I love seeing dreams. During nights. During days. They arrive while resting.. working. I welcome them. Yes, I entertain them. They don’t go away then. These dreams force me to act, to take efforts to reach them. My dreams lay a path for my future, for my real life. My explorations, my pictures are no coincidence. Immense efforts physical, research, preparation, planning, sacrifices lie behind them. I remember making some strong decisions… Gave up my Software career, gave up on money and luxury and other parasites that come along with it, to spend more time to spend in nature and explore.
Every place in nature lures me. May that be the sea, mountain, forest or desert. Animals, flowers, trees or simply rocks. My childhood was filled with the stories shared, pictures shown by my father. He was a librarian at a college. During the summer holidays, I used to go there. There was one reading room. During those days it used to be empty and usually dark, as students return to their towns and homes. It used to be very quiet and slightly cooler due to the wooden cabinets and a large volume of papers. The outside temperatures used to be 47-48 degrees centigrade. While my father and staff worked even during college holidays in those hot temperatures without any coolers or air conditioning systems, I would forget myself in a small tube light and search for all books that showed pictures of mountains, volcanoes… I would go there every day during every holiday and request to see them, the staff under him would help me whenever it was possible.
My first dreams of exploring the earth began there… They still do everyday….
Last year, I lost my mother on Christmas night and shook me. While I tried to get back to life, my trekking and travel buddy persuaded me to go for a trek. We chose the best time to visit this region when there is almost always a chance to get clearer skies. I really wanted to be in the mountains. My mother was a strong and practical woman. She always taught us how to dust off any low thoughts and get back on feet and start running to the aim. She would not give up or even have the slightest tolerance to that thought at all. When I think of venturing into the mountains, I am always on my toes. Photographing in mountains is not easy. Its not like going in your car, stepping out, going on some well-maintained dock, taking pictures and returning with hi-fives. Walking on the uneven terrain, rocks, logs, forest… Climbing 2000-3000 ft or more in a day until your feet are tired, rising body temperatures make your head start hurting badly, hurting shoulders by lifting heavy backpacks, ..in addition to that when you venture into the Himalayas the entire expression changes drastically… The heights above the thresholds most humans are made for, you are not just venturing..many times you find yourself in the survival mode. Safety becomes the highest priority. Photography in the mountains while you are exhausted and struggling to take your next breath, trying to bear the biting pain caused by the cold wind especially to your toes and fingers, is not something you look for. Knowing all this, you must persist for the passion you possess. All we can do to train ourselves, build more stamina, stock up all the energy so when you are there your body is struggling less. Start living in comfort, away from the warmth and convenience. And it’s not just your body, but teach your mind perseverance, patience and ironically the pleasures of pain. And before you begin, build yourself a strong belief of success, trust yourself and then no thinking back. I started my gym again. After two months of rigorous training and meeting the requirements for the physical stamina, we traveled to West Bengal.
I had a good experience and confidence with Indiahikes. After spending a couple of days in the lower levels there to acclimatize to the heights and weather. We started our trek from the Jaubhari at 6400 ft. We began our walk through the misty forest on the damp forest. The day was going to be long, 9 kilometers of walk or climb for more than 3000 feet on day 1, is a pretty good test your body is put into. After about a third of our distance, and greeted by the warm sun in the late morning, we continued toward the later part of our arduous trek, which is when mountains showed what they really are. Thunderstorms struck. Heavy rain followed. Despite raincoats, we were soaking wet. As we marched upward, hailstorm struck us. Wind, rain, and hail was hitting us from every direction, blurring our vision. Trail vanished. Slopes became slippery. Small gullies became gushing streams of murky waters, You are not testing your body anymore, it’s your spirits that are in charge. No prior training, or preparation matters anymore. Your spirits decide whether you can or cannot. No one talked to each other, our fabulous leaders watched us and motivated from time to time. We continued till a stop where we were fed warm drinks and steaming hot lunch. An hour later, we reached a small village called Tumling and immediately got busy drying our belongings. Clouds had already engulfed the village. The next day we got lucky. The sky cleared after sunrise. We grabbed our tripods and cameras and rushed outside. Kanchanganga looked so majestic. Its slopes were glistening in the soft warm morning light. Manasi’s Canon 300 mm lens helped me zoom into just capture this monolith. Range of connected peaks, ridges, and glaciers have created insurmountable and one of the most dangerous mountains to venture into. The peaks floated in the sky as a layer of grey clouds laid horizontally above the valley.
When I look at this scene, I get immense pleasure of seeing the mountain up-close. New Dreams begin to form. Can I climb these mountains in my lifetime? I don’t know. All I know that I must take efforts to make them true.