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Hampta Pass Trek

Yet another trek, yet another story, yet another experience.

I wanted to go for Great Lakes trek in Kashmir followed by a trip to Sonmarg, Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Srinagar. But YHAI canceled the trek and i had to change my plans.

So the next option was to pick another trek. Hampta Pass it was to be. Read a little on it and it was mostly said it was a very simple trek and a route oft-traveled. I was amidst very busy work weeks coupled with fever and cold. I had apprehensions whether to really go for the trek or not! My dad had already made plans of going from Manali to Leh. The other option was to skip the trek and only go for the Manali -Leh leg.

After all the flipping, I finally decided to go for the trek.

I was supposed to fly on Monday afternoon flight. After a last minute rush to complete my work, i managed to leave home and catch the flight on time. Just before getting into the flight, Divya & I decided to eat a paneer roll.. only to find out later that we were flying Jet which serves food! Add to it, it was delicious noodles with veggies which I couldn't skip. After all that and some more drama at the airport, we reached Kashmere gate from where our bus was slated to leave. The wait there was agonizing with no signs of our bus. Finally it did arrive. The avomen tablet ensured that I slept like a log.. Missed the first sighting of the Beas - the river I am totally in love with. But as we entered Manali, i woke up to scout for the 15 miles basecamp. We got off at the bascamp a few 100m past the gate. The 100m is of significance, as we had Divya's cycle bundled up in a huge rectangular box (which she had carried from Pune till here!). Dev, a fellow trekker saw the 'damsels in distress' and helped us out. (Stopped a passerby on scooter and asked him to carry it!).

Finally we reached the basecamp and checked-in. It was quite sunny by the time we reached. After throwing our bags into the tents, we decided to step out. A short walk around the Beas and we came back for lunch; after that we decided to go to Manali town. This was my second visit and I really didn't care much abt it.. But the Mall Road and its beauty can't be missed - each time you visit the beautiful trees and mountains on the side are hard to miss and admired. After some road side shopping and walking around, we came back to the basecamp.

The next day was acclimatization. We made new friends. I could write a whole new post on it, but will skip for now. Acclimatization confirmed that i could trek. But it also confirmed there was something wrong with my digestive system. I vomited and felt sick after we were back (thrice that day). The paneer roll at Pune airport had upset my tummy more than I could admit a day before embarking on a trek! And then I even slipped and fell. It was raining all along and it didn't help. The tent was infested with insects and frogs, spiders, earthworms were all our guests. Well, I did sleep finally and the next morning, I was much better.

We started with a bus ride to a place around upper Manali. The views were breathtaking all along. Then started the trek. The first day is completely uphill and I haven't felt so drained out on the first day of the trek! Though I wasn't sick any more, i was exhausted with all the uphill climb. The drizzling all through made matters worse as the humidity was up almost all the time. We reached the lunch spot which was the most beautiful place ever! Yes, the exhaustion probably made me think so. but it was indeed beautiful.

After a quick lunch and some more getting to know fellow trekkers sessions, we started ahead. This was the last leg (and I walked with full gutso with all the lunch in my tummy) and we reached the next camp.

Can't put it in words the beauty of this place. I can never forget the beauty we were surrounded with as the fog wrapped us OR the sun rise the next morning. The golden rays pushing their way through the clouds only to make it look like a golden mass floating above the mountains is a sight to behold and i am one of the few lucky ones to have witnessed it.

We started out the next morning to the next destination.. It was a quite beautiful morning and having witnessed the sunrise, i was all the more bright and raring to go. Also had heard that the trek today wasn't uphill as it was the day earlier. The walk was a long winding one. We crossed a dam on the way and had a lot of chit chat with folks thanks to the lesser taxing path. That's one thing which is absolute need of treks - to mix a steady climb with a simple path - helps you to get back to breath and also get to know folks around. The first stop over for the day was a small tea shack. It was muddy everywhere due to the last night's rain so we couldn't find any place to sit. But throwing the heavy bags and having a cup of tea is always very relaxing. Also, what waited ahead was unknown then!

Just 2 mins ahead from the tea-shack and the real trek of the day beckoned. It was just too much off a slushy and slippery path and slightly uphill at that. Balancing required a lot of concentration and I don't remember much about the surroundings until the path ended and opened up to a beautiful green meadow like surroundings. With mountains on either side, river flowing by the side, the green bed of grass looked beautiful. Here we stopped for lunch and tea. The next leg of the trek was on the other side of the river. A simple walk across the fields and then we reached another beautiful river which we had to cross. The river was actually a waterfall from in between the mountains which in the rains had become swollen enough to become almost a river and flow beyond. The crossing over it, with water flowing beneath didnt look easy at all. Especially now it had started drizzling and the crossing was slightly slippery. Reached the other side! The tents were put up there amidst sludge. Divya was behind clicking pics and hadn't reached as yet. While waiting for Divya inside the tent, it started drizzling. Once she was back, we decided to walk upto the rocks behind the tents. We perched ourselves on the rock with the raincheaters on. As we sat there, it poured down further until we decided to come down to the tents. With sludge all around, mist due to rains and the sun setting in, there wasn't anything to do but call it a night.

The next morning started with rains. The kitchen helpers were late resulting into late breakfast and packed lunch. We eventually left an hour late from the designated time and started the trek. It was raining all through and the road was uphill. We had to cross multiple small waterfalls. A single wrong step can cost a lot and though at the end it is a great feeling, while trekking its just too arduous concentrating. Further up the heavy rains turned into a drizzle giving some respite. As we trekked higher, we had to cross a huge rocky patch which has water flowing from above - making it quite perilous. The oldest uncle in the group decided to cross it over first while we watched him with bated breath. I crossed over soon after that and was happy to have got done with it. There was more trekking that followed and I was really hungry by then awaiting the lunch spot. But it was not to be so. The 'attraction' of the day was crossing another huge waterfall which was flowing off a flat piece of rock and down into the valley. The rains had increased the intensity and the water was knee deep and super chilled. We formed a human chain and crossed it. The water was intensely numbing and the pain in the legs were unbearable to say the least. Needed a lot of massage before it felt better. We broke for lunch after this. Post lunch, i would have expected a shorter trek to the tents. But it was along one through a lot of sludge and also steep in places. Finally, we were at Balu ka Ghera.

I just love reaching the tents early as it gives plenty of time to explore the place. However with incessant rains at every camp, it was impossible to do anything 'fun'. Here aunty fell sick and most of the time after this was spent making her feel better. It didn't help any further that it was still drizzling all the time and the tent was amidst water and sludge with very sparse area where one could stand and stare at the vast beauty surrounding us. Again we had to sleep early.

The next morning was again a cold and wet one. This was the day we had to cross Hampta Pass. The trek was a long one through plains, rocks.. we were walking alongside the river most times. It seemed a nver ending one. We finally reached lunch point and by then i felt a mild headache. Felt like AMS was finally catching up. Found out that aunty had fallen quite ill on the way and without help she wouldn't make further. The team decided to walk along with her. The trek had now slowed down considerably. We rubbed her feet now and then and ensured she took few steps at a time and rested. More than an hour and we had just moved few feet further. The porters literally decided to take the matter into their own hands or their own backs! They carried her instead of nearly dragging her up. Due to the extremely slow walk up, many of the group were now feeling sick - exposed to the bitter cold and altitude. By the time we reached the Hampta pass top, most of us didn't feel the 'joy' of being there. We quickly shook up and clicked pics.. The beauty around us and the glaciers brought us back to senses and reminded us the purpose of this beautiful journey. It was a short stop there and we had to descend. The descent was steep, long and very painful on the legs. The tents could be seen far off and were like a spec in the vast land of nothingness. We climbed down the long winding rocky path and after what seemed like ages we finally reached the tent. Aunty had been brought down by the porters and she was already in the tent. She was feeling quite sick by the looks of her.

This place was Seagoru. There was a river flowing by the tents and there were mountains all sides.. The snow peaked caps played peakaboo with clouds and these were moments to behold and cherish. Unfortunately, with autny being sick, we couldn't enjoy much and soon we had to settle in and sleep. At night I woke up to aunty calling out divya for help. I woke up with a start and looked for my torch. She was complaining of nausea and all other symptoms which indicated AMS. I rushed out of the tent to call the camp leader. He woke up with a start and got off the tent and looked up and uttered 'look at the stars, such a beautiful night'. I was startled with the sudden observation given all that i could think of was aunty. But in hindsight I was witness to the beautiful night thanks to him. In all the mad rush i had forgotten to stop and enjoy the beauty around me. After waking up Murli for help to administer oxygen to aunty, i went and slept.

The next morning was super chilly and the last day of descent. Also, we had to cross a river. Yes, yet again. It was decided that aunty was to be taken on a stretcher as she had refused to stay back and also refused to walk. So be it!

The day started with crossing the river. This time the river was much much more painful although there was no scare of flowing away or being washed away in the valley with a wrong step. However, that was more than compensated with the chill that hit my bones and it took ages for me to feel okay thereafter. The downhill trek was a rather simple but long one. With aunty on a stretcher being carried by fellow trekkers, it turned out to be very strenuous for the boys. Once again missed out the scenery and the moments to stop and soak in. We reached the waiting bus quite late.. The route from Chatra to Manali was beautiful. Absolutely breathtaking views and enroute Rohtang, it's quite a paisa vasool route. Most of us were tired though. We finally reached the basecamp 15 miles. And thereon we parted to our respective 'next' destinations..

Manali - Led roadtrip with my parents awaited. Next post.

Don't breathe...

Went into it thinking it's a horror movie. Which it wasn't. Came out terrified, though.

A very very well made movie with very few dialogues and tense moments which kept me on the edge. The number of times my hand muffled the scream and surprise are countless, perhaps.

Will not delve into details, but a must watch. Is just too beautiful how just visuals, sound effects can be used effectively to make an awesome thriller!


That time of the year...

Last 3 weeks have been super tiring.

And now its that time of the year when i go out of reach. Yes, adios folks.

And when you have so much to do..

... and you do nothing.

The weekend that was...

Reposting an old one which i stumbled on while searching for my post on Serena W (which i didnt find/maybe didn't write!)

Originally posted by srao at The weekend that was...
CSK won the IPL finals. Dhoni proved once again, he is the captain cool who we always dreamt of, who we always wanted and who we have today.

Ideally I should be writing about the finals itself. But then there is so much of it going around everywhere.. so let me digress. It is going to be about ME. My journey in the world of cricket..

As ridiculous as it may seem I understood tennis even before I understood cricket. I saw my favorite Steffi win matches, actually realise her and my dreams for her, too - that of winning the Golden slam. I caught onto cricket only at the age of 13. When Pakistan won the cup in '92, I just watched it as a game won by the neighbouring country, who we are not exactly pally with. When we defeated Pak in '96 WC game, I watched it like a girl possessed and obsessed by cricket. Meanwhile Steffi had moved onto give the younger brigade a chance. Hingis was at her prime. But Steffi was still the best for me. I still remember the match between Steffi and Hingis, where Steffi won the finals with Hingis throwing tantrums - yes the French Open. Cricket victories still remained elusive. Be it India tour of SA during my prelims, or India tour of WI during my 10th board, I have watched it all. Just to see India struggle, lose many and win a few. '99 WC was no different. No respite. Then came 2003, where Ganguly showed that the nation could dream and even achieve as a team. We came that close to winning but lost the finals. But our team got a winners welcome. And at one point, I even thought - would we ever win the Cup? Ganguly had been the best - and yet the victory eluded us. 2007 performance was so dismal that I lost interest in cricket. When Dhoni was appointed captain, I was shocked, surprised and I laughed at the audacity of the selectors. When we won the T20 WC under Dhoni, I was again shocked, surprised and awed by him! Amidst our TrendMicro deadline, Vishal and I had taken 20 mins off to go to cafeteria and watch the last winning runs. But Dhoni didn't catch my fascination as the "awesome" captain until the 2010 IPL season. Until then I dismissed him as purely "lucky" captain.
But the 2010 season, the way he marshalled his troupe without Hayden's contribution was awesome. That I was covering IPL for emerglobal helped. I watched matches with more interest and observed captains and cricketers with a different view. There was something about this icy cool captain that one just couldn't ignore. It went beyond cricket, it went beyond his contribution, his wicket keeping- it was his ability to extract the best out of people. Being a lead for nearly 4+ yrs, I have seen how much it takes to get the best out of people especially when the situation demands. And he did it at such a BIG level with such ease. Was it really luck? How can you have luck to change someone else's destiny too? 2010 CL victory and I knew, if someone could win us the cup it had to be him. Or else I wouldnt see a WC victory in my lifetime. And it came out true. At a time, when most people are cynical about cricket, Dhoni time and again proves that with a just about average team, he can bring joy to the millions of Indians. The millions, who are starved of sporting heroes and have for the last 2 decades just idolised Tendulkar for all the "individual" records that he has broken and set in this "team" game. And now, cricket goes beyond that individual. It goes beyond me and you, it is about us. Thanks Dhoni, for showing us, that afterall we can be a good team too!

When those who witnessed 1983 WC spoke about it like a life time achievement, we could just imagine what it might have been. Though I can say I was "there" in 1983, I can't claim to have enjoyed it. But 2011, I lapped it up all.

I may not be the CEO before turning 30, but atleast I saw a WC win before that and I also saw my captain having back to back victories in IPL, proving he was no fluke, he IS for REAL!


Visited Banerghata National Park. The safari was a good experience - the number of tigers, white tiger, cubs, lions, including the 20 day cubs that we saw made the experience an unforgettable one.



Last night while waiting for Germany-Italy to start off, i decided to watch Udaan. The toss was between working until then (and catch up on the backlog) and watch some movie on youtube (and again catch up, okay!).. Well you know what wins. I picked Udaan after i happened to read the lyrics of Azaadian. There was something in the lyrics which felt so liberating, that i had to watch the movie.

The movie just blew me away.

Someone rightly said you have to 'experience' the movie. The story is quite a simple one; its the actors who move you..The direction is absolutely no-frills and everything is paced out perfectly. The dialogue delivery is perfect and leaves you astonished. There is nothing that's over the top and yet the movie touches you in ways that can only be experienced and not penned down.

There are many poignant scenes but the one where Rohan's dad chases him and Rohan escapes.. a simple scene but the build up to the 'running' is so perfect that the 'udaan' is perfect!

And the song Azaadiyaan with the 'azaadi' reflecting in the eyes of Rohan & Arjun makes you feel so good (it was almost a personal victory for me at that point)

let me end this with this stanza

सुबह की किरनों को रोकें, जो सलाखें है कहाँ
जो खयालों पे पहरे डाले वो आँखें है कहाँ
पर खुलने की देरी है परिंदे उड़ के चूमेंगे
आसमां आसमां आसमां


dream land diaries!

A tough week just went by and i just got by. Doesn't end here and will continue into the next week. And in such moments, i always dream of all other professions i should have taken up and lived more happily ;-) But then yes, this ain't so bad. Only at times when things don't go your way.

But such tough days also end up being incredibly tiring and what follows is bizarre.. Just like last night when i was finally done with my work and was happily planning for the weekend. A trek was planned and unplanned; next movies. Dad suggested the kannada movie which is airing in Pune - Zoom. reviews were mixed and i was wondering if i should book for it OR just opt for cycling through Baner.

Thought of asking one of the twitter friends who i usually chat and check about movies. I pinged and i discussed about the movie, a lot of others stuff including soccer, politics and what not! Morning I woke up to my alarm which i usually snooze, to realise, i had pinged and fallen asleep and the rest was a dream! I hadn't chatted after all and yet it felt real.

So while i routinely carry work home; i carry movies/fun/discussions to dreams.

And that's life! Or is it?


Mixed bag

#udta Punjab
I had a very interesting conversation on udta punjab with my manager. he wanted to know if i would watch it and what i thought about it. I hadn't read the court case verdict until then but having seen the trailer, i knew it wasn't something all would be able to stand.

i, for one, found the trailer awesome. in a nutshell, with the effective use of words, visuals and characters, it had focused on drugs, abuse and the ones who were out to make things better. And before you raise your eyebrows on how the 'cuss' words were missed in the short description above- i don't understand most of them anyway.

Would i watch it? Yes ofcourse, i would.

Trailers anyway showcase the highlights and can't be taken to be the complete movie. Swear words are common in most languages, and moresoever towards the north. So why shy away from a movie due to foul language? Or why because it shows a state in poor light? If you really can have a state which has high number of youth addicted to drugs with the government having done nothing to control or curb - then why not call it 'Udta Punjab'? I don't know if the movie does justice to the topic or is it true to it. But how do i judge it until i have watched?

I just hope better sense prevails and i get to watch the movie without cuts.

Watched Te3n yesterday. A thriller about an unsolved kidnapping case. The story is well told and Amitabh, Vidya and Nawaz have well etched out roles. However towards the end the story loses its sheen with some loopholes. Amitabh is excellent and holds the story together with all his mannerisms and perfect rendition of the old grandfather who has lost his dear Angela.
Overall a good watch.


Going to watch Goddhi Banna today. Yes, yes, Anant Nag movie ;-)

Came across this on twitter: The total chatterbox i am, suits me - I like people who can keep the conversation going no matter how random the topics get.

Until i watch the next movie, ciao


As i sat in the waiting room yesterday for the MRI scan in the medical gown, i remembered the TV serial alpviram which starred Pallavi Joshi. Strange enough more than Pallavi, it was sulabha deshpande I was reminiscing. And later last evening, i found out that she was no more.


I read about the girl who died at beach near Gokarna. Tagged as a selfie death initially only to be corrected later, the tragedy and the news that followed were both shocking. Just 6-8 months back, my colleague's brother met the same fate near Bangalore when he actually got off to a stream bedded with rocks to click some pics. He slipped and undermined the current of the stream which swept him away. His friends ended up being mere spectators.


I watched Tithi last evening with family. What started off as movie for weekend for dad and me ended up being a family outing. While dad & I loved the movie, others in the family found it boring and not so taken in by it. Each of us had our own interpretation of the movie - made me think how differently we take in the same visual shown. While I took it as a death and reactions/emotions that follow and how everything was set back as it should be, my dad was oddly left unhappy that Thamanna didn't get the land - his explanation was that if Gadappa was so detached from wordly things, he could have given up the land to Thamanna and for him, the movie ended on a negative node. My brother and his wife thought the movie lacked purpose. My mom thought it was more a TV movie - not worthwhile to be watched in theater.

In a nutshell, for me Gadappa was the star. Everything else revolved around him and his character really set the things in motion with his simple acts. Can write a review unto itself. But for a later date.


So my MRI scan was interpreted by the doc as mild degeneration. Much ado about nothing he claims. So now I need to get the pain diagnosed by some other doc ;-)


Read quite a bit on Muhammad Ali and was quite astonished to see my mom talk about him. Looks like i was the only one to know him just as 'boxer' and not the greatest one to have lived!


Watching French open Djokovic vs Murray. And ofcourse hoping Djokovic wins!
And the weekend ends in another 3 hrs...

Experience diaries

The previous trek fall continues to haunt me. It got to the point where the pain became unbearable and i had to see a doctor.

The doc who is ever so benevolent in dismissing any complaints, dismissed this too with some choicest tablets. As an after thought he recommended MRI scan stating that if its a pinched nerve or some spinal damage, the x-ray wouldnt have ever detected it.

Given my next trek plans, i thought it was better to get the MRI scan done. Unfortunately the scan centre was closed for maintenance and instead i decided to take the tablets. What followed was a near-drugged experience and I don't recollect much of what i did that day. The dizzy and incoherent feeling continued into the next couple of days. Well i didn't take the tablets again. MRI seemed a safer bet to diagnose than pop random pills and get stoned.

So today was the day of the scan! First, i didn't google to find out what it was all about. I was asked thrice by the folks at the centre as to why I needed a scan. Well given that I look quite fit, i am sure it didn't seem necessary ;-) And as i explained to each person, i was wondering if I really needed a scan!

Anyway, as i lay on the scan table, the attendant doled out instructions - stay calm, don't move for 15 mins, hold this and press it incase of panic or any problem. Stuff cotton into your ears and ignore the sound, it might be too much. (me thinks in my head - i should have googled this, why does it sound so omnious). As i entered the dome, i felt my hair strand on the eyes and it irritated me. I pressed the bulb like contraption to get his attention but the attendant was gone. Did his panic button work at all??

Inside the dome, there was constant mechanical sounds which went on for 15 mins and well I had no problems. i can sleep with any kind of noise. So i was at peace, reflecting on all that's gone by and nearly fell asleep. And suddenly there were flashes of my fall in the trek. Not only of this one which hurt my neck but all other ones which were potentially more dangerous but I got away with nothing. And this innocuous one had cost me so much. Thoughts crowded my mind.. Of lost concentrations and how it could lead to this and so on.

And well, what if nothing comes of it. And then how do I cure this damned-pain.. and do i enroll for the next trek?

And then the 15 mins ended, i was out.

Well this and more. Until i get reports.


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