I struggled giving a title to this post..should I have said “Hampta Pass, 14500 feet – done and dusted”? But that’s far from what I feel!
It’s not a personal victory over the mighty Himalayas but the feeling of gratitude to the multitude of people who helped me cross the pass, gratitude towards nature for having let us see the sights we saw, for the weather being in reasonably good condition, for the slips that didn’t turn into major falls!
I think gratitude and an understanding of the abysmally unimportant and minute nature of human-life are my biggest takeaways from this trek.. and this sets me free!
We all live in our own personal worlds within the larger world. A personal world where we are all important, where our decisions have huge impacts, but somehow, being with the mightiest of mountain ranges sets me free from this self-imposed prison! To understand that I am but a very small speck in the cosmos, gives an entirely new perspective to the worries and the daily grind. It makes me live my life with a lot more freedom of mind..
I know this philosophical rant is not what you look for in my blog..especially one on a trek! you want to see beautiful photographs(All courtesy my trek mates..I am the worst photographer there is!), blow-by-blow details of the ascent, of the people and the place…and I nor the Himalayas are going to disappoint you! So here goes.. A motley crew of nine from Bangalore, a few of whom i had trekked with before, but most of them who turned out to be wonderful new friends I made, left for the mountains.

Day 1: Travel to Chandigarh by air and then a tempo traveler to Manali. 

Since I had traveled to Manali pretty recently, this seemed like the shortest route . We reached Manali by around 12:30 AM the next day. Had an awesome nights sleep in one of the most comfortable cottages I have ever stayed in. we booked the double room cottages. http://www.treehillcottages.com/ Not to forget the jolada rotti and shenga chutney provided by Guru through the journey!

Day 2: Manali – Jobra- Cheeka

Late wake-up and awesome breakfast of Gobi paranthas and we headed to the Rambaugh Circle on Mall road to meet up with the rest of the trek team from IndiaHikes – http://hamptapass.com/ Met up with the trek lead Ashish and the very handsome and dashing Arjun (I think that was the name…all the girls in the team had a mini heartbreak when they got to know he wasn’t going to be leading our batch but was leading the batch coming after us! ) Since we had to wait for a couple of people who were yet to arrive (their bus had broken down a couple of times the night before, as we came to know later..), we hogged on bikaneri jalebis, ice-creams and chai to pass the time. We left from Manali to Jobra by around 1:30 PM and reached Jobra within an hours time. The drive is beautiful and gives you a teaser of whats in store for the rest of the trek! Standing in between clouds, with a light drizzle, we ate ‘Siddu’, a Himachali delicacy, which was described as the ‘big brother’ of a ‘momo’. Let us suffice to say that none of us were a huge fan of this dish, but it did help fill our tummy and caused all sorts of tummy troubles for the majority of us!! Jobra to Cheeka was an uneventful easy 2-3 hours trek through a slight ascent and pine forests and a meadow. On the eve of the trek , I had had a brain wave and decided to take my laptop bag as my backpack…since it was supposed to be ergonomically designed et all. Huge mistake! It weighs you down so badly and now I know there is a reason there are light-weight backpacks manufactured! Lesson learnt!

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Day 3: Cheeka – Bhalu ka ghera. ‘Bhalu-ka-ghera’ – it instantly brought to my mind ‘Bhalu the bear’…and in my imagination there were a lot of bears, holding a round table conference, roasting marshmallows over a bonfire…now, hold your horses, it doesn’t match my imagination one bit, but Bhalu ka ghera means a huge pit/mound of sand, which is left over once the rivulets passing through the area dry up! So off we went from Cheeka..slightly difficult ascent, had a phase of around thirty minutes where breathing became extremely difficult, but it passed and with a lot of encouragement from Sunil, one of my trek mates, we reached ‘Bhalu ka Ghera’. Beautiful campsite as usual!

Day 4: Bhalu-ka-Ghera – Shea Goru (After crossing Hampta pass)

I had wisely given up on guessing the meaning of names by now! Ashish, our trek lead explained to me that Shea Goru meant the ‘road of winds’ and so it was! But before that let me give you the low down on crossing the pass itself, the dreaded and steep Hampta pass, which the trek leads had us believe was just after the next slope. We had to cross many a steep blanket of ice before we could reach Hampta Pass! The clouds were so close and would envelop us like a blanket, making visibility a challenge. We also had to use crampons/micro spikes to help us through this climb! I have to mention about ‘Superman – Sid’. He climbed the pass with a torn ligament in the knee, without taking a moment’s break, but kept trudging on when the rest of us would take a break just for the heck of it! Sid, you were an inspiration to all of us!

Superman Sid!

Superman Sid!

The exhilaration on reaching the pass was awesome! A lot of photo sessions later, our tummies started rumbling, but the packed lunch of soya pulav had frozen and had become inedible! We were saved by the rations of dry fruits and dates and chocolates that we had brought along! That said, the trek team were very open to suggestions on the food quality, but I do not think, there might be anything that would survive the temperature at the pass and still be eatable! The descent into Shea-Goru and thereby the Spiti valley was the steepest I have done so far and was lots of fun! Camp at Shea Goru, next to the river was the most beautiful.

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Day 5: Shea Goru to Chatru/Chandertal

It rained heavily during the night and our trip to Chandertal was hanging in balance, when the skies suddenly cleared up and a very faint rainbow appeared on the horizon, as if to say that our trip to the moon-lake will be done! The walk down to Chatru is a gentle descent and beautiful at the same time. You will start to see a long winding road as you near Chatru and this is the first sign of civilization that you get to see after so many days in the mountains! I was not really sure if i liked being close to humanity again or not! Chatru to the Chandertal lake, was done in vehicles and i would be lying if I don’t admit that i was glad there was no more walking! Spiti valley has a beauty all its own…it is barren, cold, majestic, sporting a myriad different hues in the dry dust…the mountain peaks all look to be of varied colours ranging from brown to red to a dull bluish grey! Chandertal lake, like all alpine lakes is crystal clear and beautiful and shaped like the moon, as the name implies! We fooled around in the icy cold waters, stayed on till it was too cold to stay put at one place. Another thing that I observed, is that even the slightest of activity in Spiti valley will cause breathlessness initially. This is because the air is so thin here and the oxygen content is very less due to the near absence of any vegetation! Back to our camp in near Chandertal lake, to be followed by a night of music ,dance and revelry! Panna Lalji,the cook – our anna daata, redeemed himself that day with amazing carrot halwa! He also proved to be one hell of a musician as he sang lovely Himachali songs accompanied with drums on an empty plastic can! I will always remember this mad caper of a night with Guru singing ‘Jumma chumma’ song and we adding our own ‘Bhalle bhalle’ twist to the Himachali dance steps!

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Day 6: Chatru/Chandertal to Manali

Next day back to Manali, freshened up in the same cottage that we had booked earlier, had dinner at a place called Ilferno. Amazing Pizzas, lasagna and salads and an amazing fresh oven baked biscuit topped off with chocloate mousse – fiametta I think, it was called….yum, yum! Oh and not to forget, the roadside leg massage ;) Early next morning, we were off to Chandigarh. My backpack, that I hated so much during the trek, got stolen in Chandigarh! Maybe I had grown too trusting, sticking for so long with the mountain people! But I also lost all the small little trinkets I had bought for friends and family back home along with my gloves and cap which were four Himalayan treks old!

Oh! I am forgetting to mention so many things.. Especially the ‘cliff hanger’ type save of a fellow trekker by our assistant trek lead Mahi! Also a special feeling getting to know that Mahi was the same shy fifteen year old I had met on VoF trek a few years ago and now he is such a handsome, confident albeit still a bit shy and very emotional and a wonderfully endearing person! In his own words “gaane se meri phatthi hai!!” and off he disappears before the music and dance begun!!

And also our river crossing adventure and sliding down a steep descent on ice, scraping my back totally in the process!

Oooh..how can I forget finding ‘nandini’ good life milk at a tea shop in Spiti and me and Naga going all gung-ho about seeing kannada there!!

The last one, I promise…no explanations, except that the memory is going to bring out the giggles in many!! IMG_6617 Still in the same head-space and finding it very difficult to come out and work in the rigid cubicles of a corporate environment. Till the next time the mountains call, I shall wait and prepare and dream away!

Picture Courtesy: yashu, Divya, Sid, Jairaj, Nagashree and others if I have missed out, please remind me!


And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


                                       -Dr.Seuss (Oh, the Places You’ll Go!)

I must be the proudest proud mommy around! (Yes, have been reading a bit too much of Dr.seuss…if there can be such a thing!!).My son and myself went on a day trek to Makalidurga to the beat the school re-opening blues.( I am not sure which one of us feels bluer…).


Anybody who has read my posts will know how much I love the mountains. I wanted to share some of that love with my son too. I was super excited since my son would be part of something that occupies a huge a place in my heart…but I was also a bit scared that he might not like it at all! You can never tell with kids!

That said, we bought him a new pair of trekking shoes at Decathlon and off we went.

Boy-oh-boy!! It was a revelation to watch him climb up the steep tracks..that too in the middle of the day with the sun threatening to melt the skin off our necks! He was a mountain goat, nimble and sure-footed, effortlessly climbing, turning back now and then to call me a ‘slow coach’!

As he took the lead and as he realised that he was good at this, I saw his confidence bloom. He was more chatty, enthusiastic to open up to other kids and the sometimes shy kid that I see had disappeared!! I saw him walk with the trek leads to see another ‘view point’ when most of us had given up and were resting in the shade.

He made friends, learnt about being patient and persevering and about pushing your own boundaries and limitations – mental and physical, that nothing but something like a trek can teach. He knows now that when he wants to give up, there are huge reservoirs of strength that he can call upon, deep within!The most wonderful change is in his level of confidence.

He may not be able to express in so many words, but as a mother, I know that he knows…I see a definite change in his attitude. He also knows when to respect his body’s needs and take a break. Hard to believe that he learnt all this in a single day, but treks are magical! They reinforce life lessons like nothing else!

A huge round of applause and gratitude to the trekking group – Indiahikes for thinking of organising something like this for kids and parents. There is definitely scope for improvement in the way the transport and the trek timings were managed, but the intentions and the efforts are definitely praiseworthy!

We will always remember the steep climbs, the ginger chikkis,sliding down the heated up boulders and our pants melting away!, Shubhankar explaining about different angles of the body and centre of gravity and his smart lesson on climbing down. I am thankful to both the trek leads for raising awareness about plastic waste and littering. I am glad that on every trek that I have been to with Indiahikes, cleaning up the trek path has always been a priority. (This is not a sponsored article!!)

We made memories that day, ones that he will hopefully remember with a smile!

The ultimate question—Will I take my son on a trek again?

The answers is a …………..A resounding yes!!

One of my friends is preparing for GRE and has been throwing new words at us each day, and I for one am loving it. Learning a new word is almost akin to eating creamy caramel pudding with coffee sauce.(Well people who know me will understand my fixation with this!)

Each new word, like a tasty morsel to be rolled around on your tongue, savoured and saved in memory , in wait for an occasion to use it! (I am in love with ‘Hiraeth’ and ‘syzygy’…now go find out the meanings…’cos I am not telling you ;) )

Also, have you experienced how some words embody their meanings…like ‘slaughter’, it invokes images of blood and gore, or it could be ‘nefarious’ and I can only think of ‘Kroor Singh’ . Words have a special way of bringing back memories. Some words can trigger an entire train of thoughts!

So, sometime today, I chanced upon this word – ‘allegory’ and that led to me remembering reading out ‘Little Men’ by Louisa May Alcott to my son.

There is a story in that and it goes something like this:

“This great gardener gave a dozen or so of little plots to one of his servants, and told him to do his best and see what he could raise. Now this servant was not rich, nor wise, nor very good, but he wanted to help because the gardener had been very kind to him in many ways. So he gladly took the little plots and fell to work. They were all sorts of shapes and sizes, and some were very good soil, some rather stony, and all of them needed much care, for in the rich soil the weeds grew fast, and in the poor soil there were many stones.”

“What was growing in them besides the weeds, and stones?” asked Nat; so interested, he forgot his shyness and spoke before them all.

“Flowers,” said Mr. Bhaer, with a kind look. “Even the roughest, most neglected little bed had a bit of heart’s-ease or a sprig of mignonette in it. One had roses, sweet peas, and daisies in it,” 

“I knew he meant us!” cried Demi, clapping his hands. “You are the man, and we are the little gardens; aren’t we, Uncle Fritz?”

“You have guessed it. Now each of you tell me what crop I shall try to sow in you this spring, so that next autumn I may get a good harvest out of my twelve, no, thirteen, plots,” said Mr. Bhaer, nodding at Nat as he corrected himself.

“He means things to make us good; and the weeds are faults,” cried Demi, who usually took the lead in these talks, because he was used to this sort of thing, and liked it very much. (Demi calls such stories ‘arregories’ and that never fails to elicit laughter from my son!)

And all this leads me to a little story of my own!

After reading this story out, we were all discussing what would be the good seeds (an allegory to good habits) that we would like to sow in our gardens…My sister spoke about making up her mind to wake up earlier, I wanted to sow seeds of patience and then we asked my son, what he would want to grow in his patch of garden. He thought about it for a while and said that he would want to be less shy and speak to people…

I know it doesn’t sound like much, but for a six-year-old to be able to analyse and introspect and express what he needs to cultivate is amazing! (Alert: Proud Mommy speaking. :D ).

But it also brought forth something else…that everyone of us has the ability to introspect. It had me wondering whether as we age, do our egos also grow which prevents us from seeing what is really lacking within us..that we start to perceive ourselves infallible?

Still mulling over it and resolved to try and be honest about my shortcomings to myself at least!

New words, some soul-searching and a long winding story….happy weekend y’all..

The internal dialogue:

“It does not matter what you said or did, he never has a right to hit you or push you or slap you or punch you or verbally abuse you . And don’t try to justify him hitting you.”

‘Well, if I wouldn’t have said this, or did that, then he wouldn’t have gotten mad enough to hit me’ or ‘It won’t happen again, he is just stressed out.’

“NO. It will happen again, and it will get worse.”

The others say:

Why don’t you leave or why did you stay for so long?  -A well-intentioned question but often a very simple approach to a very complex and layered issue.

It is not so simple to ‘just leave’!

Abusive relationships don’t start out with a black-eye. They too start out with passion and promise. She is thinking that the real him is the one at the beginning of the abusive cycle, the real him is the one who is so profusely apologising afterwards .

“Only someone who’s walked in their shoes can fully understand the complexity.”

To judge someone, to say “why doesn’t she just leave” is inappropriate.

It is about education and it is about awareness. October is the domestic violence awareness month and today is Deepawali- the festival of lights.

May this month and day bring awareness and light into each one of your lives.

Love and peace,


“Amma why do you have to run?” or sometimes it is  the “Amma why do you have to trek?” question that I  hear from my still sleepy toddler who doesn’t want to let go of me and just wants to cuddle up!

The few moments just before a run or a trek is the worst time to explain to anyone or yourself the reason behind doing it. So if my baby wants to, I take him along and after a few of these outings he doesn’t ask me these questions so much anymore. He just gets it and I too get the answers because of him.

I learn from him the joy of running. He never seems to want to walk when he can run! He runs around in pointless circles when he is happy. I who have forgotten it in the years that passed from childhood to adulthood seem the only one who needs to re-learn.

“Nothing else exists, only the climb.” – This one-liner by Austrian mountaineer Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner  sums it up for me. You could even morph it to “Nothing else exists, only the run.”!

There is nothing like pushing your physical boundaries to make your brain and body vibrate in the same frequency…to keep you focused on the present. Every time my brain tells me to give up, to let go, there is a stronger voice that tells me ‘You can, so keep going’.

Trekking or running has a way of making every thought that wants to pull you down seem mundane and stupid. For example,

Me: “Am I not good enough for his Awesomeness that he treats me this way?”

Mountain/trail: “M’lady would you just effing get on with what you are doing? If you stop you are going to collapse in the middle of nowhere!”

Me: “Aaah why do I do this to myself? I should just give up and hit the road in a AC car.”

Mountain/trail: “Move Dufus move. Else you are sure to hit the road, literally and figuratively!”

and so on…you get the gist..eh?

I wouldn’t win an award for the ‘fittest /most athletic person in my street’ award even. I am not an expert runner or a trekker. But I don’t give up. I better myself every single time and feel a sense of exhilaration, a sense of achievement.

Running releases a neurotransmitter called Serotonin which is responsible for mood regulation – ever heard of a ‘Runner’s high’?? This is what makes it addictive and also good for you!

But analysing it and attributing the exhilaration that we feel to a few chemicals zip-zapping in our brains , somehow diminishes it.

After a long run or after reaching the summit, everything seems right with my world. There is peace. This feeling is strong enough to make me go back again and again and again….

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Now, that is why I do what I do.

At the top of the snow covered summit, his breath came out like steam, releasing some of the heat from his body and mind into the cold mountain air. He made a strange, albeit stunning picture. Matted flowing hair, broad shoulders and rippling muscles and those magnetic eyes. The scar in the centre of his forehead seemed almost like a third eye, that which made people fear him, some revere him and some even worship him! It tickled him no end that people would want to worship him. It was from them that he wanted to escape now. Ears yearning for the music of silence, he seemed to have found the perfect spot, away from the maddening crowd, on the summit of this snow covered mountain. He could see snow as far as his eyes could roam, a beautiful white carpet. Serene, he thought and the quiet that his mind craved for.Planting his Trishul in the crevice between the rocks, through the snow, he surveyed what he thought was going to be his home for some time to come….

From a distance came the mooing of a cow and Shiva turned in blazing anger…the peace and quiet he so craved for was still out of his reach. A cow, meant human settlement close by and so he knew he had to move quickly out of this place. His strong legs carried him down in a flash, he saw the cow guilty of breaking his solitude and it seemed to sense his pulsating anger and ran..Shiva ran behind it..and he then saw another hill top, another seeming end to his search for solitude and decided to camp there, a place that came to be known as Kedarnath and the place where he had left his trishul glinting in the sunlight was called Kedarkantha..


It was to Kedarkantha that I trekked last month and oh what a trek it was! (Don’t I say that about every trek in the Himalayas?!)

What you are going to read next is my best effort at a succinct recap of our trek. So here goes..

It was a dream team for me. what with my besties Polly, Myc + wifey and Yashu joining me on this trek!

As always we chose IndiaHikes to go with on this outing of ours as well.


Day 1:

We landed at Dehradun late in the night and headed to a hotel called ‘Mandakini’ – clean, with hot water. No frills. (The cab driver had this to say of the Ghadwali people, recording it for posterity ‘Soorya asth tho Ghadwali mast’ :P )


Headed off for dinner at a wonderful place called Kumar’s. Amazing paranthas,dal-chawal, rajma, paneer…veggie delight. Thanks to Polly for finding this gem.

We also had wonderful strawberries with anardana masala – a must try if you ever happen to visit Dun.


Me and Polly were riveted by an old bookstore and ear marked it to visit on our way back to Bangalore.

Day 2:

We were to meet all our trek mates at the railway station and me and Myc were the proud transport co-ordinators :P

So we left all the other lazy bones behind and headed off to the railway station at around 6 AM and managed to round up most of the trek participants and co-ordinate transport by around 8 AM..except for one lady whose phone had gotten switched off. This gave us some anxious moments but she turned up at the nick of time and we were all glad to get going to Sankri which was to be our first camp.

We reached Sankri in the evening and had yummy food along the way. A few of us had nausea while travelling the winding mountain roads and my lactose intolerance flared up pretty bad as we gained altitude. A word of caution to anyone planning to trek in higher altitudes –  your weakness and vulnerabilities are at their worst. So try avoiding salads/any uncooked food. Also for people like me, avoid milk/maida products.They can play havoc with your digestive system.

Day3:( Sankri – 6400 Ft to JKT – 9100 Ft)

Slept through the raging wind and rainfall to wake up at 5 AM. Stomach upset worsened. Met up with our on-trek doc Atul. he suggested antibiotics and I wanted to run in the opposite direction. He then gave me lomotin and enterogermina tablets and this coupled with diet brought the stuff under control.

A wonderful breakfast of eggs, bananas and bread butter jam. (I hogged several peoples’ share of bananas since I couldn’t eat anything else.) Incessant rainfall and our chances of starting the trek looked bleak, when suddenly the skies cleared up and our trek leads Ravi, Chaman, sanju and Ram Mohan decided to start to trekking.

I will always remember the military style pep talk by Raj Mohan and especially the words of Chaman – ‘Himalay jab thappad detha hai, tho uski goonj sunai nahi dethi hai’ as he referred to the Uttarakhand floods last year and urged us to do our bit in cleaning up the mountains.

A few minutes into the trek, sun started playing hide and seek with the clouds again and in some time, we were hit by hail storm. Me being the snow-newbie, thought it was snowfall as the small hail stones settled down like snow in crevices and tree tops. This was a totally unexpected change of weather and we got reports that there was snowfall at our next campsite ‘Juda-ka-talab’. I love trekking in the rain and the news of snow fall just egged me on to reach the next campsite faster.

We reached Juda ka Talab in around 5 hours and here my dreams of seeing snowfall came true. The campsite turned into a fairyland, a very cold one though, for which many of us were under-prepared.

The night sky was a beautiful one..I have never seen so many stars at a time ever!


JKT snowfall – on the ascent

Day 4:  (JKT to KK base – 11250 Ft)

Woke up after a very restless night. The snow jackals had come to our camping grounds in search of food and the three dogs which had followed us from Sankri had tried to chase them away and there had been howling and barking through the night..

Our shoes had frozen, the laces were standing up frozen as if in high alert! It took us quite a while to tie up our shoes!

As always food with indiahikes was awesome and we had our fill of pranathas and black tea and headed off for the short trek to the KK base camp.

the trek was relatively easy and most of us completed it in 2-3 hours. No further snowfall and the skies remained clear.

KK base camp will always be a wonderful memory. i had my first snow fight and made my first snowman. Slid down snow slides and had the maximum fun ever.


We had our lunch and after a bit of rest, we were taught to pitch tents, use ice axes and other stuff. we then headed off for a trial walk till the winter base camp which was almost another 3 hours climb up and back. This walk really helped us acclimatize faster as at higher altitudes, we are always advised to climb higher and sleep lower.

Day 5:(KK base to KK summit – 12500 Ft)

Woke up at 4:30 AM to a brilliant starry sky. Saw the frozen water near the toilet tent and all thoughts of brushing my teeth fled from my mind.



Changed into trekking gear, packed our bags and wore our crampons and headed off for breakfast. at 6:10 we were all ready and raring to go. we all got another talking to from our beloved Chaman on being late by 10 minutes – “Hum kya joker lagte hain aapko?!”

He was right of course, as the snow would start to melt and become soft as the day progressed and our window for climbing the summit was only till 11:30 AM.

The first ten minutes of summit climb, I felt the altitude and found it very difficult o breathe. I had forgotten to take my diamox the day before..maybe that was the reason. I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it, but plodded along for a few more minutes and felt much more better.

The summit climb was a teaser – every time we thought the summit was in sight, it was just another mound/hillock that had to be crossed and we had hours to go before we reached the summit.


After another 4-5 hours of gruellingly steep climb and also using ropes for the steeper part of the climb, we reached the summit and what a feeling it was! we were all hugging each other (maybe because of the unbearable cold as well :P), congratulating each other and oh! just feeling elated and on top of the world. (thanks Jiya for the ‘go Priyanka go’ mantra every time I even felt like stopping..)

After lot of photographs and description of the other summits nearby, Chaman told us the story of the KK peak that you read initially. he said that his great grandfather used to see a red cow run by whenever he climbed the summit and for a moment i could almost see it too.


Getting down was the most fun. No wonderla can come close to sliding down a few hundred metres on the Himalayan slopes! Special thanks to Chaman for making sure I lost any fear I had of sliding down those seemingly endless, steep slopes :P

We were back at KK base camp for lunch and headed off to JKT in an hours time. On our way down I saw and experienced what a trickster the Himalayan mountain side can be. The same paths which were covered with snow, were today green and small rivulets flowed everywhere. There were little flowers blooming, drying pine cones on the ground and JKT was green and warm and sunny!

I felt grateful to the Himalayas for letting me see two of its guises in a single trek – each one more beautiful than the other.



JKT on the way back!

We had dinner around a camp fire..lot of chit chat and went back to bed and woke up to another gloriously sunny day. A couple of our socks and gloves had dried off. We hung our trek pants on our trek poles and they dried off in a few minutes. You tend to really appreciate dry clothes after trudging along in partially wet ones for a couple of days!

The embers of the campfire still burned and we had our breakfast and chai around it.


We got down to Sankri in the laziest fashion possible , enjoying the scenery , each others company, eating the rhododendron flower stems and cleaning up the mountain side as we climbed down. (the Forest officials take plastic disposal very seriously and we were warned as we had not strapped on our eco-bags- where we were supposed to collect the waste, not that any of us were littering, but felt good to be scolded for all the wrong reasons!)

Back to Sankri, amazing food again (simple clean healthy and I guess the mountain air contributes quite a bit!). Developed a bad cold by the end of the evening and slept through most of the evening and night.

Day 6:

Woke up another bright day. Had our chai and started to Dehradun. had some yummilicious paranthas on the way and stayed in a beautiful guest house called Darsh residency aka Sardarji ka guest house.


Friendly staff and great service. great value for money. Thanks to our four 16 year old trek mates!

We freshened up and went to the old book store. Met with the wonderful lady who owned the place.It was nice to deal in books with a person who was also passionate about them. we had dinner at a wonderful chinese place and headed back to our guest house.


Day 7:

Flew to Bangalore and reached home at around 8 PM. Back to my wonderful baby and the lovely family and that my friends completes my trek.


I have to mention the two eleven year olds and Mugdha and Ashish and Atul who are veteran trekkers and who were an inspiration to all of us.

P.S 1:

Also Naina, our cook. He was the same one who had accompanied us in the Kashmir trek. His cooking is the best!

P.S 2:

The three dogs that accompanied us from sankri to Sankri!

P.S 3:

The fun loving bunch of sixteen year olds…you made us feel young again!


I think I should stop now..oh! but..

P.S 4:

The mysore (co) sisters who blew us away with their determination and stamina.

P.S 5:

Polly you are a hero for attempting this trek and finishing most of it.


P.S 6:

yashu..you are my trek sister. You know I love you :D


I think I should really stop now…


So close yet so far..the KK summit

Photo Courtesy:

Yashaswini and Raghavendra

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

Winding down after a wonderful day.. :)

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.

Amma..do you know how hard it is to find just the right stick??

Amma..do you know how hard it is to find just the right stick??

You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

2011-04-30 13.48.06

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

-Kahlil Gibran.

My two favourites - flowers and my son..just before we dozed off!

Nothing speaks better to me about children and our purpose in their lives than these lines by Gibran.

Dear darling of mine, I promise to let you go,when the time comes..but I cannot promise that I wont cry..a little…

“Superwoman who?” you say. Drum-roll please- aaaaaand it is..it is…. It is me. Really it is…at-least that’s what my son believes and I would like to as well.

When I told him yesterday that I was going to attend a technical course near ‘race course’ road, he asked me if it had to do anything with racing horses! I explained to him that near that road, they do race horses. With a very solemn expression he looked at me and said (and I quote) “Amma you can do it. Win the race and get that prize”. I am so proud that my son thinks I can even do something like that!

(On a side note, I have had horrible luck with horses. I always get the mad ones! The horses and yaks in Darjeeling where we honeymooned had a tendency to try and throw me off very steep cliffs. The mule I sat on in Uttaranchal  where the pathway was all but three feet wide and then a steep fall, felt the need to bite the bum of the horse in front and get kicked and do the heee-haaw. Now imagine me racing horses :P)

He has grown up on stories about NT4 machines fighting with Windows 2008,and the Windows 2003 server, who brings about ceasefire. He can tell you what a secure channel is in his own sweet little way! (It comes from having a mom in technical support :P)

Today when I told him that I need to go early to office to troubleshoot a tricky issue, all he caught was ‘shooting’ and said “Wow amma”!

He seems to think that i have the most adventurous and interesting job in the whole wide world.

On second thoughts maybe I do..that of being his mom!

Thoroughly enjoyable, mindless masala – that about sums up the movie ‘Chennai Express’

Don’t go if you are not a fan of movies like ‘Welcome’ (I am a huge fan). Also remember to leave your reasoning powers and intellect back at home and you are in for a joy ride.

Shahrukh is getting old and for once he plays a 40 something wannabe cool dude from Mumbai. He uses the same few expressions that are there in his repertoire- they would melt my heart as a teenager but now just comes across as painful (Sorry Shahrukh, I guess I have moved on!). Deepika – I am surprised and pleasantly so at the actor she is developing into. She has an amazing comic timing and carries most of the movie on her shoulders.

Rohit Shetty couldn’t have found a better ambassador than Deepika for the south Indian jhumki or the langa daavani (lehenga) or the vibrant sarees or Bharata natyam or for that matter the humble lungi even! She rocks every look including a white saree with a kaasina sara (traditional coin necklace).

I went to the theater with mixed feelings – wondering if it was going to be a south India slamming session / Mehmood accented Hindi filling our ears and expecting us to find it funny!

We southies aren’t that hung up, that we cant take a joke or two about ourselves – there is absolutely no disservice done to south culture as reported in various reviews.

But it was really funny and endearing and the imagery beautiful – much beyond what I had expected.

The antakshari through which Shahrukh and Deepika speak to each other where Meenamma(Deepika) gets only the tune right, her put on accent and the goonda cousins of hers make for a hilarious medley.

Except for the old and beaten ‘Tamil teri-ma’ joke, no clichés, no north /south bashing but a celebration of south Indian culture and traditions.

The last part of the movie is very slightly disappointing but didn’t prevent me from enjoying the movie (remember I had left my brain back home :P). Rohit Shetty tries to deliver a message – ‘Do not underestimate the power of a common man’ which doesn’t come through effectively and also takes away from the frivolous nature of the movie. I wish he had just continued with the mindless laugh fest.

Also a fight between the puny Shahrukh and the hulky, hot Nikitin Dheer is unrealistic and very unbelievable. That King Khan uses a bucket to finish off  Thangabali (Nikitin Dheer) sort of assuaged my raising concerns about the ending. (On second thoughts why would anyone not want to marry  Mr.Thangabali is beyond me! – he is such a hunk!!)

The scene where Deepika does a  spoof of Chandramukhi is hilarious and that she had fun while doing the scene comes through.

Couldn’t have asked for a better start to a Monday – that it was an off for me, just added to the fun. I am going to wear my Jhumkis and saree a bit more proudly the next time around and postpone the Monday morning blues to the next week!




There is something in the air,

It makes my husband sometimes pull his hair..

but the mystery and romance calls me to its lair!

I am but a mortal, such seduction, how can I bear?!

Now that’s the sorta poetry (and the only sort anyway) that I will spout in the middle of a hectic work day.

My love affair with the mountains continue with my latest trek in the Kashmir valley and how!! I am addicted beyond any hope of recovery. The colors, the silence, the people,the simplicity of the life in mountains call to me..

We landed in Srinagar on the 14th of July and I felt let down to say the least! It was not the Srinagar of my dreams, it was a blistering hot 38 degrees, way above the 20 of my beloved Bangalore. For a moment I wondered whether this trek was going to be all that it was promised to be. Boy-oh-boy was I in for a surprise or what!

The temperatures dropped down as we neared Sonamarg. We were made to listen to some of the most tragic songs by our driver en route, but he then made up for it with his wonderful hospitality and offered us namkeen chai (which didn’t agree with my tummy but was still yummy)and pooris in his humble yet spik n span home. The round rosy-cheeked kids rolling around in the lawn playing like happy puppies made me think of my son and how he would have gone crazy with so much space right in the front yard.

We then stopped a kilometer away from our camp site in Sonamarg. The view was breathtakingly beautiful and the weather turning chilly. I ditched my flats and put on my trekking shoes and we started what was going to be the most memorable trek of a lifetime.

Camping itself was an amazing experience. Crawling into the tents and wriggling into our sleeping bags, the day caught up with us and we were blissfully asleep and woke up early next morning.

The next day was a breeze compared to the days that were to come ahead. But the beauty of the journey to Nichnai which was to be our next base camp, made the journey more bearable. After around 8 hours of trekking the three of us, myself, husband and Yashu, were ready to give up and decided to nap in the meadow. It took Altaf, our trek guide to wake us up and assure us that our camp site was just over the hillock and it was..we were treated to hot chai and pakoras as soon as we hit the camp..

The second day was less arduous but I had tummy trouble and wasn’t able to digest anything I had eaten. I had to cover the last hour of the trek on horseback and that ended up being more painful than walking, The horse I was riding, Nila was er-rm spirited and decided to jump over a stretch of rocks and I was riding the wind for a split second before I landed on her back…not pleasant at all.

The third day saw a weaker but better me. It was the toughest climb of all from 12000 feet to 13750 – over the Gadsar pass and then an equal descent back to 12000 feet. The climb was tough, and my fear of steep falls overtook me several times, but i made it, all by myself (without a horse I mean). It was with a sense of achievement and wonder and humility that I looked down at the brilliant Vishnusar and the Kishansar lakes sparkling blue in the distance, twin jewels of the valley. The descent was a killer on our toes and knees but then Gadsar lake came into view. The tranquility was beyond compare and many of us were unwilling to move from the spot.

The next day saw us trek to the beautiful Nandkol lake via Satsar lake where we camped. We climbed over boulders for almost three hours at a stretch and this was scary and exhilarating in equal parts.

The music that water makes as it flows beneath the rocks is the sweetest sound ever heard and I think it will always come back to me when I am scared, soothing me, lulling me into a sense of security!

As we neared civilization, we could see the ugliness we leave behind in the form of plastic bottles and plastic waste. I must say that it is a great initiative of Indiahikes team and we all made it a point to collect as much garbage and plastic as we possibly could and bring it down along with us. This we did at every camp site and along the way and I am proud to say that we left each campsite better than the state we found it in.

The fifth day was a rest day, where we explored the nearby Gangbal lake and one of our team members also dared to swim in the pristine, but icy cold waters! We sang danced, played kabaddi and had a wonderful time bonding with each other.

The sixth and last day was a descent to Narnag. This took us through some minor climbs and the steepest, most demanding descent ever.

That, my friends, was just the trek itinerary. How do I tell you about the wonderful hospitality at army camps, the friendly yet thorough checks that we were subjected to..the amazing chai spiked with bay leaf that they served us!

Oh I really shouldn’t forget the people- Pradeep, chacha, Bilal, Altaf- all supermen in their own right, who made sure we had a safe and wonderful trek.

Or the cooks who served us wonderful food, three course meals and rasogollas on the last day. The effort they put into making food at that altitude was amazing..

There is no way I am going to miss out telling you about one of the helper boys who had a kettle full of tang ready for us as we came down from another tough climb, that he never said anything about having to walk several kilometers back and forth to do this and that, made the gesture and the drink all the more sweeter!

How do I tell you about all the wonderful people I met and the things I learned about myself and others, about extending my boundaries, about walking in a meadow of golden flowers offset by rugged stony mountains, or the sweetest water that I drank from the streams, about hands that held me when I was about to fall or give up..oh how do I put this all in a meager blog?

It somehow changed me and made me better, challenged my self-imposed boundaries and added much to my character. As one of the army men from Pune told me, “when you climb there are just the two – the mountain and you! Allow the mountains to teach you and you will learn things that you never would have otherwise..”

When you climb , it’s not the mountain that you conquer, but your fears, limitations and boundaries! Even with so many along, the task is yours alone, the climb is yours, the ache and the tiring too..oh but the sweet sense of achievement is yours too..the lessons learnt and the stuff un-learnt, the magic of nature unfolding before your eyes, the gurgling of a stream beneath the rocks, the flight of an exotic bird and the exhilaration of lying down amidst a meadow full of glorious yellow flowers, nodding their heads in the breeze as if to say “go on” is yours too…

Till the next time the mountains call, I shall wait and prepare and dream!

Leaving you with a few snippets of the dream that I lived in for a few days..

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