It was a Sunday morning of August in Kolkata, and waking up I felt a little dizzy. I thought it might be gastric effect of eating rich food for the past days. As the day went on I had a fever which felt undetected on thermometer. You know, when the temperature shows normal yet, inside you are not so well. A slight body ache could be felt too, but nothing that could make me label myself sick.
If it was not pandemic situation, I would not have even felt bothered to tell my parents about it. My mother told me, we must go for the Covid test immediately next day, and for now, I should be into bed resting.
I had to follow since otherwise it meant , I am going to endanger my parents as well as friends I was having plans with.
After a good afternoon nap, I felt better, the fever feeling had disappeared and the body ache was not much felt too. I felt like going for a jog or to continue my own kinda day, but again had to stop myself. I was sure it is just a cold, since Covid 19 is heard to be showing it's presence through throat pain, and a little breathing disorder. Both were absent in me.
Next day , still without having any health problems , I kept my commitment of getting checked for Covid from the government hospital. The test was painful , as they insert the testing bud into your nose and take the swab close from the brain. The same process is done to your throat. The pain inside , lingered for the day, as I returned, and only felt better and better.
Just to prepare in case I have Covid, I called a friend of mine , who had suffered it with his family, few days back. After hearing me out, he asked me to try to smell the perfume bottle.
A little weird request but I went for it.
And BAAMM , as I sniffed the bottle , I had no smell ! Absolutely nothing!
My friend said " Congratulations , you're up for the game ! "
Agreeing to my no smell symptoms, what I knew the test report came positive , and my parents went for their tests too. My house was sealed by the corporation of Calcutta, for a next 14 days at least. There were helpline numbers to call and get essentials, though , my friends and my dad's , volunteered to help us. I was glad to see that inversely to all the news that was going around, people in my vicinity were not treating us as untouchables.
To be honest , once the report comes out , you are a little scared. You take extra notice of how you are breathing, if there is any problem. As stress and fear grew on, I remembered, that in many discussions , I had written that Covid 19, isn't as dangerous as the news had preached. Now me being afraid of it, seemed so hypocritical of myself.
I took a deep breath , chanted my Buddha mantra and said, I have already told people, that I have a good immunity, and that Covid would not hurt me much.
It was now time if I believed in what I had put faith in.
Gladly, I was able to gain my confidence, that like my friends and people I know who had recovered well, I too shall go through this fine!
And believe me when I tell you this, it is this faith that did most of the work than the medicines. For when you are not afraid , or stressed , science says your body and immunity definitely works better.
I also decided, I will only take the immunity boosting pills and no Antibiotics, that were prescribed to me.
I am not telling this decision is for everyone, but surely it was for me. I believed in the body and lifestyle I have created over years living in mountains , and surely this was it's peak test for now.
After a fight with my parents, I did convince them that I will not take antibiotics, unless I have a fever or cough and cold, that seems very troublesome. By this time four days had passed, and honestly I felt anything but sick or what is potrayed of a Covid victim in media. Also gladly , my parents did not test positive and the people I had came in contact, none of them had any symptoms too.
This was my basic routine that I followed in my qurantine days.
Wake up around 10 and take three medicines which I surely recommend. It has no side effects.
3. SNEC30 ( Ayurvedic and most effective )
I took the SNEC 30 two times a day, the rest only in morning.
Apart from it, drank two cups of kadha.
Four cups of hot water to gurgle and drink.
Two times hot water vapour for myself. ( I found this from my friend, as the vapour helps to kill the virus if settled in nostrils).
I ate well, as my taste was still there, and I ate heavy protein with meat and egg everyday.
I saw movies , wrote things , read books and most importantly still did small workouts in room, keeping my sweating on in the evening.
Bit of prayer and meditation chanting my mantra, as normally as I do everyday before sleep.
Except for the smell which was still vanished, I was feeling very fit, enough to climb mountains.
Yet as to the norms I was inside the room isolated, but friends and people who called me , helped me have a good time indeed.
Finally after 14 days completed, I took the test again and was tested negative. I survived and realised a story I had heard a long time ago.
" Once a prisoner in US was sentenced to death. Two scientist thought of experimenting on him.
They told him, he was to be executed by a venomous snake bite.
On the day of execution, he was tied to the chair blind folded. And a non venomous snake was left near him, for him to feel the presence of the creature. The prisoner could hear the hissing and understand the inevitable presence. The snake however, was not allowed to bite. The scientist pierced the prisoner with two safety pins in his feet, and the prisoner died immediately. "
Remember my friends , Corona is going to happen to everyone , almost. The spread can't be stopped. However , if you keep you immunity strong and healthy, and your faith intact, it will only mild affects on you, as it did to me.
Of course if you know, your immunity is not so great, you must take added precautions, but even then , believe in your own strength. While climbing mountains , I always tell this to my clients. Our bodies always give up, as it feels pain. It is our will that helps us climb the impossible heights. It is such for this pandemic or for recovering from any sickness I believe. Your will & faith matters more than your physical conditions.
As for now, I am all fit , and it has been a month since I have survived my part of pandemic, and am back on my Adventures, to climb Mountains again.
If anyone of you, is surviving Covid 19 and wants to talk to me about any suggestions or advices , feel free to connect.
And yes if you think you have an immunity strengthened by will power and good lifestyle, join me in my Adventures in the mountains!
Hope to see you soonest!
Travelers from around the world who come to India, has always a fetish and fascination for Indian Hindu Gods. It is remarkable how every time, I might tell them a story about certain deity, and they listen to me like children adhered to fairy tales.
There's no doubt that Indian mythology is Rich with stories and fables which are metaphor to wisdom of life. And among such many a stories and Gods, certain ones enjoy much more favor in popularity among the outside countries and foreign Nationals than others.
Ganesha , among all makes a very popular notion among them as the famous elephant God from India.
With my experience of guiding and aiding so many travelers from around the world , here is a brief analysis of the secrets that make Ganesha so famous.
Ezra , a Dutch girl on a tour in India with me bought six pieces of Ganesha idols from the clay crafting markets of Kolkata we were hovering. She was to gift them to her different friends and families back in Netherlands, and took them as souvenirs from India.
I asked her , what compelled her to buy idols of Ganesha , out of other Indian Gods such as Krishna and Shiva in display. Her reply in brief was her affection to elephants ( the beast that wander in India free in wilds unlike caged in other south Asian countries) and the cuteness that Ganesha idols hold with a baby like portrayal.
It is true that among all God's , Ganesha looks different with a head of elephant and a body of a man. His image is a mix between animal and human. It's very essence is the coexistence and correlation among things in peace. With it's cute baby like demeanor, it puts out positive vibes throughout. Even though it looks like a kid , it is considered wisest among all Gods. The elephant as an animal is also known for it's adept memory, and the huge head is a symbol of brain amassed with loads of knowledge, which reflects in Ganesha too. So if wisdom attracts you, Ganesha is your Go To God.
Even though Ganesha is wise , but in no sense it is a hermit who has let go of worldly pleasures like a saint. Ganesha puts a coexistence between materialistic life and the spirituality. Ganesha is always in love of food and is adored by his mother Goddess Parvati in mythology. This reflects the essence that even if he is wise , he still relinquish being pampered by family and enjoys worldly hunger of a physical nature. Ganesha is associated with wealth too, as most people having a business in India surely worships Ganesha. With it's wisdom , it can attract fortune, and inspires people to use their wisdom to the same in healthy manner.
It can be told that Ganesha coexist with the polar opposite features in a nice balance. He has attained wealth and wisdom, something very difficult to balance in human life. It is this, that highlights his prowess. Even when you pay notice to the symbolism of his statue, you will find the existence of snake and rat together there. The predator and prey existing in perfect harmony just like other polar opposite thoughts. It is needless to say , that followers of elephant God , mostly would want to learn that art. To attain wealth without forsaking spirituality. Or to attain wisdom without forsaking the worldly pleasures. After all balance is the essence of life, which for some of us would make our life harmonious.
Indeed bringing in a Ganesha statue at home or surrounding brings a positive vibe, with it's happy halo that it spreads. Ganesha is wise enough to be not bothered by his very fat body. He has no issues of body image , for the huge belly or the non human head he carries. It is the symbolism of his wisdom , that what truly matters is our idea of ourselves and NOT how the world sees us. For many of my foreign clients this symbolism matters the most. Since most days , our world is changing into a platform , where external validation is given high importance. In a world , where everyone is trying to look good to others , Ganesha preaches to being happy about yourself and not be bothered. Eat what tastes good, enjoy being loved and keep attaining wealth without disregarding wisdom.
There are many more secrets related to the Elephant God. And I hope someday when we meet , may be we will uncover more of them. Till then , hope Lord Ganesha brings you wealth & wisdom , as much as you need , and not for your greed.
" Laila , Chado " Bashir motivated his mule to climb the Great Gadsar pass. It's been three days I have had the chance to be close with the community of mule men from interiors of Kashmir. They are our lifeline for logistics, to carry us through this range of Karakoram, as we trek.
In our journeys and travels we generally come across various people of different culture and habits , who makes us wander how different the world is than we actually perceive or knew, if we are sitting at home. This is the beauty of travel that we get to meet such souls and get to hear their stories. Of how they live , how they pray, and how they fight to survive with a smile. This piece is dedicated to one such community the horsemen of the North.
In my journey to kashmir great lakes, time and again, I have met the finest horsemen or rather mule owners. It is from one of them I have heard how mules came into India, and it is a fascinating story to share.
It is said that when Alexander the Great, came to Hindukush, with his mighty army and cavalry, he failed to cross the great mountain range. His finest Bacterian and Persian steeds could not climb the treacherous pass. And without them the army could not take their provision. It was a sucideal mission for Alxanderean Army , without their provision in the conquest that lay East of the Hindukush.
For six months , they tried but failed to cross over. At that moment of need. They observed certain mountain tribe's that lives high on the Hindukush. And they saw , their horses so small in sizes yet so sturdy and expert in climbing the vertical gradients.
On further enquiry , they found that this were a certain subspecies of horses created by the mating of a donkey to a horse. Alexander and his army took hold of this species, the Mules, and with the help of them , took their rations and all other necessities to cross over Hindukush and finally arrive in Indian subcontinent.
Since then in Himalayas , or Pamir , or Hindukush, or Karakoram. Everywhere mules are used for traveling through the high altitudes of mountains and climb the high trails. Regardless to say , I felt a lot like Alexander , when for the first time with a horde of mules , I crossed the Kashmir trail.
Why I think the Kashmiri mule men are finest, in my perspective is because their dependency on mules is far more than anywhere else in other parts of Himalayas, I have trekked. The situation is also because or the regular interval or interuption of normal civil life, that Kashmir faces from time to time. People here need to have mules in the countrysides for their rations being deported when a strike or curfew comes to place, and no public transportation is allowed. It is also true due to age old Amarnath Yatra , mules have played an important role since ages. Pilgrims are driven near to their God's with the help of this animal, and their drivers, the horsemen, are quiet efficient in it. As Bashir had informed me, he learnt it from his grandfather how to handle a mule. He was only six , when the lessons began. Now after four decades of existence, he has his expertise and he passes on to newer generation who are interested in the tricks.
This ancestral history of owning horses and mules, have played a very important role even in their culture and tradition. Mules and other livestock have been their primary assets and are very core to the lives and habits of livelihood. This men have a precious talent of managing 10 mules at a time , and that too without touching them. They roll their lips and whistle to direct the mules, and very rarely I have seen Bashir or such experts, have to cane their mules.
Bashir had told me " the leading mule is important. I keep Jaffa ( a white mule) in the beginning. She knows the trails and is disciplined well. The rest knows to follow her. I just stay mostly with Laila , since she is new on this trail, and hence I keep her in the middle, so that she doesn't get lost or out of party."
There is a science even in driving mules , and often in commonplace without observations , one might miss out such. It is important to learn the science, at least if you have in mind , a plan for solo expedition some day like Indiana Jones , leading your own group of mules through unmapped territory!
The mule owners are not only talented but most hard working too here. Generally , when we are done with a camp in the morning , we require to fold the tents back , organise the stuff and rations , and prepare it manually for being packed and transported on mule's back. This whole process requires time and attention by the cook and other helpers. For lest , you miss out on anything even a small peg or spoon, you might not find it in the next camp. Such trivial things matter a lot in treks and expeditions. Small items such as sugar and salt is of great essence , worth more than golds on treks and expeditions. Hence , the cook and other trek staff need to be on high alert while the folding of camp is done.
But in kashmir , mostly we do not worry. For the horsemen , takes care of everything here. They know how important packing up is and with great attention do it. Such care gives cook or trek guides like is , respite and enjoy the morning for a bit. Their expertise goes beyond at times, and horsemen like Bashir Bhaijaan with help of cook and helpers who reach next campsite long before the trekkers, usually set up camp and then sit around , joking and smoking up good Kashmiri Charas. That is their moment of delight.
In my journeys I have come across many mule owners and sometimes fortunately I have been invited to their homes. Once the trek ended I have attended their invites and have had a tummy full of splendid meals cooked with love and local delicacies. Some mule owners have other jobs while not walking the great trails. They work as high priests of the local mosque, some are teachers and mostly farmers. It is not only to earn extra that they work as mule porters or handle the mules. It is community service , for without the mules how would sometimes provisions reach their rightful places. How would villages and communities survive. As for the trek, the love for adventure also infects the heart of the mule owner as much as it does to any common man wanting to trek the grand mountains of Kashmir. To such, many a horsemen just come with their mules to satisfy their own wanderlust, even though they have enough in home to sit content. They also feel happy to walk the trails, to climb , to eat and to make merry in the paradise along with other visitors from far and wide. I have known horsemen who sang greatly of their folk songs and entertain us in the bonfires , at the cold chilling nights in depth of mountains.
In many emergency issues , trekkers are stranded on the high passes of kashmir , not feeling good and their health might deteriorate. Their is always high altitude mountain sicknesses or they might have a cramp, or twist or any medical issues. This horsemen act as saviours then. I have seen them walk ten kilometres transporting the luggage, and then again comming back, to fetch the trekkers on the mules to safely cross them over. That is the kind of intensity and value of the life they lived. And regretfully I have seen , trekkers not even tipping them anything even after so much they have done for them. Quite a funny world we live in, the more we eat , the more we want to keep eating. Yet , the horsemen live in peace and smile, far from this selfish social world from where most of us come to trek and climb. They continue to serve us to the best of their abilities as they have done for centuries before and shall do for years after. For this high mountains , no human innovation might be sacred enough to pass the test of times. They will fail, but the horsemen of the North will continue their traditions.
Note from the Author,
" Travel made me rich and free. Magic and miracles are true , once you wander on the roads to places different and divine. I have collected so many thoughts and stories while being a Tour & Trek guide for last seven years. Sharing with you all, those memories and stories , and wishing you all , that someday you guys travel far and wide too. I am not a great writer , so ignore my grammar and spellings, read it with feelings, and you might just be affected with the wanderlust to hit the road"