Monday, June 29, 2015

Climb every mountain....

It was time for her to gape, open mouthed.

"You climbed in a frock and chappals ? "

"No only that, your Aji climbed wearing a 6 yard sari and chappals, and both your uncles wore normal half pants and sandals. "      Me.

This was about Kalsubai, the highest peak of the Sahyadris in Maharashtra, and the fact that my parents, my brothers and I climbed this , about 55 years ago,  during our summer vacations.  My father was then posted at Ahmednagar, and we spent our vacations there, as we continued to attend school in Pune during the school year.  On a trip to Bhandardara , then an emerging  , little known tourist destination, with just a government Rest House, someone mentioned Kalsubai to our parents, and everyone decided to attempt  a climb.

A local from the village of Bari, at the base, accompanied us.  There was just a standard hand held bag carrying some water and something, which my mother carried.  We climbed, scampering across , as children are wont to do, occasionally slipping ,  supervised by our parents and the local guy, who kept up a constant informative chatter about the village the deity, the activities, and such, interspersed with commenting on how the kids were taking to the climb so well.

No photographs exist. So I have nothing to show how we had to hold on to some kind of chains fixed into the vertical rocks, somewhere near the top.  And so we did it, all 5,500 feet of it, reached the peak, rested , inadvertently learned a bit of history, geography,  sociology, and then descended.

There was an element of not knowing what came next in this trip.  Our only Net was the local guide, who gave real time advice.

Why do I write this ? 

Today,  a Google search on Kalsubai give 1,53,000 results in 32 seconds.  You can read about it all, without stepping out of your chair.

The mountain stands , as before, majestic in the monsoons. Possibly experiencing the change that advancing age brings....

The daughter recently went on a trek to the same place.  Very organized. With complete instructions, do and don'ts,  safety  warnings, suggestions about clothes, footwear, and respecting the sensibilities of villagers.  It was about setting out from an urban Mumbai, heading out into the plains by the railways, then being driven to the village, where locals organized yummy breakfasts.  The Kalsubai mountain itself, now had  signs here and there, a bunch of railings and ladders installed  for the benefit of the local climbers population, and the visiting trekkers.  Somewhere near the 3rd or 4th ladder, a chap had set up tea stall specailizing in Kanda Bhajjyas, freshly fried and served in leaves. He was even seen nimbly climbing  along with the trekkers, lugging a sack of onions.

The climbers, all outfitted in appropriate climbing shoes, capris, jeans and track pants, tees , and waist pouches.  I know someone who even carried a power bank. The trekkers almost all carried rucksacks, with plastic water bottles, some food, rain jackets, cameras, and every now and then , folks would whip out their phones and take pictures.  Sounds normal today, but would have sounded positively confusing to someone who had never used a landline black rotary phone then.   

So many wonderful photos, descriptions on blogs , and making friends.

And it too me back to what happened when , 58 years ago, we descended down, exhilarated, and returned to Bhandardara, and thence to Ahmednagar and back to Pune and school.

Being the one  with a literary bent amidst the family children , my parents encouraged my efforts , be they in the prose or verse form.  This hobby also developed due to having friends with similar interests.

There was a children's Marathi magazine , called " Garjana" published from Kolhapur then, and I wrote an article about this  "trek"  (it was then called a trip)  accompanied by a poem. They actually published this in their "Varsharambh" issue in April 1960.  In those days, any event , including floods, elections, prizes awarded o family friends, popular leaders coming to Pune etc would elicit a poem by me, and these were written in longhand, in a book, regardless of whether anyone wanted to read them or publish them.

I had lost track of these "manuscripts"  for decades , as I got busy with my own life and children and their hobbies and clicks and writings.

A few months after my father passed away, I spent some time organizing and clearing papers in their house, and came across a file,  where I found, carefully filed, copies of stuff that I wrote, copies of stuff of mine that someone published, and all kinds of letters written to me subsequent to some kind of state level scholastic achievement, all sitting quietly together, frayed edges, dulled inks, and all.

I remembered these, and  went through them again with my daughter, before she went on the trek.  Leading to the conversation mentioned at the beginning of this post.    

History repeats.   Another generation climbs Kalsubai.  Does excellent photography there.  Posts it on Facebook, where those who were on the trek with her "like" it and comment on it.

I decide to further utilise the capability for which my parents encouraged me so much.  I co-operate with the daughter on a blog solely dedicated to her various treks. She does the photos, and I do the short text accompanying each.

Have a look at it at Field Clicks.

I can never aspire to do what my folks did. Painstakingly cut and file away my literary outbursts at various ages and the documentation of my various activities that in inadvertently appeared here and there . And carefully maintain it through decades.

I must move with the times.  And learn to document it all on the blog the daughter maintains , for her treks.

In the meanwhile, the erstwhile 10 year old girl who climbed Kalsubai in a frock and chappals,  has been told by someone leaving for work, to expect an online merchant courier who will deliver a cell phone lockable  waterproof cover sometime today........


  1. Lovely post..enjoyed every bit!Yes...climb any mountain, race any train...the spirit of free will!

  2. Kalsubai Trek Well written article thank you for inspiring

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