Get On That Plane Already

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I keep coming across this poster on the internet, ‘If traveling were free, you’d never see me again.’ Truth be told, it’s a big fat lie – a lot of people out there are telling themselves every time they ditch their dreams for over time at office.

This is how I used to be through the three years at college, and for the two years after…until, it finally dawned upon me, what it really takes to get out there and travel – WILL – Rock strong will. That’s all you need.

And then, there were two other issues, I had to deal with. Emotions and Finances.

As an aspiring traveler, my emotional concerns were mostly related to meeting my parent’s ‘expectations’. Eventually I realised that, people who really love you, will understand and respect your decisions. So, after a mild opposition my parents understood and accepted that travelling is what I really NEED to do.

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My bed in Darjeeling. Believe it or not, its a counter in a bar that serves Chang (rice beer)

Next in line, were the finances. I had less than $80 cash in hand or bank, cumulatively, as I embarked on my first trip solo. And, believe me you – I made through 6 Indian states in over 20 days, with that sum of money. The point I am making here is, prioritise right and budget accordingly. For myself, travel and climbing are the top most priorities, then comes food and, lodging is last. I spread my expenses in order. Living within means is imperative.

Not every traveler makes a living out of travel writing.

I decided to do anything that lets me travel, is legal and, is within my personal ethical boundaries. I started as a freelancer, writing academic content (sustaining on less than $200 a month, most of the time). The plan was, to eventually build a marketable skill that requires less man hours and pays more. Almost 24 months into the exercise, I now manage operations for a Singaporean setup from a laptop – sitting on the porch of my home, nestled in the Himalayas.

It all boils down to being passionate about your dreams, consistent efforts, keeping no regrets, taking risks and living in the moment. Everything does work out.

Get on that plane, bus, boat, road, whatever, already!

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P.S. There’s a common misconception, that travel isn’t ‘safe’, ‘impossible’ or ‘isn’t meant for’ females. Check out these girls, who are living life queen size.

Toolika Rani (www.tulich83.blogspot.in)

Charukesi (www.charukesi.com)

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Thanda Thanda Pani

Benefits of bathing in cold water

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(Glacial waters enroute Rupin pass, Himachal Pradesh, India)

I still remember those early mornings on school days, when I used to stand under the shower loathing to turn on the cold water. On such days the thought of skipping the water splurging ritual (which it was in merrier times when the geyser worked) crossed my mind more than once but for the strict ordnance passed by father, I HAD to get under that piercing water cannon.

Of late, this view has changed and I have started enjoying cold baths; its not only Sanjeev Kumar who endorses, ‘thande thande pani se nahana chahiye, gana aaye  ya na aaye nahana chahiye’ (Wherther or not one knows how to sing, one should bathe in cold water). Not only does bathing in cold water or an ice bucket challenge earns you bragging rights about your guts, especially in this wintery North Indian weather but, incidentally it is also beneficial for sore muscles. If you work out, a cold bath may aid in speedy recovery (much like an ice bath that elite athletes indulge in). Moreover, cold baths even increase alertness and invigorate mood since the oxygen intake increases in an attempt to keep the body warm, increasing blood circulation as well as the heart rate; this has a positive effect on immunity as well as supports weight loss (since calories are burned to keep the body warm).

People like to think that it is not easy to make the thanda thanda pani part of daily routine, instantly; however, take the word of the Veteran of cold showers ‘its all about the mental resolve to overcome the first dip, the first mug or the first splash and it only gets better from thereon.’

Sports in the times of Six Figure

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‘Until when are you going to do all this; you’re already 25, enough of these childish antics, get some real work’, lectured dadi, as I sat on the porch recovering from a twelve kilometer run I do on most active rest days. The whole day has spiraled down into thoughts of self-doubt – ‘what am I doing with myself and my education’, ‘what is the future of climbing in this country’, ‘am I too old to consider an unconventional career’, ‘how will I ever be able to start a family with my girlfriend, who is insisting on marriage and quite regularly has dilemmas about our financial security’. Pursuing dreams is something clearly out of bounds in our social scheme.

Given that the country produces the highest number of engineers each year, the same engineers who fill up most seats in our MBA institutions, we as a nation are putting the mouth where the money is, quite literally. ‘Salary packages’ is our favorite topic after ‘school grades of neighbor’s children’. As long as you earn a six figure it doesn’t matter if you steal from pensioners or have sold your soul to the devil.

As if the physical rigors of a sport, the challenge of managing fitness, nutrition and funds weren’t enough, people around only add to the stress and mental pressure. Do we as a nation, no longer remember how to appreciate the passion in a dance, the delight of poetry or the heroes that we find in sports?

Wake up! It is people from among us who mill out creative products that inspire, motivate, break the monotony and ensure that we don’t forget to be ‘human’ after all. All we need is some trust and a little love.

Slacklining

…and how to go about it.

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I have taken up the sport of slacklining quite recently. It is the finesse of measured movements and the precision with which one has to balance on this hyper active and ever dancing piece of tape that attracted me to it. Also, the kind of performances athletes such as Dean Potter have rendered on a high line, have inspired me to try my hand or rather feet on the line.

As a climber, I have found the slackline quite useful in developing faculties to identify my zone, increase focus and enhance my footwork. In addition, the line has also helped me exercise certain muscles of the feet and is a good workout for the core and thighs as well.

In this post, I am sharing certain pointers that will help you in getting started with the slackline.

Step 1

Establish the line on two solid anchor points.

Step 2

Tighten the line and make sure it is taut. A tighter line is easier to walk on.

Step 3

To get up, place a foot on the line and put down a little weight on it holding the line closer to the inner thigh (of the other leg); this will keep the line from swaying.

Step 4

Get up instantly on the foot placed on the line, putting down all of your weight on the leading leg. Keep only one leg on the line at a time. Try to keep the leg straight and maintain the center of the pelvic portion parallel to the slackline.

Step 5

Keep the arms a bit outstretched and use your hands to balance just like a balancing pole.

Step 6

Keep your gaze fixed onto something, preferably look straight; this will aid in focusing.

Step 7

Synchronize your breath with your steps and try to achieve a rhythm.

 

You can even watch this simple how to video I have made on this subject.

Do leave your comments and experience with the line.

It is simple to be happy but difficult to be simple

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I was more of the academic kinds in school and although I had a fascination for martial arts since an early age, encouragements for sports was little to come by at home. However, a princely piggy bank collection during a long summer in the ninth grade, landed me a spot in the Tae-kwon-do class at the local YMCA and the long lost dream was re-kindled. I was soon seeing gold and silver medals at the district and state championships however, the demanding rigors of academic life forced more focus on studies in order to get into a good college, and I saw myself drifting back into the rat race.

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It was not until five years after school, when my love life got off the tracks and I started losing hair doing 8-12 in a startup enterprise, that I realized ‘there is more to life than increasing my speed’. That is when I discovered climbing. I was formally introduced to the sport in the Basic Mountaineering Course at ABVIMAS, Manali; and although I did not perform well in the course I discovered joy in scaling rock and ice formations which to me seem to exude life. Since then I have made travel and climbing a full time ‘career’ and have even successfully completed the Advance Mountaineering Course at HMI, Darjeeling (earning awards for being the best student and the best climber in the second time I undertook the BMC).

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Even though I earn phenomenally less than what I used to two years back, live in a Himalayan village, far ‘behind’ my peers most of whom are globetrotting, sitting in air conditioned plush office cabins, drawing six or seven figure salaries, I feel immense happiness or rather contentment; having the time and patience to sit on the verandah in the morning and gaze at the birds or tuning my Enfield to get the perfect thump out of it. I feel fortunate having a simple meal of dal (pulses in a watery gravy) and rice after a demanding climbing session, and dozing off right after.

The only thing temporary is pain

Observing my lifestyle people often construe that I am lazy or lack motivation to do ‘big’ things or live a ‘better’ life. I think I am just different, maybe a little laid back but I am psyched enough about doing a hard problem or a line that I fell off over fifty times or arriving at a remote village in the middle of the night. For me a bigger or a better life means the ability to do the things that I want, to live life moment by moment.

Bouldering at IMF

Why do I climb? It is not, definitely not for reaching the top, or showing off a hard send. It is when I am climbing, life simplifies to small decisions such as moving a finger or balancing a toe. My only needs and goals in those moments are, air, nourishment and rest (in that order) and not even self-preservation. Most sportsmen/women know this as being in the ‘zone’, when all you know or care about is what you’re doing at that very precise moment. It is this state of primal being with such basic needs that keeps me addicted to climbing, slowing me down making me look inwards, finding contentment in the small things.

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It is said that, ‘it is simple to be happy but, difficult to be simple!’; I guess climbing helps me simplify; and I think this is how it works for anyone who has known the joy of climbing or any sport for that matter. Why Do I Climb? It is for all the reasons and none in particular; I am learning and discovering new joys in it every single day.