Thursday, December 31, 2015

Summing Up 2015

2015 was an exceptional year for several reasons; never before did I usher in a year doing tango in Buenos Aires at one of the most extravagant Tango shows in the world; which I precisely did on the midnight suspended into that twilight zone between 2014 and 15. How or why did I find myself in such resplendent and uncharacteristic surroundings are a tale best told elsewhere but for now let’s zoom into the stats.

Countries visited – 12 spread across four continents
Countries visited for the first time – 3 (Guatemala, Honduras, Macedonia) taking now my countries tally to 168
Southernmost point visited – Ushuaia in Argentina
Northernmost point visited – high Tatras Slovakia
Climbed the highest peaks of Central America

After a very long time, an entire year went by without climbing above 7000m, which was duly compensated by several high points of different countries and tons of winter climbing across lesser ranges of Europe.

This was a relatively sane and accident free year for me as I opted to explore the vertical world below death zone. Which is not to say that it wasn’t equally exciting or rewarding. Nearest to death experience was a ridiculously erupting hot volcano spewing ashes and rocks up in the air, while I was using the crater rim as an impromptu sauna.

Once again numerous strangers became friends and I found love as always everywhere sharing my life with many beautiful souls, and finding a reflection of my own crazy self. It was a beautiful rejuvenating year that I managed to survive without breaking any bones or hearts (so I presume) and now look forward to the next year with equal hope, zeal and eyes wide shut.

With a blind faith that my today is better than yesterday and tomorrow would be better than today, I continue to live in today since today is the only day I can do something with the gift of life. Therefore I believe that 2016 would be better than 2015, more exciting, more fun, more full of love and everything wonderful.

A major landmark, I completed the manuscript of my first motivational book based upon my own climbing stories. Would start sending it to publishers / book agents soon. Started two books simultaneously. 

Today, on the final day of 2015, I am at my mother's place near Delhi, at almost sea-level, counting my blessings and bounties and feeling extremely privileged and blessed and loved. 

Wishing you all an awesome New Year ahead, stay energized, stay positive and opt for happiness without reason and love without limitations. Live and love without fear. 

Set yourself free since only you can.

As always I will see you on top!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Few Things Mountains taught me

To love without reason
To flourish without season

To learn without lesson
To own without possession

To know without being told
To be young when old

To risk and be bold
To cherish and behold

To show that we care
To challenge and to dare

To smile in despair
To let go and share

To know when it is time
To pause in our climb

To life when it is run
To die with utmost fun

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

When Love is the Way

There are many symbols of love in this picture and of course the way is Love

When love is the way
One day
I will find my way

To you

No matter who you are
No matter where you stay
One day
I will find my way

To you

No matter to you I am unknown
No matter how much wind has blown
One day
I will find my way

To you

No matter where you hide
No matter how far you ride
One day
I will find my way

To you

No matter how long it takes
No matter my heart how much it breaks
One day
I will find my way

To you

No matter if I cry
No matter if I die
One day
I will find my way

To you

No matter if I be the last
No matter if you are my past
One day
I will find my way

To you

No matter what you are
No matter how you are
One day
I will find my way

To you

No matter if I go blind
No matter if you treat me unkind
One day
I will find my way

To you

No matter how long is the way
No matter how much I sway
When Love is my way
I will never lose my way

And one day
I promise today
I will always find my way

To you

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

What Mountains Taught me about Love

Whatever I learnt in life the mountains taught me how; so is about love. The following lessons of love I learnt are invaluable and I have tried to apply them in matters of heart. How far have I succeeded can only be confirmed by the women I have had the privilege of being loved. I have used the word mountain as a synonym to love. Read on and apply, and let love happen.  

Mountains are much farther than they appear to the eye. Be patient, keep going and you will reach

A mountain can be viewed in totality only from far. Sometimes distance is necessary

There is no pot of gold on the top of a mountain but the climb is full of priceless treasures, cherish and enjoy the climb

A mountain no matter how big or small can only be climbed one step at a time. You must begin your climb from ground with one step, only then would you understand what your second step should be and the next one and the next thereafter. Each step will define and create your next step

A climb doesn’t conclude at the top of the mountain. Keep climbing even after you reach the summit.

You cannot stay on a mountain top forever

From the summit of a mountain we can see how many more mountains are out there waiting to be climbed

A mountain looks and behaves differently from different directions, and has innumerable routes to the top. Even if you wish to climb just one mountain in your life it will never get boring or monotonous if you climb from different routes or in different seasons. Challenge yourself with novelty and create an exciting climb each time

The mountain decides who will reach the top; the climber can only keep climbing

Reaching the bottom of the mountain is the greatest of the challenge, from there it gets easier

A mountain cannot be conquered even if you summit it a thousand times, all you can do is to climb and hope to conquer your own weaknesses

Mountains have all the answers; you should know which questions to ask and how to listen to the answers

A mountain is neither good nor bad, it is what it is; what makes it good or bad is how we climb, what our expectations are and where we reach our personal summit

We cannot climb a mountain without leaving the safety of ground

We climb mountains not to die but to live though at times the climb will kill you

No matter how much you plan, how well you know the mountain or how experienced and trained climber you are; there will always be things outside of your control. Let go, and go with the flow, enjoy the climb

Instead of competing with the mountain become the mountain and feel the ultimate bliss

A mountain can never be possessed, it can only be cherished and enjoyed and treasured within our heart

You cannot climb a mountain without climbing the mountain within your heart

It’s worth attempting to climb a mountain no matter if you never reach the top rather than be scared and never attempt at all. The attempt is important since it begins a journey of self discovery and ultimately reaching one’s own summit

Bad weather upon a mountain doesn’t last forever. Stick around and it will clear up soon for you to resume climbing

Higher you climb a mountain more difficult it gets to breathe, slow down and breathe and surrender to the beauty around

Climbing mountain is not a competition or a race; it is a voyage of realization and self-actualization

When you love the mountain how are you sure that the mountain loves you back! Seeking such confirmation is not necessary since loving a mountain is complete in itself and doesn’t need an affirmation or reaction

A mountain treats us the way we treat the mountain. Be kind be gentle but also resolute and reckless sometimes and never ever give up

The mountain will always be there, so keep returning again and again if you did not summit the first time

Many will love the mountain that you love and it will never be yours entirely though it is yours to climb

No matter how dangerous or difficult the mountain may appear, there's always a route to the top. But you will never discover that route from far

You may leave the mountain but the mountain will never leave you

There are many more love-lessons mountains taught me but for the time being these would suffice I hope. I love the way I climb mountains and climb the way I love. Since to me both loving and climbing are synonymous and symbiotic. I couldn’t do or be without either.

Note – this post is dedicated to all the mountains I climbed and all the women I loved, wherever they may be or however they loved me. Love without seeking reciprocation or confirmation is like a flower that blooms to share the fragrance; it only knows what and how to give. Whether someone received it or acknowledged is of little consequence.  

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Just Breathe

Once upon a time, long time ago; a master and a novice started climbing a hill in the Himalaya for no apparent reason. It was early morning, still pitch dark and freezing cold. Master climbed silently barely making a sound with a placid demeanour belying any efforts in his part while the novice a young teenager struggled with a mind full of questions. Here is the story -  

Why do we climb – novice asked
Just breathe – master answered

Why are we climbing in the dark
Just breathe

I can’t see anything
Just breathe

I am cold and tired
Just breathe

I can’t climb anymore
Just breathe

How far is the top
Just breathe

I want to stop
Just breathe

And then soon enough the sun begins to rise painting the azure in shades of gold and orange and mauve. The novice stood speechless at the spectacular play of light and shades upon the snow covered peaks that lay before him like endless chain of white pyramids. He had never seen anything as majestic or inexplicable. He paused and gasped and gaped. The master stood beside, smiling gently at the young boy.

Then the novice realized that they were indeed at the top. He was tired, he was happy, he was fulfilled and in that moment of supreme realization all he could do was – just breathe. He had no more questions and he didn’t seek any more answers. All he did was breathe and rejoice that he could breathe.

Note – obviously, I was the novice in the above anecdote and the master was one of many that found me on my life’s path and worthy of their company. I was and am still always ready and eager to learn and imbibe what I don’t know; and I don’t know anything. On this climb I learned that our most basic need is also our most fulfilling objective; which is to just breathe. And I learned to breathe, just breathe. Rest will occur naturally. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

How to find Excitement

People say I have an exciting life and wish to know how they too can have such levels of excitement so here’s my post for all of you; mantra for an exciting life full of excitement and adrenaline rush.

What exactly is excitement; what is it to be exciting? Dictionary tells us that excitement is a feeling of arousal, a feeling of lively and cheerful joy, state of being emotionally aroused, something that agitates and arouses some kind of headiness within our minds. Therefore anything, any activity that we indulge in that produces such effects is an exciting pursuit. Is life per se exciting, is merely existing an exciting way of living? Or do we need to stir the pot once in a while to make it exciting? Can anyone have constant excitement of existence, like living in a high every moment 24X7 for your entire life till your last day!

We all know that ‘change’ is the only constant in the universal laws of this world. From low entropy to higher entropy that determines the flow direction of time, defining a past, present and future, and we all flow through this whether we like it or not. There’s no other way; yet what is most obvious and simple escapes our attention. To achieve excitement you must do something exciting, and something exciting is all about doing something different or the same thing differently; it’s all about the only constant in our world ‘Change’.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Why Climbers make better Lovers

If you are looking for your ideal lover, look no further than the nearest high mountain or sheer rock face or an impeccable ice line. Upon such crazy landscapes will you find the one that can make you dizzy, whether you climb with them, upon them or within them. Climbers climb; what more can you ask for! So climb on and see you on top!

The following has no order of priority and have been strictly used in generic sense related to climbing; what kind; depends upon your mental disposition. For me it is all about climbing, from one summit to another.

They really like to climb

They have good endurance

They like to see you on top

They have good grip and balance

They are not afraid to fall

They like new routes to the summit

They need bare minimum

They know how to survive extreme situations

They have all the necessary equipment

They like being high

They climb one step at a time

They seldom give up

They can go for long without sleep, food or water

They can hold on to their bowel movements

They can make the most morbid situation look funny and cool

They boldly go where no one has gone before

They often take leap of faith

They like torturing themselves for pleasure

They can show you holds you never knew existed

They can tie knots that you would love to be tied into

They are really good at hanging

They believe in action

They are generally quiet but may scream at the top

They are willing to try out anything

They have strong hands, ideal for massaging

They never let go of their partners 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Everest Industry

I normally refrain from writing about Everest simply because Everest has already been written about at least a million times by literally every Tom, Dick and Harry and their equivalent women brigade. I wrote one post last year after the incident where 16 Sherpas died (including few of my close friends); and again this year nature has struck leaving many dead, injured and dejected, disoriented and disproportionately satiated. As speculations are flying at the speed of light in volumes defying rational readability, I felt an unbiased to the point practical look is again necessary; not only to dismal fears and ignorance but also to put forth objectively what many fail to understand in totality. I know this prelude sounds confusing, but then it is just play of words. Here follows the hard facts and figures along with hard line thoughts without apologies to none.

I took this picture of Everest BC few days before it was all demolished

Let’s face it, whether you like it or not, Everest over the years has become an industry. It is an industry or an assembly line if you may call it, which provides the world’s largest tourist revenue to one of the poorest nations in the world. No matter how many times you shut it, it will rebound since it cannot be shut down, neither by nature, nor by human, not even by God I suppose. Nepal’s dependence upon Everest cannot be overemphasized. The figures speak for themselves. Over a million people directly or indirectly feed from Everest industry. Even if we only look at the number of Everest and surrounding peaks climbing permits issued in one year, it comes to mind-boggling revenue of around 4.5 million USD. More than double this amount is pumped into the Nepal economy for other things like food, transportation, lodging, Sherpa fee, oxygen, guides, etc. Add to this the humungous volume of trekkers to Everest base camp and surrounding valleys all through the year. They bring in at least couple of millions more in revenues to the country.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Love is blind – blinding love and loving blindly

Note – this is a true story, a short one, verbatim as it happened. Yet the central character of this story, if she is still alive, will never read it. Do tell her of it and that I remember her, if you chance upon her someday. Therefore I retain her real description; I will never look for her but you may. Here is the story:

I was walking along the sunset kissed windswept boulevard of Punta Arenas balancing my camera trying to find a spot close to the sea where a magnificent sun in all its radiance was slowly inching towards the blue horizon of Magellan Strait. Finis Terra as it is often called, or end of the known world, Punta Arenas is the southernmost point of Chile after which only the ocean remains before striking the frozen Antarctica shores. I had been in this tiny picturesque town many times before and hence. On that day I was chasing the sun for a shot when I walked past a girl sitting on the grass, apparently gazing rapturously at the same sun that I wished to capture in my camera.

She was all alone upon the grass, languid and alluring like a siren, her brazen hair galloping into the breeze. The orange glow accentuated her rosy cheeks and her face, eyes covered with big sunglasses, sparkled with the joy of life. She was stunning and I couldn’t just pass her by. I stopped and walked up to her. I stood behind her and coughed, ‘do you mind if I join you and watch the setting sun?’ I asked hoping she would reply in English. She did, ‘sure.’

I sat beside her sinking into the soft grass and even from a non-intrusive distance smelled her fragrance. Rarely had I seen such a joyful countenance. She was beautiful because she was radiant. We sat in silence for a while; she never turned to look at me continuing to gaze at the sea and the sun. ‘What are you looking at?’ I broke the silence.

‘Of what?’ I asked
‘Life; what could be and what is, what should be, what isn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t...’ she replied pensively. Her lilting voice had a smooth cadence.
Her replies were mysterious and piqued my curiosity further. Mysticism attracts me.
‘Life is simple, isn’t it?’ I said. ‘What is, is, what isn’t, isn’t!’

‘You see the setting sun and the sea it sets into, don’t you?’ she asked.
‘Yes that’s what I see and that’s what it is.’
‘I don’t see the setting sun neither the sea it sets into,’ she said, ‘I feel its warmth during the day and now its coolness as it sets, I smell the sea and the breeze and hear the waves crashing on its shore, I can feel the restlessness of time, of the sun to set here but to rise at another place simultaneously. I see possibilities while you see events because you see while I don’t; I feel...’
Only then did I notice a white stick lying next to her lap on the grass.

At that instance I fell in love with the blind girl blindly. I loved her blindly since it was blinding love. There was no reason, no ifs or buts, no conditions, no forethought neither afterthought. I did not see, I felt, I shut my eyes and saw the possibilities.

I did not return to my lodge that evening and I did not leave the side of this girl for the next three days that I was in Punta Arenas. Every waking hour and sleeping minutes I stayed with her as she stayed with me. We talked endless, walked aimless, laughed without reason and loved as if it was our last moment of life. We made no promises, we offered no explanations, we didn’t see. We only felt and saw the endless possibilities of life. We lived as well as died every moment to be reborn in the next. When we parted as we knew we would, we kissed for one last time and said to each other, ‘we tried all possibilities that life has to offer.’

She came to see me off at the airport along with her mother. She hugged me so tight that I couldn’t breathe. She brought her lips upon my ears and whispered, ‘Love is blind, I always knew, thanks to you I now know that it is true. Go my darling where you must and now I don’t really need to see for I feel the possibilities. I will always be blind in love for you.’

Friday, March 6, 2015

Life is a Fairy Tale

Life is a Fairy Tale

Last night I was watching ‘Tangled’. I often watch fairy tales or animated film, those that are captivating not only in their imagery but also in what they teach us. Take for instance Shrek series or Despicable Me, Up or Lion King, Snow white, etc etc. I am yet to see or read one fairy tale that doesn’t have something bad or evil happening. Often someone dies too in such movies and stories. Yet we read these books and watch these movies happily, smiling along with our children. Why don’t we despair when something bad happens to the central characters, why don’t we feel sad when someone dies, why do we keep cheerful and let our children watch all the mayhem and evil doings of the villains. For every fairy tale have villains.

We don’t despair because we know that it is a fairy tale, where in the end good will triumph over evil and the princess will be rescued by the fair prince, we know that no matter how much the evil forces try, in the end the good will win. We have that faith in fairy tales. Then why don’t we have that faith in our own lives!  Why do we cry and worry and fret when something bad happens to us or our loved ones. Why do we want to constantly shield our children from failing, from experiencing something that we consider unpleasant! Why don’t we have that faith in life that in the end everything would be fine and if things are not yet fine then it is still not the end; there is much more life beyond where it is bad.

I think it is time we learnt from the fairy tales and the animation movies and cartoons. That in life good will eventually triumph over evil. Periods of sadness should not make us worry too much.

Life is made of opposites, so it is important to know evil to realize goodness and grief to enjoy happiness. Someone will always die yet we must remember that death is only sad if you think it is physical, no one ever dies since they live in our memories and what they created are all around us to enjoy and cherish. We cannot change life, since life is what it is and to me it is simply a fairy tale. 

Married or Single - Unbiased View

Marital Bliss

I agree I am putting my hands deliberately inside a hornet’s nest but then someone has to, especially someone like me who is totally unbiased, have equal number of married and single friends and I don’t really see one as better than the other in anyway whatsoever. It all comes down to individual choices after all. Some of us learn the hard way that we might have made a wrong choice while some just never learn or realize so they either stay single for their entire lives or they keep getting married again and again. No wonder human are fundamentally masochistic. This is a fun post so take it as one since life itself is fun with all the intended pun. I am not a marriage counsellor and certainly not a ‘single’ advocate. But I can tell you a lot about both the statehoods, since I observe keenly. And yes, for those who do not know me, I am very much single and intend to stay that way for the rest of my life; yes I haven’t learnt anything and yes I am masochistic as well.

Why this post? Well since I am have neutral point of views on almost everything on earth I am often called in to air my views on these two most debated topics, especially when someone is about to step into matrimony or one is contemplating giving up singlehood or when one is about to get into a messy divorce or just plain befuddled by society’s way of treating someone’s propensity to either get married or stay single. I am sure you all would agree that no  matter what your current state is, whenever you want to or think of changing it, some will oppose it some will support. You will never have a complete consensus one way or the other, which actually leads you to even more confusion as to the veracity of your intentions. Often thus confused you do not take the step towards salvation (either way). Whereas if you seek my opinion, I would simply say follow your heart my friend. After all you will find in this post that at the bottom of it all lies the heart.

Friday, February 13, 2015

In Love I Believe

I do everything for love since I exist because of love and I will die one day for love

My obituary should read: on the journey of love he kept on climbing

There is no love without freedom and no freedom without love

I am happy to live as I am happy to die since I love death as I love life

No point in living if I do not live for love

I cannot make someone love me nor how nor when nor why she chooses that love to be. I can only love fully with my mind body and soul and hope that she will recognise it even if she cannot reciprocate in equal measure or manner

Love is the only action that need not have a reaction. Love is complete in itself.

I'm grateful that I discovered love because she passed by and does it matter if she never noticed me bloom within that love!

I can only make myself worthy of love and wait till someone recognises that

It is possible to discover love in one but find it in another. Discovery of love is not always finding love

It is not possible to love truly without living truly

Love just like happiness is an act of choice and not of compulsion

Not all love will be reciprocated but those that will be are worth waiting for

I can love more than one with equal intensity at the same time since the way I love will be as different as they are 

In Life I Believe

I believe only in two things or rather experiences since they both essentially are just that, and everything else evolve out of them: I believe in being alive and being in love; and today on Friday the 13th, 2015 I would like to share few beliefs about my two experiences. Here is the first one: - 

I am and will always be the luckiest person in the world

Miracles happen all around me every moment

There is no one in the world who hates me or dislikes me or bears any ill towards me

Everyone I have met or meet or will be meeting were, are and will be friends. No one is or will ever be a stranger to me

I can only live in and for the moment; past is irrevocably gone serving only as meaningful lessons and the future is nothing but another name for hope

Life is what it is, and only I can find a purpose or make it meaningful; though sometimes it is best to be purposeless and meaningless; like a sail boat without sails amidst a tempest sea

No matter where I am, I am always home

True freedom can only be derived if I am not rooted to a place, person or object

Fewer options lead to simpler life

Money by itself has no intrinsic value; it is either a piece of paper or a piece of metal, it’s what you do with it; and so is life, it has not intrinsic value what matters is what you do with it

That there is no paradise more bountiful than a loving heart and no hell more tormenting than a hating heart

That we all should endeavour to dissolve the boundaries within our heart, mind and soul and only then can we survive and exist as a race

Purpose of destination is to initiate the journey. It’s not about arriving but the desire to reach

Every day is the last day of my life and also the first day for the rest of my life.

Every morning gives me one more opportunity to do something exciting and worthwhile with my life

There are no problems in my life, only situations that need to be faced and when I die there won't be any situations either
Sharing my time truly with someone is the most precious gift I can offer

That I always speak, act and express from the heart, saying exactly what I mean and meaning exactly what I say

That every person in this world is amazing and has an amazing story waiting to be heard and all I must do is to listen

Only I can say if I truly lived because only I can justify my life

I'm on an endless journey upon a mountain the summit of which I would never reach

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Summing Up 2014

Lago Torre, Patagonia Argentina
This time around while summing up the year 2014 that just whizzed by I am completely determined to avoid intricate statistics lest it leads to three mainstream reactions among my readers (like it usually does) – one of admiration (I like this one, especially when I get those delicious mails from delicious women); one of envy; and one of utter disbelief (many believe all these travels and climbs of mine are pure fiction and products of my over productive imagination).

Suffice it to say that I did not travel much in 2014, barely 10 countries in four continents and crossed the Atlantic only four times and kissed the Pacific shores twice. Climbed very moderately and only till around 7000m. Visited only two places that are rarely visited by human.

Air miles covered must be in the region of 100,000 if not more but then this is merely an average human being I suppose. Despite all precautions taken, the year ended with a black tipped nose due to carelessness on my part and a very cold storm in the mountain’s part.

The highlight of the year as always were the wonderful new friends (read women) I made and the old ones I connected with and rejuvenated from the point where we had earlier parted.

My writings suffered obviously as ideas and stories kept cramming my empty head but I simply found no time or means of putting them down in black and white. I wonder how soon I should call my vagabond life to a much needed pause and get down to writing.

Literal high of the year being the summit of Aconcagua in Argentina and the literal low of the year being the shores of Baku in Azerbaijan.

Some mega budget proposals came my way though none of them materialized due to various reasons; either I wasn’t available or the proposal didn’t pass my ethical standards or the proposer thought I was too cocky for my boots. Sometimes I do quote an astronomical figure when I don’t want to do something yet don’t want to say ‘no’.

The saving grace though were a series of 50 short articles I wrote for India’s prime online travel portal; each measuring 600 – 800 words outlaying some of my travels and climbs and also tips for adventure travel.

Nothing more to add and nothing less to subtract and I hope I achieved my mission of keeping it short sharp and snappy. Wishing you all an exciting 2015 full of dreams and drama, adventure and adrenalin (mine surely is).

And to all my friends: keep rolling for rolling stones gather no moss and they remain fresh and shiny, while to all my enemies: go climb a mountain.