The first time I heard about Kailash was while I was still a toddler. My grandparents always mentioned about visiting Kailash and attaining mukti. As I was growing up, a number of times, people from various walks of life mentioned about their inner calling to make it to Kailash Yatra.
I have heard from many a people on how it’s intense and rigorous to visit Kailash early on, say even until 10 years ago. One aunty spoke about her Yatra for over 36 days – 18 days to make the ascent journey and another 18 to return home safely.
One day, in early 2015, I heard about Kailash once again. With my already mapped picture of Kailash, I jumped with joy to visit this sacred space, sometime in my lifetime and left at it.
Then, a new chapter “Marriage” happened around December 2016. Sriram (my husband) too had this intent to visit Kailash for a variety of reasons, but somehow got skipped a few times, he planned the yatra.
Around March end last year (in 2017), I had all the eagerness to visit Kailash and Sriram instantly gave a nod. We decided to do this yatra with Isha Foundation’s Sacred Walks.
Followed by some process:
- Form submission in the link – https://www.sacredwalks.org/application-form/
- Once Isha Foundation confirms your candidature to the Yatra (based on your application form), they will share a series of Medical Fitness tests that one needs to conduct and share the results with them. Only, if deemed fit, we would be permitted into the Yatra.
- Sriram and I had a decent lifestyle – includes yoga, running, cross fitness, healthy food habits (mostly home cooked food), so we didn’t have much of a change here. One change we incorporated was to drink more water than we did generally for over a month – just before our Yatra scheduled in August.
- I am going to intentionally skip talking about the cost or money involved to make this Yatra happen. 1. Because, I strongly believe that cost should not come in one’s way while making a Yatra of significance. 2. It’s not fixed, it will definitely vary from year to year and it definitely varies depending on who you want to do this Yatra with. So, its best left to the reader to figure this out. =)
2 days before the trip, I had jitters. Either, it was Diamox (A tablet that helps you deal with altitude sickness. Believe me, you wouldn’t need it if you are regular with your deep breathing and yoga practices) or simply the reality that kicked in. I almost sank myself into work that week and was definitely not very confident about my own self doing the Yatra. I even told Sriram that he should proceed with the Yatra and definitely not stay back in Chennai, if I end up being terribly sick / unwell.
I was fine and we had our backpacks ready. All of our trip’s essentials were bought from Decathlon, Perungudi / Padur, Chennai.
August 10th – Chennai to Delhi (India)
I was already excited about the trip and there began my real Yatra story.
August 11th – Delhi (India) to Kathmandu (Nepal)
We arrived at Kathmandu and I almost instantly fell in love with this place. Since we reached a day earlier, we had booked our accommodation at Gaju Suite, Thamel Marg, Kathmandu. Both of us explored nearby shops, got our currency converted into Chinese Yuan for the Yatra, bought some rain jackets for Sriram, got some fruits and walked a bit around Thamel, enjoying the drizzle.
August 12th – Radisson Hotel, Lazimpat, Kathmandu, Nepal
We reached Radisson around 12 noon and were greeted with beautiful “Namaste-s” and warm smile. We met Kumaran anna and Ramya akka – who helped us with getting our room, Duffle bags and the entire Yatra kit. They also promptly mentioned about the schedule for the day. Repacking only essentials for Yatra in the Duffle bags, followed by Lunch, Sathsang with Sadguru (Jaggi Vasudev) and Dinner.
August 13th – August 23rd 2017
Kathmandu (2 days) – Lhasa (Tibet / now China) (1 day) – Xhigatse (1 day) – Saga (1 day) – Manasarovar (2 days) – Kailash (2 days) – Kailash Basecamp (1 day) – Saga (1 day) – Xhigatse (1 day) – Lhasa (1 day) – Kathmandu
Exactly a year ago. We were at Kathmandu, with a final check list of necessary things we needed to take. And had a brilliant dinner with a huge spread. Wrapped the night with medicines and gone deep into sleep with excitement, jitters and all at once.
The following morning, I quickly ate some fruits and the entire team departed sharp at 6am.
We arrived at Kathmandu airport and departed to Lhasa (Tibet). On our arrival at Lhasa, I realised that the Chinese women at the immigration were super efficient and we didn’t get our passports stamped for obvious reasons.
The bus, that would be our home for the next 2 weeks was awaiting us and it was sparkling clean like a new bus. Sriram and I looked at each other and smiled for actually doing this. The sherpa (caretaker/everything to us during the trip) gave us instructions on do-s and don’t-s for the journey ahead and asked all of us “to-be”.
Getting to know others in our bus, managing high altitude sickness, chanting together, expression of kindness in all forms was our routine everyday. At every pit stop, we spent a day or two to get used to the shift in altitude and thus thinning of air to manage our breathing etc.
As we transcended into our journey and took higher steps in terms of the altitude, it was as well the best means to understand myself in every aspect. My physical health was constantly in check and how I coped it – with my mental strength and help of fellow friends in the yatra was truly a humbling experience. Every time, I felt this is it, I found hope and support from means that I least expected.
When at Manasarovar, I felt like I could stay there forever. The early morning view of sunrise and swans taking its dip in the lake, the steady water stream and the ripples, the pebbles along the lake and of course the view of Kailash from Manasarovar made it all special. When asked to take a dip in the lake (around 06:30am or so), I was like, really? Is this even possible by me? And guess what – I stayed in the Lake longer than I had expected. It felt very surreal and magical.
And finally, we were at our ultimate milestone – “Kailash”. It was a solitary journey filled with all sorts of conversation between me and the mighty mountains. The mountains shook me up, broke me down, made me ecstatic, helped me open up and made me experience life’s essence – that at the end, we all are a dust particle, we all are a dust particle and that too an insignificant one 🙂
Memories flash by and my gratitude goes back to Rajalakshmi patti, Ramya Akka, Gayathri Akka, Subha Akka, Divya Akka, Pawan Anna, Michael Anna, Kumaran Anna, Sriram (my husband), Suresh Anna, JP anna, Kim Cho (our driver) and every single person whom I encountered during the trip.
Pictures credit: Michael Varun Anna
“Here she is, all mine, trying her best to give me all she can.
How could I ever hurt her? But I didn’t understand then. That I could hurt somebody so badly she would never recover. That a person can, just by living, damage another human being beyond repair.”
― Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun
Here I am, LOLAL-ing. Yes, laughing out loud at life.
When devoid of something, mind seeks exactly that.
When bestowed with the best of things, it grows and feeds insecurities.
Wired with nerves connected to different parts of the body, it controls all sort of emotions.
It builds ego, it doesn’t let go off things.
The perspective of thee is far more superior than others.
From sadness to anger, tears to words, it completely surrenders to emotions.
The emotional balance goes for a jolly ride.
It brings out a face, which is ugly even for self to handle.
Forgiving is almost a far-fetched truth.
Almost juggling between modes like flight or fight.
Mind is a funny thing, controlling every action of the being.
Times like these, it can’t even recount moments of happiness, joyfulness, contentment, giving, selflessness, gratitude or simplicity.
Hereby, accepts that, I am no saint.
But, who says, I can’t learn to become one.
Oh my dear! It’s human to feel this way. It’s perfect to feel uprooted. Time to sow new seeds and grow within.
Lots of love, prayer and good wishes to everyone suffering. Stay strong, for this is the time for your growth.
One weekend, I began to pen down hazy thoughts about life. Sharing with you, what I have perceived through my life experience:
- Love: It is important to love, because, it helps us appreciate life fully. Loving someone is deliberate, conscious and it means, you choose to appreciate all of them, for who they are.
- Integrity: Actions speak louder than what you say. Practice what you preach. And, be who you are and share what you believe in.
- Justice: Equality is what we all thrive for. Respect people genuinely. For, you don’t know what their story is all about.
- Acceptance: Stems from being just and fair. But, accepting goes an extra mile. You now have an ability to understand this other person’s story, their perspectives, their ideas, their opinions, basically, all the things that make them and accept them for who they are.
- Patience: They say, good things come to those who wait. But, I believe that your attitude and how you act matters the most, while waiting. The current situation might be extremely fragile. But, let it pass, stay calm.
- Habits: One of the most important habits that’s helped me is to count my blessings. Every single day, I am grateful for the kind of family, friends, love of all the good people, the life I have been blessed with. I’d also say, waking up early, investing in yourself (exercise), the kind of food you eat are baby steps towards building some decent habits.
- Courage: Follow your heart, its easier said than done. But, nothing can gratify self more than pursuing what we want. It feels like a huge step ahead, but it’s worth giving it a try!
- Failures: Embrace them! Because, failures teach you lessons worth a lifetime.
- Lead: Dislike something? Be the change maker. Influence. Take the lead.
- Follow: Love someone else’s initiative? Relate to it? Shun your ego. Collaborate with them, join the team and make a difference.
- Values: At the end, your values make the person you are. Your ideals, your believe system is important. Never ever undermine them. For, that defines you as an individual.
- Truth: Being true is one thing, but being true to oneself is another thing. The latter helps you to evolve.
- Learn: There is so much to learn everyday, from everyone around you. You absorb, what you seek.
- Teach: Because, teaching is one metric that will make you realize how much you really know.
- Forgive: Life’s too short to deal with conflicts. Weeks, months or years later, you are only going to laugh at things you were angry for. Like Thumper says: “If you can’t say something nice.. don’t say nothing at all.“
- Nothingness: At times, it’s an asset to do nothing at all. Take moments to pause and reflect. It helps you gain some clarity and reinvent yourself.
- Selfless: It’s the most powerful thing to do. To be at the giving end always.
25 years of bond. And, one of my favorite chapters just ended.
But, the memories will live on.
I will cook triangle, rhombus dosas,
solve sudoku puzzles,
listen to instrumental music,
fix plumbing, electrical related work at home,
handwrite letters and
maybe have the will power just like you.
Mani Thatha (09.08.1942 – 03.07.2015)
The kind of love that you don’t realise exists until you experience it.
The kind of love which is honest. real. genuine. hard to find.
The kind of love that just happens without any expectation.
The kind of love where everything is unconditional.
The kind of love that makes you comfortable.
The kind of love which brings a smile.
The kind of love where you are yourself. and completely transparent.
The kind of love you can get used to every single day.
The kind of love you dream of seeing only in books, music, art, movies.
The kind of love that existed in yesteryears you think.
The kind of love which isn’t easy. But not difficult either.
The kind of love where two people never want to give up on each other.
The kind of love you wanted, deserved.
The kind of love is you.
Inspiration : 100 days of love movie
A city that accepted me whole heartedly for what I was. Made me part of it. Allowed me to experience some great moments. This is the city where I fell in love all over again. With myself. With Mumbai.
On October 15th 2013, I got down from an early morning flight at around 7:12 am and entered Mumbai Airport. With thoughts and dreams that always overwhelmed me about the city I aspired to be part of. All by myself, I moved to Mumbai leaving behind a city that churned the person I am today – Chennai. The most important people in my life – amma, appa, grandparents, friends, teachers, gurus, home, my comfort zone was all left behind. I got a cab and addressed the cab driver as sir. Straight ahead, he dropped me at ‘Raj Legacy’ in Vikhroli. I bucked up and got ready for my first day at work after settling into the guest house.
Work routine happened. The next 4 weeks, I got into preparing for a certificate exam. Amidst that, I found a house in Vikhroli, about 600 meters away from my work place. That’s a dream life for any Mumbaikar. No travel. Not much distance. Prime location on the main road. Decent locality. And a house was found. It was that time of the year that I started experiencing real life. In those 4-5 weeks (until November 6th 2013), I explored different parts of Mumbai and these experiences mean a lot to me.
Some of them include –
- Chembur Fine Arts, Chembur
- IIT, Powai
- Shanmukhananda Sabha, Sion
- Crawford Market, Victoria Terminus / CST
- Badshah’s Falooda, Victoria Terminus / CST
- Sidharth’s place, Powai
- Radhakrishnan uncle’s place, Wadala
- RCity Mall, Ghatkopar
- Phoneix Mall, Kurla
- Marine Drive
- Prithvi Theatre, Juhu
- Pop Tates, Vikhroli
- Bandra Worli Sea-Link
- Bandra Market
- Walk around Dadar
- Out of Blue, Powai
- Siddhi Vinayak Temple, Prabhadevi
- Powai Lake
And, one day, the city I aspired to live in abruptly came to an end due to decisions of shifting to charming Pondicherry 🙂
On Dec 20th 2013, at around 7:12 pm I was back in Mumbai Airport. And this time, I wasn’t alone. I was filled with memories worth a lifetime.
Mumbai. Thanks for taking me into your arms. And, allowing me to leave away with fond memories.
Until we meet soon, be the awesome place you’re 🙂