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Greatest Lesson in Life

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    What is the most precious substance we have, once we are born? It is life itself. Because without life, we cannot have anything else. Life is the first, foremost and the most vital possession of ours. And to sustain this life, what is most important? Is it food, water, anything materialistic, or emotional, spiritual, love… well actually no. The most important object for us to sustain life is a breath of air, which we often inhale and exhale without conscious thoughts. Without food we can survive nearly two weeks, without water nearly a week. Absence of materialistic possessions like a house, car, or expensive jewelry won’t make any dent to life. Lack of human emotions of friendship, family, and even love, wouldn’t kill us, though might drive us to depression or suicide. It is only the air that we breathe we just cannot live without. Perhaps for a couple of minutes, after that we would surely perish.   The irony of this air that we breathe is not only a lesson for us to realiz

The Happy Shepherd

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  Once I knew a spirited shepherd from the Himalaya, who lived an extremely excited life, though all his compatriots thought he was insane. To him everything was a reason for excitement, merriment and a deep sense of wonder. Though completely illiterate (by our bookish scale) and ignorant of anything outside his village and his grazing ground and the mountains where he lived, he was perhaps one of the wisest people I have ever known. He had cracked the code of a happy life.   He would wake up in the morning and worship the sun, with this big gleeful face and sparkling eyes as if he had never seen a sunrise before. And he would declare to no one in particular that what an amazing day it was and how amazing it would be. Then he would light fire, again full of gratitude and prayer to the fire gods, uttering that this was the best fire in the world and then make tea and utter loudly that this tea was better than any beverage in the world, befitting for the gods. He would then guide his

Happiness via Materialism?

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  Throughout my life, as I ambled across the globe, from one mountain to another, I have met countless people, both economically poor, materialistically-deprived as well as those economically wealthy and materialistically-endowed. And to each of them I have often asked if they were happy. I have particularly asked those who were at the two extreme opposite ends of the economic spectrum – the very poor and the very rich. And through their responses I have realized that there is no direct collinear relation between wealth and material possessions to the quantum of happiness. The more of former does not necessarily translate into more of the latter. In fact, contrary.   When we reflect upon our life and its welfare, what all parameters do we look at! Do we look for what we have achieved, what we possess, who all are our family and friends, the degree of freedom of choice that we can exercise, our level of happiness and contentment, who we truly are and who we have become, how many of

Summing Up 2020

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  A year that literally began for me at the roof of Africa, atop Kilimanjaro amidst eclectic group of friends and held uncharted possibilities has now come to its pre-destined end. That the year was unique is a hyperbolic understatement. It was downright unprecedented and never even imagined in my wildest fantasy and mind you I do have some magnificent flights of fancy.   2020 was a cataclysmic, apocalyptic, and to a very large extent pessimistic year for the entire planet. A pandemic of this proportion had never happened before in the human history and I pray to almighty may never be repeated. That it was necessary, some ruminated, if only to teach us humans a lesson in humility and to pause our all out war on annihilating our planet of her resources, including species of all kinds. Sadly as the year sunk into oblivion we haven’t learned any lessons at all. Anger, envy, hatred, cruelty and mistrust and all such human failings are very much still in the offing and perhaps in gr

Best Vs Better

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Penrose Stairs - the never ending climb When we try to achieve excellence in anything, we perhaps measure our achievements in terms of the degree of expertise which we have managed to achieve. Many quit when they become good, for them, being good is enough. Those that continue soon become good enough. Eventually many of those too would quit, since to them being good-enough, seems enough. A smaller number continue to grow and evolve, seeking further excellence and they become very good and then they quit. There are few who continue further eventually becoming the best, in their chosen field, and then they too stop evolving any more.   But there’s that rare breed of people who just continue without quitting, because they don’t wish to become good, or good enough, or very good and certainly not the very best. They believe in only one thing and that is to be the best of their own-self, without any comparison or scale. They are competing only within and they never quite become the best

Mistakes I made on Toral and the Lessons I learned

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  View from Toral Pass towards Chamba It is said that it takes ignorance to make mistakes and courage to admit that you did. Well, I guess I have plenty of the former if not necessarily the latter. I could have remained quiet or simply not put on records my mistakes, yet I am here since I have always prided upon my ignorance be it in matters of the world or of the mountains. Without ignorance we won’t seek to learn and without mistakes we would never learn. Once someone said that show me a person who has never made mistakes in his life and I will show you a person who has never tried to learn. Mistakes must be made; else our learning would only be bookish, rather than experiential. And with that spirit let me begin. May I add that before you read this post, please step back and read my post on Toral that precedes this one.   Crossing Toral Pass from Kangra into Chamba is an arduous adventure by any standards and should be undertaken only in a group with a guide and adequate logisti

Toral Trauma – crossing Toral Pass (Jot) 4350m from Kangra to Chamba

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  Add caption As October was coming to its conclusion, I decided to do one more Dhauladhar Pass before the festive month of November set in. This time we opted for Toral Pass, as my friend Ravinder had requested. This pass had been crossed by his shepherd forefathers and he had never been there so he wanted to visit the footsteps of his ancestors. Nearly 10 years back I had gone to Toral Pass from Kangra side and had returned back to Kangra therefore I presumed that I at least knew the first half of our journey. Once again we decided to do this pass unguided, just the two of us. And this subsequently proved to be an immense tactical error much to our chagrin. Despite our combined experience of over 50 years, we got stuck at one place, totally lost, which I completely attribute to our own errors of judgment and perhaps a good amount of complacency on my part. I will elaborate upon this as a lesson learnt not only for myself (even after a climbing career spanning 45 years and pretty much