Saturday, December 22, 2007

The highest blogger meet in the world

Also posted at The Kilimanjaro Blog

In the last four years that we’ve known each other (virtually, of course), Alpha and I have tried to meet up a few times. It’s a bit tricky getting the co-ordinates right when you’re on two different continents separated by a couple of oceans, but she was in Bombay once, and I was almost in Bangalore, another time. And then, last year, she planned Europe, while I considered Australia… It’s not a small world, after all.

Just when I was beginning to imagine a dotage blogger meet, the tectonic plates shifted somewhere, and our agendas and venues came together. I suggested Kilimanjaro, since it had been on my wishlist for a while. A mountain lover herself, she not only got fired up by the idea, but also got Pi and half of Pittsburgh interested. She then scouted around for tour operators, decided the route, sent off a flurry of mails, started raising funds for charity, packed and repacked her bags, started the blog, and if Pi tells me she’s already at the airport waiting for the flight due in February, I’d believe him.

Jokes aside, I totally credit Alpha for this trip coming together so far. I’ve had a lot on my mind the last few months to focus on this trip, and I’m grateful for Alpha’s determination. When you set out to reach the peak of the highest free-standing mountain in the world, it’s exactly that kind of focus you need. And hopefully, the rest of us will match up in the coming weeks.

If not, I've full faith that Alpha will sling us over a shoulder and saunter all the way to the top.

Climb every mountain

I cannot remember how and when the idea of climbing Kilimanjaro took hold. It might have begun as a vague thought sometime this year, but it’s a dream that’s been taking shape for the last few years, ever since I did the high-altitude trek in Ladakh in August 2003. That was the start of the mountain madness, and the weekend treks in the mountains on the outskirts of Bombay only fuelled the mania. Moving to Dubai in 2005 put paid to that obsession, but only for a while. And now, Kilimanjaro beckons.

There couldn’t be a more curious bunch than the four of us who are doing this trip. Alpha and I have known each other for close to 4 years, through our blogs, then through emails and then the surprisingly lengthy phone calls. We’ve never met, although we’ve been in the same city on one occasion, and in the same country, another time. She’s tried her match-making skills on me a few times, unsuccessfully, I might add, and I’ve asked her for recipes a few times, which she still hasn’t parted with.

I know Pi, her husband, only through her (expectedly biased) posts, and I don’t know much about Nai, the 4th member of our troupe, other than the fact that he was Alpha’s classmate, and of good character - as I was repeatedly assured by Alpha when she tried to book us into the same room. The last ditch attempt at match-making might just have borne fruit, except that Nai’s wife wouldn’t hear of it. So separate rooms it is.

We still have about 7 weeks to go before we meet up for the first time in Nairobi. And a busy 7 weeks it’s going to be, with training, gear shopping, and of course, regular blog updates at The Kilimanjaro Blog. Your comments and encouragement, are welcome as always.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Congratulations Patweeta & Ashtrix!

Bhubaneshwar's buzzing with excitement as the Wedding of the Year gets underway. Tomorrow, the golden couple of blogdom, Patrix & Ashweeta will tie the knot. In a not wholly unexpected departure from tradition, there will be three of them walking around the sacred fire - Patrix, Ash and a laptop. Patrix and Ash will take turns to blog about the ceremonies for those of us who aren't attending. They will also be exchanging vows - "I promise to be true to you in good times and bad, through and, through sickness and health, so help me, Blog." Patrix will be making a grand entry on a white horse, and has been horsing around um... practising his horse-riding skills for the last few weeks on the old rocking horse retrieved from his parents' house in Panvel.

Jest aside, here's wishing you amazing twosome a memorable day, and an amazing lifetime ahead. The Apache Blessing says it all...

Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there will be no loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you.
May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead and through all the years,
May happiness be your companion and your days together be good and long upon the earth.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Don't you just love December?

There's a wee nip in the air these days. Not the kind of weather that makes you grab a jacket and thrust your hands deep in its pockets. But the kind that steals up on you and makes the hair on your forearm quiver. The kind that makes you roll down the car windows so that the wind can style your hair.

People seem happier, or is it just me? The prospect of vacations and festivities, reunions and revelry seems to infuse a happy glow everywhere. No matter how the year has turned out this far, December can make it all come together. Leave November to its neuroses, and leave January to handle regrets and resolutions, December is for getting carried away, unabashedly.

Someone I met recently has sworn off meat, spirits and smoking for a whole month in anticipation of the hedonism to follow in the last week of the year. That's how seriously people take December.

And what better way to start off December than with a long weekend. It's the UAE National Day today. And there's another anticipated holiday on account of Eid sometime soon. And there are trails to discover, and locales to explore, and conversations to continue...

Don't you just love December?