We are back to the beginning and its been almost 3 years since i last wrote but....i'm back to being the lost wandrer, young, passionate, eager to explore, full of dreams and new with love. A new desire, a new challenge and even more extraordinary support. These past years have been like a long train journey, sometimes beautiful like a green country side, n sometimes dry n dusty, stinky ride through ghastly cities filled with smoke, and at times lonely, eerie like a kabristan. From climbing Everest, to going around the world doing the 7 summits, and everything in between, family dramas, love stories, tv shows, parties, studies, graduating and shifting cities! my world has changed in every bit, yet not much has really changed!! haha!
After 2 years of continuos climbing, part 2008-2009-2010, 9 expeditions, 8 summits, 7 continents, traveling close to 15 countries i was exhausted, mentally, emotionally and mainly financially....it was time to take a break, hang up my climbing boots and wear rubber chappals! seriously, i felt like my feet hadn't taken a breath in a while. i was yearning for the heat of the cities, the noise, the sweat, i wanted to wear a ganji and shorts and dip my feet in the sea.
I wanted to do other things now, horse ride, travel the country, go to a beach, just anything but lug weight around on my back. It had been tough to raise money for the 7 summits even after Everest, i now wanted to climb bigger summits, i had earned and spent a lot of money by myself, but sponsorship was still not an option. And i was trying to avoid going around looking for sponsors, so i decided to do less expensive adventures. I started off with courses in canoeing, kayaking, sailing, and water skiing in Himachal during august 2010, later that year i took part in an international women's rally in nepal, driving awesome Toyota Prados through the Annapurna circuit and rafting in the rapids of Trishuli.
The year ended in Argentina,while shooting for an adventure based reality show. The year 2011 started with the continuation of shooting/partying in Argentina, seeing a different world of reality stars, eventually meeting SRK!! Aaaah what different highs. That was followed by landing in India and straight away joining a cycling expedition to Kanyakumari from Kolkatta. A great experience, I had never done long distance cycling then, and was super excited when i could cycle about a 100kms the first day itself. I always loved cycling, but now it had become a way of life for me!!
By the end of this expedition family had become priority, we had to move out of Pune, In a fraction of 3 days, me and mom had packed our life of 21 years, in 75 boxes, and shipped them to a godown in Bombay, we were staying with Maushi but our stuff had no place yet. To forget all the stress of city life we all made a run for the mountains, My plan this time was to take my family to show them what exactly i am so crazeee about. Family includes, 1 ajji (grandmother), 2 Maushis (mom's sisters), 1 kaka (maushi's husband), 4 cousin sisters (Renu-Elder one,Prutha-yonger one, Narayani-youngest one and Runa who is the eldest but lives in canada)....so we all went to Leh-Ladhak and Kashmir. [except Runa and Renu]
On the flight to Leh from Delhi, we met my long lost friend from Leh, Dolkar.....we had stayed at her homestay 8 years ago in 2003, Dolkar was then just in college, so she had been an excellent guide to us, me n her had stayed in touch for atleast 4 years after that, today she was carrying an adorable baby on her shoulders and is a dynamic manager of an NGO traveling on a business trip to Delhi. And Aaaaaah what a moment that was! And the coolest part was that even though Kaka had on several occasions asked me about our hotel booking for Leh, i had held on to Dolkar's Address from her last postcard and had planned to hand it to the taxi guy and ask him to take us there!! And here she was standing right in front of us in the boarding queue. What are the chances.
This was again one hell of a trip, my 74 year old asthmatic Ajji had no problems in acclimatization, nor did my maushi who is asthmatic, no one at all, no one had headaches and no one vomitted! i was soooo proud of them all! we even cycled back from Khardungla, ran around in snow at the top of Afarwat looking at the LoC from Gulmarg! We had many a nights of warm garlic soup, a heater's light and chats from long lost times, ghost stories, and gossip of course!
Mom dint want to come back from this dream like place. She always hated the cities, now that I was on my own, she had no strings attached in mumbai or pune, so she looked for a school in Leh and stayed back there!! coz she is a school teacher :) This was May 2011.
By August I was planning another trip to Leh, with friends, plus it was Moms birthday, and she had vacation from school, so we met in Manali, me n my besht friend Nitish, n a friend of his from Bombay to Manali, and mom from Leh, We did paragliding in Manali, flew with the eagles and vultures, visited a whole village during some festival, and the entire village smelled of hash, the priest was dancing up n down, the women had gathered around him to ask questions, the Devta had arrived, it was quite a scene to watch. We had then taken a bus to Leh, and though the views are surreal, that bus made it a death ride, 2 days long with a night halt....even after we were off the bus we felt like we were moving! We then hired Bikes and rode to Tsomoriri, we never made it there, but thats too long and twisted a story, will pen it in the book:)......we later even went to Diskit, the desert which houses the double humped camels. By the time I was returning from this trip, I got a call from National Geographic about a off road driving reality show happening in september starting in Rajasthan going to Siachen Glacier.
And soon I was on the road again, literally, learning sand bashing in the deserts of Rajasthan with Isreali Off roading gods! Again with a wonderful gang of people, making amazing friends and even better memories! Being on the Road, and shooting continuously, doing video diaries, one of the most weird n uncomfortable things to do, living in sanctuaries, and later living in the SUVs itself. On the last leg we were joined by a Champion woman rallyist Navaaz Sandhu, and i loved her style, at her age, i want to be like that!!
By the end of 2011, I was missing my mountains and my climbing now. It had been a great break! I now wanted to just leap on to the next opportunity i could get. Whenever I was not on one of my adventures, I was talking at conferences, schools and colleges, sharing my experience. On one such conference I met Swanand Kirkire, again, after meeting him at an Award Function before. He was excited to see me, and with gleaming eyes he asked me not to move and disappeared into the crowd, moments later resurfacing with a bald man beside him! I was introduced to Shantanu Moitra, the composer of Parineeta, and 3 idiots and many others. For the first time I saw and met 2 distinguished people so proud of me!! So interested to know what I'm doing next and so fascinated with what I had done, it made even me think back and talk about everything I had been through. From that meeting, it was going to be another 2 years to an incredible night that has made this expedition to Mount Makalu a reality!! Something that I could not have imagined! But its the reason i am writing again today, cause I am going to be back out there with a Backpack on my back and a summit in view!