Wanderlust 201: Final Destination (Last Part)

As I looked towards my husband in shock, he heaved a sigh of relief and assured me about everybody’s safety just through his eyes, without uttering a word. I remained curious till we reached the Raikot bridge where the boys told us how the previous night Ahmed Bhai, one of the staff members had told them about W and R’s jeep ‘s incident. Basically, the driver was the owner of the jeep, inexperienced and unprofessional. When he was going downhill after dropping W and R to the fairy meadows trek, his jeep had fallen in the crest while he himself had jumped out to save his life. So, the boys had arranged for another jeep for W, R and the girls. The day we were going back, the smashed jeep was being taken out. So a word of caution: Please make sure the jeep drivers you hire from the Raikot bridge are experienced. You can find that out by asking other drivers around or by interviewing them yourself about his experience, etc. The path for jeeps is not an easy one. Driving on that path is a very skillful job so please doesn’t risk your life by hiring an unprofessional driver.

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Anyhow, at Raikot Bridge, we had lunch (not to forget the KnN kebabs we were served, Rs. 100/kebab) at the Shangrila Hotel where we had parked our cars and headed to the Naltar Valley, taking the Gilgit route. Naltar is a forested valley known for it’s wildlife and breathtaking mountainous scenery.

After a long car journey from Raikot bridge and finally through the Nomal village, we parked the cars at a police check post. Jeeps! Again! Start of another bumpy ride, this time in total darkness. Raahim had gone to sleep so I enjoyed the chilly wind. I couldn’t see anything; only hear noises of water flowing recklessly. I was thrilled about the next morning. I wanted to see where I was. I wanted to know how Naltar looked.

The next morning we were all up and ready to leave by 8am. Raahim’s nose got runny and I freaked out a bit, gave him an anti allergy medicine and prayed so much to God to keep him fine at least till we reached home. We had to reach back to Chilas during daylight; time was short so we did not want to waste a single minute. Anyhow, morning at Naltar was beautiful. It was chilly but comfortable. We got into our jeeps and headed towards the three famous lakes. The ride was breathtaking. We passed through lush green forests, saw vibrant colored birds, waved to the village children passing by and enjoyed the wildly flowing, aqua colored streams, criss crossing the entire village.

Our first stop was the Satrangi Lake. It had changing shades of green and blue. As soon as we reached, my semi toilet trained child felt the need to poop. With no toilets around, convincing him and then actually making him poop into the wild was not an easy job. But I guess, now he is ready for a camping trip too!

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Satrangi Lake, Naltar Valley

We passed by the beautiful but small Pari Lake and made our next stop at the Blue Lake. Blue lake is untouched breathtaking beauty, looked upon by snow capped peaks and so serene that we didn’t feel like leaving the place. Raahim and I spent considerable time throwing pebbles into the water. While I kept stopping Raahim from stepping into the water, the girls remained busy collecting pine cones.

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Blue Lake, Naltar Valley

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The ski resort and chair lift were closed and the snow leopard wasn’t there in his cage so we went back to our hotel. As we drove back down to the police check post, some sort of sand storm layered us and our luggage with loads of sand and dust.

Sun burnt, tired and full of exciting stories; we headed back to Chilas, applying aloe vera gel on our burns throughout the way and buying fresh cherries and apricots. Raahim had seen cherries only in his caterpillar book but now they had come alive for him. He enjoyed eating cherries, leaving a whole lot of mess for me to clean up.  We reached Chilas and left for Lahore the next morning-back on the spectacular Babusar drive! We stopped at the Babusar Top for some snacks where it started snowing.

The journey back was long. We were all exhausted. I was scolding Raahim way too much now. However, he still showed applaud able amount of patience. We reached back in 20 hours. Boys were tired of driving. But they had done an incredible job, driving so skillfully through the mountains.

I would like to thank A and N for bearing so patiently with a child for such a long journey. He created so much mess in the car, cried hysterically at times, slept at times forcing us to lower the music volume but this couple did not complain or fidget for even a second. I was also amazed at how N had managed the trip despite having a swollen knee since the Beyal Camp trek. Hardly any complain or any sign of pain on her face, she managed it so well. Three cheers for her! The girls were so good to Raahim, took care of him, played with him and kept him entertained. He had become such good friends with the girls, he still calls out their names randomly while playing or even in his sleep. Despite having children on the trip, I was surprised to see how nobody was ever late. The entire group was so punctual, co operative and helpful. Frankly, I have travelled with a lot of groups but this group, I must say, was the best in terms of cooperation, punctuality and compromise.

Travelling teaches you so much about life, people and about patience and compromise. Travel teaches you how you are so insignificant and there is so much to life. Travelling in the mountains esp in Pakistan is hard, you have to move out of your comfort zone but it is so totally worth it. Don’t wait for your kids to grow up, don’t wait to save up enough money, don’t wait to get time because that you will never get, just pack up your bags and travel! Everything keeps falling into place once your start your journey.

Keep exploring!

 

Wanderlust 201: Her Majesty refuses to show up (Part 2)

N and I started reciting Quranic verses while A accelerated the car. To our mere surprise or rather shock, the dacoits did not stop us but all of us remained frantic for the remaining part of the journey. We continued to ask a plethora of questions in anxiety. Hats off to A who drove with such courage and confidence with three terrified people in the car. We weren’t sure if we would encounter any more dacoits on the way but A literally flew the car taking some risky turns but trying his best to take us out of the danger zone as fast as possible.

Anyhow, it had been almost 20 hours since the beginning of the journey. Raahim was now crying hysterically. I had run out of all ways of entertaining him that included showing him cartoons on my phone, reading books, playing with the few toys we had, snacking, dancing in the car, coloring, napping etc. He was tired and hungry. We had taken hardly any food break on the way and now stopping the car on a dangerous road was not an option. When nothing seemed to soothe him, I massaged him with mustard oil that I had kept in the car which calmed him and he went quiet for a while. Yes, it was gas! Gas and babies definitely do belong together!

Finally, after a long, adventurous journey we reached Chilas to stay the night. Tired and hungry, we slept like babies but hey, is that even possible when you have a baby in your room. Maybe he was too tired or what, he woke up crying screamingly in the middle of the night thanks to which we went out and gazed at the starry sky that we city dwellers often crave to see. Stars up above and Indus down below. The noise of water thrashing against the rocks was frightening and peaceful at the same time. Water scares me. Indus flows so carelessly, it stuns you, it startles you! It makes you realize the power of water, the power of current-so powerful and so petrifying.

Next morning, we set on the Karakoram Highway to reach the Raikot Bridge. On the way, we saw people huddled together looking for a car fallen in the ridge, lost in the deadly Indus River.  Sometimes, this excursion seemed like the Final Destination movie. We were escaping death at every stage of our journey. Anyhow, we reached the Raikot Bridge, parked our cars at the Shangrila Hotel and started THE jeep ride. Off-roading! So that’s what you call it. No road, narrowest path, crest on one side and mountain on the other! The jeep ride took almost 1.5 hours and literally shook up each and every bone in my body. The ride was so bumpy that I had to hold Raahim’s neck to save it from any shock. We hired porters and horses when we reached the point where jeeps could no longer ride. A porter took our bags while we started our journey on the horses. It was a 3 hour horse ride. Raahim was with me on the horse. I held him as close and as tightly as possible.

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The Bumpy Jeep Ride!

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Trek to Fairy Meadows

The trek to fairy meadows is not easy if you are on foot. People we encountered on the way seemed tired and exhausted. Most of the ride was on a very constricted and steep path with a bloodcurdling gorge on one side. Right when the ride was ending, Raahim slept. Yeah! He SLEPT on the horse and kept falling on one side. Losing balance on such a track was a risky game so I had to keep shaking him to make him stay up and sit straight. It is definitely not easy to force a two year old toddler into doing something against his will.

We crossed streams, forests and meadows and finally reached our heavenly destination. Only short of the cottages, W and Rs’ girls who were together on a horse fell off. Their horse had mistakenly stepped on a weak link of a small wooden bridge while crossing a stream. It was only good luck that they did not fall in the canyon or did not bump their head against any rock. They fell on a plain ground. They did get slight injuries and were in a state of shock for a few minutes but their bravery was remarkable. They were totally normal after a short while enjoying the meadows, running around and giving us lifetime memories with their beautiful smiles and giggles.

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Our Cottages at Fairy Meadows

Meanwhile, Raahim had reached the Big Park we had been telling him about since the past few days. He was out of control. He was running around, jumping, drinking water from the stream and enjoying the herds of sheep, screaming “baa baa”. His animal farm had come alive. Horses, cows and sheep, all of them together! He was into the wild, having the time of his life. There were huge meadows in front of our cottages with a stream running in the middle, overlooked by the huge Nanga Parbat, snow covered and majestic. What a sight! Nanga Parbat, also called the killer mountain is notoriously a difficult climb and is the ninth highest mountain in the world.

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Drinking water from the stream

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View of Nanga Parbat from Fairy Meadows

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Another breathtaking picture of Fairy Meadows

Night fell, it started getting really cold and a bonfire got lit up. The meadows were full of camps. It was a pretty busy week for Fairy Meadows with lots of tourists and visitors. At night, when we got together, we decided to change our plan. To my utter disappointment, the plan for Deosai got cancelled and after an unending round of discussion we agreed on going to the Naltar Valley after spending another night at Fairy Meadows.

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Into the wild with baby and baba

After a rainy night, it was cold and cloudy the next morning. My husband, Raahim and I went into the woods to explore the micro hydel power generation that was lighting up all the cottages. With two small turbines, the electricity was being generated through the stream water flowing throughout the meadows. It was so serene and peaceful there. We spent some time there only to find out that our friends were leaving for Beyal camp, one stop before the Diamir base camp for Nanga Parbat. I couldn’t find a horse to be able to go to Beyal camp with Raahim so I put him to sleep with my husband while I went to explore the meadows on the backside of the cottages with W, R and the girls. Those meadows were more plain and lush green. We even came across a small pond that had the reflection of the mountains but sadly the majesty kept refusing to show up. We anxiously waited to see the snowcapped peaks but the clouds didn’t budge.

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Power Generation Unit of Fairy Meadows

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Walking towards our jeeps to go back down to Raikot Bridge

The next morning we bid farewell to the Majesty, still hidden behind the clouds.  With the horse incident two days ago we were really scared to have kids going down on horses but we took this leap of faith and went ahead with the journey. We took the same route back and eventually settled in the same jeeps. In the middle of the bumpy ride, my eyes popped out and my heart sank. I saw W and R’s jeep smashed with their driver standing on the road, worried and drained. My head started spinning-Where were the girls..where were W and R…

To be continued…

Title Credit: Nauma J Alvi

Photo Credits: Waleed Ahmed, Nauma J Alvi

 

 

Wanderlust 201: Murphy’s Law (Part 1)

The desire to see the mountains was at its peak when my husband broke the news about travelling to Fairy Meadows these Eid holidays. While my heart jumped with joy, the thought of taking my toddler along made me nervous. Long car and jeep rides, trekking, lack of proper toilets, baby friendly food, heating facilities and proper medical services made me apprehensive but did not make me think about my decision even once. Mountains were calling me and I had to go and leaving Raahim behind was not an option.

We made this plan with a friend couple (A and N) but eventually one more couple (W and R) was added to the group. They had two girls aged 4 and 7. This news comforted me and having more children on the trip made my heart at peace.

I like to travel light but with a baby it’s almost impossible. The weather at the mountains is so uncertain that I packed up summer as well as extreme winter clothes for Raahim including back up rain and wind proof jackets, thermals, hoodies and much more. I also packed up all kinds of medicines and natural remedies (mustard oil, coconut oil, rosewater, glycerin, etc) for his eczema, gas, diarrhea, flu, constipation and every other possible situation. I kept loads of one serving milk packets (“Nesvita” with straws), cereals and dry fruits. I hardly ever give junk food to my son but for this journey I packed quite a lot for worst case scenarios. Not much space was left for toys and he hardly ever plays with them so I just managed to make space for his favorite cooking utensils and his favorite books.

Meanwhile, boys were busy making itinerary for the trip but I was least bothered. All I cared about was reaching our destination. Lots of itineraries were made and changed, one being finalized in the end which included visit to Rama Meadows as well as Deosai Plains apart from Fairy Meadows. However, my husband and I knew that Murphy’s Law comes into action when you set for any such journey. We knew that everything that can go wrong WILL go wrong!

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River Kunhar, Naran

So we were prepared when A and N came to pick us up 3 hours late from the given time, we were prepared when on the motorway, Mc Donalds, the fastest food service made us wait for an hour just to give four burgers and one happy meal. We were prepared when we got stuck in the Naran bypass traffic for 4 hours and we were prepared when W and R’s car heated up and we had to make a stop. All these delays took place while we were rushing to reach the Babusar Road before 4 pm. We had skipped breakfast, grabbed only eggs for Lunch beside the Kunhar River just to make it on time. But no matter how hard we tried we kept getting late and reached the Babusar barrier at 4.53 pm only to find out we were exactly 7 minutes early. The curfew time was 5 and not 4 pm. We all screamed in excitement and started out on the most beautiful drive I had ever seen in my entire life.

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Babusar Road

Huge, lush green mountains, beautiful valleys, meadows, rivers, streams, glaciers, snow capped peaks and what not- all of them together. On the way we also came across the heavenly Lulusar lake. What a gorgeous lake! So huge and so serene. It has changing shades of blue and green, surrounded by mountains and just striking beyond words. While my heart was overjoyed at this beauty, I was dismayed at the poor situation we had seen in Naran. It had an overpopulation of tourists, camps and cars. Totally polluted and destroyed, lack of any proper planning for tourism, sustainable development and conservation seemed evident and literally broke my heart. I had seen Naran ten years ago when it was beautiful and calm with only a few hotels and huts alongside the beautiful River Kunhar. All the beauty is gone and I would never want to go back there.

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Lulusar Lake

While we enjoyed the Babusar drive and made several stops, we lost track of time. Night fell and now we were on a road that was dark, had hardly any cars and is famous for having dacoits hidden in the mountains which is why it’s recommended to cross it during the daylight. My friends were nervous but I couldn’t care less until I myself saw men coming out of a car holding klashnikovs. My heart skipped a beat. I had a child in my arms and I was looking at guns. Sometimes, even if you are prepared for everything that can go wrong, you are still not prepared for the worst.

To be continued…

Photo Credits: Nauma J Alvi

 

New life, new joy!

Earlier this week when I found out my bhabhi would be having a c section the next day, I couldn’t sleep the night. The whole night was spent twisting and turning in the bed. I don’t know why I felt so worried, so anxious. I was hating the restlessness but it wasn’t under my control. The next morning I woke up very early, waiting for the green signal so I could rush to the hospital. The wait was long and never ending. I don’t know what was bothering me – seeing somebody so dear to me in pain or what, I still don’t know. As I tried distracting myself, Raahim’s baby plant caught my eye. We had been watering it for a month and finally I saw a flower bloom. It brought a smile to my face-it was time for a flower to blossom in my life too.

As the time came close, I packed up and left for the hospital. It might be hard to believe but that was the longest car ride ever. The baby had been born, I had already missed his first glimpse and now I just couldn’t wait to see him. As I reached the hospital, the nurses refused to let me hold him and showed him to me through a small window. I felt enraged. But at the same time, the amount of love I felt- I can’t describe it!

My brother and bhabhi have given so much unconditional love to my son in these two years that I often wondered if I would be able to reciprocate this love. I often thought I wouldn’t be able to! I always thought how one could feel so much love for somebody else’s child. I always felt very excited at the thought of my brother’s child but I could never imagine how much love I would feel for him. But the moment I saw him, I felt flooded with way too much love. My heart melted!

He is now 4 days old and every day I wake up to call my mother to ask her questions like what is he wearing, what is he doing, did he open his eyes and they all make fun of me. Whenever I go see him, I want to hold him for hours. I can hold him for hours-just to get a glimpse of his deep dimples, just to see him smile, just to see his eyes open. I don’t remember this kind of love for even my own child during the initial days- maybe because I was in too much pain, maybe because I was tired. I don’t know. But this child has brought me so much happiness. Is it because he is my own brother’s child? I don’t know. I don’t have answers to all these questions.

Now I also somewhat understand when they say grandchildren are magical. My father is very sensitive but not very expressive. He hardly ever calls me just to chit chat. But last night he called me and kept talking about his new grandchild. He said I want to keep looking at him. He also said that he can’t have enough of him and that he wants him to sleep in his room. He had so much joy and so much happiness in his voice that it brought tears to my eyes.

New life brings so much pleasure, so much bliss. These flowers bring so many colors to our life. Every new gesture they make, makes our day. They might forget us when they are all grown up and busy in their lives but we shall never forget them and these moments will remain with us forever.

 

Summer is here!

My room is in the upper portion of the house. As summer arrives, my sun-facing room starts becoming really hot. The load shedding hours increase and with deteriorating ups batteries, fans become slow, lights become dim and beads of sweat form on my brow.

Every day, when I close my fancy velvety curtains to shut out the harsh sun, I glance into our neighbor’s servant quarter. It is just one small room for a family of two adults and three children.  When summer comes they shift their stove outside on a small landing of the staircase leading up to their quarter. Sometimes at night I can also see them taking wet chaadars and dupattas up there to sleep on- to keep the cool. I don’t know if they have a fan there but even if they do, the fan must just rotate the hot air in there. They hang a light blanket on the entrance since there is no door- an open invitation for the deadly mosquitos.

On the other hand, I am blessed enough to be able to sleep in an air conditioned room through the night yet I complain about the weather. I complain when I have to move out of an air-conditioned car to go to an air-conditioned store. I complain for those two minutes under the scorching sun. I become impatient when the cleaning lady turns off the fan to sweep. While I quickly turn on the fan as the job is done, she sweats profusely and yet moves on with her job. I whine to my husband when my 21 months old’s personal paddling pool is punctured, while many in the city jump into the filthy water of the canal to cool off.

Countless people work under the sun, on construction sites, on roads, in small suffocated shops and elsewhere-most of whom can’t even afford a fan in their own abodes. At the same time, many of us remain too engrossed in the rat race for designer lawns.

The severity of the weather combined with lack of electric supply affects all of us. While most of us are able to find solutions, countless people suffer through these harsh six long months of an unforgiving weather.

Let’s promise this summer to donate any old, repairable or new appliance that can help at least one family. It could be a fan, a fridge/freezer, cooler or even a thermos for cold water.

Sometimes we get so absorbed in our own problems, we forget to pause and look around. We forget to look inside our own servant’s quarter; we forget to look outside our air conditioned car. Let’s enjoy and thank for all the countless blessings we have but do pause! You might want to cut down on one of your luxuries to meet somebody else’s basic need or you might not even have to cut down on anything to help somebody else out.

Happy Birthday, Ammi!

Going back home every week, with Ammi standing at the main door to welcome me and Raahim is my most awaited moment of the week.  Just looking at her face is so soothing and refreshing. Just listening to her voice is so comforting. It is her birthday tomorrow and I want to write so much about her but I can’t find the right words. I type and delete and I type again and delete again, just because I can’t think of any words that would be enough to describe her selflessness, her devotion and her courage.

Growing up, she was a very strict mother. The kind of mother who needs two days to decide if you will be allowed to attend a birthday party. TWO DAYS! The kind of mother who would scold you on getting 99 out of 100-why did you make that one mistake! But, somewhere along the whole process of growing up, her strictness turned into her friendship for us. From a strict mother (which was the need of that time), she became a friend, a listener. We would and even today discuss all types of issues with her-issues that you generally discuss with your friends. She became our confidant, our adviser!

And then whether it was travelling the world or getting into college, she guided us and provided all possible support. I still remember when I wanted to go on the Nanga Parbat trip, I had no friends going and I was very apprehensive. She was the one who told me it is now or never and that such opportunities don’t come back, she told me you are enough for yourself, you don’t need anyone! And again when it was time to participate in the trials for a Turkey trip, I was backing out and she was the one who pushed me and said it is now or never! Go ahead. She always says everything is doable, everything is possible. Give it a try, even if you fail, at least you tried. This is like the mantra of her life: At least try!

She always worried for us more than we worried for ourselves. Every morning of our exam results, she would be walking around in anxiety, praying and what not. She would be the one with stomach cramps out of anxiety! And during the exams she was the one waking up early to make sure things were in place, we were on time, our things were organized! We had so much less to worry about.

She has always been so resourceful, so knowledgeable. Her day starts with reading the newspaper and thanks to that all our general knowledge questions are just a call away. From political questions to currency exchange rates, from Bollywood gossip to weather updates, she knows it all. And not to forget, thanks to her cordial relations with tailors, dyers, dry cleaners, servants, electricians, plumbers and all other service providers, every possible thing that needs to be done gets done on the shortest of notice ever.

She sounds like a wonder woman but ah well life was not always easy for her. Financial, physical and emotional, all kinds of problems took their turns with her but I never saw her complain or whine. I never saw her argue. I never saw her demand anything. She just never wanted anything for herself. When I saw others around myself, I wanted my mother to spend on herself like others did, demand the kind of comforts others did, but she never wanted anything. She just always wanted the best for her family. That’s all! Nothing for herself! In fact, even till today I haven’t seen her do anything for herself. It’s like she has devoted herself for her husband and children.

As you grow old you realize, life is not a bed a roses. So cliched yet so true! But this life becomes so easy when you have your mother with you. Her faith in God and her positivity drives us. No matter what happens she has two phrases to say: “Doesn’t matter, it will be alright”. And “God is with you. Have faith in him and pray to Him”.  We heard these two simple phrases so many times in our life. SO many times, but we never knew how deep they were. But today when I am a mother myself, I can understand what they mean. These are those two sentences that calm you down in the most difficult of situations.

Thank you Ammi for everything! Thank you for making life so easy for us. Thank you and happy birthday, may you live forever! Thank you for giving us the most beautiful and perfect childhood any child could ever ask for. Thank you for making each moment of our childhood so memorable, we want to relish it all forever! Thank you!

Do you feel the same about your mother? Share your feelings in the comments below!

Heartache!

Last week my baby fell sick. He got fever, congestion, sore throat, and cough. All these sound like normal flu symptoms to most people but for a mother, seeing your baby with a runny nose, swollen eyes and burning body is so disturbing. Every time you hear the sound of his whooping cough, your heart aches from somewhere really deep inside. As your happy and active child turns into a lazy, cranky and clingy baby, you become more and more restless.

For more than a week, I stayed up through the nights, checking his fever every five minutes- is it down?, oh, this time it is too high! should I let him sleep or wake him up for Panadol, no! he doesn’t have fever his forehead is hot but his hands and feet are cold. Every morning I would wake up, asking all members of the family-does he have fever?, secretly wishing to find out that the thermometer is lying. His routine was all upside down. And our much awaited park visits were replaced with wrestling rounds to feed him the medicine.

At the same time, I was trying my best to avoid an antibiotic course that makes it all into a more horrible ordeal altogether. I tried all kinds of home remedies. From sitting with him in a steamy bathroom every few hours in this heat to using all my energy to squeeze out ginger juice for him, I tried every possible totka just to save him from an antibiotic course. And thankfully his symptoms did start to subside right when I was about to give in to the long deadly prescription given by the doctor.

But while his runny nose, cough and hunger strike lasted, I felt my heart was not in control. I knew I was worrying too much. I knew it would be alright. I knew children fall sick. I knew that they stop eating when they are sick. And I knew that this phase will pass but I still worried! My heart still ached so much. I don’t understand why. It was just impossible to stop worrying and just go to sleep. Maybe that’s why they say heaven lies beneath the feet of a mother.

And it is times like these when I understand this famous quote: “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body”– Elizabeth Stone.

Wanderlust 101

While the grandeur of the mountains evokes sheer excitement, it also creates a daunting effect. Going into the wild, cut off from civilization is an opportunity not many get to experience.

So obviously, when the opportunity to trek (4 days/37 km) to Nanga Parbat’s Rupal face base camp approached me, I happily jumped into the venture. 48 really long hours on the snaky roads of Karakoram, a harsh land sliding experience and a few terrifying jeep rides finally led us to the Tarashing village where I along with the group stayed the night.

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At Tarashing Village

As I slept the night under the stars, overlooking the grand Nanga Parbat’s snow capped peaks, the thrill of conquering the mountains rushed through my nerves. At the same time, I kept asking myself if I had enough stamina? Would I be able to do it or not? What if I faint on the way? What if I can’t do it?

The trek to the Herrligkoffer base camp started and I soon figured out that this journey required more mental rather than the physical strength. Carrying almost 8kg weight (sleeping bag, mattress, food and water supplies, etc) and climbing upwards seemed nearly impossible with my muscles giving up, water supply running short and the weather alternating between scorching heat, chilled air, and scattered showers thrown into the mix. At such points where a single step in those heavy trekking boots was difficult, it all came down to willpower – One more hill, one more turn, one more slope and just one more step!

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Still had time to pose for pictures though =p

Most of the path was barren with nearly no sign of life for miles. In the excitement of reaching as far ahead as fast as possible, I often ended up losing track of the porter. Sometimes this meant taking longer and more difficult routes and sometimes it meant taking a U-Turn and restarting on the path I was on. But then, such is life, and sometimes it is good to be lost in the right direction!

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Isn’t it breathtaking!

When I finally landed at the base camp and saw the intimidating mountain range in such close proximity, it all became worthwhile. In an instant, I felt too small, too unimportant! All my worries, apprehensions about everything in life drowned in the greatness of the mountains, in the majesty of nature!

The cherry on the cake came with the sight of an avalanche on the mountain! Woah! What a spectacular view!! It brought freezing breezes down at the base camp and almost blew our tents away. As the night fell, temperatures reached freezing levels and the sky became full of stars-a sight we city dwellers often crave to witness.

The next morning was marked by ice covered boots that I had forgotten outside the tent, freezing water from the nearby spring to wash my face and a renewed energy to trek to the next base camp, Shairgiri. Eventually, the trekking days that had seemed too long, ended too soon! But oh well! Sometimes life leaves you with memories you relish for your entire life, memories that seem like a beautiful dream!

Trekking till just the base camp was a huge deal for me. I felt I had conquered the world! I felt so accomplished only to later realize that life has much more to achieve-my world was conquered at the Rupal face base camp, for many others it is just the beginning!

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Our entire group-LUMS Adventure Trip Society Trip to South Side, Nanga Parbat, May 2011

 

 

Motherhood is strange!

Some say motherhood is exhausting, others say it’s beautiful. I say motherhood is strange! It makes you a different person. It changes you in the strangest of ways. You start experiencing sudden bouts of happiness and excitement at the littlest of things – the first time your baby takes the slide on his own, the first time your baby puts all the shapes back into their right places in the shape puzzle, your baby’s first cycle, first time he takes out a sticker and pastes it all by himself . Things like these and many other become the world to you. And you want to and you actually do brag about it to the whole world even if they are not interested. Exactly the way you rolled eyes at moms discussing little things of their babies before you became a mother!

Motherhood takes you back to your childhood! You start visiting toy shops looking for the oddest of toys you think your child will enjoy. You start enjoying visits to stationery shops to buy stickers, to buy colors, to buy paints! The smell of brand new stationary, the crisp notebooks, variety of lunchboxes, water bottles all drive you to parts of your childhood your memory had almost erased from your system!

Yes motherhood is strange! Why? Because it suddenly makes you so empathetic towards other mothers. Your eyes suddenly fill with tears when your cleaning lady says “My little daughter won’t let go of me this morning. She kept saying don’t leave me today, ma!” You suddenly become attentive to air hostesses talking on a show “We miss all our family occasions. We spend them all on the planes”. You suddenly become so concerned-how their child misses them! How they miss their child!

Motherhood is strange…and such is life!