The descent to Kedarnath

I never really wanted to write this story mostly because the events of this story is bad in some ways.  But it made me a little more than I was before that. Thus I decided to write it down.

Ghuttu

Ghuttu

There were five of us, started from Ghuttu, a village in Garwhal himalayas we crossed rivers and hiked along barely visible trails to make our way to Mayali Pass. Mayali pass quite high, enough to make to feel the lightness of air and absence of oxygen. The part which troubles me most about this altitude is that you can never really get a good sleep and rest. I found myself jerking off from sleep to get a good breath at night. At this altitude the most common sickness you get is “altitude sickness”, symptoms include dizzness, nausea, reduced brain functioning etc. and the worst, HAPE (High altitude pulmonary edema, fluids gets into your lungs and you die).

The camp near, few kilometers away from Vasuki Taal

The camp few kilometers away from Basuki Taal. Photo courtesy Dibyendu Seal or Mrinmoy Sarkar (don’t rememer clearly)

View from tent, Basuki Taal camp site

View from tent, Basuki Taal camp site

It was all going great, we crossed Mayali pass with flying colors and camped a few kilometers before Basuki Taal, after which we would have to cross a few ridges and get to Kedar Nath (the end of our journey). The day we were about to descent to Kedar Nath, one of our team members started feeling sick. He couldn’t walk, he was feeling dizzy and tipsy. So the most nimble member of our team was sent to get some help from the porters, who were already ahead and pushing fast to KedarNath. Rest of us decided to stay back with the unwell.

Basuki Taal at a distance. Behind those ridges lies Kedarnath.

Basuki Taal at a distance. Behind those ridges lies Kedarnath.

Moments laters, as we looked at the Lake, a few kilometers ahead. Suspecting that it might be difficult for the nimble guy tp get help alone, I was sent to help the other guy. I started alone, leaving behind our guide with the rest of the team, trying to find my way to the lake. I wanted to go fast, so that we can rescue the sick member faster, and that led to bad navigaton from my part. I had to re-route my way mutliple times until I got to Basukitaal. When I reached Basukitaal, the nimble guy shouted at me from the other side of the lake. He said the porters have already left the lake and crossed the ridge, which I already suspected. I shouted back at him, asked him to follow the trail and catch up.

The bad part about these ridges is that you never know what comes next, and as fas as I knew, if I could cross the ridge after the lake, I would find the final descent to Kedarnath. I was wrong. I started circum-navigate the lake, walking over rocks with the sound of water trickling under them. I reached the trail at the other side of the lake and started walking up. I found the other nimble guy sitting. He said he was hungry, I had some biscuits with me. We didn’t have water with us. We usually filled our bottles from waterfalls and small streams, but in the urgency of the moment we both forgot to fill bottles. Eating all those biscuits was a bad decision, our throats got parched. Without water, we started to walk. The nimble guy was quite tired, so was I.

After going up for a while, closing in to the ridges I found some patches of snow here and there. I decided to eat snow to quench my thirst, so did the other guy. One should never do that.

Now there were two of us, going up slowly. After we cross the first ridge, to my horror there were a lot of trails going here and there with no clear path to Kedarnath. My friend decided to take a trail which he though could be the shortest path to Kedarnath and I was finding another trail more promising. We split up.

The trails were broken by rocklines, which were hardest to navigate. I pushed on, almost in empty brain. I could see the magnificent 360 degree view of Garwhal. I didn’t want to stop to get photographs, I had to get help from Kedarnath. Now Mrinmoy Da gone the other way, I was alone on the trail to Kedarnath.

They say there is no first sight of Kedarnath, there is first sound of Kedarnath. You can hear the bells of Kedarnath, ringing and permeating the valleys. I wanted to hear that sound. Crossing over rocks, slipping, doubting the trail at times, I finally found a well laden trail, and after walking a few yards, I looked down the hill and saw a town, with helicopters. I stopped, I could hear the helicopter engine, I could also hear the bells. I had doubts because the guide told that a trail from those ridges can also lead to Rudraprayag; I didn’t know for sure if the town far below me was Kedarnath. I could still get help. I took a deep breath and cried for a moment while the sound of the breeze mingled with the distant bells.

Kedarnath in background. This was taken moments after me and Mrinmoy Da was were re-united. Photo courtesy Mrinmoy Sarkar

Kedarnath in background. This was taken after me and Mrinmoy Da were re-united. Photo courtesy Mrinmoy Sarkar

I started walking down the nice rock laden way toward the supposedly Kedarnath. Black clouds started appearing to my left, with light drizzles. I found two hikers on my way down, and I asked them if the town below is Kedarnath and they said I was right. Relieved, I kept on walking. My jacket zipper was broken, and the rainrops were getting bigger, and I feared I might catch cold.

Hearing some sound from behind me, I looked back and saw Mrinmoy Da, walking fast torwards me. It was a moment of joy. I was glad that I was right and I was amazed my his stamina, as he walked down the wrong trail, walked back up and caught up with me. Now we were two again, still with no water, we pushed on. Mrinmoy Da complained about his cramping legs, I kept on saying ‘just a little more’. It was definitely not a ‘little’ more.

Now the hill was very comfortable for us, even there was a rock laden footroad for us, we broke up and went down the way we felt comfortable in, to get there fast and get help. We found nice stream, we drank water, quenched our long deprived thirst from it’s misery, felt like a new man and started off. The rain was heavy by then, and Mrinmoy Da put his poncho on. I kept running on open jacket.

We reached Kedarnath at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, we started from campsite at 8 o’clock. We found our porters there, I asked for help. They got some guys who gets people on ‘Duli’s and carries them. We figured they might be able to carry the sick guy down to Kedarnath and we sent them off. I wanted to go with them, but Mrinmoy Da said they would walk fast and as I was tired as hell, I might fall sick too. We went to a hotel, and I found a big 1 inch blister on my right foot.

Kedarnath

Kedarnath

One of our team members, our leader came an hour after we came down. He said the guide is with the other guy and the unwell member. They are coming in slow and he also met the people who we sent to get them down safely. We waited, till 11 o’clock at night. They came to Kedarnath.

I spent that night at Kedarnath hospital, looking over Nilu Kaku. He is very strong, I knew he would be alright the next morning.

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The Urban Cycling Expeditions

When I didn’t find anyone who was willing to go with me, I decided to do it alone. I bicycled to the outskirts of Bangalore.

The bicycles

I was planing to buy a bicycle for quite a long time now. But I couldn’t decide which one to buy and my savings were low to buy one of these bicycles. I can get bicycles on rent in my neighborhood. So I decided to try out a few bicycles.

The 1st weekend

The first weekend I got a 21 speed full suspension mountain bike and wanted to try it out on the roads. During the first hour of the journey it looked great, but as time passed by, I realized riding on a short bike for this long distance is not going to work. My legs began to ache. I crashed in a friends’ place that night at J.P. Nagar. My destination for that weekend. I came back next day.

The problem with GPS navigation on a phone is that you always have to stop and check your location. And I didn’t have a GPS holder on my bicycle. In Bangalore, many roads are one way, so you cannot really go back the way you came. That sometimes can be a big trouble.

It was approximately 32 kilometers in two days.

The 2nd weekend

Last Saturday, I planned to get a hybrid, which is more suited for the roads, given my experience with a full mountain bike. I got a 24 speed hybrid from BT’win for rent.

I wanted to go to Whitefield, but that was just a plain destination. Unlike J.P. Nagar I had no one to meet there, so I simply went there, looked for a nice pub, had lunch and came back, with a few problem along the way due to ‘ONE WAY STREETS’.

It was around 50 kilometers in a single day.

The fun parts

The first ride to J.P. Nagar, I was just motivated by the fact that I am going to meet my old friend from college. That just kept me going on, despite muscle fatigue on my legs. I stayed there with my friend that night, had a lot of fun and came back.

The second day I really was asking myself this question twice, ‘why am I doing this?’. Even hours before setting out on the bike, I was not really into it. There was nothing in Whitefield for me. I was not really getting the reason to go to Whitefield. Then I looked at the map and found this Old Airport Road which is quite a long stretch. Cycling on a long stretch is quite fun I thought and I made myself go. On the way I felt like a lone traveler, no purpose, just the journey. With that came a little Wild-West-Lone-Ranger type emotions, and I decided to go to a pub and sip my weariness away.

On these rides, there were two situations when I kept telling myself ‘Don’t be a pussy’. One was when I was going downhill without a brake and hitting quite a lot of speed, and the other was when I was going uphill and my legs yearned to give up. Bangalore has a lot of slopes one can really enjoy!

Well, that’s mostly all. I cannot really write down the exact fun that I had bike riding. So I just jotted (typed) down the events.

In my perpetual agony of being single, these emotions are the one I want to hold on to. I want to hold on to these moments where there is me and only me, and nothing else!

From Love to Bicycles

It’s been a while since I have been living in Bangalore. The occasional booze, smokes, weekend overtime-naps and movies/ series. That’s what my life in Bangalore was until very recently. Before going to that point, a little past chronicles. Back in Bengal,  my life was different. I had hangouts sitting on bamboo benches, smoking cigarettes besides the highways. For a few months I was visiting a science institute and was meeting, talking and idea-ting with girlfriend-less super geeks. I enjoyed time with people who is trying to have a girlfriend. I used to hide in my electronics workshop and built stuff to my heart’s content, and code till my brain yearned for a cigarette. I didn’t booze then.

Himalaya is a great place to discover your limits, or any mountain is. Every time I go to Himalayas, I discover something about myself. The last one was no exception. It was just before I came to Bangalore; A great Himalayan Hike.

That was the my life for a few years. Sometimes exciting, sometimes subtle. One thing remained unchanged though, I always was in Love with some girl who didn’t give a *beep* about me. The closest I got of having a girlfriend can be summarized in one sentence; She convinced me to stay in India and not going abroad for Masters study, and inevitably ditched me. During those post-ditch months, I always wished rain fell down on me and wash away my tears if not life. But I was lucky I got friends who pulled me out of the muck, pushed me on my bike and set me on the groove. After my first ditch-y experience I fell for few girls, everyone had their unique ability to shut down my brain processes except the hippo-campus. The good thing though about all these was that, however painful these may be, I always had friend to set me on to the groove again. After I came to Bangalore and started living alone (with room-mates), fell in Love head over heels and hit a titanium reinforced wall, I was forced to look deep down inside my life and my mind.

I figured that I am not overwhelmingly physically attracted to a woman. To put it more clearly, it’s more cuddles and less sex. Then I tried to figure the invariant among all the women I fell in Love with. They all exhibited some curiosity to certain scientific disciplines. They all had affinity towards enjoying and making art. Everyone of them knew about the girl who came into my life before her (provided the set of girls I am dealing with are girls who came into my life after I stepped into traditional manhood).

Then I looked into other invariant related to girls and me; I told all of them that I liked them like hell before they knew that I started programming when I was 12 years old. Every time I told a girl that I liked her, all of my friends’ feedbacks were ‘Way too fast, Dude! You killed it!”. And the most important invariant is that I fell in Love with a girl as crazily as I did with the girl before her.

Even with all these in-variants, I couldn’t find the missing part of my life.

One awesome computer science teacher once said that before solving any (computational) problem you should always look for the invariant. My first weekends in Bangalore; I usually sulked over my awful girlfriend-less life and how girls don’t bother if I am dead or alive. After that brush with computation puzzles and invariant, I tried to shed some light on my own past. Invariant he said! And on one fateful morning, while writing a JavaScript snippet, I suddenly got the final invariant. With every girl I fell in Love with, I wanted to lay on their laps and let them stroke my hair while I told them the stories of my struggles in life; I always wanted them to pity me. Contrary to the usual beliefs and suggestions from my friends, such as, “be a macho”, “don’t show your emotions” etc. etc. I realized I was drowning in addiction of self-pity. It was not difficult to figure out that self-pity is the mother of all (material) addictions. I was shocked! I never realized I was broken that deep inside and it took me 20 years just to figure that out.

I immediately knew I had to go back to the basics. The dreams of excellence and success are heavy burden. On the other hand, the dreams of pushing beyond what I can do is scary. Going along with Zen wisdom, I chose the second dream, leaving the first one. It will take time till I get the hang of this new dream.

It’s quite apparent now that perks and nails will be there. I will always feel worthless and sad when she ignores me. I will always feel like flying when she smiles at me. I will always drop everything when she needs me. I will always make stuff for her just to make her smile.  I will always plan something grand for her birthday. I will always wait for her, just to walk a few steps with her. I will always admit that I need her in my life forever. But heck, I will never hide myself just to make her like me.

It’s been a while since I have been living in Bangalore. The week long programming, reading, eating and curating food (mostly pizzas) and weekend bicycling is what my life is all about these days. I am soon to get my electronics equipment in Bangalore and I will be able to make cool stuff. I am in Love with a girl who’s smile is the best in the world. She is very moody and sometimes confuses me. She is able to make me feel awesome about myself, and sometimes hellishly bad about myself. I am into her and I am still to figure if she will ever be into me. I take these awesome bicycles for rent. Each weekend I try out a different bike. Tomorrow I am going to try out a hybrid road bike. Last weekend I tried out a full suspension mountain bike. I hear the bicycling community in Bangalore is really great! I also sometimes skateboard on the streets at night. And I never forget to wish her a ‘Good morning’ and a ‘Good Night’.

Not anymore…

Since I saw my friends’ blog post about OCD, I decided to look into OCD. It’s hard to describe what exactly is OCD unless you experience it like many other things. We all have a degree of OCD studies show.

But it’s life gets real hard when you have mental disease, and the strangely painful part of OCD is that once you are aware of OCD it feeds on that idea. And for me it’s very easy to believe right now that every problematic saddening thing I am experiencing is caused by my OCD, though I haven’t got expert advice, and I don’t really want to get psychological counselling. But probably I will need it, soon.

The real problem with a mental disease is that you cannot really overcome them with your mind, like a physical problem. It’s not “Mind over body”. It’s your mind that is in trouble. A redemption would be to get your “mind over substance”.

It’s hard to let go once a thought gets into a loop. If you were affected by OCD, it’s an obsession which you wouldn’t like after a while, and it will feed on your energy  killing you from inside, making you more pessimistic every moment, and probably it keeps going until you become a stone (I doubt anyone with OCD can ever become stone), or a grumpy old man full with hatred and misery.

It’s quite benevolent when it comes to Love. I don’t exactly know if my OCD is the cause of my exceptional Love for women but I fall in love real quick, very frequently and obviously slip, fall and crash. I question myself regarding the reason for my nature, and I don’t really get an answer. I never ever get an answer. NOT A SINGLE F**KING ANSWER! And if Love is holding this world together why it is so hard to find?????

It’s like climbing a rock wall, you suddenly start slipping slowly and you clamber for rock hold to keep to in place. That is exactly how it feels for me. I clamber of human contact, human connection, trust and affection, to hold me in place. I simply don’t know how to be pleased with myself. I have sustained enough, it must have been a by mental block now, every trauma related to Love. I should have changed…

“DON’T BE A PUSSY” I tell myself, over and over and over again.    

Long back after my first big crash, I chose not to change. Not to lose my heightened affection toward human connection and Love. I will not change, because of some lollipop. I will learn and I will rise one day…

 

The secret of my lollipops

I have been falling in Love since was in puberty, like everyone else. But never it went as I hoped it would be. It’s always a big disappointment for me. Falling in love, getting rejected. The endless loop of pain. I used to think of each episodes of Love as my bullet-wounds. Scars that makes me hotter. It doesn’t feel like that any-more.

Each episode in this loop slowly transforms into a lollipop, which I am able to lick and enjoy sarcastically. It’s like licking a deep cut and tasting blood but with a hint of sugar; I have seven lollipops, each with unique flavours which I can savour. And each of my flavoured lollipops is enjoyed with specific set of soundtracks.

There is absolutely no point in describing the lollipops’ taste because it would appear same to you, unless you taste it yourself. So I would restrain myself from describing it. Here is something you can taste though, list of songs that I play while enjoy my lollipops. Totally un-ordered.

ENJOY!

The Last Cigarette

It’s been a while I have been trying to smoke my last cigarette. The transition is slower than I thought but I will eventually do it. I will eventually break whatever my smoking habit I have left within.

But the purpose of the last cigarette was remarkable for me. My last cigarette was a celebration of the a silver lining, celebration of a hope. A hope of having a soothed heart and inspiring challenges that will push me to be a better man. As it turns out, inspiring challenges doesn’t really do well with a soothed & calm heart. At least not now. I do hope it turns out as like Alex Honnold stays completely at peace with the universe when he climbs bare rocks with only his chalk-bag and his climbing shoe. He says if you are getting a rush, that means something went terribly wrong.

What this is all about you may as well ask. My heart needs another one.

“And I’ve felt this emptiness before/ But all the times that I’ve been broken/ I still run right back for more” – Learn My Lesson, Daughtry

Okay, I will just cut the crap. I want a girlfriend, otherwise I cannot handle this “falling in love” anymore. It’s been few times I have crashed. At time I feel like Santiago (read Alchemist), who never gives up faith. Maybe because I have pessimistic components inside me that works like this, or I am just a joke of genetic shuffles and randomness, I simply don’t seem to learn my lesson. I seem to have everything in place, and still then I don’t learn and I don’t get the soothing calmness in my heart. I keep falling in love over and over again and as per the past, it never went well.

“Tonight the sunset means so much/ The one thing that you know you’ll never touch/ Like the feeling, the real thing/ I reach out for that sweet dream/ But somehow the darkness wakes me up” – Learn My Lesson, Daughtry

Sure it is painful and sometimes I really feel like “Why the f**k I don’t learn?”. But then again that doesn’t make me learn or that doesn’t soothe my hear. Though that doesn’t really satisfies my need of silver lining for the last cigarette.

I believe the woman I  have fallen in love with will be my girlfriend pretty soon and after that I won’t need a f**king cigarette or a glass of vodka to drug me out of reality…

I have been believing this for a few years, since my first days at college, and sure it never went well, so obviously I have doubts on my beliefs, doubts on my own silver lining. But this is keeping me walking and I am pretty sure when I will have lost everything along the way I will be free, free to do anything. Or I might stumble upon some golden rock.

But in a way I playing my LIFE in legendary mode. Maybe this is my challenge, my path to salvation, my way of being awesome. Not all people will see awesomeness in sorrow, but I think I do. So my last cigarette goes to my awesome  & sad & (really happy at times) life.

Acute Soul Sickness

Acute Soul Sickness. I got this word from the game SuperBrothers – Sword and Sorcery. The game is superb. But that is not exactly the reason why I am writing this post.

This post is about the Sickness. I think I found the exact word for my sickness. It’s a acute soul sickness. As a matter of fact, this may sound uncommon, but it’s actually a pretty common sickness these days. I see a lot of people having a soul sickness. It’s not acute for most of them, but there are acute cases too, relatively rare.

The answer to the question “what is soul sickness?” or “what are the symptoms of soul sickness?” is probably self explanatory, so I will just skip that part. Lets, umm, talk about my sickness. We will start by reflecting on my life. I am a web-developer. I write code, wrangle code and try to be poetic about writing code all the time. Being poetic about code, I will write it somewhere else sometimes. I do travel, I like to travel, I like outdoors and I also like to photograph stuff. Other than that I have a tendency to be logical and rational and traditionally scientific about almost everything. And I also indulge drawing and reading etc. I do have a expansive set of reading, mostly non-fiction, which helps my tendency to be geeky at times. Other than that I a lot of stuff that gives me pleasure. My problem is I don’t have a girlfriend. I lost the shyness in talking fresh and straight a while ago. So I admit pretty easily I am tremendously frustrated regarding the romantic side of my life, which is stale and empty and always have a imaginary character involved. I also admit if I were a 100% pure outdoors person, I might not be as frustrated as I am now.

After reading the previous passage I think you have an idea of me as a person. Now I am going tell you how I am dealing with this problem and how I came to the solution. First of all, there are no solutions. I just live with it, but the thing that is worth mentioning is that I simply accepted it. Irony was that I had to pretend that I am cool in hope that someone might turn up and accept me (I am talking about a girlfriend). And then through pretending I realized something a while back. Something stark hit me while recollecting some conversations with some of my friends, acquaintances etc. A lot of people after going through some relationship hitches change themselves deliberately or keeps trying to change themselves to someone who doesn’t really care about being with a person of opposite sex. The thing that hit me was “Why give up hope?”. I think I have the best solution for my sickness. The very best ever. It’s a matter of choice, regarding how you choose to live your life.

My solution:

I simply keep up my hopes, and I keep falling in love, I be optimistic, I do stupid things. Sure it’s somewhat painful sometimes, but I am pretty sure I will be able to love a woman one day. That’s one-of-a-kind bad-ass if you ask me! 🙂