Monday, October 5, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Day 9: Climb down to Lekhni
The next morning we were a little bit better. I had had dinner the previous night. It was my first meal after the breakfast on Day7 at Maylee. Surprising thing is that I never got hungry anytime. Although it was still snowing, the visibility was much better. This was the day to climb down. And damn, it was a steep descent. And the snow made it slippery. I must mention Rakesh here, who was finding it very difficult to get down. He was slipping every 5 steps. Soon enough he stopped getting up and started sliding down instead of walking down. It was quite funny and we still make fun of him sometimes J As we slowly climbed down, snow changed to fleet and then to rain. I must confess, by the time we reached Lekhni, I was in pretty bad shape again.
The camp at Lekhni was much better than the rest. We had a wooden house here with 2 floors. You can’t imagine how good it feels to get into a wooden house after sleeping in tents for so long and in such terrible conditions. Once inside we started discussing about what we were going to do with the extra 4 days that we had. Rakesh had already booked his train tickets to return soon after the trek. Santa and Ramesh were also in a mood to go back immediately. So they tried to prepone their plane tickets. But they found out that it would be too expensive to do so. All things apart, none of us were in a mood for another trek [as we had planned]. We decided that we’ll doing some site seeing around Manali. As the night drew closer we realised that there was not enough room for all of us in the house. So I decided to join some LNUP guys in a tent nearby.
Till that night I never really interacted much with the LNUP guys. But that night there was no one from Adventura in that tent apart from me. Shailendra Barange was always friendly with me throughout the trek and he started talking to me. Soon enough all the LNUP guys were interviewing me! They would shoot questions one after the other in a kind off ragging way. I was not the least bit intimidated though. For one all these guys were younger than me and also there was Barange who was taking my side. Once they were done questioning me, we actually started talking. Not some useless chatter, but actual serious talk. As expected there were a lot of stories about the girls they liked. I was surprised to hear them talk so openly to me. It was as if I was chatting with my college buddies.
Day 10: Back to base camp
Next day it was a short trek down to ‘Aloo Maidan’ from where we boarded a bus back to Babeli. Once back in Babeli, we cleaned up and were out in the evening enjoying the masala papads again. There was river rafting going on in the river right in front of us, but we were specifically told not to go there. But then ‘Baba’ came to us with a friend of his and said they were 4 people short to go rafting. Ramesh and I agreed but we could not find anyone else. So, the four of us went rafting. I was rafting for the first time and I enjoyed it. There were not many rapids though. But the fun element of it kind of fades when u get wet and it starts getting cold. We left the base camp the next day and headed off to Manali
Roaming around in Manali:
- Roamed around Manali in the evenings (eating jalebies)
- Visited the Hidimba Temple
- Visited Snow point
- Visited Vasisth.
- Did paragliding. A jump off a cliff of 3500 feet! (This was the highlight of the trip for me)
- Visited Roerich Memorial
- Visited Naggar castle
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Day 5: Hora Thatch
Next morning was crisp and sunny. There were honey bees buzzing around the apple trees and I managed to get some pollination shotsJ Soon enough we packed up and headed to Hora thatch, our next camp. Again there were a lot of stops on the way. One thing that I noticed on the way was that there were some huge trees fallen. Before I could wonder why I saw the reason. The bases of some trees were set on fire! There were many of these huge trees with their stems smouldering. That would eventually weaken the tree and it would fall down. It was a sad sight. I wonder if we can do something about this... If you have any ideas to stop this, please let me know. By the early evening we reached camp Hora. Some went for a dip in the nearby waterfall. I could not even dream of getting into the water there at that temperature! The camp site was a small clearing in the jungle. Played frisbee for a while and then some cricket. Meanwhile there were stories going on between Adventura gang, the bong gang and the teachers of LNUP. Stories eventually shifted to jokes and then to riddles. Total time pass! Then it was chai and dinner. Camp fire followed soon after. The LNUP guys were ready with performances. One of the bong babu also sang a song. And boy he was good! What a voice! We never knew he could sing so well.
After the camp fire when most people settled into their tents, we [the Adventura gang] decided to spend some time outside. We got out blankets and settled on a rock in front of the tents. Cold, quiet and peaceful. It’s one of those memories that stay with you. Just what Sumaji wanted the whole trek to be like, I guess. But with the LNUP guys with us, most of the trek was a noisy affair! I for one did not mind the noise. It just reminded of my college days. Damn I miss those days. Now here’s some real motivation to do MS!
Day 6: Off to Maylee
Next morning was bright, sunny and beautiful. The light through the canopy was looked amazing. There some honeybees hovering near a tree and I wanted to shoot one in flight. After about 20 minutes of waiting, one of the blind shots paid off. At the moment I thought it was a very special shot. Later I realized it’s pretty common L. Went back to the camp for a quick breakfast and we were off on our way to Maylee. The trek proceeded at a lazy pace. The views got better and the snow peaks now appeared much closer. On the way we also came across a hashish field. By about 12 we had reached an opening where we stopped for lunch. There was plenty of time since we were close to Maylee camp. Some of us played Frisbee while some enjoyed the omlets, chai and maggie in the omnipresent yellow tent. Rakesh being an avid reader had got 4 books with him. Since he could not carry all of them on the trek, I had asked him if I could borrow one. He had graciously agreed and I had chosen ‘Anne Frank’s diary’. It was now coming in handy because most of the gang dozed off after lunch J
After trekking for a while from the lunch place we got to our first patch of snow. I had never touched snow in my life. So even though it was a bit muddy because of people treading on it, I dived right in. I wanted to take fistfuls of snow and throw it people. But in all the excitement I tried to grab the snow bare handed without gloves. Instantly all the excitement vanished. I quietly went to the place where everyone had put their bags down. Took off my bag, put on the gloves and then went back J
A short while later, we arrived at Maylee. Maylee was the most beautiful camp site of all. It was at the border of the tree line on the mountain. Behind the camp was the canopy of trees, where as in front lay the bare mountain covered with grass. We were just roaming around when a shower of fleet came down. Slowly it turned to snowfall. It was beautiful. What a place to see snowfall for the first time. Once the snowfall stopped we all gathered around the small fire in front of the camp site. I thought to myself ‘if I have 10 days to live, I wouldn’t mind spending 5 days here’.
Day 7: Climb to Dora
The next morning got up early to get some pictures. I wanted to get the reflection of the mountains and the sun on my sunglasses. Tried it but could not get a decent shot. I was too late and the sun was too bright for it. I had to wake up at dawn at Dora. I had come all this way hoping to get the pictures of the changing colours of the Himalayas in the early morning hours.
I distinctly remember that day about 15 years back. We were on our way to Badrinath. We had stayed at Joshimatt overnight. My dad had woke me up in the wee hours of the morning and we both watched the snow peaks as they went through different shades of blue, orange, red and golden yellow before they finally became white. All of this happened in a matter of minutes. We did not bother taking pictures. We just stood there and watched. I just wanted to see that magic again. But I missed my chance at Maylee and did not want to miss it at Dora.
On the way from Maylee to Dora, the mountains are almost bare. This makes it very scary since you can see all the way down the steep slope that you tread. I was not comfortable with heights to begin with. And I could not bear cold. I just realized Himalaya was not the ideal place for me to trek. There was snow along the way right from the beginning. We came to a place where there was nice fresh snow and we were given some time there to play. We could slide on the slope there [the guides allowed us knowing there are no jagged rocks underneath]. I never thought sliding on snow can be so much fun! But after you slide a few times, my clothes started getting wet and filled up with snow. But this was where we played in snow to our hearts content.
When we reached the lunch point that day, we came to know that the previous batch was just around the corner. Then some of them actually came down to meet us. It was a quick meet up and they were back on their way again. During lunch the weather kept getting colder and colder. Also we were wearing canvas shoes which were completely wet and partly filled with snow. My fingers and toes had gone numb and I was in no mood for lunch. Had some dates before we started. The moment we started from the lunch point we could see a huge cloud coming at us. Soon enough it started to snow and visibility dropped to about a meter. We came around a slope then reached a point where we had to slide down. There was no way we could walk down there. But at the foot of the slide there were the guides standing catching us as we came down. When I slid down I kept shouting at the guides to get out of the way but they caught me anyway. When I came around the next turn I saw why they did it. There was a cliff a short distance from the slide.
From that point on things started getting rough. The weather was really closing in. We could not see a thing. My shoes were filled with snow and my fingers were frozen to the point that I could not make a fist. After a while I could not feel my toes and that’s when started getting worried. I somehow managed to keep walking but then the guides told us that the camp site was just ahead and went back to get the people who were left behind. We could not see anything and did not know which way to go. Walking in a snow storm is difficult, but standing still is next to impossible. Finally when the guides came they took us to the campsite about 100 meters from where we were standing! And in those 100 meters I fell some 10 times because I had lost my dexterity completely. When we reached the camp, we were one tent short. So we had to take the tent where the blankets were stored. I was never so happy to get into a blanket before. But even after getting into a blanket it took me about an hour and a half to stop shivering. The dinner was prepared and brought to our tents. But I was not I a shape to get up and take it. I wasn’t hungry anyways. No camp fire either. Everybody just turned in for the night. I had dumped all my wet clothes and shoes in a corner and never thought about them until next morning.
Day 8: Saurkund Lake and the Saurkundi Pass
Next morning we woke up to a complete whiteout. We could not see anything outside the tents. It was snowing heavily. Tapas Chakraborthy, one of the bangali babus, was a camp leader on this trek some time before and he suggested we not trek in the kind of weather we had. He was a very experienced person who had been on mountaineering expeditions and he told us we did not have the equipment to get through that weather. Vishalda was also apprehensive of trekking in that snowstorm. So they called up base camp to warn them of the situation and stop the trek for the day. But people at the base camp were not ready to listen to any of us. They were adamant on having us leave the camp since the next group would be on its way to Dora. We had no choice but to leave.
When we started, Vishalda called the whole Adventura group and asked us to stay together. We all agreed. To begin with I walked with them. But eventually I could not walk at that pace anymore. I was wearing the same wet clothes, shoes and socks. My monkey cap was wet. So I had to use a towel to cover my head instead. Also my waterproof gloves were also wet. So no gloves either. I stuck my hands in my pocket and marched on. I felt like running. Although I hadn’t eaten much, I wasn’t feeling weak or hungry. I guess it was the adrenaline kicking in. Once I got into a rhythm, I just kept going. For the most part I was right in the front with the guide. At one point the guide asked us to wait back and drew a line with his ice axe a short distance in front of us. He asked us not cross that line. When we reached the line he told us that it was a the edge of the Saurkund Lake. Then we saw it. It was a huge depression between the mountains completely covered with snow. And we were standing right on the edge of it. A step across the line and we would plunge down to the lake. I could imagine how majestic it would look in clear weather. But we could barely see it in the snowfall. We kept moving from there on to reach the lunch point. By this time I had lost all sensation in my feet. My fingers were also frozen and I was finding it difficult to put them in my pocket. Without gloves every slide was a struggle. When we slide, we use our elbows and feet as breaks. With my feet stiff I was not able to control my slides. And when I started to tumble, I had to use my hand to balance. With my hands already frozen it felt like they were getting crushed when I touched ice.
At lunch point another guide was to take us to our next camp; Longa thatch. But when we reached the lunch point, the second guide hadn’t come yet. The first guide refused to move any further and told us to wait till the other guide came along. The wind was blowing pretty hard and it was snowing heavily. There was no way we could wait in that weather. After a lot of convincing, the guide agreed to take us further. I don’t remember much from this point on. Just that we reached Longa Thatch by which time my knuckles had turned blue. Once we reached the camp, it was big relief. When we began from Dora, we were not sure if we would make it to Longa. Eventually my fingers started moving! I was going to come back in one piece! Nobody was in a mood for any activity outside the tents. Inside the tents we were getting bored. That’s when style bhai [Jayanth] took out his cell phone which had enough songs and videos to entertain us for hours. He even had some sort of gadgetry to charge his cell phone! I don’t know how he did it but judging by the weight of his bag he must have been carrying a small motorcycle battery in it.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Place: Terminal, Infosys
Time:4:45 pm (tea time)
There was a discussion going on about our project. And Abhishek comes out with this gem:
Q: How do you guys deploy your code?
Abhishek: We take code from live and compare it with our local copy. Then we take the live code again and compare a second time. Then we merge the local copy with live and deploy.
Q: But don't you have any version control tool?
Abhi: We do. But you never know... :)
This was followed by more anecdotes from our beloved Baburao(current PM).
We were laughing non stop for about half an hour!
Sunday, August 30, 2009
To begin with, Saurkundi was not the trek I had in mind. I had seen pictures of Ladakh somewhere and ever since I wanted to go there. It was only after trekking with Adventura that I thought it was actually possible. But then in December of 2008 I found out that October to December was the best time to go Ladakh. Also on one of the Adventura treks, I heard about Sar Pass [actually Kedar mentioned it at least 20 times]. From all that I heard, Sar Pass was a must do trek. When I later asked Vishalda if we could go to Sar Pass he told me that they were already planning a trip to Saurkundi Pass, a trek very similar to Sar Pass, and were about to announce it. I said I was in. Little did I know what I was getting into...
Train to Delhi:
About 2 months later, we boarded a train to Delhi. I was travelling by a train after about 15 years! Yeah. Last time I was 8 years old when I had travelled by a train. As expected, the train ride was fun [very very hot though]. We had a few army men for company and they had taught me ‘rummy’ by the time the train reached Delhi. Ramesh and Siddharth were in a different compartment and rarely did they come out of their compartment. Later I discovered that there was a particularly pretty girl there and both these guys were busy talking to her. I still don’t understand how I did not notice her after going there so many times! L
We reached Delhi at about 10:30 am. From there everybody headed to Gujarathi Samaj where we were supposed to stay till the evening. Meanwhile I took an auto to Kashmiri Gate to meet Sudhiranna. From there we took the metro to Kannhaiah Nagar, to Sudhiranna’s house. By evening Sudhiranna dropped me to Gujarathi Samaj.
Bus to Babeli:
Got a bus to Kullu right from Gujarathi Samaj. After an overnight journey we reached Babeli, our base camp, 7 kms from Kullu. There were about 15-20 tents pitched with a shamiyana at one end and rest rooms at the other. There was Beas river flowing across the road. All in all, it was a nice place with pleasant weather. We had 3 days of acclimatization. On the first day we had the whole day to ourselves. There was nothing planned; this was a rest day. We settled into our tents and by evening we headed to kullu for some last minute shopping. Everything I had brought from Bangalore ranging from hunter shoes to thermals was available in Kullu for about half the price. So much for coming well prepared.
Kullu is nice place and surprisingly it was exactly how i thought it would be. We branched out to finish with our shopping and since I already had almost everything i needed, i strolled around for a while. I went to the Gurudwara then to a small tea shop[it was already getting cold]. The shop was pretty small with walls completely covered with yellowing newspapers. And there was some old hindi song playing in the back ground. The valley, the cold weather, the hot tea and the music; it was just perfect! It is amazing how music can add so much to the mood.
Along with us there were a bunch of college kids from ‘LNUP’ who had this trek as a part of their curriculum. And more of them arrived that evening. At night there was camp fire, YHAI style [Youth Hostel Association of India], i.e. a few bulbs instead of fire, in the interest of protecting the environment of course. At camp fire there were supposed to be entertainment programs performed. And as an incentive the camp officials would give us hot Bournvita at the end. The incentive is quite a big one considering that the temperature reaches below 10° celsius at night and we have to sleep in tents. We were not worried about coming up with performances since the LNUP guys were more than happy to perform. On the first day, among other things there was a ‘Mauritius Dance’ by LNUP student. There was this guy who provided music with a cup and spoon and a girl who would dance to it. It was awesome.
Day 2 started with early morning exercise. Then we had to do the acclimatization walk. We started from base camp and climbed a nearby mountain to reach a temple and from there on moved to the peak. At the temple we got a look at the stone slabs that are used as roofing. It was just an easy climb with a few photo ops on the way. And that was all for the day. By evening we were free again. And again we were out strolling around. There were some good hotels around the base camp. Not the luxurious ones, but those small ones that are usually found in small towns. Evening programs included a play on Ramayan. Jatayu and Laxman used to smoke beedi, Ram was happy that Ravan had kidnapped sita and Ravan was begging Ram to take her back. Hats off to the guy who came up with the idea. There was also a dance performance.
Day 3 sounded very interesting with Rock climbing and rappling scheduled. But we had a fair idea of what it was going to be like since Kedar had already told us. The rock for rapelling was on the slopes of a mountain behind our base camp. A short walk and we were there. As expected it was a rock of about 20 feet. After the initial instructions it was a long wait for our turn since only one person could go at a time. Finally when my turn came i was done in under 30 secs!
After lunch we went to a similar rock somewhere nearby and had to again wait for our turn to do the 30 secs of climbing! So, the whole day we were actively involved for about 1 minute! As usual we went out to eat. By now we knew what was good in each hotel. One for masala papad, one for tupka and one for pakoda. We packed our bags for the trek, locked up our extra luggage and were good to go.
Day 4: Destination Segli
After a bus ride to the starting point the trek finally began. We were all geared up and rearing to go. But before long we all had to stop for a break. And then again. It was more resting than walking. We were making our way through a villages and pine forest. Unlike western ghats, there was almost no under growth here and walking on the soft ground of fallen pine leaves was very pleasant. By noon we reached a place where there was a small yellow tent where you could get a juice of some local flower, tea, eggs or Maggie. The guide asked us to rest there for 2 hrs since we were quite close to the next camp and the camp leader would not allow us in until 3:30. This hardly qualified as a trek since we were resting most of the time. Vishalda was restless. He said we could cover the whole trek easily in less than half the time. There was no reason why we could not. But we had to stick to the schedule. So we went along. Reached Segli camp at about 4 pm. The camp there was set up in an apple orchard. There was very little space around since the tenst were set up on a very steep slope. There were 2 steps made into the mountain each wide enough to hold a tent and a narrow walk way. When i opened the flap of the tent towards the valley it was sheer slope from the very edge of the tent! Quite a view it had with a valley and mountains on either side. There were a couple of houses close by. I went in to charge my batteries in one of them. This house also had the old hindi songs playing. It is then that i realised that they were all listening to radio! That is why there were these songs playing in the tea shop in Kullu and all the village homes that we passed by. Having lived in Bangalore radio to me was FM which played the latest songs. Back home in karkala where we had no FM, i used to listen to music on my comp or on a CD player. I had completely forgotten about ‘All India Radio’!
The yellow tent with maggie and eggs was there at the camp site. After some tea I went around exploring the place for a while. Now that we had climbed higher, the view around was getting better. The snow capped mountains were around us and the fading light brought some amazing colours to the scene. I was wondering what would it be like at the top. That night the camp fire was in the dark with our battery operated torches as the only source of light.
- Got a laptop
- My first project is officially over
- Cleared certification (infy internal)
So here goes:
Some girl in the train:
Monday, February 23, 2009
Saturday, February 21, 2009
After all this and a round of photos, we headed down. Again looking at the steep slope there were times when I was wondering what I was doing here. Was very happy reach the road down. from there on we decided to go to Abbey falls but could not find a jeep to get to it. Instead we went to Kalhatti falls. Small one. Actually these small falls are fun. They are easier to reach and you can stand directly under the falls! Nice way to round up the trip. The ride back to bangalore was fun. But somehow we were not as together a group as were in the first trek. But hey, it was a nice trek. There was Dinesh with us. A very good photographer. You can see his pics here.