Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dead or Alive

Someone is certainly dead in this picture :) 

To many of my friends around the world, I am perhaps dead today; and they would either be mourning or smiling in glee (I hope the latter). Not that I mind, since death is always by my side (as with any mortal human) and it’s good to be dead while you are still alive since then you learn how others perceive you and how deeply are you loved or hated. But then some of you may ask why my friends would presume me dead on this particular day, on this particular date! The answer is simple.

When I was asked before the advent of the net, how one would know if I am still alive or dead, I simply had no definite answer. Spending most of life in places that are out of communication coverage (underwater or high above into the clouds or deep jungles) how on earth would anyone ever know, since I myself wouldn’t know. But then came the net and suddenly things changed and then I started my blog and things changed even more.

Ever since I started my blog and it went on to rise in popularity, stupidity and hilarity I figured out that no matter where I am, what I am up to (as long as I am still on this planet) I would be able to get online at least once in three months if not more and what better way to let people know that I am still alive than to put in a tiny post of memorabilia during that period. So my stock answer then became, ‘if you don’t see a post from me for three months, then for sure I am dead.’ And that’s what happened today. Since my last post was on 10th August 2012 and it is now exactly one day more than three months that I am putting in this post.

Why the lapse, you may wonder! Pure laziness and some adrenalin pumping adventures along with mindless travels I must confess. But then what should be unveiled in my ‘resurrection’ post? If I am to be resurrected that is; much to the chagrin of some people I am sure. But then what can one do if Lord almighty is still keeping his doors shut for me; no matter how hard and loud and repeatedly I knock. So to better prepare all of you and me for that day when that door will be flung open on my face; here’s my obituary, as I would want it to be… and while you read it, even as your face splits into broad grin, please read it with equal seriousness with which it was penned, after all death is a serious business, especially when it is mine.

Satya Now Sees All of Us from the TOP (heading)

         An apology of an obituary for a boy who never found his brain

Wonder Wander Blunder
Mountains and thunder
Into clouds and ocean under
Pun and laughter
May his soul now rest in pieces  
For his soul always runs asunder

Friday, August 10, 2012

Lencois Maranhenses Brazil – Canvas of Emerald White

The endless white sand dunes

Out of the three best things that befell my fortune in Belem; two happened on the same evening, within a span of few minutes with the same person and I am myself shocked that this person hails from the male species and I really took an intense liking to him. How and what got me to Alexandre is a long tale not suitable for current consumption, but suffice to say that he picked me up one bland Belem evening to offer my hungry soul some delightful delicacies. We finally ended up in a roadside joint and had just dipped our fingers in a large cauldron (caldrao) of fish swimming unceremoniously in thick clear yellow soup when suddenly Alexandre froze, one twisted shrimp poised tantalizingly from his lips. He could as well be a fish about to take the bait but at the last moment arrested by his element of surprise. I wondered how could he take the delectable shrimp that close to his mouth and not put it in! Some display of self-control, if I had seen any.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Iguacu Falls Brazil

 When I made my escape from Uruguay, I needed some place that would not only wipe away all the dust and grime of that nation but also allow me to forget all my follies I committed therein. My intended escape route out of Uruguay was ‘over the land’ trip to Porto Alegre in Brazil but as nothing ever happens according to plan, on a whim I bought a ticket to Foz do Iguacu, gateway town to the famous Iguacu Falls, which many tout as the world’s eighth natural wonder – that kept me wondering what the other seven were! Never mind my wonder, but I was in so much rush to leave Uruguayan soil that I reached the petite airport 4 hours ahead of schedule despite losing my bus and way twice.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Climbers Old, not so old and not so young

This week I met, after several years, one of my best climbing buddies, the infamous Jim Lowther along with another friend Jim Fotheringham – the legendary British climber. While JF is a dentist by profession and all of 60 years specializing in curing snoring besides making first ascents around the globe, JL is of my age (47 – 48) and claims to be a poor farmer in the Lakes UK, never mind the fact that his peerage belongs to the Earls of Lonsdale that once upon a time were perhaps the largest landowners in UK, while as you all know I do nothing and claim to be doing nothing either and let someone prove that I do of anything worth mentioning! We had another member to this informal (over the beer glasses and huge plates of burgers) meeting all of 44 and a reborn alpinist from US, Eric, who was a champion mountain biker and took up climbing few years ago. I never thought of asking how he justifies his existence on planet earth otherwise, so his profession and occupation remains as of now a bit obscure and mysterious. Between us four we had more than 100 years of climbing and adventuring, covering all the continents and nearly every mountain ranges known to man.  

We met at a supposedly 4 star hotel in Delhi, when Delhi is reeling under heat stroke and these three had just landed back the same morning from a stupendous expedition in Zanskar. So they were super acclimatized (for whatever they felt like doing), super hungry and thirsty (for whatever lay within reach and pocket) while I was super dazed and fatigued and dehydrated and itching to get out and get back to the high Himalayan peaks.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Braving Brazil

A big bright smile, vigorous nod of the head and a pair of thumbs raised straight up towards heaven works wonderfully in Brazil. And that’s how I sashayed my way through the world’s largest catholic nation for two months. I learnt a lot except the tongue. In fact I returned with less Portuguese in my vocabulary than I had begun my journey with. As always wherever I travel, I met and befriended an incredible number of people, fell in love with the land and with its beautiful women, with the air, with the music, food  both solid and fluid, beaches, animals and above all with the buses.

This is an introductory post on Brazil hence I will highlight and touch upon certain aspects that I find memorable and briefly mention all the regions I caroused through; time and inclination permitting I shall elaborate upon these as well in future posts.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Urging Away Uruguay

When the girl at the hostel reception told me that the most exciting things I could hope to indulge in, in Montevideo (being winter – whispering conspiratorially) was catch a movie in a neighboring theatre or sip maté on the roof or by the sea watching the sun sink across the bay; I should have known better to take the next flight out. But Uruguay is my 145th country and tenacity is my name and self-inflicted injuries to my mind are what I specialize in and I wasn’t going to give up Uruguay without a fight. Living with ‘zero’ expectations and being ‘disappointment proof’ has their own rewards and nowhere else has it been proven as conclusively as in Uruguay, the country that many dream of visiting. I spent the next five days in this flat nation and this is the story of what happened or rather didn’t happen during those interminable hours.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Outdoor Travel Essentials

Sometime back I had written a post on the ‘must haves’ for an outdoor trip, things without which you must never venture into the wilderness. Following that and even otherwise, people have been asking me to come out with a more extensive list of things to pack in when going outdoors. Pack in the thrills without the frills. What should be an ideal check of list for an outdoor trip, where you don’t take too much neither too little. So that it covers the essentials and few more as well. Obviously I had to think like a normal hiker or walker. My personal list would be too little for most people since there are times I don’t even carry food or source of fire. But then not everyone has adequate survival skills or experience, hence missing out on certain items could be calamitous. So here are my recommendations with few additional items that I think are ‘luxuries’ but then we live in different times and these days people often feel an ipod is an essential.

When I do extreme light-weight solo alpine climbs I scatter all the gear and stuff I feel are necessary and then go over each of them with a toothcomb; pointing at each and asking myself ‘if that object is going to save my life!’ if the answer is ‘no’ that object gets left out. Hence things like toilet kit, hand sanitizer often are left at home.

So let’s get packing, a lightweight list of outdoor travel, not too extreme, not too light, but light enough. Use your own discretion as I have given options too, but if you follow this list verbatim, you wouldn’t be too far from the truth. Happy traveling!

A Minute of Life – Gone in 60 seconds

Sometime back I did a survey through my FB friend’s and other networks asking them – if you had a minute more to live, 60 seconds of life left, how would you engage those seconds. I had no idea what to expect but within a fortnight I received 73 responses from around the globe. After that no one responded, so I waited bit more, hoping that I would be able to gather at least 100 samples before unravelling the findings and adding my two bits of wisecrack. Now I have waited for nearly a month and half without getting the 74th response to the topic in hand. And I can safely assume that those who thought about the last minute of their lives have already responded and the rest simply didn’t take me seriously. For which they can’t be held responsible since even I don’t take myself seriously.

Well, so let’s begin, as always, with the numbers –

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

World Without Boundaries

I have a large world map chart hanging in my room. It’s the first thing I see in the morning and mostly also the last before I sleep. Within and in between that span, everything that happens to humanity or to me happens within that map, in the depths of the oceans and across the length of those continents. The map shows me the places, geographical coordinates, rivers and the mountains, desserts, polar icecaps, islands, archipelagoes, ocean currents, air and shipping lanes, time zones, equator, international date line and the tropics as well. It’s not a large map, measuring around 40 X 50 inches. It’s mindboggling to think that this tiny planet as we know it houses seven billion people and counting and countless other things both from the living and non-living world.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Being Alive

I shut my eyes, let my breathe play through my body, following its path through my mind’s eye as it cruises from one extremity to another, filling up my cells with oxygen...

My limbs are stuck in awkward pantomime, I am frozen, can’t move, if I do, I will fall, if I don’t, I will fall

My legs are gone, they feel nothing, the tip of my toes which bear my entire weight and keeps me from plunging have numbed beyond existence

What’s keeping me stuck to this sheer wall of white, I wonder. I know this won’t last for long, nothing lasts for long

I look at my arms, thoroughly pumped, holding on to the pair of steel shafts, bent like banana, which are beginning to tremble and shake, I know their two tips, buried less than few mm into the rock hard ice is all that stands between me and certain death

The breeze plays with my hair, the cold refuses to warm my freezing mind, the body is beyond any feeling, yet my mind is alive... and I know very soon I would witness my own descent into hell, falling, crashing, splintering every bone of my body like a rag doll... all I need to do is let go and roll, and then I begin to see my knees and elbows flutter like dry leaves in tempest

I am only seconds away from ripping off, I feel my body leaning out and hastening the inevitable, I will my arms to let go of the axes, my toes to kick one last desperate time, I stare through between my knees at the ground far below now disappearing through the icy mist that rushes up with the wind

I am soloing, no one is holding a rope at the other end, no one will stop my fall, no one knows where I am, even I don’t

Then my body begins to shudder out of exhaustion, out of sheer proximity to death, am I scared, I can’t tell, my mind has stopped responding to such stimulus, my adrenalin must have frozen too

I take a final look at the mountains, at my friends and families, at the incredibly beautiful world that has nurtured me so long, at the distant blue horizons and at the frozen walls that have been my home all my life, very soon I will part from them forever and they would remain mute observers, will they smile, will they miss me, I don’t know, who knows, who will or can ever know

Only this moment is mine and I want to share it with my loved ones so I look at them and smile, and laugh, I feel an amazing sense of exhilaration, perched at the very edge of an endless void I am eager to leap and find out how far will I fall, I feel empty, I feel weightless, I feel like a bird about to fly

 I am the breeze, I am the mountain, I am the sky, I am the endless white panorama around me and I begin to uproot, I watch my hands crash off and let go of the leash, I hear my ice axes pop out one by one from the ice, I lean out and let go

As I catapult away from the slope I finally feel what I have wanted to experience all my life

I am free at last


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

You Can Climb

You can’t fail to see the connection... the title has been totally inspired and motivated by the famous TV shows: You Can Dance and Yan Can Cook. I wish we had a TV show ‘You Can Climb’ with me as the host and three celebrity judges including Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan. Perhaps some hotshot daredevil TV show producer would read this post and get equally inspired to boost his TRP right to the top and get my idea off ground. But only on one condition, JR and MR have to be in it. So this post is for that elusive TV show producer / director, for JR and MR and finally for all you lovely people out there who are the intended participants and live or TV audience when the show is finally aired. Join me guys; let’s do some climbing aka fun style.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pottering Paris in a Day

A reliable source claims that around 30 – 34 million visitors annually litter the streets and edifices of Paris of which around 22 million do so only in and around the top 6 sights. This could be true or entirely false and I had no desire to prove either when I started to plan something totally alien (to me) and seemingly non-achievable: to see the major sights of Paris in a day using only the rail network of this city within minimum possible expenditure. This was an audacious enterprise hence needed some sort of a plan. To begin with I needed a day in Paris. I have been through Paris on numerous occasions before, mainly using it as a gateway to the French Alps. Just like any other manmade and populated places Paris holds no charm for me, even then during my earlier visits I had once taken the lift to the top of that tower and had also gazed at that mysterious lady, who may not be a lady at all if we are to believe the painter’s arch rivals, within that museum which supposedly is world’s biggest repository of art.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Summing Up 2011

It’s said that if you can’t say something briefly while retaining its purport and significance to your audience then either you have nothing to say or it isn’t worth saying; either way it would be better to maintain silence and lead your audience to believe in your wisdom; why open your mouth and confirm their suspicions – that you indeed are a fool. Among my friends, fans and followers the opinion is divided in equal measure: I speak too much and I don’t speak at all, and they are united in their opinion that I am indeed the only self-proclaimed foolproof guru who is capable of fooling everyone all the time. I take this as a compliment so I either speak or stay mute depending upon the conditions of my vocal chords and never have any consideration for  my audience; what about their choice, do they want to hear me utter my wisecracks or not but I will deliver nevertheless. It’s like on a hot day you may prefer to stay indoors and not expose yourself to the sun burning in the sky, but the sun still shines heedless. It doesn’t bother whether he is desired or not, it shines since that is its nature… so I follow. Now enough rambling, which actually has no purpose at all except to add a bit of my fusion into the cauldron of world confusion. I am absolutely certain that not even a rat gives a damn or s… about what I have done or not done during the year gone by, but so what, I want to record it for my sake. You may or may not choose to read it but if your mood is dropping faster than the stock market and if you have either rolled off your bed on the wrong side or had a war with your significant other and right now just tearing your hair or scratching your bald head or vowing never to visit a beauty parlor ever again then this post will give you enough reason to laugh and forget the rest of the world till you have reached the end. After all I am a quack and I offer only fleeing solutions and not forever ones. So here goes…