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Opinion » musings

Posted at: Aug 10, 2017, 12:47 AM; last updated: Aug 10, 2017, 12:47 AM (IST)

Call of the mountains

Suniti Kharbanda
Call of the mountains

Suniti Kharbanda

Even if I am no longer in the category of runners, at least my thoughts are still capable of it. The train of thoughts that ran in my mind focused on Anshu Jamspena scaling Mt Everest twice within five days. Santosh Yadav was the first woman in the world to climb Mt Everest twice. She was a climbing mate of mine when we did a basic mountaineering and rock climbing course in the Aravalli mountain range in Jaipur.

More than 30 years back Santosh Yadav was doing her graduation and I was doing my M.B.A. while staying in the same university hostel at Jaipur. The backdrop of the hostel was the Aravalli mountains. In the hot deserts of Rajasthan seeing these mountains itself gave a feeling of cool relief. When we got to know that a basic mountaineering course of six weeks duration was to be conducted in the early mornings, we were thrilled. Santosh and I along with three-four other girls decided to join this course. Every morning on borrowed cycles we pedalled for 20 minutes to reach our course site, learnt the requisite mountaineering skills for an hour and cycled back to our hostel before starting our daily college routine. 

New words like belay, anchor, rappelling, slithering, carabiner, river crossing etc were added to our vocabulary. Notwithstanding falling down, getting hurt, scolded for being casual about safety, being bone tired, lack of proper sleep, we never missed a single session because to compensate for all this was the thrill of conquering small mountains which would always get our adrenaline pumping. 

 The day for the award of certificates also arrived. The Chief Guest was the then Chief Minister of Rajsthan, Mr Shiv Charan Mathur .I was roped in to give a speech on behalf of the outgoing batch. Tougher than the course was giving this speech in front of an august gathering, specially as I was told just two days in advance. However, everything went off well.

 A couple of days later while attending my college lecture, the college Director, Dr R. N. Singh, walked into our classroom and enquired in a booming voice, “Which student of our college is doing a mountaineering course?”. I was petrified. I presumed one of our lecturers had complained that I was half asleep in class (being tired after the morning mountaineering course was my excuse). Timidly I got up. He came up to me, shook my hand and said: “Congratulations! I got a call from the Chief Minister who is a friend of mine. He was complimenting me on the oratory skills of my student who had just completed a mountaineering course. Good going Suniti. Keep it up.” My happiness knew no bounds.

At that moment there was one thing that I understood-whatever you do with honesty and hard work will have its reward. For Santosh Yadav the course was a stepping stone for honing up her mountaineering skills and scaling Mt Everest and for me this course became an opportunity for shedding my inhibitions for public speaking. Each one of us has different peaks to conquer.

 As Edmund Hillary famously said “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves”.

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