Nano. An evening stroll with parents and liking-commenting on Facebook!!
It’s the end of an era!! I will be taking the backup of all scrapbook and testimonials soon to show my children about the epic social website I was on. Maybe Orkut has made me more proactive than necessary. :D

Tchau and Tata Orkut!! :)

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keywords: orkut, farewell, 90s generation, 80s genaration, tchau, farewell orkut, tchau orkut, orkut Buyukkokten