Logged off, Shut Down… Went Outside

“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir

My previous two camping treks were when I was still in school and as such, though I must have noticed, but I did not truly appreciate the beauty of my surroundings. It was more of an ‘exercise’ trip, and it helped that after each of those trips, I came back 5-6 kgs lighter. 🙂

I had been looking to go for camping/trekking for a while and this trip came as a great opportunity. We travelled through Haridwar, Rishikesh and Joshimath to Auli the starting point of our 5 day trek.

While walking, the rhythm of the breath moving through my body was like the movement of the ocean tides. As I breathed deeply, I learned to sense the breath in this way. It was like discovering that I had a beach front view inside of me. Mindfully walking, breathing, living and enjoying every moment was a novel experience. (‘Sweat the Alphabets, Dance the Digits’) (Taming the Lions) ( Let’s wander where the WIFI is weak )

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“THE UNIVERSE IS FULL of magic things, PATIENTLY WAITING for our senses to BECOME SHARPER.”~ Eden Phillpotts

Trek

I was a part of a large group of people hiking and camping to the popular Kuari Pass top. We were also the last group of trekkers before the trail closes for the Monsoon. Providentially, for us, it would be bright and sunny while we hiked, and the rain Gods would open up the minute we reached our campsites. So, luckily, all through the hike we enjoyed all kinds of weather without being inconvenienced by it.

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The trek is not as ‘easy’ as my pre-trip research made it sound. At some places, it was very steep climbing and at times with narrow trails with sharp 90 degree cliff drops. However, all the huffing and puffing lead to devastatingly beautiful views which were heavenly to say the least- worth the suntan and the sore limbs. As it is said, “the best views come after the hardest climbs.”

In fact, I also had a pleasant surprise when on the very first day of the climb at Auli I bumped into a friend I had studied in Melbourne with. It was a pleasant coincidence that he was there holidaying with his wife. Such a small world!

Focus

In any outdoor activity, the focus completely shifts from us as individuals to our surroundings- making them the natural center-stage. Throughout my treks, the focus moved from the green rolling hills that were our campsites to the snow-capped mountains that glistened on the horizon. Sometimes, it was the soft clouds drifting in-between us as we made our somewhat arduous walk, and sometimes it was the angry dark clouds bellowing at us from above.

The pitter-patter of rain as we sat huddled in our tents with our cups of hot soup or curled up in our sleeping bags. Or, in sharp contrast, the clear starry evening sky, with the smoke curling up from the cooking tents as the meals were being prepared.

There were the gurgling sounds of fresh water streams we hopped across on our trails, small ponds awash with rain water, and wild strawberries and berries that grew with abandon in the forests as we trudged past them. Alternate to that were the patches of farmlands in the villages we criss-crossed with their organic produce of potatoes, rajma, apricots and colourful flowers.

The grazing sheep, the mooing cows, the tottering ponies, the sheep dogs that followed us… it was nature at its best. It suspended all my anxieties, thoughts and trepidation making them trivial in front of the the vastness and expansiveness of the Universe.

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Sheep scurrying past our camp

Many a time, I found myself sitting in silence over-looking the deep gorges with a mighty river meandering in the distance, or on large branches of trees staring into nothingness as birds hummed in the background. As a quote I read by Jon Kabat Zinn says, “Non-doing has nothing to do with being indolent or passive. Quite the contrary. It takes great courage and energy to cultivate non-doing, both in stillness and in activity”.

Gastronomical Delight

It feels slightly odd to talk about this, especially on a camping trek, where food is nourishing, but quite basic. In a delightful break from my previous treks, the food served at every camp here was a delight. Though vegetarian, the zeal with which the cooks whipped up not just North-Indian, but South Indian, Chinese and Italian cuisines with a selection of desserts, evening tea-time snacks and different soups would give any eatery in the city a run for its money.

I could not believe that after a tiring day I was having steaming hot macaroni, Chinese Manchurian, noodles, pani puri, samosa, cream of mushroom soup, idli, sheerkhurma, gulab jamun (the list is endless) at high altitudes in dense forests and grasslands, with no motor-able roads for kilometres, no electricity and completely cut away from any other civilization.

Needless to say, I doubt anyone of us lost any weight on this trip! Haha…

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We 50

Location: Kuari Pass (4264 meters above sea level), Uttarakhand

Trek route:

  1. Auli to Gorson Bugyal (3300 mts)- 4 kms
  2. Gorson Bugyal to Tali (3500 mts)- 8 kms
  3. Tali to Khullara (3650 mts)- 10 kms
  4. Khullara to Kuari Pass (4100 mts)- 4 kms
  5. Khullara to Tugasi -5 kms

Transport: Delhi to Joshimath by road. Then, to the 5-day trek start point at Auli by road or cable car.

Group Organized by: Mr. Farooq Haque at ‘Within n Beyond’

Tour Operated by: The Wanderers- Mrs. Farzana Haque. Ph: +91 9850427609

-Tamanna S. Mehdi

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‘Sweat the Alphabets, Dance the Digits’

Just running on a treadmill or doing weights in a gym are okay for a time, but after a while it just gets too repetitive and boring for me. This is the main reason my gym membership is lying unused for a while now. (Ah Vizaaag!)

I miss my Aerobics and stepping classes. I loved the energy of these classes, the gradual way in which the heart rate increased with the speed of the steps from slow to fast all in tune with foot-tapping music. I miss the companionship we shared as a group and with our trainer, egging each other to push ourselves a little bit more every single time. Those workouts worked every muscle in my body making me more flexible and fit; and when combined with weights it was ample strength training.

Wanting to try different exercise regimes led me to the BOKWA workshop early this morning. And what an interesting class it was! Like Aerobics, it is a high cardio workout- sweating to lose weight. Though unlike it, here, the premise revolves around making English alphabets (L, C, J…) and digits with our hands while doing step-aerobics in sync with trending pop music. Confused? So, was I. But once we started, it turned in to a super fun half hour.

To mix things up a bit, our certified trainer also included some kicks and punches. This demo class was a 20-30 minute one and we learnt how to make an ‘L’ and a ‘C’, but a longer class will no doubt be a real high intensity workout. While BOKWA is billed as ‘all age group,  anyone can do this’, I felt a certain level of fitness is necessary as even though the steps are easy to follow, the pace of the workout increases the heart rate very rapidly.

Similarities are drawn between BOKWA and Zumba. Personally I enjoyed BOKWA more, as Zumba is more of a choreographed dance routine where I find myself stressing more on following the dance moves rather than on the workout itself.  Here, the steps are easy to follow and the focus is on the exercise itself.

I read that BOKWA is loosely based on a South African dance form (maybe that’s why we were made to whoop and make other noises through our class) and has been around since 2012, but is getting more popular in India since last year.

I want to try the Barre Workout next. I hear it is done bare foot and is based on postures inspired by ballet dancing using a barre as a support. It is billed as a routine for facilitating quick weight loss and in improving posture. Anyone taking this class here soon?

After the workshop today, I feel revved up enough to use my idle lying gym membership… But oh well, tomorrow is another day 😉 (Taming the Lions) (Logged off, Shut Down… Went Outside)

To schedule a BOKWA class call NAV Bhargav (BOKWA trainer)- 9154242700

 Tamanna S. Mehdi