" Why do most wise men and sages, belong or find their wisdom in Himalayas ? " this question had always gone around my mind from my adolescence. Finally after six - seven years of wandering in the Himalayas , wearing my muscles out and tanning my skin, I think I am near to a suitable answer which I feel , might be answer to the question. Here I would try to put my mind in paper and convey what I think.
The Himalayas provides us the environment that can be compared to a near Utopian surrounding teaching us on subjects that I believe matters the most to us for a happy and content life. And who finds peace and happiness is the one who finally finds wisdom according to the Buddha. Some of the prime subjects learnt on Himalayas would be hard work , patience , significance , gratitude , minimalism and compassion. Let me brief a little bit about all of this and how it transforms your inner thoughts and mechanism.
Hard work - Everyday you need to work hard here on the mountains , even for basics such as getting food or going to market and buying stuffs. The body goes through hard work which is very necessary for a healthy life without pills and medicines. Mostly in the modern age , people tend to only focus on smart work and question everything that requires an effort. This however , leads to all the health problem physically and even mentally. Science shows , hard work helps our body produce serotonin , a hormone that makes us feel happy. In the city , pills are used or called anti-depressants by increasing the level of serotonin, to make us feel alive or relieve us from our low, depressed mood. So working hard not only helps you to light up your mood also increases your brain capacity to learn.
Patience – Time is respected here on the mountains but not panicked about. The life works according to nature’s time here and not on a human made invention called clock. Its not so fast paced yet delusional like the city and hence, mountains teaches you , any good thing takes time to come. Also you realize , you also need time to get over or move on from a bad thing. Both ways you need patience. For life and time is not a smart phone which you can alter as per your own and expect immediate results. You need to accept this about time and that actually makes you wiser.
Significance – Most times in our lives , in hurried pace lifestyle we fail to understand the significance of everything around us. For example, how many days do you observe or notice a sunrise or sunset in a city? We do not for we do not understand the value or significance of it. In the mountains you see them more and you feel amazed and surprised. While the beauty of such sunrise and sunset is mostly same everywhere on earth , still we feel special cause we understand the significance of it. If we introspect more , we realize , sometimes we have forgotten the significance of Life as well , shadowed in our worries and clouds of negative emotions. When one sits among the huge mountains, we find our fears and worries so small compared to the huge mountains around , we finally understand what things in life is worth to be given the value, or found significant.
Gratitude – As you understand the significance of things around you that matters truly for a happy , wise life, you start practicing gratitude. One of the best feelings and lessons to be learned on the mountains surely , gratitude helps you to become more humble and content about one’s life. You thank and feel the love of the universe , of your existence being highly valued and a unknown support and faith to live and learn more. Surely a wise man will always put value in knowing the advantages of feeling grateful.
Minimalism – With modernization and onset of commercialization, the illusion of consumerism has taken leaps and bounds in progress with making humans confuse about needs and wants. With time, our want only grows , and often confused with need , we end up wanting something which actually does not add any value to our existence or happiness. The people in the mountain still old fashioned , as stated by city folks, actually understands minimalism and how things or people cannot make you more valuable. Instead of having a large group of friends , people in the mountain has still small handful friends and are happy with it. They have money yet , they do not pursue blindfolded what they think they want. They analyze their needs and act accordingly. In mountains , we also need a lot less to live a happy smiling life. Realizing this is actually, wisdom. The more you gain , the more you want , and wants never stop. Hence , lesser is better.
Compassion - This for me is the highest of values that you learn and practice while you live on the mountains. To have compassion for everything and everyone around us , makes us better beings. In a fast paced world where , we are so into our lives and our things and emotions, it is very essential to understand , that love , empathy or kindness for people and things around us , is actually what affects us and our happiness. The wise men , every one of them , hence has always practiced compassion. Help people without asking for anything in return, smile to random strangers , greet them and feed them, this makes you better being. That is what most people of mountains do , go to one of their home and you will never be left without being offered food. Most importantly , live with them and you will never leave without feeling loved. What more does any being want ? The love they spread is what they get back and what makes them wiser than most of us.
Though there are many more lessons , I am on my path to learn , living on the mountains , but this basics if practiced , surely shall make me or anyone wise. Go to the mountains , live a time there , not by watch but by life.
As the summers , are here , most of you will be heading to the mountains for high altitude treks for surely , hence I decided to write about one of the mandatory medicine that usually people take in for high altitude adventures. Acetazolamide , or commonly known as Diamox is a pill that helps you to prevent Altitude mountain sickness ( AMS ). Mind it , it helps you to prevent , not CURE !!
Against a big misconception , let me burst the myth , Diamox cannot help you as immediate cure to AMS , while you are having it. Rather , it helps in the process of acclimatization to start early and faster, than it would be normally without the dosage. Now answering the three important questions -
1. How to take a Diamox ?
Essentially the 250mg pill should be taken after breakfast , starting from a day before the trek or before the high altitude ( i.e 9000 feet or 3000 metres) , and can end once you are at the highest camp of your journey. One pill a day is enough , but make sure you have the pill everyday , around same time , for the next consecutive days. This way it serves its purpose best. Having the pill when you are starting to get the symptoms of High altitude sickness, would not help at all.
2. What are the side efffects?
Like any drug , Diamox , has its own side effects, which is better to be aware of. Many a time , people panic due to the symptoms of side effects they go through, and misinterpret it for something bad or fatal happening to the body.
I have heard people being so scared of the side effects , they opt for rescue or backing out of trips and treks , thinking they got a chronic disease! So here are the basic side effects you might face , afterall any external help to body will show other unnatural symptoms.
Feeling sleepy, bitter or metallic taste in tongue , tickling sensations on fingers / cheeks and nose , unusual or abnormal swelling sometimes of your face , burps in tummy and excess fondness to go to pee.
But all of this are OKAY !!! So if you are facing any of it , do not panic, it will pass over time.
3. How does it work ?
Well a common myth is Diamox increases oxygen. No, it does not. It is more a complex process how it makes your body ready for higher altitude faster.
The pill increases the quantity of bicarbonate in urine , excreted from kidney, which acidifies the blood more. Now the body gets fooled by this , and in order to equal the acidification , it starts to remove excess CO2 from the blood and body by breathing deeper and faster. Once the CO2 is exhaled more , automatically the amount of oxygen in blood remains more now , helping the acclimatisation process faster. So do not say anymore , Diamox creates oxygen ! Please no !
So now , You know how Diamox works , and how it should be implemented for the best of your body. But as a mountaineer , we do not advocate the use of any pill unnecessarily, hence , would ask you not to be afraid of high altitude. Natural prevention is always better. DRINKING 3 - 4 LITRES of water everyday , not only helps you , but also keeps you away from any sickness on trek. As more water or liquid starts processing in the body, natural oxygen gets circulated helping you to acclimatize the same way, as Diamox does with its external mechanism. If water is something you are unable to drink at such quantity , go down on solid foods during your trek meals and intake more liquuids like DAL , TEA, COFFEE and Soup ! Also in take of liquid should be increased from the base camp itself. Drinking so much on the summit day would help you , as proposing to your ex, on their marriage day does.
Hope you got the basics of it ! Now go climb that godamn mountain !!
Have a safe and happy trekking!! Join the adventures of high altitude with me if you have not yet planned anything!
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. 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"