Monday, May 4, 2009

To Camp 3 and back to base camp....its loooong....

3rd of may…..tried to get up at 3am….could hear the guys goin up for their rotation to camp 3….and I smiled to my self….i have already done that…..!!! hehehehe…..i’am back at base camp….my last post was on the 23rd…..on 24th april early in the morning at 3’o’clock i was up along with Bill, Bud, and Nick…..i was feeling great….nervous and excited…..and other emotions I wasn’t allowing myself to feel…..it was starry and cold….and we went to the kitchen tent and had some hot porridge…..i couldn’t have the eggs….some thing that I develop against it…..slowly I got ready trying to be as organized as possible….i was in pure black….half aware of what that would do to me later….black pants….black t-shirt….black sweater….black face masks…..black gloves….and the fat ones that I wear over them were tied with cord to the back loops of my pants so that they dint fall into a crevasse while clipping the carabiners into the rope n off it….i was ready….after clicking a few snaps at the altar where our pooja had happened and still trying to feel like I was as comfortable as possible and tried to make myself feel like it was at home I touched Partemba dai’s feet….it was something I did for me…..it was to sought of have an impression for myself of still feeling comfortable….now there was this crampon point that everyone who had gone up or had been here before would talk about…..i had the impression that it would be atleast half n hour away….not that I had seriously sat and thought about it but it was just an impression I had…..and this so called “crampon point” happened to be past the frozen lake right opposite our camp…..its like you count till 5 and ur there……funny…I don’t understand why we don’t just wear the crampons outside our tents and walk….it would hardly make any difference…..its just another stop….i could see the trail of lights going up….right till the top…..it looked inspiring….motivating….though we had planned to move by 4am we managed to really get started by 4:45am…..now this getting ready portion of the trek is the most boring…the longest and the coldest of all the work that you have to do …..the initial part of the ice fall is this zig zag passages with 7 feet walls on either sides and little steps to take up…..at every corner….i have developed this habit of trying to match a particular terrain that im moving on with something I have done before…..and considering I have not done very much before….i couldn’t compare this with anything…..i was waiting for the ladders …..i don’t know how they were gona be…..to be frankly honest…..i haven’t ever ever crossed a ladder before…..with crampons NEVER……but I wasn’t scared….confident as usual….im more so when I don’t know something…..there were loads of people going up….loads of sherpas…..carrying loads of load…..and they took over u even before u noticed there was some one behind you…and then slowly the fixed rope began to show it self….little steeper and longer vertical steps….there was still no need to clip the carabiner on….and I though the rope as a distraction….it was easier to just tip-toe instead of holding the rope….there were people using jumars on these stretches as well…..well I should let you’ll know that there are people here who have learnt to tie their crampons here….and are still learning how many ways there are to hold an ice axe…..so……any ways…..i was excited….and charged….so I went up as fast as I could…gyalu…my sherpa kept saying “no fast ,better slow slow”…..and I thought I was slow cause a lot of guys were over taking me…then the ladders…..and when I spotted one from a distance ….i felt stronger…..ready for it…..there was a little queue before it….i watched very closely how the lady was crossing it….and the guy…..and then another one….and that was enough learning for me…..i clipped myself in…..held both the ropes on either side and placed my feet such that the sweet spot would hit the rung exactly…..as lightly as possible…..it was great….i took every alternate rung… I think people try to step on all the rungs and that’s more confusing….at least in my brain….and that was that…..it was done…..my first ladder I crossed with flying colors…..it was the first……there were at least 30 more to come……..different sizes….joined not joined…..vertical….and the goin down ones…..all types…..but this year’s route is supposed to be a very good one….the max of 3 ladders attached to each other….so the first half of the climb was exciting the ladders and all….reached the string of flags…..and I was warned not to think that I had reached camp……the second half started….its unsaid….but after every string of flags that u pass its like a section…..so the second one passed a little slowly then the first one….the climbs had gotten steeper longer…..and the crevasses deeper and wider…..still no use of jumar though but we had started clipping our self’s in religiously….the crevasses looked beautiful….the only thing that made me think twice before looking into the crevasses was to happen to see a body…or something to represent that……it was just a thought that had subconsciously cultivated it self in my mind…but I still looked…..and they look beautiful…we finished the second section and we were starting on our third…..the sun was not yet out…..i mean it had risen but had not touched us…..we had reached the football field…..an flattish area that looks nothing like a football field….this place is 3/4th of the way to Camp1….i had started to develop a headache towards the end of the 2nd section …..but I thought drinking water would help…..but till this field it hadn’t reduced……..and then at the field the sun finally touched us….after the field there is a last vertical push and then the flat grounds….maidan….of Camp 1…..it was 9 am…..and I had to take a decision ….going up was another 2 hours …going down was 3…….i had been at base camp only for 3 nights…..i had the energy to go up…..but I dint know how the night would be….colder….so I decided to go down…..i was starting to feel nausea as well and that made the decision for me….so I started off back down….i met bill, and bud on my way down….bud now calls me “sunshine”…..and so he said good decision and said …..”you have loads of time”……and I believed him…and by the time I had reached half the way down…..i knew I had taken the right decision…..the sun made it impossible for me to keep my head straight…..the black clothes were as if tearing through my skin…..and making my stomach feel like it dint want to be inside my body …..the whole thing wanted to come out……..i was feeling miserable…..and the way down dint seem to end….when u climb in the dark u cover more than you think you have……and I couldn’t believe I had walked up THAT much…..once the first section started….i started sitting for a bit before beginning to walk again….though knowing the longer I sit the longer the sun will affect me….i was slow ….exhausted….and tired….i reached base camp by 12:45 pm….it took me 3 hours 45 mins to come back down…..almost as much it had taken me to go up…..but I knew it had more reasons than just the altitude…partemba dai…..and dawa were there……and Will…..i was just in time for lunch….i finished a bottle of lime juice …..puked it out……had another bottle….then ate a little…and went and lied down in my tent…..the sun was burning strong……by 3pm I felt perfectly fine again…..strong enough to run back up…..but I knew I had taken the right decision….evening fell….had a light dinner….and went back to my tent…..MY TENT…….now that’s one place……I got two big duffle bags on one side…..one with all my technical equipment…..one with all my personal stuff…..one book that I carried….about everest…..all electronic stuff in one corner pocket…..all toiletries in one corner pocket….all eatables in one….and trash in the last corner….its my tent…..just mine….and frankly its frustrating….its not the same as having your own room….its more…..or different…..have lunch and go to your tent sit there and do whatever you want sleep….eat….change….listen to music…….its probably because I have never had my own tent …..it was always shared with my course mates and we could discuss what we did and joke and laugh…..and huddle up and sleep…..and ask about something that’s missing from your bag…..and share moisture riser…..and do crazy stuff…..now I come back and stare at the orange ness in MY tent…..and lie down on the mattress and think of all the times I had with my tent mates…..i remember there was a time in the satopanth expedition when we were 6 of us in one tent…..and one chanda di had managed to sleep rite on top of me….and I had to ask her to adjust to such a position on my body where in i could at least breathe….hehehe…..but that warmth……no -40 degree sleeping bag can give that…..i don’t know how people who have always been in a tent by themselves do it…..and what I realized is that one needs just companionship….some one who knows what u do before u go to bed and the first thing u do when u wake up…..there are people with me……but they are not here to see me…they just also happen to be here…..and I though of my mom…..she’s alone …..there’s no one to see what she does…….i never realized these things when I was living in Bangalore….i used to live alone there….i mean I had my own room…..but its not the same…..there are lots of people that spend their lives alone…..they could be married ….or having their families …..but they are alone…..they spend their time….do their thing and go to sleep….alone….and I decided I dint wanna be like that…..i have seen it around me enough…..and I wont let people I love ever BE alone again…..oh enough of philosophy…..so next day was rest day for me…..my guys said it was good I could go till the football field with just 3 days at base camp…..besides it was good practice….and I was no more intimidated by the “khumbu glacier’ it’s a sweet glacier……its no monster …..you just have to smoothly slide your self into her likings and then shes nice to you….so 25th went by reading “the white tiger” by arvind adiga….dint like it but read it anyway…..it talks about how bad India is …..its quite shitty…..but I finished it…..it gives a decent inside on a servant of India…….blah blah blah…….1star actually ½…..anyway…..so Partemba suggested that I go up 26th morning….i din’t feel quite up to it ....but it was Partemba saying it so I couldn’t say a thing…..not that I had any strong reason for not going up…..just dint FEEL it…..so 26th I was up again at 3am…..but dint have that same feel…..i got ready….went to the kitchen tent……Apa Sherpa and Will were also goin up…..but I just wasn’t feeling rite….and I dint know how to tell them that I wasn’t feeling fine….Dawa was up as well…so I told him….but Partemba dai said now that you have gotten up go as far as u can go and come back when its enough…..but mentally I knew I couldn’t even do that ….my body felt weak….or off somewhere…..so instead we decided I would go up to Pumuri base camp….which is in the opposite direction….so I said best of luck to Apa dai and Will….and waited for the sun to rise while everyon else went back to their tents….once the sun rose I went on the way to the base camp….but returned back in our base camp in 2 hours not feeling rite…..i slept till the afternoon ….as if recovering…..i still don’t know what was exactly off that day….but it was quite something….i ate a lot that day….slept a lot….the next day on the 27th when I was feeling absolutely fine again I not only went to the Pumuri base camp…….but the high camp of Pumuri…….3hours…..there and back……it was a good trek….breezy…….Mt.Everest looked scary from there…..i looked at it once and then dint look again….it looked intimidating…..scary…..like she was growling…..dint look at her again….and came running back down…..that night I again packed for Camp 1….and went to sleep….the anxiousness dint let me sleep for a while….but then I did fall asleep……up again at 3am on the 28th…..and after the breakfast and all the routine things…..we were off this time by 4:15 am……the same turns and the same steps……I wished I could just start from where I had returned…..when I was at the second section of the ice fall…..there was an huge avalanche that started from the Lola pass…..dint reach us ….not even the dust…….but everyone there got into position and clipped themselves in….cause it could have a ripple effect and loosen some chunks of ice above us as well….my heart did skip….and a chill ran down my spine looking at the big chunks of ice that were hanging above us….but then I dint allow my brain to think of it…..and continued walking with a slightly faster pace…..this time the football field came way faster than it had the earlier time but it was not entirely due to my speed….it was because there wasn’t that many people going up today……we passed the football field…..and then up that vertical bit…..i met Will on the way down….he was now ready for summit…..he had touched Camp3…and was on his way down….he said I was 45mins away from camp…..i could see the last string of flags…..a little above….and they motivate u to reach them faster…..and so I did….and then started the flat grounds…..now from this point you can see the tents…the sun had reached us……it was 9am…..it was a good timing….i could SEE the tents….Camp 1 which is at 6100mtrs is a huge place…..spread over acres of snow fields….with Nupse on the right and Khumbuche on the left……its got some huge crevasses in between somewhere….and its bumps….so sometimes u can see some tents and then they disappear ……I thought from here it would take me 30 mins to my tent…….but no…..we walked…the sun had started its game…..it shone hard….the white snow played along with him making it’s effect triple as stronger…..i passed the first tents of the camp……in 45mins…..and I reached mine which were put at the far end of the camp….in the next 45mins…..i tell you ……vertical climbing is so much easier than this flat ground walking in the sun……so reached camp by 10:30 am……now camp was only 3 tents…..Henry who had left with me had reached by 10….he was also complaining about the flat ground….he sat in one tent while Nima dai…was preparing some soup in the other……and Gyalu was fixing the last one…….the sun was nice and bright….he made it impossible for us to even sit in the tent…..it becomes like an oven…the same like when you park your car in the sun and come back to it after an hour…..and it’s the sparkling ground outside……anyway we had soup…..took our shoes of ……wore other socks…walked around…….hoped the sun would fade itself….camps over here are far from each other…..and I mean realllly far…..so no interaction with other guys….we got terribly bored…..now Henry is a German guy…..very sweet….speaks broken English….so we spent the afternoon trying to figure out what the other was saying….also considering my b r o k e n German…..it became more fun……but after 4 days today…we understand each other quite well now…..eventually by late evening the clouds came in…..aahhhhhhhhh…..we were back in our own tents….and I kept feeling that I could hear cars…or buses….and it was definitely some sound…..i wasn’t just hearing it…..it was Nupse…..she growls the whole night…..as if saying……”why such a rush to climb her….im as good climb me!”…well I must say…..Everest is black…..she’s got snow on her like climbers have sunscreen left on their face after a trek….but all the mounts surrounding her are full of snow and ice…. When you see Everest from this angle ….where we were…camp 1 …..she looks approachable…but stern none the less…..but you feel like you have entered one of her layers….like you get to know a stern teacher…..u know she is stern but have the guts to ask her a question……something like that…..(Im really bad at giving examples)…….so as the night came closer….the air got colder…..and the quietness of the camp and the roaring of Nupse made me a little uncomfortable…I was alone in my tent……now this tent was as empty as could be….cold…..and the snow below the tent made it feel sick….i had my soup….and then noodle soup…..and then when Gyalu came to say good night……I managed to collect my guts….and ask him to come sleep with me in my tent…….the empty air in tent made it colder…..and he said he would come after he had his dinner and cleared up……it was 6pm……he huddled me up in my sleeping bag…..kept equipment around me …..like a baby….said don’t worry go to sleep….and I did….i was fast asleep before he even zipped the tent up again…..i don’t know when he had come back in….i had slept like a log…..on the morning of the 29th ……he came with a hot cup of black tea……his sleeping bag was the only mental knowledge to me that he had infact slept here……it was 8 am…..the sun had just entered our territory…..got up…..had tea….soup…..cornflakes…now my initial plan was 2 nights in Camp 1…..as I thought I was acclimatizing slower than the others….but after the boooooooring day we had ,had….i decided to move up to camp 2……so very araam se we got ready….and by 10:15am we were on our way to Camp 2 (6500mtrs)……now the way to camp 2 is the one kind that I hate……its just Bumps…..hills….that go on for ever…..the sun was bright bright bright…..and that made it a frustrating walk….you dint even feel like looking up at the beautiful scenery around…..Camp 2 was placed on the left….on a scree (loose stones and rocks…..stuck to ice in some places) hill exactly under the summit of Everest…..and this was also a s p r e a d out camp….it started at the base of the scree hill and went right till the top and down the hill again…..we have settlements here….not camps….hehehe…so I reached the base of this hill in 2 n a half hours…..the first tent of the Camp…..and reached mine in the next 1 n half hours….and this walk not only has the effect of the sun but also that people have reached their camps….are taking out their shoes….and having tea…..while you have to walk right to the top and then back down to reach your camp…..well I finally reached my camp……changed my shoes….had tea…..and sat for lunch…..no headache till now….but couldn’t really eat the lunch….stuffed how much ever I could ….went to my tent organized my stuff……and lied down….the sun was still bright…..camp 2 has a stream flowing ….and all the camps have dining tents like in base camp…..its a big place….though…..from Camp 1 onwards toilets have shrunk to the size of a bag…..like C Norbu sir would always say…..you got to carry your shit back down…..and we do….but its not as gross as u imagine it to be…..its grosser to not do the bag thing ….seriously…..anyway….the next day was rest day for me….and Henry….but the night was cold in the tent at that height…..and I dint sleep well at all that night…..got up in the middle of the night and stepped outside……could see Camp3 ahead on the Lhotse face….a light shimmering just like the stars above it…..then looked to the left…on Everest….and I could see 2 lights there as well…..huh???? was a imagining things…..or were there stars that had come down on Everest just to rest probably….tired of running around the earth!! Just went back in and dint think of it…..tried to sleep….and then dawned 30th of april…..and then I slept for a bit….went and had breakfast….walked around the camp….and stared at the black line of people going straight up at 90 degrees on the Lohtse face….and then a horizontal line from Camp3 going to South col…..and me and Henry discussed….coz we were the last in our team ….we dint know whether the weather would permit us to come back for a second rotation before the weather window opens for the summit…..after rest and all that…..and now that the route to camp 3 had opened….we could go for it…..Henry decided that he would stay at Camp3 for the night…..it means a lot of loss of power….sleeping at that altitude……he had done it before….so he was confident…..i decided to only touch camp 3 and back…..so it was an early morning the next day…..1st of May….(labour day….maharashtra day..i thought of it all)up at 4am…break fast and started walking by 5:15am……no backpack…..just a water bottle and a napsack that Gyalu carried for the extra clothes that would come off on the way down….now there were again fields up to the Jumar Point……that took 3 long hours….for me…..and then up from there…..once the jumar touched the rope it was 2 hours to camp 3….its a 65 degree to 75 degree slope….the route had been opened only one day before so the steps that had gotten cut by the crampons of the sherpas were still narrow….but extremely easy to follow…. it was ice….with a slight cover of snow ….i managed to overtake the guys that had overtook me on the flat grounds….im really slow on those flat parts…. …...we were up at 10:15 am….exactly 5 hours…..we cut an apple and had some water….and tea that we had got in our thermas….clicked the first pictures of the day and started back…….it was rappelling all the way down till the jumar point……the sun shining in our face as we rappelled…..he was out the moment we had reached the top….and now was following us…..we put sunscreen….and goggles….and got rid of the masks….they were suffocating us….by 11:30am we had reached the Jumar point….and it was the fields again…..back till the camp…..this time I decided I was not gona let them affect me…..and with a lot of collected enthusiasm I started for camp 2……and was there by a little over an hour….an headache had developed it self very strongly in that last patch of walking in the sun…..had two bowls of soup…..and lied in the tent….that had become an oven….it was too hot ….so I went in the dining tent and sat there for a while…..by evening I was feeling good……I had my dinner with the sherpas in the kitchen tent that night as I was the only member…..Henry was up in Camp 3…….after my first miserable night at camp2 I had again requested Gyalu to sleep in the same tent …..and when I left I knew all the other sherpas giggled…..but I dint care….its cold and scary…and I rather have my sleep then walk with no sleep…..the next day was the day to go back down to Base Camp…..so we decided on not a very early time…..breakfast at 6am and move 7am…..which conveniently became 7:30am…..Henry was back at camp 2 with me by 7am….on the 2nd of may…..so we had our breakfast together….and started of together…..by 7:30am…..we had both not taken any pics on our way up…..so we stopped and took pics on the ladders and of the crevasses….and of the panorama view of Choyu, and Pumuri……and loads of others….we were just about to start down the ice fall….we had crossed the fields of Camp1….when over the radio….Partemba dai’s voice crackled saying that there had been an huge avalanche that swept over the middle part of the icefall…..and that the dust and breeze had gone over the whole of the Base Camp as well….that meant that it was a MASSIVE avalanche….that also meant that maybe the route had been destroyed….and that meant…..spend the night at Camp 1….till the Khumbu doctors fix the route again….but that couldn’t be done….Henry had left his sleeping bag at Camp 2….and we dint wanna stay back……so we told Partemba dai that we will start to come down….and we were confident the khumbu docs would be faster at fixing the route again….the route was not that destroyed….in fact only 1 ladder had been completely destroyed……and fixed again by the Khumbu docs….the middle of the second section we could see and feel the fresh snow that had landed from the avalanche….and could see the layer thinning down till we reached our camp……the fresh white snow and the small chunks of ice that were strewn everywhere …..were a sight to see…..it was for me my first avalanche…as if….down at the camp people thought we would have been in the avalanche…..there were quite a few people climbing when the avalanche happened but there was not a single victim….physically that is…..im sure some of them would have sworn not to go again…..the avalanche had broken at 9:30am…..we reached camp by 11:45am…..i was feeling fresh and energetic…..team mates showed me the video of the avalanche…..im sure u guys will get to see it on you tube once we guys come down…..it was huge….the dust swept over Base Camp with a whiff …..and Base Camp is spread over an large area…..Partemba Dai gave me big strong hug….when he saw me…..he had been worried about how my health would treat me in the mountains…..and he was happy that I had gone all the way till Camp3….almost 7300mtrs….he rushed me into the dinning tent and fixed some hot orange juice…..the weather had become bad as we had started on the ice fall…….from sunny…..it had gone to cloudy….cloudier and then snow fall…..it was a good day for us to be back at Base Camp…..it was going to get colder for the next 2 days….i unpacked….changed…..wiped myself clean of the four days…..cause a bath in this weather was not going to be possible by me….went in for lunch….back with the whole team the roar and the laughter…..i was keen to meet Bud, and Bill…..but they had gone down to Pheriche for rest……Nick,Jesse,Yura,Mons,Apa dai,dawa,Partemba dai, and me and Henry….it was almost a full house…..and it felt good to be back…..everyone wanting to know how the route to camp 3 was…..was it cold was it tough …..after lunch I went to the Indian camp….the NIM camp…..who were busy in board games and card games…..told them what I had been up to for the past 8 days…..their camp is quite far away from ours….i wanted to write this blog up….but because there was no sunlight there was no charge at our camp……so I started writing this only on the night of 3rd may….after the whole day of story telling by Partemba….right from the 71 to 2005….then we played Challenge…..or Bullshit….the card game ….just me and Partemba…..and we had a bet….that loser makes dinner…..and I won and so I demanded that he makes chapatti sabzi…..oh I’d love to have that…coz im with an international team…..we eat international food….boiled vegges….and mayo salads…..tuna….and sardines….and spam and sausages…its good foood…..but chapatti sabzi is chapatti sabzi…..so it’s the 4th morning now and im still writing…there have been atleast 5 avalanches from the Nupse face….its sunny now but the clouds are slowly traveling up…..its gona be not very good weather till Thursday….i am on rest now….for till the weather window opens….im ready for summit….though I have to keep climbing n hiking ….so will do Pumuri Base camp again……and Kallapathar…and Henry peak…..and wait for the weather gods to be kinder….there is not even an approximate date out as in when the window would open….on the 24th night I had realized that I was gona be here till the next 24th….or more….and I dint know how those days were gona pass….but now im feeling good……I also realized that the prime minister of India would be different when I came back….could someone be kind enough to let me know when he is changed….i’d like to know…..and any other news is welcome….it gives me something to think about……

10 comments:

  1. aww my baby iam soooooooooo proud of u....u r reaching great heights n making us proud...simply great....from 22 i was feeling have v done wrong by pushing u for this but after reading Dawa Stevens blog was relievd....nyways take care n please please call me again n let it ring for at least 4,5 times.....Karnik Uncle joins me in sending u loads of blessings n wishes....in fact every1 v know....take care n love u n miss u.......

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  2. What can I say? I'm speechless! Amazed at ur ability to pen it down in such detail.. Awed by ur descriptions.. and proud that you're doing it so well.. :-)

    Btw, where are the photos dat u took?

    Loveu Krush! take care and miss ya loads!! Miss the carefree laughter that comes along with you..

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  3. hallo shonu,
    read the comments of 22nd april.....can u post a few of ur's pics????do lots of climbing n keep practicing dont slow down....say my namaste to Apasherpa, per Tamba sherpa n Dawa Steven too....wish u all luck .....love u n miss u...
    yesterday ana had come for lunch n day- bfore niti n ana......

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  4. Hi shonu,
    where r u? no news from u ...hope all is fine with u....do write if u r free....hows ghaluk(gelu)?say namaste to him....n take care...all is fine here...how is Meena di and the nim team?any news from them?....put some of ur pics....bye shonu take care....

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  5. hey read all your blog,i can imagine what u r going thru bu t when the going gets tough...u know .well alls ok here aaji read the blog and got confused,cherru is here imitating me, prus birthdays here .i missed u a lot.lots of things happened,waitg for ur return and the energy u bring along.the election was 40% in mumbai,very bad but the choices were as bad,i belonged to the 60%.

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  6. lovewith lots of courage and fine than,miss u bhu bhu

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  7. hey shonu, worried about u ,...hope all is fine with all of u ....dnt worry all will be fine...just tkae care of u n right decisions....gods with u ...n u will b successful...loads of love.....do write how r u......

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  8. Hey Krush.. Wassup? been a while since we got an update.. Hope you're doing great!!
    Im finally going back to India this week.. Yaaayyy!! But im dreading the heat... Blore is supposed to be very hot now.. it was real pleasent here.. gonna miss dis place..
    How far have u gone up?? where are the pics..
    please please write.. waiting to hear from you.
    Loadsa love,
    Dipi

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  9. hi shonu, hope alls fine with u all, all ready for the final climb? hows ur health? waiting to hear from u...y u not putting ny pics of u? put some new pics...nisha mau n me back in pune for some paper work for ur sponsors....hope to get some....lot of news in newspaper of u lately....all vwaiting for ur summit news....all maharashtra is praying for ur safe n successful summit....so again lots of best wishes n blessings from ur loved ones....nepal is still fighting....elections r going on in some places over in maharashtra....so new govt will be waiting to welcome u.....so bye shonu take lots of care....love u n miss u.....

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  10. Dear Krushnaa,
    We all puneites are proud of you.
    You have added stars to our shoulders.
    I really felts good when you say "I remember maharashtra din".
    Come back soon...
    You rocks...

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