Cool Buddies

The Joy of Giving (poem) – by Ratheesh Pisharody

Posted in Uncategorized by Ratheesh & Sharada on November 18, 2015

Will not provide shade, the young tree remarked
Why should I care? The leaves are so mine
And so he proceeds to drop his leaves,
A leaf after another, down to the ground

Do it for yourself, and not for them
Advice he heard, from the grand old tree to the left
He dropped more leaves while the old one slept
Left with nothing but branches and stem

Birds without homes moved to the left
Desperate cries from the plants on the floor
Wake up old one! the young tree said
Nothing has changed, due to my actions alone

The old tree smiled, with birds on his arm
A squirrel that danced looked up from the ground
The one who gave always made friends
The one who gave got more than he had

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Kanmani! Want to fall in love with you… [by Sharada]

Posted in Uncategorized by Ratheesh & Sharada on May 12, 2015

Right from the way they meet, unconventionally, in a railway station, and an engaging scene of them trying hard to communicate across people in a church, the movie draws you towards them. You start living with these two young, spirited and carefree people as they start their unexpected, spontaneous romance. We laugh with them, we fear for them, we cheer for them. The young couple, bold and ambitious, both equally passionate about their own career choices and unable to “let go” of their personal goals, decide to settle for a “no strings attached” relationship. The choice of talented, bubbly Nithya Menon and Dulquer Salmaan pair adds the right amount of freshness to the film.

The film, through its combination of crisp dialogues, a well blended background music and brilliant cinematography achieves what every film aspires to do – provide an experience. When you forget that you are watching a film, when you forget the names of the actors, and that they are acting, when you forget to notice camera angles, you move into a zone where you are completely involved. Your heart races in anticipation, you unknowingly shed a tear and you smile when something nice is said. You start connecting your life with those of the characters, you start believing you are them. This is when a film becomes brilliant; when it touches you. Mani Ratnam, known for his strong hold on relationships, strikes a chord with this film. He is able to give you the experience of falling in love. The film will make you want to fall in love all over again.

If it would have been just this, it probably would have given you an one-sided view of love. He goes deeper when we are introduced to an older couple, equally lovable. The silent, gentle husband played brilliantly by Prakash Rai, who captures you without imposing his overpowering presence, yet manages to hold your attention with his simple, gentle gestures. The extremely lovable, forgetful wife, played by Leela Samson, provides the well-timed comic relief, giving us a lighter side view of the agonizing, heart wrenching disease, Alzheimer’s. The mature love between them, as viewed by the young couple and how it changes their relationship is what keeps the film moving forward. The scenes of carefree life of the young couple, their adventures in love are juxtaposed against the committed and grounded relationship of the older ones. The young couple slowly start realizing what they would probably look like when they grow older. When the romance fades away, what is left is pure love, an invisible bond that makes you love your spouse unconditionally.

Where the film wins is in the way it captures the right situations, emotions and behaviour of all its characters. You can connect to almost all the characters including the strict brother and the very talkative and suspicious sister in law. You know these people. Seeing them on screen immediately makes you smile. It retains the humour till the end and manages to create emotions without being melodramatic.

One aspect where I might differ from most others was in the way the second half looks forced. Although it takes a very long time to reach the point, there is a certain hurriedness to get to a closure. You start feeling let down as the story loses its spontaneity, boldness and tries hard to become clichéd. I felt it would have been much better to have left it as it was, without having to force a logical ending, giving a feeling that it is the only way. For someone whose dreams would have taken flight imagining the possibilities of a “live-in” relationship, the eventual, conventional end would leave them cheated. The film could have ended the way it was, and in fact, would have made it shorter and crisper. Yet, the film wins because of its smaller moments that are like precious gems strung together to make a beautiful necklace.

Mani Ratnam has definitely tried to bring in some elements of contemporary youth, the “live-in” relationship goes down smoothly, but some others like the ultra glorious life of a software professional, the “forced” video gaming theme that appears in the beginning as well as in between, some of the songs, which can be called experimental, create the unnecessary distractions to the beautiful canvas. It breaks the flow, unintentionally and you start thinking about that instead. The film would have been complete even without these, in fact, probably, would have been better.

For someone like Mani Ratnam, who has already delivered his best with Roja, Bombay long ago, it is unfair to compare his latest work with his earlier ones. This film does not in any way stand up to the high standards he has set himself by his earlier work. Yet, to be fair, it is a sparkling love story, just like its title “Kanmani”, made with a pure heart and has the right elements to touch you; Although, it might not stay with you for as long as you would expect it to.

A dream called Badanavalu [by Sharada]

Posted in Uncategorized by Ratheesh & Sharada on May 7, 2015

Badanavalu is a small village tucked away between the boundaries of Mysore and Chamarajanagar districts of Karnataka. We can see this as an obscure station in the railway route that runs between Mysore and Chamarajanagar. One might miss it because the express trains do not stop here and the passenger trains stop for a few brief seconds. What may be easily forgotten as a small dot in a magnified view of a map, at closer look, has an astounding history behind its existence. The villagers, especially the elders, are full of stories from a bygone era.

In the last century, Gandhiji had visited this village. And the most interesting part is not the fact that he visited, but the reason behind his visit. Because, this was no ordinary village. Back in those days, when Gandhiji was advocating “Swaraj” and “Self-sufficient” villages, Badanavalu was a living example of one such model village. The Khadi and cottage industries Centre started by Shri. Tagadoor Ramachandra Rao was a flourishing enterprise, providing employment to the villagers and helping them produce some commodities, mostly hand-made. It played a major role in women empowerment as a majority of its employees were women, who could come and work at their convenience. DSC_0085

And not just the Khadi centre, Badanavalu was a leading supplier of milk, curds and other dairy products to all the nearby villages. Legend has it that, a dynamic woman named Parvathamma used to take this train everyday with her supplies of milk and curd for sale. And the train wouldn’t leave the station until she boarded! Such was the glory of this place and the people of this village. And this is what drew Gandhiji’s attention to this village. He came to experience this beautiful setup and see his dream of a self-sustained village come true.

DSC_0168The vast nine acre campus of the Khadi Centre would come alive every morning with the tinkling sound of women’s bangles and anklets, as they walked towards their spinning wheels. The tranquil atmosphere was broken by the welcome sound of the women’s laughter. The day would start with a daily prayer in front of the Gandhi Mantap. The various neatly constructed structures housed each unit like Khadi spinning, weaving, paper making.

Each building was decorated with its own garden with various flowering plants. The entire setup resplendent with brick walls, tiled roofs and well-trimmed garden gave a homely feel to the Centre. The hand spun yarn would go the weaving unit and any waste generated would feed the paper making unit. The paper making unit housed large machines that would process the pulp. Three living row houses served as quarters for any visiting officials and guests. The water needs were taken care by a well in the premises.

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But now, this place is desolate. The once flourishing industries are all shut down, barring a handful of looms that are still managing to exist. There is a deathly silence as you enter the campus. The tree roots are reclaiming the building and towering over them.The buildings are in various stages of ruin – some which are missing tiles, some whose walls have fallen down, some that just exist as a rubble heap, each of them speaking of neglect.

DSC_0179The quarters look like bombed homes, with the kitchen walls still covered in soot and the door frames decorated with vestiges of dried up mango leaves; a chilling reminder of life that was lived between these walls. The campus resembles an excavation site, a chapter from a history book.

The paper making workshop looks like a ghostly hall, with huge machines now standing silently, covered in cobwebs. The place is now house for bats that rest here during the day. A small black board with production log still adoring the wall, a reminder of work left incomplete. Although the pathways to these buildings are still visible, the gardens lining them are long dried and vanished. The entire setup looks like a miniature of how the planet would looks like without its people.

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The few women who still come here to work do so with their own determination and grit; driven by poverty, with nothing left to enthral or motivate them. They sit all day and spin yarn, rotating the wheel in an endless loop; their eyes glazed and looking away into a far off past. Some of these women are almost a hundred year old and have been working here for the past forty years. They have witnessed the grandeur and downfall of this place and yet, they continue to sit at their wheel, stoically, day in and day out, unmoved.DSC_0024

It is heartening to see their excitement when someone visits the centre and spends a few moments with them. They greet you with toothless smiles and gestures signalling “did you have lunch” and then nodding their heads when you ask them the same question. Their voices are drowned by the constant sound produced by the spinning wheels.

With the industry unable to provide work for the villages any longer, they are faced with a new challenge – of men migrating to nearby cities in search of daily labour. The women see their husbands and sons board the train each morning with the hope of securing some work, and returning late each night, often inebriated and abusive, from despair. The railway line which was their lifeline has suddenly turned into a curse. There is no milk or curd produced now, it is bought in packets from nearby towns. Severe water shortage has left them helpless. They are now depending on the fast depleting ground water for their needs, with bore-wells drilled as deep as a hundred feet. The place is scattered with structures that look meaningless and ridiculous, even – like a huge water tank with no water, a well that is completely dry, serving as home for pigeons, electricity poles and lines that run everywhere but with nothing to carry.

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But, all this is about to change. A few spirited people made this their home for the past twenty days and started a Satyagraha movement here for Sustainability of Villages. The Khadi campus was host to a large congregation of five thousand like-minded people from across the country, from various walks of life, who came here to stand for our villages; to stand for a dream called Badanavalu. Important issues were discussed and brainstormed. One could witness an atmosphere of high energy and positivity, with everyone resolving to do their bit towards sustainability of our villages. Even the tamarind tree at the entrance sprouted fresh green leaves, as though expressing its support.

DSC_0080Sustainability of villages, people losing their life because of migrating to cities, villages unable to provide basic facilities for them to live comfortably, Govt. policies, or the lack of it were some of the issues discussed on that day. Eminent scholars, experts in their fields, celebrities who care, activists from various sectors were part of the discussion panel. The Badanawal Declaration, blessed by Elders, senior Gandhians, proclaimed that GDP is an inadequate measure of growth, as it completely ignores human happiness; and that traditional practices like cattle herding, hand spinning and cooking should also be considered as wealth generators.

Our country, unlike western nations, has a rich tradition that boasted of villages that were self-sustained. The villagers had enough work, good food to eat and led respectable lives. But, a few industries and the lifestyle that goes with it, imported from the west, has lured people to move to cities and leave the villages and villagers ignored. We have trampled upon our traditional knowledge, shunned the grandmothers who told us these stories and burnt the land that gives us food. If we need to come out of this mess, we have to first recognize and respect our villages. We need to build a society that treats villages with respect and stop promoting the false notion we have created that “cities are rich; villages are poor”. The Badanavalu Convention was an effort to understand these and create a paradigm shift.

The people of Badanavalu had never experienced such warmth in years, they reciprocated with open doors. People came here to search for something within themselves – a true “Satyagraha” (Search for Truth) and left with a fresh mind filled with enthusiasm and new ideas. This movement gave a new hope to a lost cause; like a battered army receiving enforcements when they are at the verge of surrender. The people have something to look forward to and talk about in the days to come. And, the cycle continues.

Help Khumbu Sherpas: A heart wrenching letter from a Sherpa

Posted in Uncategorized by Ratheesh & Sharada on May 6, 2015

We got this plea from Pasang Sherpa, who was our trek organizer for our Everest Base Camp Trek back in 2010. Having seen the devastation first hand, he considers it his mission to reach out to the remotest villages of Khumbu region to help the earthquake victims of the Nepal Earthquake.

Read this post to see how to transfer money from India to Nepal through SBI:

https://coolbuddies.wordpress.com/2015/06/02/how-to-transfer-money-from-india-to-nepal/

———- Forwarded message ———- From: Mountain Sherpa Trekking & Expeditions <tripshimalaya@gmail.com> Date: Fri, May 1, 2015 at 8:39 AM Subject: CHARITY FUND RAISING PROGRAM To: “sales@guidenepal.com” <sales@guidenepal.com>

CHARITY FUND RAISING PROGRAM

MISSION: Nepal Earthquake and Everest Avalanche Victim Fund in order to directly help village families survive.

Dear Friends,

Tashi Delek and Namaste from Nepal.

Nepal is in major crisis and suffered a huge loss of life and property due to the massive earthquake on April 25th 2015, including a series of aftershocks that followed the main jolt. This catastrophic earthquake also caused a tragic avalanche on Mount Everest and many Sherpa guides, cooks and climbers’ lives were lost.

The Earthquake’s direct effect on the closest districts of Nepal including the capital city, Kathmandu is tragic. At the moment Nepal is crying, each and every Nepalese eye is covered by saddened tears.

The whole Nepalese community has suffered from the devastating loss of its people and properties.

Solukhumbu district is a remote district of Nepal where Mount Everest (the highest peak of world) is located. According to the recorded district headquarters of Solukhumbu a total of 21 people including Sherpa guides and porters (as per recorded date of 29th April) have lost their lives due to this horrific earthquake. Everest Base Camp has also been afflicted as a result of avalanche activity.

As a village born Sherpa from the Solukhumbu district where I grew up, who became a porter, later trekking guide and now secretary of Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) who operates a professional trekking company in Kathmandu since 2002, I must take immediate direct action.

My heart and mind is calling me back to my homeland and its needy poor families who lost their lives due to this deadliest natural calamity ever to have hit my homeland.

Solukhumbu is remote, very beautiful and suffering however the Government of Nepal’s aid funds are not yet reaching those in need.  No one is trying to reach to give sympathy and prayers to the families of the 21 deceased as a result of this disaster.

I can’t tolerate it by just watching the trouble from Kathmandu. I am a Sherpa from same district of Mount Everest, son of Himalaya and have direct association with the village people of Solukhumbu. I am feeling deep sorrow and profoundly saddened by the ultimate demise of those brave people of Solukhumbu.

Thus keeping humanity in mind, I decided to personally visit Solukhumbu during the month of May  and going to meet relatives of the deceased people and help those needy families who lost their loved ones in the tragic natural disaster last week.

During my visit, I am going to provide donated money to the village people so they can buy their choice of foods, pay education fees or buy any goods they really need to survive and begin a new life.

If we can help them by cash rupees, they can use that cash for any purpose; especially their children’s education at the nearest school so the future of the children can be bright.

How transparent is my victim aids?

I am a professional business man running a trekking company; I am also one of the victims of the earthquake. My office is damaged, my house in Kathmandu and Solukhumbu is cracked but the biggest thing of my life is my family is all safe.

If you don’t have health, food and shelter life is not possible. In order to make a good life for the remaining family of the deceased people of Solukhumbu, I will:

  • Visit the victims’ families myself
  • I will take photos of each and every victims family I meet
  • I will distribute the donated funds you provide to me
  • Each family will receive equal donated funds
  • I am going to thank each individual on Facebook but if you do not want to be acknowledged via social media please let me know as I respect your wishes
  • I will provide a bank receipt to all fund contributors and send to them via personal email
  • I will post photos of the destitute people of Nepal my Facebook to show the fund in action.

Please add me in your face book friend:  Pasang Sherpa Pinasha  and you can see my daily social activities regarding earthquake victims charity since earthquake happen. You also can send me questions at:  sherpapasang@gmail.com or my company e-mail.

This is not a social organisation’s fund raising campaign and no any other administrative cost involve, that means whatever the cash you can donate, that help goes directly to those desperately needy people of Nepal. It does not involve any political parties or brokers or human workers to pay, it is direct, immediate help to the people in need.

I guarantee that your every dollar will reach those people those are real victims of the deadly earthquake and avalanche.

If you have any questions about my charity fund raising program please do not hesitate to contact me via email or social media.

How you can donate/help?

BY WESTERN UNION MONEY TRANSFER

Western Union money transfer is fast, reliable and free of charge to send money to Nepal for earthquake victims. Please use my name and address below when you transfer donated funds via Western Union.

  1. a)      Name: Pasang Sherpa
  2. b)      Address: Kapan- 1, Kathmandu, Nepal
  3. c)      Subject: Nepal Earthquake and Everest Avalanche Victim Fund
  4. d)      (+977) 9851060947: my cell phone if you require

In regards to the core help for the victims of the April 25th 2015 earthquake and avalanche, every donation of your help will be truly useful and I would like to humbly request for your generous support to make a new life for the Nepalese people.

From the poverty-stricken people of Nepal, I am very thankful to you in advance and sincerely appreciate your kind help and much needed support.

Kind regards,

Pasang Sherpa

Solukhumbu District

Now – Kathmandu, Nepal

SHERPA, Pasang Managing Director
MOUNTAIN SHERPA TREKKING & EXPEDITIONS( MSTE) P.LTD GPO BOX No: 14444, Thamel, Kathmandu,Nepal Phone: +977-1-4435828 Fax : +977-1-4435828 Cell: +977-98510 60947 / + 977-97510 55600( 24 Hrs) E-mail: sales@nepaltrekkingtours.com / Sales@guidenepal.com Website : www.NepalTrekkingTours.com www.GuideNepal.com www.MountainSherpaTrekking.com

A fortnight in Khumbu: how the trip changed me [by Sharada]

Posted in Uncategorized by Ratheesh & Sharada on November 10, 2014

“So have you trekked in Himalayas before?” asked our guide when I met him for the first time in Kathmandu. “No not in Himalayas, but have done some two day treks in the south of India” I replied sheepishly. “Good good. So nothing in very cold, very long?” he further pursued to my dismay. “No. No. Nothing like here” I said, my voice barely audible. “It’s okay. It’s okay” he said smilingly. Now, I wondered, was it really okay?

When I was excitedly making our list of “must see” places, Everest Base Camp (EBC), Nepal figured as one of the places in Asia. At that time, I had not given much thought about the logistics or the difficulty level of this trek. Little did I know that it was a 15-17 day trek with medium-hard difficulty level. When we (me and my bestfriend / husband) realized we have limited time and budget on our hands, the EBC trek slowly made it to the top of our wish list.

As though to validate our decision, we got a gift – “guide to trekking in Nepal” – a book by Stephen Bezruchka. This is when I started framing a mental picture of the places in Nepal, which was till then so obscure and inaccessible, only represented by words like Mt. Everest, Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary that was so firmly etched in my memory by ever-persistent geography teachers.

It was my long cherished dream to witness the tallest peak in the world. Mt. Everest stood there amongst several other peaks vying for the first place, lifting its head majestically above them all. Initially, the first human instinct, ‘It must be conquered’ did cross my mind. But the little voice inside was urging me not to. A King deserves respect; we should be going there to show our respect by spreading our arms, kneeling down and prostrating before Him. According to both of us, climbing mountains to demonstrate strength, to show we are better than them was not our way of experiencing the Himalayas. It was important for us to feel a sense of gratitude towards these magnificent creations of nature, for they have been forgiving.

Initially, the trek was only a means to reach my goal of seeing the Himalayan Emperor up close. Only after we embarked on this journey did I realize that it had nothing to do with the visuals, it stirred something more; deep within.

Lukla was to be the starting point of our trek to the Everest Base Camp. It is a small town situated in the Khumbu region of the Himalayas. The Khumbu region lies within the Solukhumbu district in Nepal towards the Northeast. Some of the world’s tallest peaks are situated in this region, including the Mt. Everest. We decided to fly to Lukla from Kathmandu in a small dornier aircraft.

It was one crazy decision to fly on this plane due to its notorious landing strip situated at the edge of a cliff; we had contemplated it numerous times and finally decided to go for it. If we landed safely, we could be one of the few privileged ones to have taken this up and would have a very interesting story to tell. If we did not make it, we would become part of the statistics. We took our seats and held our breath, the take off was smooth. Soon we were flying over lush green valleys, flowing rivers and after a while, at a distance we could spot the snow capped mountains.

“There is the landing strip!” someone shouted. I squinted my eyes to see a thin strip of asphalt the size of a little finger precariously hanging at the edge of the cliff and before I could think how the aircraft would land, we started descending. Would the aircraft align itself exactly to the thin strip? I held my breath in anticipation, it was almost unbelievable. But the pilot managed a perfect landing and everyone in the plane gave out a loud cheer.

The trek itself took us through some of the most beautiful landscapes; we were days away from our destination but we had already realized the magnanimity of the landscape. The mountains were so large that it would take us days to go around and cross over into another. We would often realize that at the end of a day’s walk (about 4-5 hours of trek) we would have gone around half a hill. We were aware of only Mt. Everest, but we realized there were several mountains that were nearly as high and equally beautiful and intimidating at the same time. On the second day of our trek, we reached a place called Topdhara where we got a picture perfect view of Mt. Everest. This image I saw will remain etched crisp in my mind; it was the first time I was seeing Mt. Everest, so far had only seen pictures of the tallest peak in the world, had heard only statistics. It looked intimidating, with its menacing peak towering high over all other mountains in the vicinity, guarded fiercely by Nuptse and Lhotse, whose edges cover most of Mt. Everest. I had expected it to stand alone, in the middle of a plain, suddenly rising towards the sky. But there were several others surrounding, it was like an entire army dressed in white, standing guard. And there can only be one King, and he was well protected by an impenetrable fort.

The trekking got progressively tougher and it started taking a toll on my body. The physical effects were noticed at first – heavy breathing, difficulty in climbing, slower pace, tireness, need to rest more often. The psychological effects were more dramatic and took time for me to identify.

We were warned about the symptoms of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) which is commonly noticed among trekkers in this region. The tolerance levels of individuals could vary, so some might be hit at a lower altitude whereas others might be hit at a higher altitude. People living in higher altitudes might be better at handling AMS than people from the plains. For me, it started with extreme tiredness, thirst and a splitting headache while we were on the fourth day of our trek on the way to Dole from Phortse Tanga. The headache got worse and I had to take tablets, but it wouldn’t go away. I lost my apetite, so could not eat much. Since I had not experienced AMS before, it was from theoretical knowledge from my reading that I could gather that I had been hit by AMS. We decided to change our plans and stay an extra day at Dole to see if the symptoms subsided. The next day, without much improvement, our guide suggested that we descend to Phortse Tanga and change our route. Our plans to climb further up to see the beautiful lakes of Gokyo just vaporized in a moment. It was hard for me to believe at first that we would not reach Gokyo, I had read so much about these lakes and had been keen on squeezing this in our itinerary. We had limited time and budged and the greed to see more in the given time drove us to have a grand itinerary. When I sat here in Dole, far away from home, with extreme cold winds gnawing at my fingertips and with a heavy head, it did not seem very hard to make the decision to descend. At that point, all I wanted was to feel a little better and the effect of the descent was almost dramatic. As soon as we descended, I started feeling better, my headache was gone and I even felt hungry.

This whole episode had taught me one great lesson – never to underestimate the power of nature’s forces. All my ambitions, ego came crumbling down and I became even more submissive towards the sublime force. I could right now look at myself in a mirror and laugh; laugh at the greed I had in packing as many places as possible into our three-week vacation without considering our mortal capacities; laugh at the way I got carried away by the impressive and tempting itinerary that our tour guides presented according to my wishes; laugh at myself drinking garlic soup religiously thinking it would help me overcome the symptoms of AMS!

We decided to let go of all our plans, throw away the itinerary and lose control of our lives. Here started the spiritual part of our journey that would change us as people and would empower us to trivialize the urge to reach our destination. This change in us would just let us enjoy every moment of our existence in this beautiful place and thank nature for letting us be amidst her most precious creations.

The headaches stayed with me for the next few days. But now the psychological effects were more pronounced. A deep sorrow, hallucinations of grasslands and home started haunting me often, a strong feeling of being homesick and a sense of indifference or aversion to most activities. By the time we reached Gorakshep, which is the older base camp (we had already crossed the 5000m mark with this), both of us could only manage to ingest a couple of spoonfuls of soup. The views got more and more breathtaking, the landscape changing dramatically from a dull brown to an icy white. We saw the Khumbu Ice fall, a large glacier that runs all the way separating the base camp from the rest of the path to the summit. This Ice fall is one of the most difficult stages in the Mt. Everest expedition, with many people failing to cross it successfully. It looked fascinating, from a distance, of course. But people who crossed and hence would have seen the deep crevices up close would have a different view altogether. But our journey would end here at the base camp; for people who would go all the way to the summit, it would be but a small milestone in their much larger and more arduous expedition.

Ironically, the base camp, although would bring us close to Everest, it would cut us away from the beautiful views of the peak that we had so eagerly sought. The peak gets completely covered by the strong and protective twins Nuptse and Lhotse. We know that it is there somewhere beyond, but we could not see it! It was an awkward moment for our guide-porter duo (Lakhpa and Dorje) as well. They just threw their bags and sat down on a rock, not saying anything, just looking away. And we looked at eachother and smiled; this was where our trip ended. No exhiliration, no hi-fives, no taking photos against the peak in the background. It was a poignant moment, we just sat there in silence for a few minutes, till our condition forced us to turnaround and start our return journey. But I was far from being disappointed, my mind was completely at peace. I was overcome by a sense of humility and respect towards these mountains. I just sat there and thanked them for allowing us amidst their territory and letting us step into their magical world, atleast for a few days.

There are several blessings in our life that we take for granted. We tend to complain about trival discomforts like a bus coming late, traffic jams, power cuts and inadequate TV channels! But we conveniently assume that we have a fundamental right over creature comforts and so easily take for granted what is made available to us mostly due to the fact that we were born in a certain place at a certain time. In the mountains, we saw people smilingly endure such harsh conditions of living – extreme cold, freezing water to wash clothes, no electricity, firewood stoves that take time to light up, unavailability of fresh vegetables, unavailability of a variety of food stuff. I was humbled to see the womenfolk working tirelessly from early morning and resting only after sundown with a hot water bath, the only luxury that they allow themselves in a day. One of the cheerful ladies, Sonam, we met a lodge in Namche Bazar was excited to know we were from India; she loved the Indian cinema. On the outside she looked like an effervescent lady who sits and watches TV, with no worries, but as we spoke to her, she opened up and told about the cold that she has to endure here as she fondly remembers her childhood that was spent in the plains in much warmer and comfortable surroundings. Another lady Dhona we met at Khumjung was keen to speak to me and know about life of women in the cities, how we lived, where we worked. She had accepted her life and did not feel she had to change anything, she was just curious to know how the world outside the mountains was.
It was so cold that it took great effort even to have a shower, which we so often forego in the city due to laziness, even with hot water readily flowing from the taps. Back in the mountains, getting a bath ready was a two hour project and even the thought of slipping out of the comfort of the thermals was intimidating. After I came back, I made it a point to never say no to a nice hot bath!

People go to the Himalayas seeking a spiritual experience. What is spiritual? Is it spreading a mat in front of the mountain and meditating? Is it visiting an ancient monastery and praying to the lamas? Is it thinking of God in every step of our journey? Is it standing at the foothills of a huge mountain and experiencing humbleness? I was not sure. While we were walking we had to exert our bodies to great limits. We had to push it beyond our normal physical abilities and cajole it to move even at great altitudes. With all my senses concentrated towards trekking, I had little chance for serious, complex thoughts like “what is the meaning of life?” “What is the purpose of our existence?” My mind was clear of any deep thoughts. It had the tranquility of a five year old. This childlike state of mind in which I went about walking, tripping on small stones, astonished at huge boulders, trotting alongside our guide without worrying about the route, the weather, place to stay was what gave me peace of mind. This banished any traces of doubt or fear in my mind and retrenched the mind to way back into my childhood where I was carefree and fearless. And to me, this was spiritual.

This was an inexplicable state of mind that I longed to be in much after we returned from our trek. The feeling that made me leave behind all thoughts of family, work, environment, world behind and pulled me from all the human flavors of envy, jealousy, sorrow and joy to a state of stillness and calm – this was what I missed the most once I was back to civilization.

We leave our footprints, sounds, smell in a place we visit that changes it in a certain way; But what the place leaves us with, the way it touches us can sometimes change us completely, like we have never been before.

It is only an animal [by Sharada]

Posted in Uncategorized by Ratheesh & Sharada on September 27, 2014

When the boy killed a lizard for “fun”
you dismissed it as naughtiness

When he tore his sister’s homework
you dismissed it as sibling rivalry

When he poked fun at the girls in his class
you dismissed it as classroom jokes

When he shouted at his mother
you dismissed it as teenage tantrums

When he was caught eve-teasing
you dismissed it as a transitional phase to a man

When he rapes a woman
why is it that you are so shocked?

Our first book – “A fortnight in Khumbu” – A traveloons series

Posted in Uncategorized by Ratheesh & Sharada on August 17, 2014

In the winter of 2010, we took off on a trek to the Everest Base Camp in the Khumbu region of Nepal. Now, in 2014, presenting the book that reveals it all!

We are proud to announce that our book “A fortnight in Khumbu” is available on Amazon.com and Pothi.com

A fortnight in Khumbu

In India, order your paperback at Pothi’s : http://pothi.com/pothi/book/sharada-ganesh-fortnight-khumbu

Anywhere in the world, get your e-book at Amazon: 

https://www.amazon.in/dp/B00LKLVN68
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LKLVN68
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00LKLVN68
https://www.amazon.de/dp/B00LKLVN68
https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B00LKLVN68
https://www.amazon.es/dp/B00LKLVN68
https://www.amazon.it/dp/B00LKLVN68
https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B00LKLVN68
https://www.amazon.com.br/dp/B00LKLVN68
https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00LKLVN68
https://www.amazon.com.mx/dp/B00LKLVN68
https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00LKLVN68

“There were moments in our trek when we regretted having embarked on this arduous journey. There were times when we felt we had made a mistake; a terrible one.

Nepal was not just about the scenery; those were a mere visual treat. Our body slogged and struggled to maintain its normalcy as the mind wandered off into uncharted territories.

Now, when we reflect on our experience, we do it with a sense of pride. For us, what started as a quest to see the larger than life mountains in all their glory, ended up as a learning experience about the little truths of life. The meaningful interactions with the Sherpas and our observation about their lifestyles infused a new dimension to our trip. In short, it changed our perspective about life itself.

This is the story of our uncertainties, fears, thoughts and triumphs.There is a conscious attempt to ensure that whether or not you plan to go on a trek, this book will tell a compelling story. For the serious traveler, it provides the necessary information on the preparation, the gear, contacts and what to expect. Also, tiny yet significant details like how to fasten shoe laces to avoid injury is not left to be assumed, greatly benefitting a first time trekker.

The unique blend of honest experiences peppered with witty cartoons provides the necessary balance between extreme emotions and the lighter side of life.”

Visit our facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/AFortnightInKhumbu

Ode to a Mother [by Sharada]

Posted in Uncategorized by Ratheesh & Sharada on August 5, 2014

I have not lived up to your expectations, but I strive to be a good human being

I have not become rich, but I try my best to help others in need

I have not become famous, but I have not done anything that will let you down

I have not taken you on trips abroad, but I have always made it a point to spend time with you

 

I have not got you the best of treatments, but I have been around to massage your tired feet

I have not thanked you for all you have done to me, but I worship you in my deepest thoughts

I have not told you how much I admire you, but I secretly try to become like you

I have not listened to your wise words always, but I know from my heart you were right

 

I have been brash; I have been foolish; I have been difficult; I have been indifferent;

None of which I am proud of

But I try to be kind; I try to be nice; I try to be right; I try to be around;

And, all this I value more than anything else in the world

 

You might not understand me completely

But one day, you might recognize me as being different from the others

You might not completely agree with all my thoughts and actions

But one day, you might remember me as a noble soul

 

You might not hear this often, but you are the most wonderful mother

If I could, I wish to have you as my mother many times over

You are my life’s most precious gift

I am blessed, I am indeed blessed!

Once they are gone [by Sharada]

Posted in Uncategorized by Ratheesh & Sharada on July 21, 2013

What do you recollect about your loved ones when they are not around? Would it be what they did exactly as you wished or what they did behind your back because you did not approve of it?

The beauty of being “human” entitles you to be what you are; allows you to be imperfect and still be loved as a complete being – flaws and blemishes all included. These flaws make you complete; gives a human touch to your being; makes you warmer and lovable; more approachable; more forgiving and free. Though people fantasize about the “perfect man” or the “perfect woman” in their lives, those lucky ones who have found their true love have understood that perfection is not real; perfection is at times cold and un-humanly.

What you fondly remember about your grandmother is not the fact that she neatly folded her clothes and kept it arranged in her wardrobe; it is her naughty smile when she would get caught stealing sweets which she is not allowed to eat as part of her diet. What you recollect about your grandfather is not the way he reprimanded everyone at home for being disorganized but the way he would squeal and lift up his dhoti and run at the sight of a house rat!

The way your husband throws his wet towel carelessly on the bed; the way he gorges on food at midnight and feigns innocence when confronted; the way he leaves his coffee-mug stains everywhere in the bedroom; the way he leaves the book in the toilet – these nagging habits that would leave you irritated in the beginning start becoming part of life, you start anticipating them and smilingly accept these flaws as you live together for a long time.

And these are what haunt you when they are no longer around – when you go to the toilet and find it spic and span with no books precariously hanging on the flush tank; when you do not see your wife’s hair on the bathroom floor or when you do not find all the wiring messed up (because she was “cleaning”) or when you no longer find her bindis stuck all over the mirror – this is when you start missing her. The loneliness creeps from the inside and you yearn to feel her presence around, hoping to hear her voice nagging voice from the next room, when you realize that all that surrounds you is silence.

World War III ? [by Sharada]

Posted in Uncategorized by Ratheesh & Sharada on July 21, 2013

Wars are fought to establish power and re-instantiate supremacy. During times of uncertainty, a sense of insecurity descends on the people caused due to anarchy or due to perceived depletion of resources. This results in sudden upsurge of rebellion against the “enemy”. It gives way to two or more opposing sides. Once the tension mounts among these sides, a small trigger point, sometimes totally irrelevant to either of the sides gives rise to a full-fledge war.

When the war involves a large number of people and is widespread across vast geographies, it is designated as a World War. So far we have survived two wretched world wars.

There are a lot of prophecies being written on occurrence of a third world war. Each has its own version of the war in terms of how it would be fought or which countries would be involved on which side.

As we live in the fear of eventuality, carefully looking out for any serious tension between two countries and keeping track of every movement of arch rivals, there is a silent movement going on all around us. If we do not pay attention, we might miss it entirely or might underestimate its strength or dismiss it altogether as a passing phase.

This is the silent revolt of the poor against the rich; of the have-nots against the have-alls. With the population of the world rising to an unfathomable number, with the majority of this population struggling to survive due shortage of basic resources on one hand and with the supreme control of resources being handled by a handful of people, with the enormous amount of wealth being enjoyed by a few on the other hand, we have already created an un-bridgeable divide between these two sides.

This is not very different from how the world has been ruled so far. In the past too there have been power-thirsty emperors who have amassed wealth at the cost of their subjects; there have been countries greedy for resources invading their neighbours. However, this time the equations are slightly different. The entire humanity of “Common men” is up against major power houses called “Corporates”. The very corporates whom they had invited whole heartedly into their lives, to whom they had been loyal all their lives have broken their faith. The people are feeling “let down” and “betrayed”.

The corporates have surpassed their boundaries within which they used to operate and are now beginning to control Government policies. They are fast expanding and are controlling every move of the Government and are turning it against its own people.

The anger is all around us to see. The gathering at New York Times Square was a clear warning of the impending war. And this time, it is not localized to any geography or race of people. It is world-wide and there are only two sides – the minority population of ultra-rich and the vast majority of the not-so-rich.

The rebellion has already started. Every regular man is targeting his richer next door neighbor who has been zipping in his expensive fleet of cars while the regular man worked overtime to meet his basic needs. The same regular man who has been looking up to the rich neighbor so far and hoping he would be there one day has different emotions now when he looks at his neighbor. The emotions are getting bolder each day as he starts realizing the futility of his dreams. He starts connecting his lost job to his neighbor’s new chopper; he starts connecting his failed marriage to his neighbor’s flawless botox-ed looks. He silently plots for his revenge.

There is no clear demarcation of good and the bad or the righteous and the evil in this war. This is purely driven by deep, ingrained disparity and bottled-up human vices – that of envy, jealousy, anger, resentment. All this gives rise to intolerance leading to frustration.

We already see the death of tolerance, love and peace in this world. The grossly rich have no empathy towards the poorer countrymen and have no shame in displaying their vanity. The not-so-rich have lost patience and tolerance they had for their fellow countrymen. They have started taking their frustration out against any richer person they come across. This is clearly evident in the recent news of a Belgian man vandalizing expensive cars in his city, not because of any political motive but only out of sheer resentment.

Of course, the rich have power, though small in number, they have control of resources and this can easily curb the rebellion. But the not-so-rich have numbers on their side; they are currently the majority in terms of sheer numbers. Imagine if they all decide to join hands and organize themselves in a war, the effects can be catastrophic.

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