All posts by Adventurist Writes

Dream come true – machapuchare!

When was the last time you dreamt? Visualized your dream? Did you just forget your dream in the business of your life? Well, I did!

And then, I lived my dream!

The journey is beautiful and adventurous, destination is extremely exhilarating while, here’s the origin of my dream:

Sitting on the second floor of the hotel, facing Leh Palace, we were introducing ourselves and the treks we’ve been to before. The heights, distances, views and grades of each mountain path everyone mentioned gave an adrenaline rush, one struck hard when someone said – “MachaPuchare”. What? Machapuchare? You mean fish tail? For the fish lover in me, I wanted to see how it looks like and instantly googled it and thought, “Man, you ought to be really fit and strong to climb it. I wish someday I climb and look at the fish tail right in front of me.” That’s all about it, we then started prepping for the next few days of fear and a lot more to attempt Stok Kangri. Never did I think of it until..

The Journey of Self-Exploration:

The night before trek, while walking on road looking for Nepali Thali – 14 October 2019

Siman: O’ Hello Naveen ji, Suresh ji? Dinner done? You are aware that I will be your trek leader, Sonam is our guide and porter. Meet my friend Bikram, he’s here on a holiday, if you don’t mind, can he join us for the trek?

Naveen: of course Siman ji! The more the merrier. Ensure arrangements are done accordingly.

Day1: Pokhara to Deurali (2100m). 30min drive/ 5hrs trek – 15 October 2019

The drive from Pokhara to Phedi is spectacular. Wherever you see, snowcapped brown mountains stand in their majesty, yet subtle! But our focus is more on the ATM machines because we might have to buy eatables during the journey and sure, you need money! Fortunately, SBI ATMs provided Nepalese Rupee with Indian ATM cards.

The first steps that will last forever...
The first steps that will last forever…

The first few steps seem like soon we’ll reach a villa hidden in the bushes but as we climb the stoned stairs, though small yet many in number, they seem to never end, now they are being stony! 60 minutes of climb, Sibu ji, Sonam ji, Suresh ji and Bikram ji climb like they are on a school excursion – excited kids, laughing at everything, running around like it’s a park and here was I, contemplating – if I continue this for another 3 hours, my thigh muscles would wither off and I would look like a Kentucky Chicken with no flesh on the bone!

High spirited people are always generous
High spirited people are always generous

Its sultry, sunny, been sipping water. Steps will surely take me to heaven because as far as I can see, lush greenery, proudly shining sun and stoned stairs that reach the sky. When you’re about to lose spirit, someone appears out of nowhere to lift you up! That’s exactly, what this Amma did – plucked cucumbers and other fruits from her garden on the slope of the mountain, mixed some spices into a pickle and gave us the best energy booster that won the battle with heat and my spirit. Now I decided, I will reach atop and rest.

It’s 8:00 pm, I am all set to sleep under the blanket on this soft bed, shivering in cold in this 7-bed room and this man, Bikram ji, drives me crazy asking, “Naveen ji, do you want to eat some fruits?”, how can I say no?’

First day in the lap of mighty Annapurna is successful!

Day2: Deurali to Forest camp (2530m). 6/7 hrs trek – 16 October 2019

6:00 am – (Outside the room) – Stranger1 – Its very cold, I have three layers on, I can’t walk

Stranger2 – I don’t think we can go far, whole of Annapurna is covered with clouds

(Inside the room) Me to myself: After yesterday’s stunt, should I really go ahead today? I want to go back home safe. I have come here without any preparation, should I risk my body? Shiva, if you want me to come up there, show me a sign, tell me if I should climb high or walk back?

Just when I stepped out of the washroom, everyone happily called out to each other – “the clouds are moving, that’s Annapurna III, next to it on the right is Hitchauli, and there on further right is Machapuchare” and I stood there awestruck – blankets of clouds raced among themselves to give us a spectacular view of this mighty range. I am coming Shiva!

After the first surprise, comes the shocker – 7-8 year old kids’ uber excited to trek, running around the kitchen and dining tables, asking their parents to finish the Nepali bread with butter, jam and omelette with a cup of hot green tea! I wonder where these kids get the energy from!

Straight for about 100m and then a right for the next one hour is the path of abundance! Abundance of long green trees, with very big barks and some slender, so many that even the sunlight finds it difficult to seep through the shadows of these trees. The path is very simple – naturally inclined with a few steps dotted at distances that make this day a walk in the park. Is there a greater artist than the one who created nature? We have been to other parts of the Himalayas and this is very different from the others! Mountain is a mountain, why aren’t the treads the same?

Siman ji, Suresh ji, speaking about everything in the world, are at a visible distance behind me. Sonam ji and Bikram ji are racing with each other to reach the Forest Camp first. Here I am, mesmerized at the beauty of everything around me. The voice of birds, shapes of leaves, the little passage the sunrays make from the sky, at every turn a glimpse of MachaPuchare – covered in clouds like the Indian bride dolled up.

Pizza at a height of 2530m, sitting amidst people of different countries, one playing guitar, someone singing, a few playing cards, some playing volleyball, what more should I ask for? This spider on the glass window of the dining hall is irking me, might attack my green tea with honey! ‘Naveen ji aapko pata hai, Neha Kakkar aaya tha mere sapne me, wo mereko bahut achcha lagta hai. Vo Nepal aayega na, main usko Nepal ka queen banayega, aur hum dono ka height bhi match hota hai – same same – you know!” – said Sonam and his dream girl stories took us on a laughter ride.

Day3: Forest camp to Low camp (2970m). 6hrs – 17 October 2019

“I know this route, feels like I’ve walked here many times before”
Suresh ji to Siman ji: Oh God, you’ll have to hear this again and again till we reach back India
Siman ji: Naveen ji, you are a true nature lover. You will feel like you know the place or you belong there because you connect with everything around you, you feel at home wherever you go
Sonam ji: I don’t know about you Naveen ji, but I will feel at home when Neha agrees to marry me… I my Neha…
Suresh ji: oh you both started with your obsession??? This day is gonna be crazy, I better stay away from you both (laughing)

1 hour into the forest, a walk of peace and harmony, we five walking at our pace, in trance and awe at the beauty of naturally fashioned trees – some leaning on the other, some tall and slender, some huge and wide, some colorful, some wet, most with pink stem.


“Can you believe it? I was talking to the tree and since the stem was wet and fibrous, I wrapped my arms around her, I felt some movement inside, awestruck, I leaned and placed my ear on the stem, I could hear and feel water dripping, but I don’t see any water outside. Wow!! That’s magical!! Never experienced it before “, I danced in joy.

The trail is wide, wet soil, mostly red, inclines are steady and not steep. There are so many trees that it’s difficult remember the route. Once lost, you’ll never be found I guess. It’s sunny on the sky but here, under the canopy of tree, it’s cold and energizing.

Meadow in the midst of a forest
Sonam clicking the model Bikram

For lunch we halt at a small kitchen setup by two men from a village. The prawn crackers are tempting but being a vegetarian, I hold back and relish amazing bamboo pickle with bamboo rice and daal.

Once at the destination, our room is cold, mattresses cold, water cold. It’s windy. Clouds blanket over. Gloves, muffler, woolen socks, jackets and thermals are not enough. It’s very cold. Our dinner time is fun – talking to people from different countries, sitting across the fire oven, Sonam ji plays guitar very well, Bikram ji always serves us food first. Hot Chocolate here is yumm.

Day 4: Low camp to high camp (3540m). 4hrs – 18 October 2019

Shorter day of trek, good rest and sleep, we leave in the night to Mardi Himal – that’s the plan. It’s cloudy and cold. Once again I pray, “Shiva, should I come forth? Should I trek today? I am doing well so far. I want all of us to go back home safe. Nothing else matters”
When I finish my breakfast and come out of the dining room, I see sparkling white tip of MachaPuchare, with clouds covering the rest of the sky. He always shows me signs. All geared and power-packed, we start.

Happy we!!


“Sibu ji, I stopped eating non vegetarian because I didn’t want animals to be killed for me. Now that three doctors have forced me to eat meat and fish for my health to improvise I will. It’s been four years I have not. From today I will.”

At 2pm we reach our rooms. Relished chicken. Walked around, basked in sun. Rested. All seems amazing, I’m a little anxious for tomorrow night would be my first night trek to the summit.

Cozy blanket on a cold mountain

Day 5: High camp to Upper view point (4250m) and back to high camp. 3 hrs – 19 October 2019

It’s about 10 am. “Sibu ji, air here is comforting, the route is familiar, trees generous, every view is new, yet so homely. There’s a very comforting connection. If peace can be picturised, this is peace. Can I sit in the lap of those five trees standing together?” I close my eyes, sitting cross legged. When I come back to this world, I see there’s a thin line that differentiates this world with the world I was in. And that difference is” belongingness”. There I connect with everything around while here is a roller coaster of emotions.

By 12 noon we reach the dining hall. Very hungry. I’ll go for vegetarian meal. We’re closer to MachaPuchare. Tonight it is.

“We wake up at 1 am, start at 2am. Normally it takes 1 hour 30 minutes to Mardi Himal View Point 1 and about 20 minutes from there to View Point 2. But because you are with us Naveen ji, we will go very slow and will try to reach in 3 hours 30 minutes. Take rest. Relax. We are with you Naveen ji, we will make your dream come true. Just pray for good weather. “, asserted Sibu Ji

The Summit :
1 am: its so cold, I’m freezing, should we really go now? – I.
2 am: Sonam will lead us, Bikram will be with you, Suresh ji will follow you and I will be the last. You don’t carry anything. We have the torch lights, we are carrying water also. Suresh ji is carrying eatables and your day pack also. You hold the trekking poles properly. It’s easy route and cold. We are lucky for the full moon light. Don’t push yourself, we will go at your pace. – explained Sibu Ji.

In the middle of the night to summit


3 am: I don’t want to walk anymore. I am okay but I can’t walk further. This seems to be a safe place, you guys go ahead, look at the sunrise from View Point and I will view from here. Please go. Don’t wait for me, I am happy I came this far. You’ll miss the sunrise, go. – I persuaded. “Naveen ji if we leave you and go, what if Neha Kakkar gets to know? She won’t marry me then Naveen ji, don’t you want me to get married and live happy?” – giggled Sonam, the little boy with enormous strength and beautiful dreams

4 am: “Suresh, Sibu, wait, don’t walk. I am not feeling anything, no fear, no thoughts, no pain, my brain is not having any thoughts. Is it AMS?”
“No. Just breathe. You are alright. Sit down for a few minutes” – helped Suresh.
“Drink water Naveen ji” – offered Sibu

“Nothingness! People pray and meditate for years together to attain this. I’m experiencing it now. I am just me. Free of thoughts and emotions.” – I announce it to both and start walking.

5 am: “Bikram ji you said just 500 steps, we’ve already crossed a 1000 i guess. These are not steps, these are rocks cut in rectangular shapes with a hand railing on the side. You fooled me well. I can’t climb these gigantic steps anymore” – obviously me!
“I will take you to View Point 2 Naveen ji. You start climbing or we’ll carry you” – threatened Bikram

5:20 am: “Woo hoo.. Array Naveen ji… You made it.. We’re at View Point 1 before sunrise. Rocking Naveen ji, now i will sing a song for Neha and dedicate to you” – exclaimed Sonam in joy
Bikram ran to View Point 2
Tea shop uncle was serving tea
Suresh and Sibu walk with me to the tea shop, sitting around the fire in this freezing cold, we’re so happy and excited. Waiting for the first ray of light

We toiled to deserve this moment



5:30 am: “Light aagaya.. I can see the sky.. Come Naveen Ji Suresh Ji.. Can you see the snow and clouds on MachaPuchare, Hichauli and Annapoorna III?” – jumped Sibu in joy

“You have brought me safe until here, you will take me back home safe. Make all this worth it, give us a glance of MachaPuchare without the clouds” I murmur

Far from us in the sky,
With Pink radiance are the clouds in the south,
Majestically standing in Pristine white
Shoulder to shoulder are Annapoorna and Hichauli,

Announcing his arrival with the yellow tinge,
Rising sun is the world of joy,
Running clouds beat my heart,
To see you in your pride
Have I dreamt of –
I asked for a glimpse
Here you are –
Mighty yet simple, Unconcoquered yet so close,
You my love, MachaPuchare

MachePuchare – in it’s glory!!
Annapurna III and Hichauli covered in clouds!!


To thank the universe, I sit in a corner and meditate.

Yes, I am living my dream, right here and now. Just me, MachaPuchare and my people who brought me here.

Thanking the universe


Day 5: High camp to Siding village (1700m). 6/7hrs – 20 October 2019 and Day 6: Trek Siding Village to Lwang village (1,460m) approx. 5 hours & Drive back to Pokhara, 3 hours – 21 October 2019

Less words, more joy. Still in awe in the beauty of everything Mardi Himal presents. Everything and everyone in the world is so beautiful. We see a group of nature lovers, they go around the mountains in Nepal to clean and carry the rubbish we trekkers make / throw. They choose to make world a better place to live in, sacrificing their holidays and weekends. Such inspiring people!
We will meet soon

Insights:

This trek would not have been possible without the help of so many people, needless to say, Sibu ji (Siman) – the amazing cool planner, Sonam ji – youngest but brightest, Suresh ji – my savior in all treks – we four were already in the plan. We didn’t expect this friendship to happen and grow but these 6 days are magical. The man who wasn’t in the plan but came from nowhere like an angel – Bikram ji, you’ll know better about his selflessness in this conversation –

2 am to 5 am: Bikram ji, please don’t walk by my side on the edges, you’ll fall. Sonam ji is showing the way forward, stop risking your life for me. You might be strong but you need light and you must look at the route for yourself, looking at my footsteps, moving stones for me to walk easy, you have already slipped twice. Stop worrying about me, walk ahead of me or behind, not on the narrow, steep edges. – I kept repeating it but, Bikram ji had one response – “I will rest only after showing you MachaPuchare and taking you back safe to Pokhara, till then I will be by your side”, with a smile that shone his teeth in the darkness of the night.

Mardi Himal is one of the easiest trek in Nepal. People finish it in 3-4 days. We took 7. It’s beautiful and closest to Annapurna III, Hichauli, MachaPuchare and other peaks, all can be seen from one point in Mardi Himal. We were strangers when we booked with ‘Everest Tour Nepal’, now we have memories for life. Mr. Sibu is the man behind making it happen – +9779849178651

I lived my dream and I am dreaming more, are you?

Once was a yak!

When was the last time you Stood Up?

StandUpForYourself-WorldMaySeemUpsideDown – Thank you OJ, for your picture!

Sounds weird, but just ask yourself, when did you stand for yourself, for your rights, for your feelings, for your identity or for justice to yourself? There’s a very, very thin line of demarcation between being a rebel or adamant and standing-up for yourself! Let’s go on it in detail, since every coin has two sides, we shall see what are they:

Ever tried saying ‘no’ to your boss?

“Standing-up for yourself”, means, saying ‘No’ to anything that you cannot compromise on, or saying ‘Yes’ to anything that is a must-have for you! In simple words, if you feel something is not right, yet you are allowing it to happen, then you are not standing-up for yourself. We Indians, most of us, are taught to accept people, their behavior and circumstances as they are and by accepting them, we are prepared to let their behavior dictate us. At work place, most people try to fit in the work in their personal time, the work that can wait until next day, yet people don’t say no, just to please their seniors or to ensure they are not giving way to competition. And then this becomes a culture! When one of the employee says ‘no’ to the work that isn’t urgent at that moment, becomes the ‘bad guy’ in the eyes of superiors. However, there are managers who are leaders, who understand the difference between reality and reasons. If you are true in what you do, you communicate well on your needs and you fulfill the needs of your job, saying ‘no’ never harms, rather creates a stronger relationship between colleagues.

How about ‘no’ in a relationship?

Are you in a relationship or have you been in one? What not people lose in the name of love? It is very easy to accept any amount of restrictions, compromises and sacrifices just because we fear not to hurt the person we love, we fear losing them and in ‘want of’ having the person, we do not say ‘no’ to the words and deeds that annoy us the most. And when this mountain of ‘wish I could say what I feel’ heaps up, either it quakes and breaks us within or a volcano erupts and breaks the relationship. Either way it’s we who lose! Instead, if we understand ourselves better and learn to say ‘no’ to what is not acceptable, would it not be easier to communicate and make the other person understand this? Would it not make it easier to decide whether you really want to live with a person who does not accept your ‘no’? Would it not be easy to end a relationship before it begins on false hopes? I am writing this blog because very recently, I realized that I must say ‘no’ to many deeds of people around me, whom I have been accepting externally but internally I have been hoping that they understand my needs and desires. Most of us are lucky enough that we are not put to such a test where you have to decide whether you want to be happy now, for the moment or you want to be happy for life? I had never faced such a situation before, but now that I have, I am all the more confident. I am very clear of what I want and what I don’t. This doesn’t mean, I don’t compromise on things, I certainly do where and when needed, provided, the compromise is for the better for a person who deserves it more than me, at that moment, Yes’ doesn’t hurt!

‘Yes’ doesn’t hurt!

When we speak of standing-up for ourselves, should we not consider our needs over our wants? Its crazy to work hard/smart for an organization where your efforts are not recognized. Its taxing to be in a relationship where, you are always a giver! Unless you have attained a state of ‘giving without anything in return’, yes you might be happy, but for most of us, I know, are not at that level yet. So, be it a relationship between a parent & child, teacher & a student, husband & wife, employer & employee, siblings or lovers, you cannot be happy if you do not communicate your needs and wants, and if you are not ready to give what the other person needs. Saying ‘yes’ to your needs, communicating them and fulfilling the needs of others, only, can make you happy!

Stand-up, if not now, when?

In whichever walk of life you are, stand-up for yourself, say ‘no’ to what is not for you, say ‘yes’ to what you can and lead a healthy life. Life may seem upside down when you start listening to yourself and voicing it, remember these voices that arise when you stand for yourself, are the seeds of joy for a better tomorrow. Choices you make today, make the reality you live everyday! Days, months and years pass-by waiting and hoping your life will change, tell me, if not you, who will speak for you, stand-up for you, to make your life better?

Follow OJ_Workouts to stay strong by clicking the link below:

https://www.instagram.com/oj_workouts/

Joy of 16000ft is Forever – Goecha La on a Canvas

You would agree when I tell you that Happiness is the best gift you can give someone, and how better does it get if you hand paint the most joyous moment of life! For a trekker, the most joyous moment is the sight of your tents while descending from a summit, this mixture of accomplishment, of safety, of belonging, of freedom and of peace, was captured by my friend Suresh while descending from Goecha La while I waited in the tent for my trek mates.

Moment of Joy in the eyes of Suresh while descending from Goecha La summit
Joy of 16000ft is forever – Goecha La on Canvas Hand-painted by Pallavi

It’s wonderful when you hand paint it yourself but you’re blessed when your friend recreates that moment like a magic, yes, my friend Pallavi, with her magical hands, artistic mind, empathetic heart, painted our memories on a canvas, garnished them with ceramic and gave them a life for a lifetime! Just by hearing the bits of our trek story and looking at the picture, Pallavi created this Masterpiece, like she was there at 16000ft, looking at us to retell this story in a painting! Though I didn’t summit that day, holding this painting in my hand made me feel, I’ve done it, I’m at the top of Goecha La!
If a painting can speak, this painting echoes the joy of mountains!
I always wondered if anyone can recreate the moment in the way I feel it, it’s a dream come true, it’s because of you, Pallavi! Words are less to thank Pallavi, Pallavi’s painting frame maker, Ajay, Atul, my Delisha, my Mom, Anuja, Anuja’s parents, my family, my Goecha La trek mates, Taai, Saranbir, Suresh, my cab drivers, boarding pass provider, packaging person, security personnel and my brain & heart to make this possible! This one is in the core of my heart! Thank you Pallavi, keep creating and spreading magic!

My Mom Superstar

Award / Prize is a motivation to outshine the talent, enrich the skill and set goals to achieve more. The first award I received, I remember, is during my first grade sharing the stage with my Mother and I wondered, “I practised, I performed and Mom’s getting award?!?“, a few years later I understood the meaning of “Most Interesting and Participating Parent award “. That’s just the beginning.

Being a home maker, my Mom made us the most delicious Sindhi, North Indian, South Indian, Italian, Chinese, Mexican food everyday and special were the weekends and birthdays for the heart filling desserts( soufflés and ice creams), that you could find nowhere in Salem. Apart from food, Mom would ensure we (my brother and I) get the right amount sleep, good manners, charity, cleanliness, love, loyalty, concentration in studies, good friends, keeping away from bad company, fulfilling the needs of us, my father, my paternal and maternal family. One thing Mom always taught us, “believe in yourself even if the world is against you, do anything that makes you happy, without hurting anyone, even if it means to compromise, sacrifice or adjust”

Being a home maker requires you to selflessly care for the needs of two generations older and two new generations to come. During celebrations and rituals, people would call Mom to seek advise and participate in trousseau making, wedding planning, Christmas surprises, reading Guru Granth Sahib, preparing Rotta for Mahalakshmi ja Sagra, Aadi Pandigai in Tamil neighbours homes, making Saai Bhaji for Sagro and a lot more. Brides-to-be would learn cooking from Mom.

Catering to the family is the supreme religion believes Mom. Being known as “our Mother” made Mom proud while we were in school and college but since the day Mom started participating in cooking, quiz, and other intellectual competitions, we kids have been looking at the dais, Mom getting awards. Generally, parents stand below the stage while their kids get awards, it’s reverse in our funny family, my niece and my Mom compete in “who gets most awards“.

Best Friends at the Best Food Stall
Garden Desert and Oasis all made of food (eatables)
The Winners as always

From Thakkali Thokku to Daal Pakwan to Samosa to Avial to Pepper Chicken to Kuzhi Paniyaram to tripple Colour Tikki to Khoyo to Elizabeth Shake to Kulfi to Schezwan Gold Fingers to Mutton Keema to Garlic Fish to Spinach Augratin to Kaju Katli to Kara Kozhumbu, everything we’ve eaten has been home made, Mom made. Every new recipe gives Mom a winning satisfaction, because Mom and all Her friends would share recipes and add their creativity to it.

Yummy Barbie!
Russian Salad
Frosting Fresh

We always have visitors home, since time immemorial until today, not only to meet us but also to relish the delicacies Mom makes. I won all fancy dress competitions because of Mom’s fancy ideas every year, my friend Divya Vignesh’s first winning dance competition, he thanked Mom for her ideas, my brother’s friends would come home to discuss their adolescent age, my relatives would come for career advice. Mom’s friends have been the greatest support in bringing Mom’s hidden talents to the audience. Every Aunty I remember, has supported Mom either as a friend, sister, mother or a healthy competitor. Mom is a winner in anything She participates.

Even today I have been waiting in the audience to see Mom on stage receiving awards in our society Republic Day competitions.

Judge Sahiba
Honoring the Winners
First Prize in Quiz

Award is a recognition of talent, appreciation of skill and joy of being your best, and these motivations encourage Mom to be more creative, unique and happy, that’s why most people call Her, “Hasmukh Didi” (ever smiling elder sister), as the enthusiasm hides Her age.

The Best All Rounder award should go to Mom for being who She is in all Her roles, apart from being a tough business woman, She’s a very very social human and a generous giver. Like my friend Neha says, it’s Her positive energy, the aura, so contagious that you meet once and you will respect Her forever.

But We Win!! How many ever awards Mom gets, yet we all win to get Mom as our Mom and Granny!! People know Her as Mala and Lata but we know Mom as our bestie (best friend) and so all Her awards are ours too 😉

Jiyo Hazaro Saal

Derak – Mount Mother, Shiraz Iran

Derak name – because it looks like A Pregnant Woman which means Mother, so it is called as Derak

Height – 2900m, 9514 ft | Location – Shiraz, Fars Province, Iran

Peak at – Zagros | Type – Sedimentary (loose mud and stones mostly)

Grade – Easy – Moderate – Difficult (depends on the height, season and route)

Best time –

Early morning in winters as evenings get freezing cold, negative temperatures

Late evenings in summer as summers are really hot in Shiraz until late in the long days

Our Climb – 9 November 2017, 5:00 a.m. local time | Trekkers – 6 | Temperature – 7°C

IMG_20171109_081619.jpg
Spectacular view of the city seen between the engulfing ends – from a few hundred meters

IMG_20171109_081602.jpg
High up, too many cuts, beautiful nature – mountain, tree, musical birds

My Experience – Accepting Fear – It’s okay to be Afraid

It’s impossible to climb these fascinating mountains that lay for hundreds of kilometers, I exclaimed when I saw them from the aeroplane, while arriving at Shiraz!

Mr.Reza arrived at 4:30a.m. to take us – Sachin and me, to Derak. Everyone said “it’s an easy trek”, so I excitedly join in the group of weekend trekkers to Derak, at early morning in the chill weather. On arriving at the foot hills we meet – Mr. Mojtaba and Mr. Mehrdad and the walk begins on a nicely laid path at an inclination of 10°-15° up. Only when my nose started running, I understood my body is working to warm in and that is the sign of normalcy. We are lucky to have the beautiful moonlight, saving us from holding a torch with our hands outside the jacket.

The hour before the dawn is the darkest hour of the night, someone had once said, yet in this darkest hour, the shining moonlight is giving us a good view of the light brown mountain that seem to shed itself on us anytime it desires. The unpreparedness is taking over me, making me feel tired even before the actual climb but the curiosity of stepping on the “impossible” that my mind believes is driving me. Mr. Cheetah,  I would prefer to name Mr. Mehrdad, as he is the fastest trekker, the records say, he is far ahead while Mr. Mojtaba, Sachin and Reza follow. Reza is slowed down to accompany me. Breathing becomes difficult and the urge to inhale through mouth increases but the biting air dries the throat quickly thereby making it difficult to breathe.

Walking on the zigzag path of stones, skeptical about reaching the destination of 800m height, Sachin and Reza jump back to help me as I am struck on the wrong route I have stepped in, finding it difficult to get down three steps of the cut rock. I am wearing my Himalayan trek shoes yet the fear of falling down by slipping from the rock as the edgy zigzag path has space enough for just one person to stand. Fear takes better of me, until Sachin shouts at me pulling me to safety while Reza holds my other hand.

The view is beautiful, the path high, dawn setting in, birds chirping. We are late, we are far, we are together. Sips of water and the view of Shiraz city, the valley view between the two edges of engulfing mountain, raises the spirit to go high up.

Wow. look at the yellow line, the hot man, the Sun is rising, it’s spectacular”. 

IMG_20171109_082151.jpg
Rays of hope and life

IMG_20171109_082427.jpg
Hottest man ever seen

Sachin, Reza and I are awestruck with the magic the yellow rays spell on the design of clouds in the subtle blue sky.

IMG_20171109_082442.jpg
Sachin, Reza and I

Normally, Reza would reach the destination 40 minutes earlier to our current time but I was holding him back. Sachin is unbelievably faster in his sports shoes, which I would never attempt climbing up with such shoes.

Reza, Reza, help, I am struck, my feet are drifting back and there’s nothing to hold ahead” Reza pulls me one step up and I find a safe landing place.

I quit! I told. Reza you go, I don’t want to come up anymore, because it will be difficult for me to get back. Sitting here I’m thinking, I can actually go up and complete it, I may never get a chance to climb Derak up but I’m glad I stopped. I know I am on a mission here, mission to fulfill my professional goals, Derak, I have come for my love of mountains, the fascination of climbing the unclimbale I had once thought. I am glad I know my body better than anyone else, I underestimate it often but I will not force it to where it does not belong. My body is precious, it represents my mind and my soul. It’s OK to say no. No. I can’t do this. It’s slippery.. But it’s just 3 steps, I know I can. But I don’t want to. One slip, and I’m all down on the stoned levels. I am in Iran for work and that’s my purpose. Mountain is my love, my passion. I shall not lose my purpose for my passion. But if this was a mountain trip meant only for trekking, I would have still required help from other people. It’s okay to seek help. It’s okay to not to be strong as others. It’s okay to accept your limits. It’s okay to be what I am. Only I know my horizons better, only I know when to push them far, only I am the best the way I am. I shall improve step by step, yet I may never climb such a path of stones and mud, loose or strong, or I may just do it as bad as now. I am glad I am struck here in my fear.

Woah, look the cheetah of the mountains, is here. “Are you okay?, come with us, Mr. Reza shall come with Mr. Sachin behind”
Mr. Cheetah takes the left. Phooof!!!! I am struck here in fear of the path on right and here it is, the way down on left! See, fear is indeed a blessing in disguise, had I gone down to challenge my fear, I would have been lost maybe for a while or forever, but now I have Mr. Cheetah, the trekking pole from Mr. Pole (Mr. Mojtaba, because he lends me one of his trekking pole gauging my fear) and the company of Mr. PhD

I am glad I didn’t challenge myself. I didn’t succumb to my fear. I paused.

IMG_20171109_083528.jpg
Peace! nothing can describe it

Sitting at the spot where I quit, I feel calm and satisfied.

IMG_20171109_090110.jpg
these few steps that I wanted to take but fear didn’t let me to

IMG_20171109_090944.jpg
Thankfully, I didn’t, I realized this when Mr. Cheetah took the other route and not this. Had I taken this up, I might not have found my way ever.

The journey down is fun, ironically I wonder why did I take so much time to climb up, funnily, at this point where I’m standing, I was so afraid while going up that Reza and Sachin pulled me forcefully for me to step out of my fear of sliding down from the laterally cut rock. I am enjoying the company of Mr. PhD (Mr. Farzad, aspires to pursue PhD and that’s inspiring enough to keep learning) as he shares his pride on Indians being the most intelligent people with the highest resumes, degrees, students and professionals in the USA, his dream destination for Doctorate.

IMG_20171109_095638.jpg

The zigzag path is now heading to the straight route at approximate downward inclination of 10°. My feet are hurt by the stones underneath but the knees are spared from the shocks. Families with children climbing up in the chill wind and warm Sun. Our plan of climbing early morning is commendable as we don’t have to sweat and dehydrate like late climbers. Mashallah! Soon we can savor the cookies and cake we’ve bought for this trip. Mr. Cheetah and Mr. Pole are waiting for me.

IMG_20171109_095817.jpg

I thank Reza, for making my dream come true, of climbing the mountain, I once thought would never be possible. Thank you Reza!!

Reza and Sachin arrive an hour later, all credit goes to me for their delay, with a scratch on Reza’s forearm, as he slipped exactly at the same place where I quit. While I am writing this, I didn’t know that a fascinating journey would end in so much taste –

IMG_20171109_115811.jpg
Delicious, healthy and filling Farsi Omelette

Yes, It’s okay to be afraid sometimes, as you are the best judge for yourself, you know when to challenge the fear and when to let it be. Peace with your own-self is all that matters in the end.

कर्म – Karma

Karma, Karm, Karam – you get what you give & think

There are many versions of Karma, many people use big words, deeper meanings, extreme references, for me it is very simple – any good intention and good deed gets you all good, any bad / wrong intention gets you the bad.

If equation of Karm is so simple, why there’s suffering, pain, inequality, despair? My friend, would you eat only sweets or spices and no other flavor? No, I am not talking about life, destiny, etc., etc. Right now we’re focusing only on Karam. In fact, there’s a twist in the very statement – any good intention and good deed gets you all good, any bad / wrong intention gets you the bad,  the twist is –

If you do good only because you want good, you’ll never get what you want because it is said – 

Karmanye Vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana

meaning do your Karam with no expectation of anything in return! Everything becomes so simple if we don’t expect anything in return, isn’t it? If you’re a parent who gave every happiness to your child and now that you’re old you expect your child to take care of you and unhappy that they don’t, then your Karma is incomplete as you’re expecting as a give and take policy from your child. If you’re a friend / colleague who helps his / her friend in distress just because you think that they will help you in return, your account of good karma is still empty. If you’re a spouse / lover who does the best for your partner and get upset with them just because they don’t do the same with you, your good karma doesn’t count.

On the other hand, if you’re suffering or in bad shape, then it’s not because you’ve not done any good, it is just because something somewhere you had done wrong to others, intentionally or unintentionally. If you cheat, hurt, steal from others, it’s your bad karma. Yes, the biggest crime in the world is to steal – stealing the right of being loved, the right of having food (when you waste food), the right to sleep, the right to breathe good air, the right to stay healthy, the joy of being oneself – when you mock or tease them. There’s lot more to good and bad deeds and intentions that can be classified as good and bad karma.

The way you treat your body is your Karma towards you – yes, if you eat right, exercise, breathe well: your good karma towards your body will result in staying fit, if you disrespect your body, you know it well – pains, dislocations, malfunctions come together.

A reference to Mahabharata – when Bhishma was lying on the bed of arrows  that pierced through his body, he questioned Krishna, ” I, never hurt anyone all my life, why am I put through this suffering”, for which Krishna replied “you had poked a centipede numerous times as it seemed fun to you, when you were at the age of differentiating between the good and bad, yet you did so, hence, you’re lying on the bed of arrows pierced through you to feel the same pain you gave to the centipede”.

Thus, you don’t need to do anything out of fear of Karma. Just be good to others, to yourself and everything around.

Why am I writing this today?

Because it is today that I realized, though you cannot make others be good to you, but you can definitely stop others being wrong or bad to you, this way you’re preventing them from doing bad karma towards you. If you can’t be a reason of someone’s good, at least don’t be a part of other’s bad. Be good, do good, good be with you!

Pic Courtesy – Google images – because Karma is a cycle, I took it from google, someday i’ll return it back 😉

Ishq-e-Iran

Men with long nose, women blessed with beauty, full of heart is the land of Tehran, Iran. “Athithi Devo Bhava” translates to “Guest is God“, though stated and practiced in India, it is felt in the eyes of everyone in Iran. Farsi or the Persians have a deep history marked in red and black and white, yet the glory over the centuries remains in the “Respect and Love” for thy neighbor.

Norooz.jpg

People! It’s “People”, all that I talk of Iran though it has amazing weather, history, monuments and lifestyle. This blog is more on the wonderful-ness of the people, richness of food, nature blessed beauty, fun at work, along with other cherish-able experiences one must be lucky for.

The chill winds freezing my toes urge the wanderer to walk fast on the unending lanes leading from one to another and another. It’s beautiful. Temperature is 1°C at 12 noon but the warm smiles from the unknowns make one at ease. A stroll across the streets of my hotel is my introduction to this beautiful city.

Goodbye my friend, we shall meet if you come back” chuckled my Indian friends because of the inhuman political powers creating terrorism around Iran. When I met my chauffeur at the airport to drive me to hotel, I was relaxed. Excitement grew when Mr. Jabbari personally visited me to ensure I am at ease, on a Friday, while he was supposed to be enjoying his weekend with his family.

Vegetarian?” Mr. Yaghmai confirms as he is in a shock since I ruined his joy when he exclaimed “we have a variety of Kababs for you for lunch Mr. Hinduja“. I had no idea that this marks the beginning of mission “Vegetarian Hunt” for Mr. Jabbari and team. They would have long discussions almost everyday on planning to introduce me to the best vegetarian they can offer. For dinner, after several failed attempts at many restaurants asking for vegetarian or eggs, one boy understood the sign language to get me egg and rice, thus a successful round of dumb charades in the land of unknowns, I made friends with the owner of the restaurant, “Kasra“. Happy faces and Happy stomach is a happy day.

Perceptions were that work might be tough due to the language barrier as very few people knew English but the barrier turned out to be a blessing in disguise, work is now fun because people here are fun.” MAS-TER“, Mr. Ali would look up to me with the hope that I answer all his questions, with the respect to the relationship between a teacher and a student. In Farsi,

the  elementary school teacher is called as Moallem

the High School teacher – Dabir

the University professor – Ostad translating Ostad in English got me a new name “Mas-ter“.

The warmth of people here makes me feel at home. I fear not of anything that does not happen anywhere else in the world. I have people to help, guide and accompany. Of 16 colleagues, I have 16 friends now. Iran is a globe in itself, having deserts, lakes, mountains of snow and boulders, forests, rivers, the Caspian Sea, and many monuments. I am excited that I shall go to one or some of these places of wonder on the only Friday that we have. But right now the discussions are on the food I must eat, here’s the Irani cuisine spread out to me –

Light green from the Peacock feather with a dash of white at the center, extremely dark green aromatic corner marked opposite to the woody tinge is my bowl of Kashk-e-bademjan, the rich, tasty, nutritious Farsi delicacy garnished with love, made of eggplant, egg and more, straight from the north Iran specially brought to me to relish the King of all no-meat Farsi food. 34 eyes waiting to capture my expression when my tongue feels Kashk-e-bademjan the first, like a Mother feeling joy in her child liking Her hand-cooked food, they are rejoicing my liking for Kashk-e-bademjan. Ms. Sara very responsibly explains the recipe and richness of Kashk-e-bademjan.

kashkebadamjan.jpg

Each day, each colleague suggests the best for me – from food to places and after a lot of discussions Mr. Jabbari’s team would introduce me to the best of what they can offer. India is known for spices around the world but Iran, nonetheless has rich spices that fill the soul with aroma and taste – Saffron being the King of all. “Tachin” the Saffron rice cake is my favorite of all, yellowness of the Saffron held together by the smoothness of eggs with yougurt, steamed on all sides and roasted in Golden-Brown on one side, is definitely heaven for a foodie.

tachin.jpg

Nothing defines the blend of eating Khorma – Dates rice – “Adas Polo“, so rich in itself, with Zeytoon Parvardeh.

IMG_3937.JPG

Zeytoon Parvardeh has a unique blend of Olives, Walnuts and Pomegranate, an unimaginable ‘hhhhhhmmmm..’combination that tastes so good that I eat one pack everyday yet the tempt for more does not fulfill. The freshly baked designer breads are more of appetizers as they have so many designs and variety in taste that eating one type of a bread a day can take up to a month to taste them all. Mr. Kazimi makes my plate everyday with lot of love for the food his country has and the respect he has for his Mihman – guest.

First Friday! First Feat! Newness is exciting, my First Friday is very new and uber exciting. Mr. Naser with his wife, Mrs. Elnaaz is driving us early in the morning to “Tochal”, the house of snow. We’re all set with our gadgets – jackets, glasses, gloves, scarf, muffler and food. Ms. Elnaaz and I converse in small English sentences and wide smiles while Mr. Naser brings us the tickets to “Telecobin”, the cable car. No language is required when you speak the language of kindness, love and respect and that is the medium of our conversation. Up we go in the Telecobin over the loose mud and rocky path and bang – it’s all WHITE, PRISTINE WHITE.

IMG_20170120_143710596.jpg

I just want to open the door of Telecobin and set my Foot on the snow. Woah! Woah! Woah! The 3 ladies slipping and falling and rolling on the ice is so funny and nice! I am too afraid to fall but the First Walk on the Snow is Magical! I am very happy and excited and Wow! It is just Wow! You must be here to experience it. I am so thankful to Mr. Naser and my friend Ms. Elnaaz that I am in loss of words, I am just enjoying the moment with them, they have made my dream come true of walking on the snow, knee-deep snow! Woooooaaahhh….my knee is struck down and with great effort I am trying to move out, Ms. Elnaaz smiles at me and is running to get me out. I wonder how is she running when I can merely walk! Mr. Naser is all smiles, clicking our pictures. Zooooom, Zoooop, Zoooo…fun-makers are sliding down on the plastic-sack, I would never try that though! It’s awesome to see but needs guts to go on an uncontrolled mission to nowhere. Santa would be fascinated, if he were here!

IMG_3913.JPG

Ash Rishdey, at this height, nobody would imagine of one among the best soups in the world! Sour-cream, spinach and noodles with lot more taste makers, wow! It’s my favorite soup now, I can have any number of bowls of it.

IMG_3942.JPG

Ms. Elnaaz happily peeling the boiled eggs in the freezing temperature of -40°C. Hot food in the cold snowfall is an experience out of the world. We’re lucky! Snow-fall it is! Unexpected, unimagined surprise by nature! Many people trek up to the 7th station but since we are on picnic mode, we are traveling up in Telecobin upto 5th station but who would miss trekking on snow, so we hike up! Just when the snow stopped, my buddy, Sun came up out of nowhere. The mountains and peaks shine bright, everything has come to life suddenly, smiling in their own way. The whiteness of snow on high mountains are greeted by the black rocks dotted around. It’s too risky to be walking on the edge but we do, the adrenaline junkie as Mr. Naser calls himself, we are blessed to be here. Slipping and sliding I walk while Ms. Elnaaz and Mr. Naser laugh and hold me up, it’s a day to remember and live again.

IMG_20170120_150514058.jpg

A day of fun, happiness, adventure, memories, from morning to evening, gifted by Mr. Naser and Ms. Elnaaz, who happily planned and spent their weekend with me. I am joyous and thanking my friend in India who told me a day before I start, about the snow in Iran, which I never thought of, thinking it would be hot as Iran is somewhere in the middle east, and to the whole group of my friends in Iran who discussed almost every day about the best place I must visit on the only weekend I have here, to make it memorable. I have to inform Mr. Jabbari, I am super fine and having lots of fun and he need not worry too much of my health. Of all the monuments and other options, I chose “snow” because I had never walked on snow and here I am, an Eskimo!

IMG_20170120_150241170_HDR.jpg

Iran is a beautiful country with warm people. World famous “Tehran Bazaar” is on any traveler’s list. I might not have gone unless Mr. Jabbari offered to be my friend and guide on a Bazaar tour for about 3 hours. 3 hours because I did not buy anything as the gifts given by my friends already crossed the weight on baggage allowance and I could dare to buy no-more but next time I go to Iran, I will definitely spend 8 hours buying a suitcase full of things for friends and family. Mr. Naser takes pride in representing his motherland, thus we go to “Tajrish Bazaar” where the vibrant colors of dry fruits, nuts, spices, sweets, pickles, marmalade

IMG_3929.JPG

and colorful plates – “Lapis Lazuli / Mina Kaari / Sofale Hamedan“, handmade boxes  – “Khatam” with historic importance

IMG_3935.JPG

and Nazar Ghorboni

IMG_3934.JPG

are very attractive and artistic. The variety and richness in the bazaar is captivating, coming out of it empty handed is impossible. Ms. Azarnian is very happy that I am going to places she suggests and I am liking them. The lady at hotel feels pride in serving me the best breakfast and planning my outings.

Each human is different and so are my 16 friends but somehow we are all connected.

Mr. Naser – an adventure lover, Mr. Rabbani – my Farsi teacher, Mr. Ali – merry-maker – the “MAS-TER”, Mr. Behnam – intellectual, Mr. Tavalaie – a leader, Mr. Saeed – technically sound, Mr. Buddy – passionate artist and learner, Mr. Hassan – explorer, Ms. Farideh – quick learner, Ms. Mehrnaz – true Yogi (yoga practitioner who traveled to India to learn Yoga) and foodie (always eats in the class ), Ms. Minoo – very soft spoken and understanding, Mr. Bakht – leader, teacher and my translator, Mr. Nahal – logical, Ms. Sara – experimental, responsible, guiding, Mr. Farbod – technology savvy, experimental, Mr. Jabbari – responsible and caring.

IMG_7550.JPG

One word is not enough to describe each person, though different yet they have these in common – respect, love, humbleness, caring for and honoring the guest – that’s Iran. I am lucky to live amongst the most adorable people. The concept of “honoring the guest” is so much in their blood that “a guest is a part of the family“, thus Mr. Jabbari though me being a corporate guest for him, honored me to dine with his family – his wife – Mam – the most beautiful lady with grace and elegance, their daughter – Camilie – sweet, friendly child.

Wow.jpg

Each one is so sweet that I had to fight with them to stop gifting me so many things as their warmth is the best gift they have given,yet they would not stop gifting – Gaz, Zeytoon Parvardeh, Dates Syrup, Khatam, Pistachios, Saffron and most delicious, melting in the mouth – “Sohan

Sohaan.jpg

…my mouth waters when I write about it, so delicious that it is specially ordered and made for a special guest / occasion. My ears sooth to listen to the music of Kamancheh, Persian classical instrument,

khamancheh.jpeg

and the most beautiful surprise I ever got on my life – close to my heart is –

Surprise.jpg

 

If you want to experience true humanity, go to Iran. India and Iran have a lot of history and lots in common like the words – “bazaar, nazar, mushkil, noor, ishq, roz, mehman, ..” and most of all “Athithi Devo Bhava”, we both practice. I keep saying to my Iranian friends and everyone “however far we are, we share the same roots, somewhere deep down we are connected”

Wishing all my friends –

Norozetan Piroz,

Har rozetan Norooz!!

I will come back to Iran again…