It’s like life goes on in loops, they are always more curvier and steeper n scarier than before, but it goes in circles. At the end of 2011 I was somewhat in the same position that I was in 2008, the difference, in 2008 I was anonymous, no one knew me n no one had an opinion, suddenly by climbing Everest and the 7 summits I had invited everyone to judge me, to have an opinion on what I was doing. It annoyed me to no end, only to realize I was looking at it the wrong way. Nothing had changed, in 2008 I was going around like a lost child looking for sponsors, today in 2011 I was doing the same, only now the response was, “Oh!! I cant believe u find it hard to get sponsors!!” really!!? So many times in the 1000 conferences I attended since 2009 did people come up to me and said we will sponsor u and then backed off completely?? A few million times. Every single time!! Everyone would promise to go back from that conference a changed person that was going to do something different, but u call them a week later and u have to introduce urself again!! Haha! I had started to believe that something was majorly wrong with me. That I had lost something. There was nothing around me that could tell me the kind of environment that I was surviving in. I was back to not knowing what my life is and what it is going to be. This time was a lull, nothing excited me, nothing interested me, even books became dry, and music meaningless. I went through tunes that had changed me at some point, but they just were noise now.
I met people who asked me what my plans were, and mostly I had no plans. This was the time I ODed on seriels, starting with Friends and Grey’s Anatomy, and how I met your mother and Big bang Theory and Modern Family and Make it or Break it. I would just lie in bed and watch tv, eat food, and watch tv. To bounce from this, coz I knew I was sinking I started cycling, again. I joined a Dance class. But it felt stupid now. Since that conference I had met Shantanu a few times, and we were becoming great friends…….actually he was being my shrink, I would just tell him of all the anguish my brain was going over, what I was feelng about climbing, what was holding me back, and everyday I felt a little better.
These meetings gave me a chance to see something else. A chance to see someone create music. From scratch, to make a basic tune, to add that soft background beat, and change the feel of the song, that tingling alaap in the end, as if the song never ends. The magic of the beat, and to then see the larger picture, the symphony of all those sounds played together, and u were right there listening to its birth! It was magic. Those hours in the studio would melt away the reality and all its problems. In that studio there was just music. I was soo envious of Shantanu, what he loved, what he needed, what he was meant to do, was only a hour ride away from where he stayed! He could wake up every morning and do what he really felt like, in his studio he was the creator! I wanted to feel like that everyday. And for me that would only happen in the mountains.
And again this over powering urge would take over and all I could think was about the mountains. Every moment I was day dreaming about climbing. I would randomly check up mountains, and make climbing routes, and launch expeditions on some crazeee peaks! All with imaginary characters and exciting situations, and killer twists. My imagination was running wild and I just let it!
But it came to be almost a year trying to make it a reality. While i had somewhat given up hope of ever finding sponsors, Shantanu introduced me to Vikram Sathey and Nilesh Kulkarni, one a stand up comedian and one a banker. It's a crazy mix of people and it works real wonders. They were gona help me find sponsors!!! Basically they were gona put me back on my beloved mountains! And suddenly the exictement was back.
Around the same time, actually much before this Arjun, who is the guy who broke my record, had been asking me to join him on his next climb. I had always been super excited about climbing together. But it had not been so, I had planned to climb Cho-Oyu with Arjun in the spring of 2012. I had met a corporate Indian in Cardiff, a gentleman running a business in USA, who after my talk had promised he would fund my next expedition. But after the conference we shared a few emails, and later he just disappeared about 15 days before the expedition!!
And so I pulled out of the expedition. I was disappointed, more for getting so excited so quick when i knew that it generally played on this tune.
But there was much more in store. I had decided to climb in next spring by hook or crook. The first step was to start training again, go back into the Himalayas, and back into some hard core training. And so me and Arjun spent September and October training in the Gharwal himalayas, even attempted to summit Draupadi ka Danda, a peak which we both had summited during our respective Advance Courses.
After a few month of planing, and brainstorming on ways to get sponsors, back home in Mumbai, I was explaining to Vikram n Nilesh and their team, of what kind of a sport mountaineering is, what we do n how we do it, what to we need, what kind of sponsors, and the works. The plan was to target corporates of course.
Since I had met Shantanu and spent so much time at the studio in recordings, he had always said, "if nothing else we will do a concert to raise the money!" And then we decided to take that thought seriously! It took months of planning, and a load of hard work. Fixing a date, the right time to put up such concert, and the kind of monies we could generate. It was a big dream! 10 lakhs in 3 or 4 months!
While all the madness of monies and sponsors was going on, my body needed some more training. I decided to mix things up a little, and so on 12th feb i decided to go skiing in Gulmarg. I called up IISM, begged the principal to give me a seat on the 18th Feb Course., used the Everest card a little, and my obvious charm.... ;) and got myself in!!
And what I had really got myself into were just the Best 15 days of my life!! Oh and I fell in love all over again. The views I have seen on that trip were out of this world. The landscape, the sound scape, the play of light in the mornings, and the evening hues there were to just die for. Luckily i met an long lost friend of mine, chotti Avani, at the course! And what a course it was. The mornings and afternoons were filled with the sound of crackling snow beneath our skies, and the side stepping up the slope, the evenings we chilled with Avani and her boyfriend Kapil, who was snowboard in on Afarwat!! it was Magical. I went on morning walks and made myself a new climbing partner, Vibhu, a software engineer who is lost in the mountains and doesn't wana find his way out really!! The skiing just made it all the more exciting! At the end of the course we all made our way up to the first base of afarwat, and for 2 whole days, all we did was ski down! Took a day pass and just zoomed through the slopes! Falling sometimes, and sometimes going at 60kmph on our own feet down the slopes!! Though we were physically coming down, in every other sense we were only going higher!! I never wanted to stop skiing! We went up n down at least 8 times, and we just wanted more!!
But it was time to get back! The Shantanu-Swanand-Vikram-Nilesh group was on fire! From the cold in Gulmarg, the heat in Bombay was even more exciting. That dream concert was going to be a reality. Even as the days to the concert came closer, I still couldn't believe that it was really gona happen!! There was a frenzy everywhere!
To know that such amazing people, who actually have loads to do , other than try to raise funds for a 23 yr old girl and her craze dreams, gave me all the oxygen i needed to fill my lungs with. Till the day it actually arrived. I couldn't feel my toes!
The Bawraas, were in motion. The concert was a full house, and the show was mesmerizing! For me this was bigger than any award or honor i had received! And the best part was that the goal was acquired. The money had been raised. And I think the first time in history a Mountaineering Expedition has been funded by the power of music,lyrics and laughter!!
A night where, I went back to the time I had climbed in Europe, since I had boarded the plane in Bombay to the day i had landed back, I had only listened to 'Bawara mann dekhne chalaa ek sapna', and it was played here again. To the roads life leads us on, to the circles of friendships and relation ships that evolve and grow, and we realize what a web of destinies we have created!
Shantanu had made it possible again, he had believed in my dreams, maybe even a little more than me. And here I am, one day before starting my trek to Mt.Makalu!