7 Life lessons from the Hike to Mt. Everest Base Camp

This is the second in a series of two – the first one (Hike to Mt. Everest Base Camp – Sept-Oct 2016) – blog posts, I decided to write about my exciting hike to Mt. Everest Base Camp in Sept-Oct, 2016

This trip had touched the core of my being. I could feel the aliveness of my being coming into contact with raw nature, and this contact expressed itself into a singing of the spirit, mind and body.

With this trip – I got lost in the Himalayas and found myself – my true inner self.

Lesson1 – Keep going forward and Keep growing

Do not go through life – grow through life

Once on the path to Everest Base Camp – there is no looking back – one must keep looking forward, looking up at the grandeur all around, forget the pains, miseries and troubles and keep hiking and looking ahead. Just as in real life – time travel is not possible, similarly when hiking on these treacherous paths, one needs to just keep going, one step at a time, with a deep breath, with deep focus and enjoying the journey, the grand destination ahead. Even if you feel sick, unless it is a real emergency – one has to keep going with the group, otherwise one risks putting the whole team and trip in jeopardy.

“Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations”

“Pain is temporary but Quitting lasts forever”BeautifulDestination

Lesson 2 – Innovation

“Necessity is the mother of Invention”

Probably more innovation happens in the remote areas of the world than in the most advanced places on the planet. Survival in the grueling conditions up in the altitudes where the basic necessities of life – Food, Oxygen and Water are so rare it takes an innovative attitude to survive and thrive in the conditions up beyond 14K ft.

At 14.6K ft, we met this ladyLady who was hosting our team for the night before our final hike to Mt. Everest Base Camp. I was amazed at some of the innovative ideas she has used to solve some common problems as well as reuse things which we dump into the lap of nature.

She collected all the trash especially the plastic wrappers, from the hike paths and made a cushion out of it – wow what an idea – Innovate02. She also devised an ingenious technique to close the outer doors of the tea-house automatically, whenever it was opened to preserve the heat, with a single string an empty bottle filled with soil and small rocks and some creative, out of the box thinking.

Lesson 3 – Love Other Living Beings

We met these novel creatures – called Zopkiyo’s (a breed between the cows and yaks). These Zopkiyo’s, carried our luggage all the way from 8K ft to 16K Ft(Gorakshep) – our last stop before Everest Base Camp. These innocent and docile looking creatures of our planet are just amazing if we think about it. They eat grass and hay (the only input to their system – day in and day out – without complaining) and do an unbelievable amount of work – from carrying our luggage, giving milk, their poop is dried up to make pancake like objects which help a camp fire / cooking fire to burn, so much so that when they die, we use their skin and eat their carcass – we humans should learn from them not become meaningless consumers but givers back to society, earth and people around us who need us.

In our team were siblings – Lauren and Nathan. Both are natural animal lovers. Lauren, has a very compassionate mind and almost every day at the beginning and end of the day she used to tend the Zopkiyo’s, pet them, remove the dirt from their woolly skin and developed friendship with them and thank them for helping us on this difficult hike carrying our duffle bags.

An animal’s eyes have the power to speak a great language. –Martin Bube

They also easily made friends with the stray woolly dogs we met on the way, and one night in heavy downpour while we were all sleeping, both of them gave shelter to a stray dog in their tent.

I learnt so much from these Zopkiyo’s and the art of compassion from Lauren and Nathan – as Dalai Lama always propounded.

A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude. –Elie Wiese

Lesson 4 – Desire

“Believe you can and you are half way there” – Theodore Roosevelt

You can do anything even if not born with qualities to do it. Here is the example of this gentleman from our team – John Heffernan – who when he was born – the Dr told his parents that he was born with collapsed lungs and prepare for his funeral.

Here was John – a brave-heart amongst us all – who celebrated his 51st Birthday the day we all reached Mt. Everest Base Camp. What a great personality and a great human being John is – we were lucky to have someone of his will-power and steel as part of our team.

He clearly set an example – if you think you can – you really can irrespective of what comes in your way or what life gives you.

John

Lesson 5 – Self Doubt and Focus

Your mind can be your greatest friend or your greatest enemy

In our journey through life – we all face difficult situations – some of which we overcome and build our confidence, while we fail in some which sometimes shakes our confidence and focus.

On the high roads to the Base Camp, any self-doubt and lack of focus only pulls us back, and that is the last thing one needs when climbing the intense steep slopes. Intense focus especially when relentlessly climbing the steep walls, as well as on the way back is a necessity ingredient to success. Similarly, in order to succeed in life one needs self-belief, self-confidence and focus as the key ingredients.

Both during preparation for the intense hike, and during the actual hike, NEVER for once did the thought of failure or the negative thoughts of self-doubt crossed my mind. The beauty, grandeur and the amazing team of people around me – motivated and kept me moving ahead one step at a time towards my goal.

Let yourself be surrounded by nature at its best, calm yourself, focus, and let magic do the rest. –Sally Walker

Lesson 6 – Happiness

There is NO key to happiness – the door is always open – Mother Teresa

Luckily, I have always been a Happy person – whether it is circumstances, whether it is myself being happy and contended or it is due to me not having expectations from anyone. However, I was strangely surprised to find a different sort of happiness when I was on this hike path – a state of mind and body where I had absolutely no fear, no doubt and no inhibitions and felt intense joy and contenment.

This must have been surely because of the people I met, especially the kids all along the way. Their smile, their happiness and state of contentment could be seen in the faces. Think about it for a moment – these kids here have nothing absolutely nothing, no TV, no good food, no cell phone and no candies or even a full meal sometimes.

Their happy state of mind, lack of fear, being away from noise and the maddening crowd and isolated from the materialistic world below them – made them so pristinely beautiful and contended.

On my way back – I gave away everything I had, my warm clothes, food, cereal bars and chocolates to the kids.

Even at such high altitude – people here stay grounded and true to where they come from and love the respect the land they live on and keep going through life without expectations.

It is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy

Lesson 7 – Respect the basic Ingredients of Life

Our earth has enough to feed our needs – but not our greed

Food, Oxygen and Water the three most vital ingredients of life – things which we take for granted, gets increasingly invaluable and scarce as we gain altitude.

It is impossible to complete this 84-mile roundtrip hike – without proper food. I clearly remember, during the hike over 15 days – especially the first 9 days when we were constantly gaining altitude, in the middle of the hike – it felt my body could not take the next step – without immediately consuming some food – snack/protein bars. The food at this altitude is carried by the porters, and during breakfast/lunch/dinner, I used to profusely thank the porters, cooks who made these delicious foods, for us which powered us all the way to 18.2K ft.

At these altitudes, it is also impossible to hike more than 30-45 min, without stopping to hydrate oneself, since one tends to de-hydrate both due to altitude and constant sweating till at about 14K ft. The only source of water at these altitudes is the ice-cold gushing water from the streams – which is almost undrinkable being so cold.

Let us wisely use the in-valuable resources that mother earth has bestowed for us.

In the end, our society will be defined by not only what we create, but by what we refuse to destroy – John Sawhill

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Hike to Mt. Everest Base Camp – Sept-Oct 2016

“One who can drive further once the effort gets painful is the one who wins” – Roger Bannister

This is the first in a series of two – the next one (coming in Feb, 2017 – 7 Life Lessons I learnt from hike to Mt. Everest Base Camp) – blog posts, I decided to write about my pilgrimage to the Himalayas in Sept-Oct, 2016.

 

Why Mt. Everest Base Camp

Wish I had a simple and single reason to why I always wanted to do this hike. I always had a deep, intense, latent desire, an inherent calling within me – which reared itself from childhood – to be up there in raw nature in the midst of the towering personalities and experience life at high altitude where survival with minimal resource is a challenge.

I always believed in the words of this world famous person – “It is not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves” – Sir Edmund Hillary

I wanted to get out and move towards something that fills my soul. I firmly believe and adapt it in my lifestyle, that the most successful people are the ones who keep challenging and improving themselves, not the ones who are constantly trying to keep up with society’s standards and peer pressure.

Mountains has always fascinated me, not just the idea of climbing them but their sheer beauty, grandeur and being surrounded by them. I wanted to experience the unknown, experience the hardships, thrill and challenges and how to overcome them and learn from people who have almost nothing surrounded with majestic, grand and powerful mountains.

I had watched the Everest IMAX movie Everest God knows how many times and read Jamling Norgay’s book – “Touching my Father’s Soul” a few times.

I always wanted to find out my limits – in terms of physical & mental endurance. I have molded my life – in always wanting to stretch myself – want to build a better version of me the next day – I have no competitors but – I just compete with myself day in day out 🙂

To me these experiences are invaluable, it creates for me memories and feelings than no material possession and wealth, can possibly replace or replenish. Life, money, emotions, and people all lie in ephemeral state. What you have today doesn’t equals you to be its proprietor forever. I have started living for today rather than for past or tomorrow.

I also wanted to try out diversified things, especially things which frightens you. Do the thing you fear and fear is powerless – has been my mantra. Doing these things gives enormous strength and boosts my confidence, and my internal and external wellbeing.

Apart from all that – I also had a deep desire to be myself. I have always found the deep power of Nature to heal, Listen to my inner self, I wanted to get away from everything be with myself – wanted to meet the real Sumit – away from noise, distraction, away from the maddening crowd, work, connectivity into the lap of nature and let myself loose and free.

I knew probably would be the most physically and mentally challenging thing I could do. At this stage of my life, I thought perhaps the time was right where I was still strong physically and mentally to surmount the problems encountered in such a trip.

Perfect time may never come – so decided to do it. Above all I have always loved to do hard things – easy things are boring for me – it is only when I get to do hard things that I get excited. I have also built myself mentally to accept failures as a part of growing up and never give up because I have failed.

Altitude with Right Attitude & Gratitude

On 14th Oct,2016 at Tribuvan (The three worlds) airport (Kathmandu) – I resisted boarding the aircraft till the final announcement came – my mind refusing to leave the place, I had fallen in love over the last 2 weeks. Despairingly, for the last time I said to myself “JaaneHo” with my eyes swimming in tears, with a heavy but a happy heart – I left the airport building – touched Mother Earth & bid adieu to the land of Himalayas – where I got lost and found my inner self and dawned upon a realization – that I had grown up more in the last 14 days than I had grown in my whole lifetime.

What took us 42 Miles of 1 way hiking to get to 18.2K feet at Mt. Everest Base Camp, within minutes the aircraft was cruising above that altitude and I slowly drifted into reflecting how it all started for me.

2 words will always echo in my mind forever – “JaaneHo” (have to go now), “ThikThak” (everything is well). These were the words the Sherpas, used to tell us before we started or continued on the hike – at the beginning of the day or when in between breaks.

hikepictureatairport (Our team,Lauren,AnnaBelle,Jae, John,Belle,Nathan, Julie,Isa,Trupten & Sumit)

Day 0 – Arrival in Kathmandu (4K Ft) from Boston (25th Sept and 26th Sept, 2016)

I arrived in Kathmandu on 25th Sept, morning and accommodations were made for us by REI at Hotel Marshayangdi in Thamel. All 9 hikers arrived on different days and during the next 1.5 days we kept running into each other in the hotel lobby/restaurant, getting friendly and knowing each other. On our arrival at the hotel – we were given packets from the REI team which contained the maps of the hike and medical instructions & schedule for the next 14 days.

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I spent the next 1.5 days in the hotel, trying to get rest from the 22 Hr flight from Boston and prepare for tough days ahead.

Evening of 26th Sept, 2016 – all 9 excited souls (6 ladies and 3 men), assembled to meet, greet and get to know our Sherpa team leader – Sherpa Trupten (former monk at Tengboche Monastry) and get the necessary instructions. We went over details especially for the first 2-3 days, do’s and don’ts. Shower and consumption of alcohol was prohibited for our own wellbeing.

Tremendous excitement & unbounded joy of venturing into the unknown kept me awake the night of 26th Sept, 2016, knowing this was the last comfortable place I would be sleeping for the next 2 weeks. Little did I realize, this would be one of the next series of nights where sleep would be difficult to come.

Day 1 – Kathmandu (4KFt)  — Flight- Lukla(9.1KFt)–Hike–>Phadking(8kFt)

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27th Sept, 2016 – the day, I seemed to be waiting forever, finally arrived, and after light breakfast at the hotel and weighing our backpacks and duffle bags, the team headed for Kathmandu airport early morning 6.00 am to board the most exciting flight of our lifetime – to Lukla – an airport with a small runway one end of which runs into a mountain wall and the other end is the valley and classified as the most dangerous airport in the world, in good weather – where the pilot has just 1 chance to land.

After checking in a bus took us close to the tarmac where we waited for 30-45 min amidst screeching sounds of lots of small 12 seater planes which would take us to Lukla.

Lukla is the place from where all hikes to mountains east of Nepal start.

As soon as the plane was airborne – seated right next to the propellers, through the little windows we immediately were transformed into a different world altogether. On the horizon we saw, snow covered peaks lined up for display. Immediately close by – we were travelling through deep gorges and valleys, in between mountains with lots of greenery and winding rivers.

It was a 22 min ride – but every min worth it – the experience, excitement, awe and the views. Cramped and seated inside the small 12 seater plane we could see the 2 pilots and the windscreen, and when the plane finally landed we could see the, runway through the windscreen and hear the huge thudding noise of the wheels touching the land and the screeching brakes started to kick in to stop the plane just inches before the looming mountain ahead. Uh! What a ride it was.

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We were met at Lukla Airport by about 10 Sherpas who would be part of our team and who carried our duffle bags to a nearby lodge. From the airport we walked to the grounds of the Lodge alongside the landing strip, and like little kids watched planes take off and land during a 15-20 min walk to the lodge grounds. The idea was we would be repacking our backpacks & duffle bags before the hike. On arrival at the lodge ground we were met with more Sherpas who had prepared tea & light snacks for us to warm up, get ready for the hike.

It was here we learnt the phrase – “JaaneHo” (Ready to go) & “ThikThak” (all well and good). We were told by the Sherpas – we would be saying these words every time we started the hike from now on. We started about 10.30 am and were all energized, fresh looking souls eager to embark on the hike. Luckily, the 1st day’s hike was all downhill to reach Phadking. It would be a 5 Hour hike to Phadking from Lukla.

We started the hike going back through the same trail we came from the airport, crossed the airport went through the small town of Lukla. Everything we saw and smelled seemed so nice, fresh, novel and exciting. We had not even started the actual hike and the camera clicks had started in full frenzy.

Here the trails were well laid out paths but wet due to rain and fog were muddy and filled with Zopkyo poop. We hiked through, rolling hills up and down and winding paths crossing small streams and during the last 1.5 hours walked along the Dudh Koshi, river with its fast flowing rapids and the sounds of the gushing water floating all around, crossing it multiple times over swaying suspension bridges.

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We had a break for lunch for 45 min where our Kitchen boys cooked delicious sandwiches and vegetables for us.

On arriving in Phadking, Our tents were set beside the gusty free flowing ice cold – Dudh Koshi river with high peaked mountains all around. Uh! What a place it was – I was just too excited.

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This was going to be our first night out under the open sky, surrounded by mountains all around, a small flat patch of land. We had an early dinner and after that were introduced to the Sherpa team along with porters and kitchen boys. I was excited and exuberant before going to sleep, forgetting the slight pain in my legs of walking around 5 miles of downhill from Lukla.

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As I lay on the thin little mattress inside my tent – I reflected the day, where I had woken up that morning in my half asleep state in the hotel in Kathmandu, the memorable experience of the flight to Lukla and the 1st, 5 mile of adventurous hike to Phadking.

The tent was small and cramped with just enough space for me and my duffle bag and a vestibule area to keep my shoes.

Going through the activities of each day would really make this a long blog. I will just highlight the details of each day as we went through the next 14 days of hike through, dense forests, rocky climbs, bridges and waterfalls.

There were 2 most difficult parts of the hike, we had to endure every day. Mornings when the body is not warmed up enough to start on the hike after the breakfast and then starting on the hikes immediately after lunch.

Most of the hikes except the first day started at 8.00 am – we were all awake by 6.00 am and used to laze around outside the tents drinking hot water/tea gazing at the mountains and the beauty all around and the activities of the villagers around. Most of the days the hikes were over by 3.00-3.30 pm, after which, we used to rest in the tents and then used to get up for tea/coffee around 4.00 pm, from then till about 6.30pm when we had dinner we used to huddle by camp fire in the dinner tents and used to play cards or just and hear and tell stories of each of our experiences.

Out of the 14 days we spend about 5 days in the tea houses and rustic lodges and the rest in the tents. We encountered heavy downpours during nights on some of the days in the tents.

The weather was the most unpredictable part of the hike and this made dressing up for the hike equally difficult. It could be sunny and warm one moment and within 10-15 min wind could drive in a lot of clouds and it could become dark and foggy and misty, with rain and winds hiking could become easily very difficult in reduced visibility along with the cold.

The cold made life difficult – where we were all visibly tired from steep hike and wanted to rest and get some breath but the cold winds would make one even colder if we rested too long.

There were also times during the hike – where I felt I was so drained out of energy that I needed to eat something immediately otherwise I would have to stop and rest.

Mornings were the most beautiful time of the day – most of the days the morning sky was clear, and the visibility was great.

Day 2 – Phadking (8kFt)—–Hike—–>NaamcheBazaar(11.2KFt)

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Uh! What a day it was going to be I had no idea – when I woke up – the 1st night under the starry sky and beside the fast flowing Dudh Koshi river. Today was going to be a difficult hike for us steep climbs – we have been forewarned. Even experienced Sherpas dread this hike from Phadking to NaamcheBaazar.

Initial 2-3 hours were manageable but the most difficult part started after lunch – from Monjo – it was all just relentless climb for next 4.5-5 hours through beautiful terrain and valleys and suspended bridges. What made the climbs even more difficult was the wet trails which one had to be careful of and pools of water from overnight rain made the climbs slippery.2ndday_pic01

At some places along this climb, I vividly remember – hold on to the twigs and branches of the trees while we had to rest for breath and water and our cereal bars to prevent myself from sliding down.

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But, once we arrived in Naamche Bazaar, I had forgotten the tiredness of the long long hike – what a nice town this was – beautiful terraced farms, kids playing football/soccer with an old dilapidated ball on 1-2 patches of flat land and some kids flying kites. I stopped and could not move – what a sight it was – for a few minutes, I vividly remember, I lost myself amongst the kids – yearning to go back to my childhood days.

The plan was to stay in a lodge for the next 2 days and I was not too happy because I wanted to stay in the tent, when we checked in to the creaky, moist, damp, cold, low lit rooms – I realized how much I missed my tent.2ndday_pic03

Day 3 – NaamcheBazaar(11.2KFt)—–Hike—–>Everest View Hotel and Back

To acclimatize to the higher altitude – the plan for the next day, was to hike to 13K feet to Everest View Hotel and come back down for a 5Hr hike. We left early around 8.00 am after a healthy breakfast. Hiking up during the day and coming back to lower altitude is a typically what most hikers do at this altitude to allow the body to get adjusted to the altitude and low oxygen level.3rdday_pic01

This was an uneventful day as we hiked slowly but steadily through the beautiful valleys and terrain. All hikes around NaamcheBazaar were very steep and one needed to stop every 20-30 min for a break. Hiking on the beautiful slopes of this beautiful village, we could see the far out snow peak mountains and the closer mountains with steep gradients and a lots of waterfalls.3rdday_pic063rdday_pic073rdday_pic05

On the hike we were also pointed to at the trails we would be taking the next day to go to Phortse at 14K feet. At the Everest View hotel – though we could not see Mt. Everest due to cloud covering, but we got good views of other nearby peaks and some other distant mountains.

The descent back to NaamcheBazaar was more romantic and edgy – where we took a different route a very steep descent through graveled stairs. All through the descent – we never lost sight of the village NaamcheBaazar way down below.3rdday_pic03

After about 2 hours of steep descent we finally arrived into NaamcheBazaar again, quite tired around 2.00 pm for lunch. After some rest we went exploring the town of NaamcheBazaar and also went to Sherpa Trupten’s house – where he showed his remarkable paintings and the gold medal awarded to his father by President J.F.Kennedy – for saving an American citizen during a hike to Mt. Everest.

This was also Anna Belle’s birthday and our cooks prepared a sumptuous dinner for us followed by a heartwarming cake.

Day 4 – NaamcheBazaar(11.2KFt)—–Hike—–>Phortse(13KFt)

Phortse was our destination for today – another 5-6 hour hike from NaamcheBazaar. Phortse was the land of the Sherpas – this is a sleepy village with about 20 families or so nestled amongst the mountains where almost every house is proud to have a Sherpa who has climbed Mt. Everest.4thday_map

This was the day we crossed through Sir Tenzing Norgay Memorial on the trail. This was the first day where we hiked in quite a downpour for about 30 min or so. This was 2nd of Oct, 2016 and over lunch I talked to our team about that day being Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday. We had lunch at this beautiful place, where I and John played with some of the boys of the village. I also gave away some candies to the beautiful, innocent and happy children.4thday_pic01

The last 1 hr part of the hike was extremely steep and overwhelming – since it was the end of the day and we were approaching our energy limits. A little outside the village we saw piles of harvested potatoes and women busy digging deep holes, which we were told was a way of preserving the potatoes during winter. We stopped and watched for a while and I felt a deep desire to go and help these ladies.

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After 2 days in the lodge in NaamcheBazaar, we were going to be back in the tents and I was excited. However, when we arrived at the tent sites, we were amazed to see that the tents were pitched in a patch of land which had an incline 🙂 Uh! That was even more exciting, since there was no flat place to pitch the tents in this village.

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This was one of the best Starry Nights I had ever seen in my life. Up there in the mountains at an altitude of 12k+ ft., in clear weather, no light pollution, I probably had the best view of the Milky Way. When I saw the stars and the bands of light in our Galaxy, for a few minutes probably, I forgot the cold outside, where I was and who I was, I was lost into oblivion. I have never seen so many stars at 1 time in my life and was frozen in sheer beauty, ecstasy, amazement and grandeur of the small part of the universe I was able to see.

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I remember getting up at night a couple of times to go to the bathroom – this was an adventure always when we slept in tents. I liked going to nature for nature calls but in the middle of the night, with just a flash light in hand, on uneven ground on an incline and searching for the right spot to do my nature call was really adventurous.

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On the dinner table – we heard heroic but hair raising stories of 2 Sherpas from this village who climbed Mt. Everest. One of them holds a world record of climbing up to Mt. Everest peak(29K Ft) in 10.5 hours from Base Camp (18.2K Ft). For experience hikers it takes around 6-7.5 hours to just cross Khumbu Icefall with ladders, leave alone going to the Summit in 10.5 hours. Another Sherpa who climbed up to Mt. Everest, stayed at the Summit for 21 Hours – unbelievable (why we may never know), but after he came down, he died within 2-3 weeks. Something probably happened to his respiratory system while he stayed up there for that long a time.

Day 5 – Phortse(13K)—–Hike—–>Pangboche(15.5K)

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Floating sounds of bells woke me up, and I got out of the tent and saw lot of fog around me. I went out of tent and started staring out on a side where I could see a patch of blue sky, and stood there for a good 1Hr or so – just watching the peaks in the distance and the daily rituals and routines of the villagers. At a little distance I could see horses roaming and some yaks lazily chewing on the shrubs.yaks01

The hike as usual started at 8.00 am after we had a hearty breakfast. This hike was going to be exciting since we had a good climb ahead and also we would be encountering more Yaks from now on – since we were beyond 14K altitude. Yaks tend to stay above 14K altitude because they like the grass at that altitude and seems they do not like the grass below 14K altitude.

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Today was going to be a short day around 5 Hr hike to Pangboche. We arrived in Pangboche around 1.30 pm, to a very small village perched up somewhere on a mountain side.

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Today we got a better patch of land to pitch our tents. From this patch of land – we could see the peaks/sides of the famous mountains called Nuptse and Lhotse. These 2 mountains could be seen always from now till we reach the Base Camp. Mt. Everest stood in between these 2 mountains but was still hidden in the clouds.

What beautiful Starry Nights again – I was simply mesmerized by the sheer number of stars I could see again this night. These 2 nights provided me with a view of the sky as I have never seen in my life and probably I will never see again. Up here high above in desolation and loneliness – I looked up at the amazing star lit sky and lost myself in the Milky Way and realized how miniscule we all are. There is so much grandeur and mystery out there – why do we fight amongst each other, on trivials like race, color and nation and petty things.

If we could all – Not care about who created the earth but care more about the planet itself – I thought.

Day 6 – Pangboche—–Hike—–>Dingboche

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This was again a routine hike – which took us through the last set of tree line over quite a lot of rocky climbs and trails. We stopped at a Monastry to check it out but unfortunately it was closed and we had to keep moving ahead.

We were planned to stay at Dingboche for 2 nights. From now on during the evenings we all got addicted to playing card games. Our Camping site was overshadowed by the spectacularly elegant and beautiful snow covered Mt. Dabalam just beside us.

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Day 7 – Dingboche Hike

This was the 2nd time, we did a day hike to higher elevation and come back down – to acclimatize to the altitude. This was a short day of about 4.5 hr, of hike to a nearby mountain with steep climbs and steep descents.

By this time most of us were losing our appetite due to the altitude. During the day hikes we did see lots of choppers flying in an out through the valley.

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Day 8 – Dingboche —–Hike—–>Lobuche

After 2 days in Dingboche and getting accustomed to 15K elevation – it was time to move on. This is when the hike got really interesting. This day we went through Thokla Pass – at 16.5K feet where we saw memorials of the great legendary hikers who had perished on their climbs to Mt. Everest. Just before Thokla pass I remember distinctly, we had to cross a stream over a single plank bridge. I will remember this place because it was here on the way back, one of my hiking sticks fell down close to the stream and Sherpa Trupten kindly got it back for me 🙂

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The climb to Thokla pass was quite a treacherous and dangerous one and drained us all. At the top of Thokla Pass we all had to rest for a while and had packed lunch.

After Thokla Pass – the landscape changed dramatically with no trees and shrubs and the terrain got distinctly rough, rocky and barren, as we started hiking atop the receding Khumbu glacier. Most of the hike was over the moraines left behind by the receding glacier.

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We arrived at Loubuche at around 3.30 pm and what an amazing place it was – completely overshadowed with the mighty Lhotse overlooking us. It seemed as if we could touch Lhotse.

I was doubly excited this evening since we would be reaching Base Camp next day. This was also the night – where I could not sleep a wink. This was when I started getting Altitude sickness and how I dreaded it. I remember this torturous night where I was not tossing side to side to get sleep but just lying all awake staring at the low ceiling of the rustic lodge and waiting to fall asleep all night, but it never came.

Day 9 – Lobuche –Hike–>Gorakshep–> Everest Base Camp –> Gorakshep

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Today was John’s birthday and what a day it was for him – he would be on Everest Base Camp today – Did he plan it so meticulously. This was going to be a tough day – 3 Hours to Gorakshep and then 3 hours to Base Camp from there and another 3 hours to be back to Gorakshep. There is no place to rest/camp for the night in between Gorakshep and Base Camp.

This morning with no sleep last night, I was little silent – just hoping to preserve some energy for the long hike of 9Hrs ahead. Unable to sleep, I was already tired and jaded, but I was super excited to be at Basecamp later in the day. This was one of the most difficult yet the most scenic most breathtaking hike I had ever done.basecamp_01

We were hiking on Khumbu glacier all along, over rubbles, loose rocks and stones and one had to be extremely careful at each step, and during the hike, I realized I was looking down at the trails more than looking up at the beautiful scenery around. The difficult hike with uneven rocky, rumbling trail really made me forget my tiredness and lack of sleep.

One could notice the happening in this landscape carved out by landslides, avalanches, glacial lakes and disappearing, rivers carving away land masses, caves and crevasse. Most of the hike we spent marveling at the spectacular scenery which left us speechless and depleted of superlatives.

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After 3 hours of treacherous hike, we arrived at Gorakshep at 17K ft. at just around 11.30 am. When we arrived at Gorakshep, we saw couple of choppers and someone told our group a boy had fallen on the rocks and had broken limbs and was being air lifted.

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Gorakshep was a beautiful little village with a population of about 20-30 people and more hikers than it can probably support. There were 2 rustic lodges and the view from these lodges was just amazing. We could see Lhotse, Nuptse and parts of Mt. Everest from here and peak of Kala Pathar and another holy mountain in Tibet from here. I felt I was ready to stay here longer given a chance. Just the very sight of these mighty grandeur mountains around me raised my spirits and I, had forgotten about last night with no sleep.

We had another 3 + 3 Hr of back and forth of hike to Base Camp. Luckily my spirits had lifted after I arrived in Gorakshep. We had a quick lunch, and set out for our final destination – Everest Base Camp – “Jaane Ho” – 2.5 to 3Hrs depending on how quickly we could hike up to 18.2 Ft.

All through the hike we could see the looming Khumbu Glacier and Khumbu Icefall at the feet of Mt Everest. I had been yearning to see Khumbu Icefall, ever since I saw the IMAX movie Everest. The very word Khumbu Icefall raises my spirits and excitement and makes me shiver too – while hiking I was recalling, some of the scenes from the IMAX Everest movies about Khumbu Glacier. The most dangerous part of the climb to the summit of Mt. Everest is to cross the deep gorges and chasms hidden in Khumbu Glacier.

The trails was similar to the one we did from Louche but grew steadily more steep and rocky and soon became a ridge. Within an hour of hiking we, could see at a distance Everest Base Camp. We could see some hikers from another team who had already reached there looking like dots in the distance against the backdrop of massive Khumbu Icefall and the majestic Mt. Everest in the backdrop.

Finally after 3 hours of almost non-stop hiking from Gorakshep – we reached Base Camp. Once there – I literally was crying in joy, ecstasy and exuberance though I was visibly tired and jaded. Everest Base Camp is a hostile place to say the least. Rumbling noises of Ice shelfs breaking off, constant noise of the Khumbu Icefall moving, blowing gusty winds and hardly a solid piece of flat rock where we could stand stable. Only signs of life other than a dozen or 2 human souls here were the black ravens flying around.basecamp_06kumbhuicefall01basecamp_04finallyatbasecamp

We spend about 1.5 hours at the base camp – taking pictures and just letting the feeling sink in to be there.

What a great day and great moment it was for all of us. Sherpa Trupten told us that this was the first group he had led which had no casualties on the way to this point – since in all of his previous excursions someone or the other had to drop out mid-way because of some problems.img_4171img_4236

Way Back

I will not write too much about the trip back down from Gorakshep to NaamcheBaazar, except the brief diversion we made from Debuche to go to Tengboche monastery on the way down to NaamcheBaazar. This was where Sherpa Trupten was formerly a monk and had to leave the monastery for personal reasons. This was the first time, I had been into a monastery. It was so calm, peaceful, mystical and awesome inside. One had a different feeling altogether once inside as if we had walked into a different planet.img_4194

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Day 12 – Naamche Bazaar (11.2K Ft) to Phadking (8K Ft)

On the way down from NaamcheBazaar to Phadking – which was one of the most difficult climbs (our 2nd day of hike)- we ran into lot of hikers – huffing and puffing their way up – and I am sure at every step on the way down – we were thinking – “Uh did we climb this”

At one place – for one last time we saw a clear view of the Grandest of all Mountains – Mt. Everest for one last time.

That day was also Anabelle’s 26th birthday.

I was probably the least fit member of the team and also the slowest – I was slow not due to fitness but just that, I wanted to go a little slower and enjoy the surroundings and stop more for the views. It was just my style. I was the last walking member of our team and Sherpa Trupten and Sherpa Badri always used to accompany me at the end. I was about 5-10 min behind everyone almost all through the last 12-14 days.

Day 13 – Phadking(8K Ft) to Lukla (9.1K ft)

Uh! What a day it was – during the last 10-12 days – the thought that I will never see a snake here had crossed my mind once. I have always had close encounters with snakes in my life and only time I have been violent in my life was I had to kill (against my wishes) when one of them entered my house.

But, lo – this was not to happen – as almost 1Hr before we reached Lukla, I saw a snake slither just in front of me and Trupten and go down the side of the mountain. Trupten told me that this bode good luck for me.

Phadking to Lukla was a hike up since we had to go to 9.1K ft. from around 8K ft. over long winding trails. During the hike we went through the same route on which we had come and all the memories on the way out came flashing back.

We stopped in a lot of places for rest, and water the last views and pictures. Deep inside for a couple of moments – I felt and wished this hike never ended.

Day 14 – Lukla(9.1K Ft) to Kathmandu (4K Ft)

This was the day, and I felt deep pangs of pain, desolation and separation. The night before was the coziest one, I had spent on the trip over the last 13 days though it was another, where I could not sleep well – sad to leave this wonderful place, the people who helped us so much, maybe I will never see them again.

With swollen eyes and heavy heart we started our walk back to Lukla Airport – probably the only airport on the planet where one walks to get in / out of the airport.

Lodge owners had prepared a great breakfast we were all eating but hardly anyone was talking. May be deep inside we were feeling the pain of leaving these people who had taken care of us so well – who took us to that Altitude and back safely with hearts of pure gold.

I have been an emotionally very weak person, and like everyone else at the Lukla airport – I was choking up feeling deep inside me a pain to leave this magnificent place. I do not have enough words to describe this feeling.

I had one more surprise waiting for me – once I entered the airport boarding area – I sat down and the famous words which I had always believed in was staring at my face

“It is not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves” – Sir Edmund Hillary

On the way back when we landed in Kathmandu – seemed like we were on a different planet. Realized for 2 weeks we had not seen any vehicle or a building or street lights 🙂

While up on the mountains the following three thoughts occurred to me multiple times at different places.

  1. What a Day, What a Place, What a bunch of people around me – do I need anything else ?
  2. There was a day during the hike – when I felt so much at peace and at Ease that I felt I should die now
  3. There was also a day – it was in the evening when walking along the trail I saw women, kids working in the fields – they had harvested lots of Potatoes and they were digging a 8-10 Ft hole to store the Potatoes for winter and they seemed so busy – but so happy, at peace and so engrossed in their work – at that very moment the thought of coming here again may be when I am a little older and setting down here in this land where life is so hard came to me.

There is probably only one force of nature which can move these grand mountains – the most powerful force on the face of the planet – an earthquake. Two of the Sherpas in our trip had experienced the massive earthquake that rocked this place in April 2015 while they were close to Everest Base Camp. One evening they told us the story of how they had rescued a person who was engulfed with rocks and debris just immediately after the quake happened. They also said that they would forever remember what they saw during the few seconds of the massive earthquake, the very sight of mountains moving like a slithering snake.

Over our entire hike – we saw signs of the devastation the powerful force of nature had wreathed on this beautiful land.

I recall how there were so many places along the hike – where I felt I just need to stay here longer and more time, I felt a pang of desire – this is so beautiful, calm, serene, do I need to go any further. I felt time had stopped and I was just frozen there not due to cold but the landscape, the place, the scenery and simplicity of the place.

Finally

At the end of my journey I bowed down to the Yaks & Zopkiyo’s – expressed my deepest gratitude and thanks to them – hopefully they understood me – they carried our luggage and food which fed us when we was hungry.zopkiyos

I have never fought harder to hold back tears than I did on those few days nestled the Mountains – the abode of the Gods – and even today – 2.5 months later – as I write this, my eyes are drenched in tears. Having done it once, I can do this again and again, however, there is the deep romance in doing it the first time and the memories of this first time hike will remain with me forever for the rest of my life.

Little did I know that the names of the Sherpa – Trupten, Sabin, Badri, Rinsing will forever echo in my mind for the rest of the my life and the awesome Sherpa cooks who accompanied us – Madhu and Micheal.

This was the place I would give anything to be back. I found my inner calling – I have to come back here, may be in the Vanaprastha  phase of my life (where according to Sanatana-Dharma during the last quarter of one’s life, one heads to the forest to spend the rest of the life and prepare for the next life).

To have shared the grand moments and breathtaking experience on this trip with those who, 2 weeks ago were total strangers is a remarkable achievement. Everyone who helped us make this a success were wonderfully warm, happy, friendly, smiling and happy people of the Himalayas, I thank them from the bottom of my heart. I felt a deep connection to the people of this region – something I have never felt anywhere anytime and I would love to spend the last part of my life here nestled amongst the mountains with these happy people.

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Training

This was probably the easiest part for me. I have been running outside for the last 7 years about 1.5 miles every day even in deep Boston winter (unless there is snow on the ground).

I have been an intense level badminton player playing regularly 2 times a day for the last 17 years. All this has built and shaped my, leg muscles and built enough endurance both physically and mentally. In fact one of the prime reasons I do run outside even in deep winter is to kick out any laziness in me and make myself mentally strong.

3 months before the hike – I started pushing myself more. I started going to the gym and doing Stairmaster and running on the treadmill (on an incline of 15%) more intensely. A month before my trip, I increased the intensity trained 2.5 miles of Stairmaster every day 4-5 days a week followed by 2.0 miles of running on treadmill with a backpack of 10-12 lbs.

I went to train more so on the days, when I felt I was in pain and needed to relax, very well realizing that on the actual hike, I will be going through 6+ Hr hike days for 15 days in a row.

It was easy to give up, find an excuse, procrastinate and escape the pain and regimen of going to the training. That is when my inner self and inner voice woke up and I pushed myself harder to go for the training.

Apart from regular running and exercise, I have done quite a few solo climbs of 2-3-4K ft mountains in the New England, USA area.

After nearly 3 months of intense training – I was ready and raring to go. I had no fear or anxiety about the trip – I was all excited looking forward to venture out. There was however 1 thing that I had not trained for and there probably is no training for it – it was training for the altitude – just go out there and face it.

 

Between My Father and Me – Touching his Soul

babaAs, I anointed his body to prepare for the final journey, and get ready to light the wooden funeral pyre, I was fighting hard to hold my tears – philosophy had taught me not to grieve, the soul never dies, it moves on to another body, it is like changing of clothes – sleepless for the last 50 odd hours (with the long flight from US and a 5 hr drive to my town) – my mind was flickering to the past and coming back to the present (though I had trained myself not to let the mind time travel, but now my mind was failing me) – I slowly recalled….

When I was 6, he threw me into the swimming pool with a rope around my belly and taught me to swim. Today, though, I don’t swim regularly but, I am an expert level swimmer and can swim a mile. He taught me playing badminton – a game so close to my heart, which I play even now almost 1-2 times a week and won a bronze medal in 2015 in men’s singles in Connecticut, USA. I remember the aluminium double barrelled racquet he brought for me when he visited the UK in 1978.

In the years 1984-88 (4 years before I moved to college), every evening after dinner, we played chess – 1 game a day – something that has lingered with me – but now – I solve 1 chess problem a day before I start my day.

He wanted me to focus on 1-2 sports, preferably individual one, to avoid injury and excel based on my own ability.

He was my first Yoga teacher – I started at 7, religiously I practiced YOGA everyday till I joined college in 1988. Inspite of being out of touch with Yoga since 1988 – I was so well trained by him, that I remember and can still do all the asanas he taught me.

My grandfather did yoga everyday till he died at 96, while my father regularly did Tai-Chi and Yoga till his last day on the planet. He taught me the, 2 most important things about Yoga – proper breathing (Pranayama) and proper relaxation (Sabasan).

He moulded me into the habit of early to bed and early to rise and from Grade 9 to Grade 12 – he regimented me to 6 hours of sleep 10pm-4am, something that I still follow in my lifestyle in US – everyday – weekday/weekend.

I remember during the winter months at 4.00 am he used to get up with me, turn on water heater so that I could bathe and then he used to bring, hot water with honey and tulsi leaves so that I was warm and did not catch a cold.

After lighting the pyre, I sat by the river on a cold wintry, windy evening, sitting beside me on one side was – Dr. Kundu Uncle (who lived across the street from where we lived, has been our family friend since 1982) – his closest and bosom friend – But – What a quirk of fate – the week my father passed away, Kundu uncle’s son was getting married. Kundu uncle used to accompany him during the morning and evening walks, they used to share poetries and proses, and they composed and created and spend quality time with each other. Kundu uncle was god’s gift to my father and to us, and it was he who came to our house in the middle of the night when my mom called him to see what happened to baba. Kundu uncle was heartbroken.kunduuncle

On my other side was Arup Mukherjee uncle – who sat beside me for the whole 3 hours as the pyre burned. Arup Mukherjee uncle and his family have been our close friends since 1974 during our days in Ujjain and have always remained in close contact with us ever since. He was heartbroken at my father’s demise and seemed he aged more in the few days after this news.mukherjeeuncleandaunty

Waiting by the side of the river – speaking to them of the good old days – my mind flickered again – and I recalled, that there was only 1 material thing I ever asked him – a bicycle when I was in Grade 5 and he told me if I rank within the top 3 in the school, he would buy a new one for me. In 1979, when I studied hard (which was so difficult for me at that age) and ranked in school he kept his promise and got me a bicycle and I vividly remember the day he cycled it for me from the bike shop to our house.

There was a time when he sort of non-verbally also rejected something I wanted to do, which was to go for higher studies – but our financial condition did not permit us to take this step. I was heart-broken for some time but I rose up and faced reality.

There was a time when I was envious of his hand-writing – it was so beautiful – clear, crisp, simple and distinct.  It reflected his personality and his inner being – compared to mine which was so messy and dirty – that once my Grade 2, teacher threw me out of the class for my messy handwriting. My handwriting has over the years improved drastically. He taught me to relax at the end of the day while lying on the bed – to recollect and recapitulate what you have learnt during the day. What a great piece of advice I had from him at an early age.handwriting

He was very proud of 2 things that I did in 2016 – though he never showed or told too many about it – it was my hike to Mt. Everest Base Camp in Oct 2016, and my first book which was published in Nov 2016 and then he left us on 17th Dec 2016.

I remembered that during most of 2016 when I was writing the book, every time I used to call him he enquired how far it was from completion. Sadly, though I could only show him the cover page of the book when it was published but was unable to get a copy in his hands.

In 1992 when I earned my first salary as an Engineer – I gave it to my mother. I remember the days when I started earning and thereafter he used to ask me for a lot of things  – from books to other things he had never indulged in and spent money (probably to save for us) and I remember how happy I felt buying them for him and seeing him happy to receive them and use them.

My mother has told us once no one ever saw him angry except 1 person at a shop floor in the factory where he worked. That one day he threw his hard hat and refused to take the orders of his manager – because he thought that the decision was risky & dangerous for the factory and the lives of people working there.

I used to tell him jokingly – that he should have been an Automobile engineer and I should have been a Mathematician. I remember how proud he was when I got 100% in Mathematics in High School. He was a Metallurgical engineer who, could repair any electrical problem in the house or fix any problem in an automobile.

I have not seen any amateur – who could open up an Automobile Engine to its, most granular piece including the pistons in the Carnot Engine and then fix it again.

Death came easily for him, got up from his sleep middle of the night, fell down a few steps away from the bed and within minutes he embarked on another journey. The whole town was shocked from his sudden demise. He was extremely active, could walk faster than a 50yr old, and had more energy than anyone of his age. He was always smiling and everyone I met during my trip had only one thing to say about him – they had not seen anyone as happy, smiling like him who always used to enquire about their and their family’s well-being. Lots of people said – he was so so lucky to have met his end this way.

My life today is a set of actions reflecting what he always instilled in me during my growing years. His memories will remain a blessing for us and his voice echo in my mind and heart till my last breath. To me every day is a gift from the Lord & from our parents and at the start of every day I have always bowed down to mother earth and to them with respect, for giving me this life and sustaining it.

To us, our parents are the lord of the universe – they have given us this life, which according to our philosophies provides the only opportunity to liberate from the cycle of birth and death – to reach liberation / Moksha.

I did not cry when I heard the news, neither did I cry when I lit the pyre – I never will, (I will cry ONLY when I deviate from right path he has always shown me). Today, I do feel happy, rich, and proud and at peace, because I have adopted – everything he taught me, everything he asked me to do to keep healthy, and be spiritually happy – based on simplicity and high thinking and growing and learning every day.

Good people get good friends and companions – and my father was no different – as he was surrounded with some supremely good human beings.

Mallick Uncle who lives across the street from us – was probably the person who has been with father the longest – since 1965 when they started working together at the same factory in Ujjain. Mallick uncle has been our family friend all along these years and – as a quirk of fate – father and he were transferred to the same city in 1981 within 2 days of each other.mallickuncle

Mazumdar Uncle and Aunty – probably someone father respected most all through his life. Mazumdar uncle was a gem of a person who left us very untimely in 1988, but our families have remained bonded in friendship, love and respect, ever since. Even till the last days of Mazumdar Aunty – who also by quirk of fate passed away in Aug 2016 – just 4 months before father – he used to call her and enquire about her wellbeing and whenever he was in Kolkata he tried his best to meet her.mazumdar

My Mom and Sister have been his left and right hand always. Both have done everything possible for his well-being, peace, happiness and success. My sister has inherited his smile, she was able to conceal her grief and pain during the last weeks of 2016 when the three of us were together – with an open smile and jovial being.

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As, I write this – here are two thoughts I would like to share:

  • Life is like a sea, we are moving without an end, Nothing stays with us, What remains is just the memories of some people who touched us as waves
  • Death is an experience not for the dead but for the living

New Year Resolutions – My Approach

January brings heaps of optimism and enthusiasm about the Year ahead with new goals and resolutions. Nothing is more common that seeing hordes of enthusiasts line up at the Gym beginning of the year, and for most, it takes a few weeks or 1-2 months before the cheer wears away and resolutions are forgotten.

I have never tied resolutions to the beginning of the year. I have always been my own competitor trying to grow beyond myself building a better version of myself, one day, and one month at a time.

A better approach to making resolutions and keeping up with them is to break them down into a monthly cadence by trying out different resolutions 1 each month. 30 days is good enough to make or break a habit. Start is what makes most people stop. 30 days of trying to build a habit, has a higher stickiness, a better chance of success & satisfaction as compared to 1-2 massive resolutions at the beginning of the year.

2016 has been a tumultuous year for me – especially the last 3 months – in Oct, I successfully hiked 84 miles to Mt. Everest Base Camp, in Nov my first book got published (I wrote 6 chapters of the book – starting in Jan 2016 – 1 Chapter a Month), a Big Data Analyst training course I developed for Experfy and in Dec 2016,  I lost my father.

Inspite of all these happenings in 2016 both at personal and professional level there were some habits, I inculcated month by month. Most of the habits have been simple adjustments each making a small difference to my lifestyle. The mantra is been to try small resolutions at a monthly frequency.

What I did was not important but how I approached them was a lesson. Some of the things I did included:

– Stairmaster every day for 20 minutes – as part of training for the hike to Mt. Everest Base Camp. I did it for 30 days non-stop every day – week/weekend whether I was feeling tired or lazy – I just did it and I was amazed at the results after that. Now, even if I don’t do it for a week or two – I am fine, since my body, mind has adapted to this difficult exercise. In fact, I tried Stairmaster at different times of the day – from early morning 5.00 am, to just after dinner and middle of the day, to immediately after work. This prepared me for the hike very well.

– Eat 1-2 fruits every day before breakfast: It is said fruits have the most food value when had in the morning on empty stomach. Having a fruit in morning is platinum to the body, having it in afternoon is like gold and becomes silver in evening and bare metal before sleep. I used to have fruits not daily and I had them at random times of the day.

– Not to waste/throw away remaining water in my drinking glass: I learnt during my hike to the Himalayas the immense value of clean drinking water, oxygen and food in the desolate altitudes. I drink a lot of water sometime as much as 20 glasses a day and during that process I had noticed that I used to throw away about 10-20% of the remaining water in the glass most times. I have rectified it, with 2 adjustments – drinking the water slowly and not throwing the remaining water in the glass but preserving it to drink later.

Also as an interesting move, I embarked on a mission to start using my left hand efficiently and effectively in 2016. I have been always fascinated with people who can use both their hands equally well.

I tried each of the activities for 30 days with my left hand all of these have become a habit for me now.

  • Brushing my teeth with the left hand
  • Shaving with the left hand with both electric and regular razors
  • Cutting fruits with the left hand
  • Eating with spoon/fork with the left hand

I also learnt the full lyrics of a meaningful Hindi song in just 30 days.

I started using mouth-wash regularly after my breakfast and dinner every day.

All, the above were simple things which I regimented myself to do for 30 straight days, and they became habits and part of my daily routine. Apart from the smaller things I have done, I have also done quite a few very hard difficult things in 2016. What I have learnt, in doing them is – to be focussed and remain focussed (in today’s demanding world it is so easy to lose focus – but I have made every effort to regain focus, whenever I have been distracted) and when things are overwhelming – not to think of the whole problem but break it into smaller, approachable and solvable pieces and focus on the smaller tasks and complete them. This gives, one breathing room and also measures your progress towards bigger goals – of accomplishing the bigger and harder job successfully.

I have not made any resolutions for 2017, except that I am going to do something interesting every month – something simple, something that is part of my daily lifestyle and something that can make me grow on a daily basis.

  • Get back to Yoga – especially Pranayama (breathing exercise in Yoga) something – My father started me with Yoga when I was 7. I stopped my practice when I joined college – however – my father taught it so well and with so much rigor of daily practice for 10-11 years – which I can easily resurrect what he had taught me, even after so many years of gap. I want to do that now starting in 2017.
  • Try out a few more things with my left hand: Keep on with the idea of using my left hand and learn doing new things with it – for example – using left hand for mouse, swap contents of my pant pockets and thereby adjust my brain to deal accordingly.
  • A cup of green tea & honey daily for 30 days before it becomes a habit: The benefits of Green Tea is well known (in controlled amount) and I always wanted to adopt.
  • Learn this great poem from a Nobel Laureate: “Where the mind is Without Fear
  • Try Resistance Band exercise: Again try this for a month and see how my mind and body reacts to it and then inculcate it as part of my daily routine.

I have not thought about other resolutions but hope I will discover new ones during my journey through the 2017 and try them out 1 month at a time.

Successfully hiked to Everest Base Camp @ 18.2K ft

On 7th Oct @ 08.00 GMT, I reached Everest Base Camp, after hiking over 42 miles and climbing from 8K ft to 18K ft, over a period of 9 gruelling days, over an altitude where Oxygen levels dropped to below 50% of that at sea level.
Standing at the Base Camp on Kumbhu glacier staring at Kumbu Icefall  just in front of me (the most dangerous part of the climb to Everest Summit), I just cried in joy, ecstacy,  exhilaration and exuberance and for once in my life I extolled myself, hardly believing I did this, something I always wanted to do. I heard the massive noise of moving chunks of ice in Blue colored Kumbhu icefall – staring at the iconic Mt. Everest.
The hike took me through unforgiving terrain – landslides, places with no defined trails, in between massive chunks of rocks, walking over steep uneven rocks and non stop climbs, over glaciers, over and behind waterfalls, streams, rivers, crevices, hanging bridges between mountains and over rivers, single plank bridges, in rain, snow, cold blustery winds, clouds and the last one to Kala Pattar at 18.7K feet in early morning darkness before sunrise.
I met the simple, hard working, truly innovative people of this region – Sherpas – from whom I learnt a lot of lessons and also some life lessons from this massive hike ( which I plan to blog about sometime ).
I will be writing 2 blogs on this in the next coming months.IMG_0309.JPGIMG_0142.JPG

My first Book – SQL on Big Data – Technology, Architecture and Innovation

My first book with Apress – released – Nov 22, 2016 – “SQL on Big Data – Technology, Architecture and Innovation” – available for purchase https://lnkd.in/diuwtcs

https://lnkd.in/dD7TeWt

HBase Schema Design Example

This post discusses an HBase schema modelling exercise I went through sometime in 2015 but did not get to write about it till today. This is based on the Healthcare data sets.

Here is a brief description of the Domain Data and the problem.

A Patient has their own attributes with demographic info – FirstName, LastName, Address, Phone, DOB etc.

When a Patient goes to the Dr. – it is called as an Encounter/Visit. An Encounter can result in a Patient having – Procedures, Medications, Diagnosis, PatientNotes and so on

1 Patient can have multiple encounters – each with a unique EncounterID

1 Encounter can have multiple – Procedures, Medication, Diagnosis, PatientNotes (Each of these have a unique ID – ProcedureID, MedicationID, DiagnosisID…)

1 Encounter can have multiple – Claims each with a UniqueID

1 Claim – has Multiple – Claim Details (Each has a Claim_DetailID)

1 Claim – has Multiple – Claim Charges (Each has a Claim_ChargeID)

* Each – Diagnosis, Medication or Procedure – has a UniqueID code associated with it

While trying to solve this problem – I tried 3 different approaches on how to model this in HBase. Finally I was able to select the last one after much deliberation and testing. Also shown are how 3 different most common query types can be solved using each of the model

Sample Queries

  • All Encounters for a given Patient
  • All Diagnosis/Medications/Procedures for a Given Patient
  • All Patients with a given Diagnosis / Medication / Procedure

* In each of the approaches below – I have documented – ColumnQualifiers with a large name for clarity – when designing the real application – I had kept the Column Qualifiers to be 1-2 characters so as to reduce the disk space size since for every cell value in HBase all the coordinates are stored. The application developer needs to maintain the metadata that maps these smaller Column Qualifier names to the actual metadata which is more explicit.

Approach 1 – Wide Format

Multiple Types of Row IDs – depending on access pattern 2 CF – Person, Encounter
(CF have Short Names – P, E)

Look at 1st Tab in the attached XLS file which shows the Schema Design Model for HBase using the above Approach

HBaseDataModelDiagrams

 

Approach 2 – Long Format

The image below shows the Schema Design Model for HBase for the above Approach

Look at 2nd Tab in the attached XLS file which shows the Schema Design Model for HBase using the above Approach

HBaseDataModelDiagrams

 

Approach 3 – Wide + Long Format

The image below shows the Schema Design Model for HBase for the above Approach

Look at 3rd Tab in the attached XLS file which shows the Schema Design Model for HBase using the above Approach

HBaseDataModelDiagrams