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Mardi Base Camp Calls

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By:  Rishav Adhikari

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Like every other October that passed by, this one too was filled with buzz and excitement. The mountains were calling and I was ready to roll. Not everyone answers the calls from the mountains – but no matter how much we want to deny the desire to travel, there is an element of curiosity in all of us.Join us on this amazing trek to Mardi Base Camp within the laps of Machapuchre and Mardi Mountain.

A four-day trek that commenced with three people soon turned into eight people. As they say, you will find heaps of like-minded people while traveling and so did we. The three of us bid our farewell to Pokhara and left for Mardi. We began this exciting adventure from Kade. The steep trails from Kade to the Australian base camp hinted a subtle clue of the challenges, which lie ahead of us. With no luck of witnessing mountains from the Australian base camp, we left for Pothana. We rested our boots, filled our bellies and exchanged our keen eye to travel.

Forest Trail

However, soon enough we were on our way to Deurali. We had our moments of discussion just like every travelling group – whether to stay here or to continue until our next stop. With the clock displaying only 2 pm, hungry for wanderlust, we continued to walk along the trail and moved towards Forest Camp. Little did we know it would take us more than 4 hours with no tea shops to stop by in between Deurali and Forest Camp. Despite the foggy weather, the two other familiar faces were all we could see. Not another human being was seen. Fortunately, I saw a deer but that too vanished quickly. With the moon slowly rising, lights fading and poor mobile signals, we still had not reached our destination but with cellphone’s flash lights, spirits of wanderer and our thoughts screaming “Are we ****ing lost?“ ,we reached the camp with much of our delightment of seeing another human soul,finally.

Annapurna South

Annapurna South, Himchuli and Badal dada

She keeps calling I keep going

Morning sunshine hits, eyes burn, legs all restless and heart aching just to see her. Before we knew it, we were already parting ways with Forest Camp. They say everyday is a new day. Subsequently, the foggy forest diminished on this brand new day and with an increase in altitude the flora beautifully sprung out amongst the trails. Much to our joy within only 30 minutes of our walk, there she was, smiling. With that smile engraved in our hearts, we were on our way to Low Camp. A large open space, few tea houses and cottages, trekkers, potters and backpackers with gracefully smiling Mount Fishtail awaiting. We knew we had arrived. We rested our backs, breathed in relief and awe, made peace with our bellies, captured some photographs and before we knew it, it was time to say our goodbyes to Low Camp. The altitude continued to rise along with the frequently changing weather and cloud patterns.

Low Camp

Floating Machapuchre

At one stage, we were lucky enough to witness a gorgeous Annapurna mountain range from badal dada. However, that too disappeared amongst the clouds a few minutes later. I felt more than lucky beholding the view of Machapuchre floating in clouds even though it was for a short period.Continuing along the trail, leaving the forest behind, trekking up the steep mountain path with yellow grasses, clouds rumbling beneath us – I felt nothing as my heart was too busy smiling. With a couple of hours of blushing, we arrived at the High camp. The mountains were still being sneaky, still playing ‘peek a boo’ with us but by sunset, she decided to show up. There she was. Glowing. We didn’t leave until safety warned us about the decreasing temperature, which forced us to hop into our warm blankets.With the excitement of seeing her up close and dreaming about being in her arms the following day, we went to bed .

Goodnight from Mountains

With the first rays of sunlight, she was there just as we left her last night, waiting. With a few bottles of water, snacks and spirits of the mountain, we were up and running. The closer you go up, the trails become much more adventurous and challenging than you expect it to be. To be honest, weak hearted will definitely question themselves,“What the hell am I doing here?”“this is so my last trek if I ****ing return back safely”. And then a thought comes back knocking; It’s better to look back on life and say, “I cant believe I did that” than to look back and say; “I wish I did that”.

Mighty Machapuchre

Ever Smiling Annapurna South

Closer to the edge
and She came floating

Knowing the mountains are with you every step of the way or right at your viewpoint, your heart blushes with pride and joy. I was having the time of my life beholding the mountains, feeling the clouds, letting my soul and spirit fly. In the laps of the Mountains: Annapurna south, Himchuli, Mardi base camp, Machhapuchre – you feel infinite like never before. You get lost and the best part is that you don’t want to be found. In fact, you’d much rather be here, forever, being lost. One fine feeling that was. Furthermore, I was awestruck with the view of avalanche towards the south of Annapurna, adding another chapter in my stories to tell. The time had come. It was difficult but we had to separate from her.

wanderer

Band of Travelers

My religion is mountain for it’s not man made. We communicate volumes through its silence. As we walked along the Mountains, listening to its silence and echoes of our inner selves, we parted. You think going up is hard but wait until you hit this trail. Try coming down from base to high camp through heights that make your heart shiver,you will find out how wrong were you.With a brimful of mountain love, smiling eyes and a bucket full of stories to tell, we departed from High camp. While returning, we trekked along a different route from Low camp to Pokhara via Ghalel and Shiding.

More Yellow trails

Home Calling Home

With every trail I trek through a thought passes by “I am too old to have only seen THIS LITTLE of the world and too young not to go see it now.” So go out, travel, dream, dwell, discover. If you don’t, then I will and I know I am pretty good at making YOU jealous 😀 After all what is life but one GRAND ADVENTURE. JAY GHUMANTE…

Until next time ; SEE YAA


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Life&Stuffs

Route to my roots: From immigrant to traveller

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By: Nirvana Bhandary

The human population is increasing, yet the world is becoming smaller. Global movement is accessible to more people, yet the circumstances behind movement create divisions in how we see ourselves and how others perceive us. I have become well accustomed with the fine art and agony of global movement from a young age. My 24 years on this planet have been divided between three very different places: nine years in Nepal, eight years in Australia and seven years in the United States of America. Now I live the life of a nomad without a permanent address. 


My status as a child immigrant and an adult traveller were conscious choices made by my parents and I. I am not a refugee or an asylum seeker. If I wanted, I could return ‘home’. As an immigrant and traveller I could never understand what it feels like to have my home destroyed or to have to leave my country and family for fear I could lose my life. 

Despite my cultural ambiguity and lack of strong patriotism to any nation, I am very proud of my Nepalese roots. Travelling for the past four months I have noticed that my confidence in expressing love for my culture publicly has been increasing. But it took a long time to get to this place of self-acceptance. 

Our insecurities and judgemental attitudes are rooted in childhood experiences. I was an outsider three times, at the ages of seven, fourteen and sixteen. Those experiences of feeling different stay with me even as an adult. When you are an immigrant moving to a strange land where you have to absorb new cultural facets including language, food, fashion, and pop culture very quickly, you often experience shame for holding on to your past.
Why can’t I assimilate more easily? Why do I stand out so much? How can I minimise my differences?
I think we strive for uniformity in unfamiliar circumstances because we see that as the least painful way to gain acceptance into the society, and humans desperately want to be accepted.

I spent a large proportion of my youth feeling embarrassed for South Asian migrants who spoken broken English, had a heavy accent, who still oiled their hair and wore kurtha-surwals in public. I laughed at them because I was thinking only of myself and I was afraid of rejection. I felt that their representation of my culture made me look bad, painted me in a certain light to my new society, to the people looking for any hint of difference to not accept me. And I was not them. I had great English, no South Asian accent. I didn’t want to oil my hair or wear kurtha-surwals. I had a side swept fringe, I was effortlessly tan and I had a wide range of Western interests. I was a cool immigrant and I demanded belonging. 

The difference between being an immigrant and a traveller is that as a traveller I don’t feel the slightest pressure to minimise the facets of my culture. Travellers are not expected to hide their cultural identity, but rather, share all complexities of it with those they meet in their journey. This is the true meaning of cultural exchange. 

I used to feel embarrassed when a Hindi song come on my iPod around white people, to upload Dashain photos to Facebook because when I was thirteen a white girl at school saw my family photo and told me our tika looked like we got shot in the head, to admit that yes I did love eating curry because when I was younger my white friends told me with mild disgust that my house always smelled like curry, and I became so conscious all the time when I went outside that my clothes reeked of curry.

I am discovering as a traveller that these are the exact same things people find fascinating about me. Travellers from all over the world and natives of countries I visit want to hear the music I like, to learn recipes and ingredients of Nepalese traditional dishes, to learn our language, to understand the meaning behind our festivals, and how arranged marriages and casteism operate.  

Characteristics of my identity I desperately tried to minimise as an immigrant growing up, I finally feel free in stepping into fully. When people ask me where I am from, I no longer feel uncomfortable explaining my history of migration. “I’m from Nepal, but I live in Australia, and I used to live in America”. I am not an expat; I am an immigrant. I have lived in, understood, and thrived in three cultures, across three continents. I have so many perspectives to share with you, and I want to learn everything about you. 
As with migration, travel also gives birth to personal challenges. My love for exploration has taken me to thirteen countries but I still often feel seven years old and lost. I am still not one of those people open enough to talk to a complete stranger entirely through hand signals and revel in it. Maybe I will never be one of those people, but does that make me any less of a “true” traveller? My style of cultural engagement is unique, as shaped by my life experiences. I thrive in one-to-one conversations, and enjoy forming deep personal relationships. 

I am currently volunteering at an English language school in a small city in Morocco, in North Africa. Recently a Moroccan teacher and I bonded over Hindi music videos. I had no idea Bollywood was so popular here. I beamed, dancing in my chair and singing out loud. The three Anglo-Saxon men sitting with us went quiet. Two moved away and one laughed in a patronising way at our enthusiasm. But their reactions did not phase me, and I pitied that they experienced such severe PWMS (Privileged White Man Syndrome). I continued singing proudly, ecstatic that I was able to connect with a woman who lives on the other side of the world through our mutual love of South Asian music.  
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#youthopinion

The Lost Art of Listening

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Every morning, as soon as I get up, I check my phone even before freshening up. Stuffs always pile up on my notifications bar, and one by one I check them. I double check them. There are news from every direction, there are stories and posts and a lot of stuffs that I get hooked up with, unknowingly.


I see people loud over the internet, speaking up, giving their views on things ranging from a local celebrity to puddles on the streets to politics to international markets to terrorism and mass killing. I see anger, I see see rebellion, I see judgement and offense and delusion and submission. But then I also see logic and hope, and pragmatism and consciousness. I’m, like everybody else, bewitched by the polychrome of humanity in my screen, and I join in the lot. Everyone’s saying something, so why shan’t I?

Through the small digital space that I’m privileged with, I join the millions of other voices humming on and on over the internet. This new age Fear of Missing Out plays a trick with me and I always fall for it.

We were educated to speak, we were raised to open up. We do what we were taught: we give our views. We open way too much, we’re  obsessed with it. We add to the noise that’s already too loud. We find ways to express ourselves on things, nothing is trivial anymore. Everything has to be analysed, thought and then quarelled upon over the internet. We’re all addicted to telling the world that we matter, and in the process we bring out things that would not matter at all into the limelight, and we satiate ourselves.

We forget: is all this digital trash even necessary? Are our cursory, emoted loud expressions even helping to solve the problems?

With all the information floating around the cloud, we are susceptible to this contagious thing called opinionation. Someone wrote something radical on his facebook wall; we screenshot and share, call for comments and give thoughts for and against. A video shows up on which some celebrity slips his/her tongue. BANGG! Another dope for a day or two for us to grumble upon, to show off our so called informative intellect. From soccer players to grumpy politicians, we’ve a lot of options to choose to take sides from. Offense and defense are the new religions!

Too often, we get so offended that we start shouting out at things. We get too busy telling what we think is right, and we’re conditioned to somehow say what we want to say. In all this hustle, we lose sense of hearing. We immerse ourselves into speaking and sharing our opinions, but we barely listen to anyone. We don’t even listen to ourselves. The art of listening is slowly slipping away from us, and we’re completely unaware of that!

This is equally applicable to real life conversations too. We dig up issues, and we arm ourselves with words that  fuel up the arguments. Logic gets poured and facts are borrowed, anyhow, somehow we will have to win the debate. Each issue, every time.

We never give as much time to listening than we do for speaking. We don’t observe. We just act.

So, why do we speak much while we listen so less?

Psychologists and philosophers have long pondered over this issue. Some blame evolution and our invention of languages. With these sundry forms of literal communications, those who’ve known to master the art of expression have always been on the forefront of historical eulogies. Languages are probably the most of all things exploited by humanity, sometimes to the extent that it backfires. We were  supposed to communicate with each other our deepest emotions, joy, our deadliest fears and our feelings. We were meant to be told that we’re loved, we were meant to be spoken for growing compassion and virtue.We were supposed not to cross the limit and exploit language so as to wretch our ego out, so as to gain power over others. But we drifted from the supposed-to-be versions of ourselves and we mingled anger and sin and curses with our vocation, and now we are so indulged with one tongue that we forget we’ve got a double number of ears. 

Modernism and telecommunication have now made it even easier for us to shout our thoughts out loud. Comments and replies and tweets and retweets are all some other forms of this human condition that nurtures opinionation. In a world so closely connected, an evil piece of thinking has equal chance of influencing the crowd as  has a genuine thinking. Offense and insults and online wars are all the functions of this influence. Some laugh,call them trolls and pranks, while some other gets trolled and pranked. Yin and Yang perfectly work over here.

Information and knowledge are not the same thing. We have to be wise enough not to mistake information for knowledge and intelligence for truth. Information gives us ‘whats’ but the real trouble lives in the realms of ‘whys’ and ‘hows’. Those who dwell on whats can never be wise enough that knowledge is an acceptance that there are ninety nine other things unknown for a thing you know. The one who knows listens to understand, the one who doesn’t listens to reply. The latter have always outnumbered the former, often with large margins.

There’s a good news. It’s a fixable error. But we will have to learn to derive joy from other things rather than mockery and subversion and power. The moment we start to communicate not to impose our view but to share the truest of our feelings, mistakes and experiences, we will already be amending this. Observation is an art, and it needs practice. Let’s get quiet for a while and listen. There are sounds of vehicles and their horns, there are frogs croaking in the fields, there are slow indistinguishable mutters from people on the next flat, there is a loud music playing somewhere in the distance. The bells from a temple nearby, the loud engine of an aero-plane, the sounds of clocks’s tick-tock, the silences between the seconds; let’s listen to them all. Let’s listen to what our hearts have to say, and not pronounce a word in return, even if we feel like speaking. Let’s hold on for a while. The longer we listen, the wiser we’ll grow.

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#beinghuman

Humility is the key for the deadlock of our tourism!

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We are a nation of pure natural bliss; our landscapes and biodiversity are amazing, we all know that. We have potentially the most beautiful places in the south asia, and our cultural eccentricity makes us even more attractive to travellers and adventurers from around the globe.
When people visit Nepal, they not only get to see our mountains and rivers, but they also indulge in our environment and lifestyle. It could be a simple festival or ‘jatra’ at Kathmandu, it could be a dance at a ‘rodighar’ at Ghandruk or it can be a meditation by the side of Bagmati, the visitors tend to blend into the ways of our native lives as they enjoy, learn and grow. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t forget that anyone who comes here from abroad expects to receive at least a minimum set of standards in terms of hospitality, accommodation and travel comfort. The major urban cities that ghatare also tourist destinations are anticipated to have efficient transportation on top of clean and healthy surroundings. This, however, has been a crucial tipping point in our context, which we’ve constantly failed to maintain ever since we realised the potential of tourism industry.
 This holds true to our rural tourist destinations too. If you’re a budget traveler, you’re sure to experience a rather strange approach towards you, especially on travel destinations in remote areas. The overlooking authorities like Nepal Tourism Board have failed to maintain a scientific and rational pricing for food and accommodation. It’ll not be surprising if we find a traveller complaining of not receiving the service value given the cost. Everyone wants to be treated humbly, and expects a minimum level of cleanliness when it comes to lodging and fooding.
 “They don’t even respond to you! The hotel owners don’t even find it necessary to clean your rooms or change your bedsheets. I’m not asking for a five star luxury, but for the cost I pay, (which is already too expensive) I want to be smiled at, served a well-cooked clean food; and I want to spend my night free of bed-bugs!” An avid traveler (name not revealed) shared her experience from her journey to a national park at western Terai of Nepal. “I don’t blame the people though,” she adds, “But shouldn’t the authorities be awaring and educating people about hospitality and sanitation? They disburse so much budget, but where does that go?” She’s infuriated.

This type of lack of attentive functioning has  let loose the monopolistic arrangement of lodges, hotels and restaurants across these geographically remote places. This might look like a rather trivial subject, but it holds a grave concern if we are to boost our internal and external tourism. People who run these businesses seem to be considering only money and nothing else.They need to be realised with the subtle aspects of rational behavior, of hospitality, of advantages of building a sense of satisfaction to their customers. I don’t mean to belittle or be too critical, I’m just pointing out to the holes of our tourism industry that need to be filled if we aim to be a tourist attraction of the 21st century.
These are just representative examples. There are a lot of improvements to be made for making our tourism and travelling more reliable, scientific and wide-ranging. From aviation upgrading, trekking safety to travel information systems, we can always find a way to be world-class. All that needs is a little bit of collective effort. Government can’t continue to be apathetic when it comes to monitoring the business ventures so as to maintain a comparatively equal rate. The eateries and restaurants by the highways are the first places this improvement can be carried on at. Additionally, promotion of agro-tourism, sanitation and cleanliness campaigns are some other points of intervention that can empower local stakeholders.
Every traveller takes back home memories of our places and people. Let’s be humble enough to respect their spirit, and in return learn and benefit from them.

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