Monday, January 15, 2018

Never too late to start your life!


My surprises about remarkable people in trekking was far from over.

After successfully reaching Everest Base Camp, I was on my way back. Literally zipping down the slope, rushing towards higher oxygen, talking loudly. Thats when I noticed a lady walking very slowly, carrying a long stick in her hand and her nepali guide was offering hand at every step and she was refusing to take it. This looked very interesting so I slowed down. I was curious about this lady and wanted to know more.

One remarkable thing when you are on such trails, in a contrast to our urban life is, if you smile at anyone on the trail, you get a smile back. Conversations are easy to start. No introductions nor any ice breaking is required. Color, race, age doesn't matter. If you need a smile you get it, if you need company you get it, if you need a hug you get it.

It wasn't difficult to start conversation with this lady. As luck would have it, she was from India and spoke same language. Conversation started flowing from word go. To my amazement, she was 75 years old. She had successfully reached Everest Base Camp. Looked very satisfied as she was slowly making her way back.

I wanted to know her story. She was an ordinary middle class woman from humble background. She did her first high altitude trek when she was 60 to Badrinath. She liked it very much. So she did a few more treks, Kedarnath, Kailash Manas Sarovar and finally Everest Base Camp. What great spirit! I asked her what was her motivation. From Childhood to early adulthood she did everything her father told her to do. She studied, she learnt to cook, she learnt to do little things at home. Then she got married. Then she did everything her husband asked her to do. She managed the household, raised the kids, made them good human beings. They got married too and then at 60 she was an empty nester with her husband again.

She said, "That's when I asked myself, what do I really want. I had lived my life for all others so far. Never thought of myself. So at age of 60 I had lived a reasonably happy life but I didn't real know what I wanted. So I went for my first trek without thinking too much. I didn't even know whether I will be able to complete it, leave alone liking it. But once I was in nature, I knew that was my calling. I knew this is what I wanted. Since then I never looked back. As soon as I reached back, I would plan my next trek. This makes me really happy and make me forget all the hardships I have faced in my life. At age of 60 I started living my life. I thank god for that."

The simple conversation turned profound. Its never too late to start your own life. Peep in your soul and ask yourself what you really want and start doing it.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Age is just a number!

I have completed 5 treks in last 15 months. 2 out of them were high altitude treks. My friends and colleagues tease me that my mid-life crisis is manifesting itself in resurgence of my old hobby. Trekking was rather easy in 20s, it was less tiring, more fun. I would walk up the slope singing, talking non-stop. Trekking in 40s is a different ball game altogether. Walking up the slope now needs preparation and determination. I had to accept that trekking was manifestation of my mid-life crisis by saying 40s is new 20s. In heart of hearts I was feeling very proud that I had embarked on my latest mission of trekking to the Everest Base Camp.

What happened in that trek completely changed my perspective.

"I am Nick I am an American and I am 64 years old"
Nick was my fellow trekker. I didn't know how to respond.
"Are you sure you will be able to complete the trek?" Our guide asked in a polite tone. A very offensive question asked in a polite tone doesn't hurt.
"Well, I have to because after EBC, I am planning to go to another peak at 6000+ meters."
He looked very confident but I wasn't sure. But all my doubts were laid to rest once we started walking together. Nick had obviously prepared very well and he was walking very well. I could barely catch up with him.

Nick wasn't alone we also had Meg with us, she was Japanese about same age as Nick. She had an equally amazing story. She had taken a month off and she was planning to do Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Base Camp treks back to back.

I was proud of myself for doing trekking to EBC in 40s but it was such an humbling experience to meet people who were much senior and were planning to do much more than me.

I saluted their motivation. I saluted their determination. I saluted their perseverance. I saluted their preparation. I saluted their families and friends for their support

If 40s was new 20s for me, 60s was new 40s for them.