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Showing posts from December, 2015

MATTER OF PRIDE

Accidents on big mountains happen when people's ambitions cloud their good judgment. Good climbing is about climbing with heart and with instinct, not ambition and pride. - Bear Grylls
Through all the expeditions and roads journeys I have been constantly asked what it is that I gain from them. To me such interludes help rejuvenate the soul and help spend quality time with oneself, help understand the sameness of humankind despite obvious differences, help appreciate culture, food, dress habits and local customs, help open one’s mind to diverse thoughts and beliefs, help admire the cosmic balance and beauty that Nature holds, help conquer fear of the unknown, help spread smiles across lands and peoples and much, much more. They fulfill the internal drive to travel and experience adventure, fulfill a certain ‘calling’, fulfill a sense of ‘been there, done that’, fulfill a yearning of achievement and such other. However, to me the greatest gain is the inspiration one’s travels provide…

CHALLENGES

Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory. - George S. Patton
An expedition has many elements of risk attached to it, some known and many unknown, and braving challenges is integral to it. Some challenges could be life threatening, some a matter of hearsay and many are simply products of the fear of the unknown. Putting together information from people who have done the routes in the past and collating as much information as possible from published sources is a matter of prudent detail. Therefore, when you attempt something unique and unprecedented you would be, by and large, beating a new path. The two international expeditions to London and Singapore and three of the five Indian expeditions I have undertaken so far fall into the category of ‘being done for the first time’. Hence, there is very little data to fall back on and much less that make cogent sense.
Planning the route and making provisions for night halts is one of the first challenges that I come…

GETTING THE FAMILIAR SCHEDULE TOGETHER

As a rule, we find what we look for; we achieve what we get ready for. - James Cash Penney
As the expedition was being finalised I had to decide on the car to undertake it in. The choice was between the Swift, in which I had undertaken five Indian Record Drives, and the Ford Endeavour, in which I had done two international expeditions. The four wheel drive and automatic transmission of the Ford tipped the scales in its favour. The Endeavour had suffered two ‘knocks’ during the drive back from the South East Asian Odyssey. I had bumped into a mini truck meant to carry poultry as I was descending the ghats from Kohima to Dimapur. The truck had cut in sharply in front of me and braked. The reaction time I had could only reduce the impact. The extra Hella lamps got crushed on hitting the crash guard of the truck. That was the only damage I could perceive on a cursory inspection at the accident spot. The poultry truck, after seeing that it had not suffered any damage, left the spot without …

AN UNFINISHED AGENDA BUBBLES

Yesterday is but today's memory, and tomorrow is today's dream – Kalil Gibran
A couple of weeks before I hit the road for the South East Asian Odyssey, the Trans Himalayan Expedition was added on to make it a mega double header. The overarching reasons for it were two. First, the weather conditions and the season to undertake the Trans Himalayan Expedition are extremely crucial. The passes have to be open while, at the same time, rains shouldn’t play spoil sport with landslides and unmotorable road conditions. The months of March-April and October-November would be ideal from the monsoon point of view. But many passes are not open then and the Leh-Manali route is closed during these months. Therefore, the months of May-June and August-September emerge the best bets. However, the risk of rainfall is high during these months, particularly in the north east of the country. There can never be ideal conditions; they have to be met and overcome as they happen. Second, I have a very l…