A Journey to the Base of Everest

After crossing the frozen river last year, my big plan for this year was to climb till the base of Everest. I started on that dream on the 6th of May 2019. We had reached Kathmandu 2 days back and we toured the city a little before starting our Everest journey. Kathmandu never felt like a foreign land. The food there is very similar to Indian food, the roads and buildings look similar, the language is pretty understandable and even the music seems familiar. A jam-packed, crowded small city...with a lot of beautiful monasteries, palaces, and temples worth visiting.

On 6th May, we started our ride from Kathmandu to Manthali airport at around 2am. The ride was 3 hours long. Manthali was the weirdest airport I had ever witnessed. It was a very tiny airport whose check-in counter looked more like an old warehouse. Well, due to unstable weather condition, our flight to Lukla was delayed by a couple of hours. With no proper sitting arrangements, the passengers were literally sitting on the dusty floor of the airport space, under the sun (there was no cover as well...told you, weirdest airport ever). Finally, when the flight services got started again, we boarded a 12 seater tiny aircraft and flew for 20 minutes to reach Lulka. The 20 minutes ride made the hours of waiting all worth it. The scenic beauty of this ride was breathtaking. During this ride, I realized what heaven I was heading towards, over the next few days of my trip. After lunch at Lukla, we started walking towards Phakding, our first halt of the Everest trek.

The walk from Lukla to Phakding was our first exposure to the natural beauties of this Himalayan trails. The rocky mountains, gushing streams of the river, hanging bridges, beautiful lush green trees...every sight was worth capturing in our memories forever. This was also the easiest of our trekking days.

After reaching Phakding, we also came across some other realities that became a part of our trekking experience. Our accommodation here (and all accommodation onwards from here) had shared toilets across floors and common shower rooms which were a paid service. No toilet papers were available and the cost of drinking water kept increasing with altitude.

The next day, we trekked from Phakding to Namche Bazar, which is situated at an altitude of 3,441 meters. From Phakding, till we crossed the Hillary bridge, the trail is pretty easy. Its only on the other side of the bridge that the real trekking experience starts with all uphill climb. This was a definite tough day. The trail was tougher and we had started to feel the hit of the thin air at the higher altitude.

After the tough trekking day, our next day was kept for resting and acclimatization at Namche Bazar. This was possibly one of the most peaceful days of our journey. We climbed till a table top to get the first glimpse of Everest early in the morning, went to the local helipad and did relax there for a while, roamed around the settlement for the rest of the day. I found a few favorite spots at this place where I could sit alone for some time, listen to music, let my thoughts gather and be at peace with myself.

For the next few days, we kept climbing altitude. From Namche Bazar to Tengboche (at an altitude of 3,860 meters) next to Dingboche (at an altitude of 4,350 meters) to Lobuche (at an altitude of 4,910 meters and finally to Gorak Shep (at an altitude of 5,180 meters). With each climb, the terrains got tougher and tougher. The thin air made it difficult to breathe. The biting cold made it tough for us to get a good sleep at night. There was a definite loss of appetite and slowly each member of the group started being hit by some form of altitude sickness. There were moments during our travel when taking even another step seemed impossible...moments where I thought I needed to give up and take a chopper back to Kathmandu...moments where all the struggles felt pointless. But, at the end of each day, the sense of achievement, being able to survive another day and getting a step closer to our dream of Everest is what kept us going!

Finally, on D-Day, we did a climb after lunch from Gorak Shep to Everest Base Camp (at an altitude of 5,365 meters). We had already trekked for around 5 hours that day and our bodies were getting more and more tired. The energy was disappearing faster than we could think. When we were about 30 minutes away from base camp, it started snowing. The drops of ice felt on our weak body like some form of medicine. Each drop of ice as if healed a little of my pain. I couldn't conceal the happiness in my heart. I could probably not have asked for anything more at this moment. When I was at the prime moments of my happiness, I got the first glimpse of the Everest Base Camp. The first glimpse of my dream coming to reality. My body was not tired anymore. There was no pain whatsoever. I almost raced to the base camp. When an hour passed at this place, I don't know. But this was undoubtedly one of the most beautiful moments of my life!

The descent from base camp back to Lukla is no easy game either. Over the next three days, we were like a bunch of spiritless bodies, dragging ourselves back to an altitude which was easier to survive on. After around 8 days of continuous trekking, we were physically exhausted. The altitude had done sufficient damage to us as well. And the aim for reaching somewhere was also over...now that we had already achieved what we had all come out for. The same scenic beauty seemed less pleasing and less interesting. The rate of taking photographs decreased and the only aim became reaching a warmer place which could offer was a little more oxygen to breathe in!

The trek to the Everest base camp is a killer journey. It totally breaks you (both physically and emotionally), tears you apart and molds you back into a better version of yourself. I had laughed some of my loudest laughter in these mountains, have cried a few silent tears, had my greatest birthday celebration ever...at an altitude of 4,200 meters, faced some of my big fears and today, looking back at all of these emotions, I feel achieved...I feel victorious and I am sure I am a better version of what I had been 15 days back!

[Some moments that camera could capture from this trip can be found on my Instagram]


We all deserve our version of a fairy tale love story...

Posted by Priyanka Nag on 10:24 AM in , , ,
When I reached the base camp, I was tired after an entire day's long journey. It was a long trip from Pune to Nainital. But this was just the beginning. We were about to start the 8-day long trekking trip from the next morning. I just had the evening to unwind and get myself recharged. I took a quick shower and ran to the kitchen to get some coffee. That's when I first saw him. The poised and composed man...sitting on a rock a few feets away from the kitchen, sipping coffee. He wasn't exceptionally handsome or attractive. But there was definitely something charismatic about him. I poured myself a cup of coffee and walked up to him. This time I got a better glance at this man. He was tall...probably 6ft. From the look of it, I would guess he was in his early thirties. He had a weird calmness on his face...as if he had no worries of the world at all. His eyes sparkled with life. "Hi! I am Priyanka", I said, "Do you mind if I join you?" He smiled, told me his name and moved to one side of the rock to make some space for me. I sat down and the conversation started.

Over the course of the next 8 days, this stranger became my friend. From stories of our life to leaders of this country, from weird movies to strange mythologies...we had spoken about almost anything and everything in these 8 days. I don't know if it was the magic in the wild air of Nainital or something about this man I had recently befriended, I could totally hear violins in the air and feel those flower petals over me! This was the closest to love I had ever felt. Gosh! Can we really fall in love with someone in just 8 days? Naah! It totally was the weather, the freedom of being there and the exhaustion of an 8-day long trek.

At the end of 8 days, we were back at our base camp. I had to travel back to Delhi the next morning and fly back to Pune. Well, it was time to end this vacation romance. This was an amazing trip. My first ever solo trip! I never felt stronger...or achieved before. But, amidst all these happy feelings, there was a slight pinch of sorrow. The pain of needing to go away from this no-longer-stranger guy whom I had definitely started crushing on! 

I was packing my bags..lost in thoughts...when I head a light knock at my door. "Wanna go for a walk?" he asked, standing at my door. "Sure", I answered...with a smile. This would probably be the last time we would walk these roads together. We had walked a few miles already and I was starting to get tired. That's when we decided to stop at a table-top for a break. The sun was about to set. From the table-top, all our eyes could see was a lush green apple orchard and the last glimpse of the sun at the horizon. Slight wind in my open and messy hair...and my prince charming by my side. 

I was already living a fairy tale when he suddenly came towards me and said, "before we part ways, can I get a hug?" I blushed red! Probably my eyes said it all....and he came closer to me. I melted in his arms. This was the first time I understood what the phrase 'swept off my feet' actually meant. I could hardly breathe. 

At that moment, I realized that we all do deserve our version of a fairy-tale love story and this was mine! Those 20 seconds were probably one of the best moments of my life. 

Next morning, he was gone before I woke up. I left the camp with a small drop of tear and a bag full of beautiful memories! 


Broken heart and broken people

Posted by Priyanka Nag on 11:39 AM in , ,
I was watching a stand-up comedy act on my laptop last night. Somewhere between his light-hearted jokes, the comedian Zakir Khan said something that struck me real hard - “We are a generation of broken heart and broken people.”  I couldn’t continue the episode. I paused the show and started thinking. This one simple statement... it's so strong and so true indeed!

When I was a teenager (not too long back of course), I used to read a lot of love stories. I used to be a strong believer in love! I always thought and believed that love was a feeling... it's illogical... it's impractical... it's magical! I used to believe that this is the kind of love I deserved too….that this is the kind of love I will find someday in life! 

Slowly, as I grew up...the bubbles I used to live in started bursting one by one. I had a couple of bad relationships. I got my heart broken a few times. I got advised to “GROW UP”! It took some time to understand what that even meant. 

I never realized when love had turned from being a feeling to a well-thought decision...from being illogical to all about being practical...from being magical to being mature! This broken generation that we are, we no more feel love as the way our books had once talked about it. 

As I grew up and the world around me ordered me to be more mature; I realized that I am no more allowed to be dreamy…I am no more allowed to be silly in love...I am no more allowed to feel those butterflies in my stomach. Well, you know what, I am actually not even allowed to love the way I once wanted to love! I am chained by the world...by the society...and even by my lover.

When I sat lost in these thoughts last evening, I saw my teenage self...standing somewhere far off. Staring at me, with deep watery eyes. “You said you would never stop believing in love. Then why did you give in to the demands of the world?” she asked. I had no answer for her. Maybe, someday, I will be able to break all rules and let that teenage me take control again. Maybe! 


What not to miss at this year's MozFest!

Posted by Priyanka Nag on 6:49 AM in , , , ,
If you are planning to be there at MozFest, one thing you can definitely not miss….is the Web Literacy space. 

I will give you 5 reasons why:

  • You can never know enough about the growing web. Whether you are just getting started on the world wide web or you are a web ninja...we promise at least one new learning for you at the Web Literacy space this year!

  • The space decor will take you through a journey of the development of technology. Let's travel together right from the era of dot matrix printers to the today’s age of pocket printers!

  • You will find your soul mates here! No, we are not gonna be running a matchmaking campaign...that's not what I am talking about. What I am referring to is our hangout space where like-minded people will get a chance of interacting, sharing ideas and building new things together.

  • If at any point of time you need a break from the knowledge heavy sessions and interactions at MozFest, you are welcome to come and join us at the Web Literacy space for some quiet time of playing fun games...ALONE! Yes, we promise we will let you have a little “me time” even in the middle of this busy, noisy festival.

  • The last...but the most important reason. It's not we who are going to run the Web Literacy space...it's gonna be you! Bring in your ideas, bring in your experiences. We will just be there to help you build this space.

Now that you are convinced, hurry up and send your proposals for MozFest 2018 soon! Submit a session for the Web Literacy space at - https://mozillafestival.org/proposals.

Hope to see you at MozFest!

P.S. Be the first to know about MozFest 2018 news and announcements. Sign up for updates.


Moving on...

Posted by Priyanka Nag on 4:47 AM
Life doesn't necessarily need to go as per our plans. And when those big plans crash bad, things can get pretty tough to deal with.

What I am writing today is nothing unique or being told for the first time. Its just my version of one of the world's most common problems of today's world...a heart-break!

A recent breakup had left me pretty shattered! When we get overly attached to someone, it gets difficult to imagine a life without their presence in it...well, that's pretty normal and that's pretty human! But whats important and what differs from people to people is how they deal with such situations.

For me, after I was stuck in a helpless situation, and after crossing all stages of breakup and finally reaching the "acceptance" stage, I knew I had to do something about it soon to not get into a severe state of depression. So, I tried a few things:

  • Switch to work.
    I always get workaholic when I need to deal with any of life's crisis situations! For me, this works better than alcohol. Work so hard that there is almost no time to think of anything else. Work till you are so tired and you crash the moment you hit your bed. 
  • Work on yourself.
    When we are in love, we often tend to become the person our lovers want us to be...forgetting what we really are or what we would like to be! Its often after a bad breakup that we get some time to give this a thought. I got to this state too. I started wondering around the different things I wanted to try on myself and what changes I wanted to see in me. I tried a lot of things which I was otherwise scared to experiment with. I got myself inked...I got my hair colored...I joined the gym and so on. Every one of these gave me an immense sense of achievement! I loved the changes I saw in the mirror.
  • Take a trip.
    I wanted to go on a solo trip for a while, but never did plan it. A heartbreak can be a real good motivator to make you do things you have been procrastinating for a while. I took a solo trip to Ladakh. Biking on the Himalayan off-routes for 10 days made me discover a whole new me. The totally carefree me that I found during this trip was definitely a happier and better version of the otherwise me who would give too much importance to people or society. 

Well, no breakups can ever be the right thing to happen in anyone's life...but since its a part of life, dealing with it the right way is definitely important.

Have I moved on?

Today, I can really say YES. Not that the thoughts and memories of the past doesn't hurt anymore...ofcourse they do...but I don't cry over them anymore.

And ya...not to forget, I don't intend to hold myself back from falling in love again or stop myself from experiencing those beautiful butterflies in stomach feelings! One thing I have learnt during this journey...there is no hard line of right and wrong. If something makes me happy, its got to be right...its okay if the world disagrees!


5 years and still counting...the longest stable relationship of mine!!!

Posted by Priyanka Nag on 7:55 AM
One evening, back in 2012, I unwillingly walked into this coffee show. Little did I know that I would meet my one true love there.

I had just attended my first Mozilla event at college. I was pretty impressed by the Web Maker tool. During a casual conversation with one of the organizers, who also was my college senior, he invited me over to a MozCafe meeting happening that weekend. Well, I am not much of a nerd...well, atleast was not back then. The idea of spending a Sunday evening at a coffee shop, among a bunch of geeks didn't really excite me. Due to the lack of a better Sunday plan, I ended up going down there anyway.

At a regular Coffee Day, you can find different types of people....those who are out on coffee dates, those who are catching up with friends and colleagues, those who are out for official meetings etc. But, that evening I found another group of weirdos....the ones who were super charged up and super enthusiastic about something I wasn't yet able to understand! They were throwing all these jargon and terms around the table which were making absolutely no sense to me - NIMO, L10N, SUMO....I don't know what else! OMG! Are these people complete nuts? What are they so excited about? Why are they doing all these work for a company which doesn't even pay them? I didn't understand much of that evening's conversation for sure but I guess I had caught a little of that enthusiasm virus. What was the deal about this non-profit, open source organization called Mozilla? I started doing some research. My curiosity brought me to the next meeting...this time a virtual one. These members of this weird but not-so-secret cult were planning for some big event called the Mozilla Carnival. Somehow, it so happened, that I was the only female attendee at that meeting. They needed a female speaker to cover something called "WoMoz" at this event. I was hesitant but I agreed. I had sufficient time to do my research and I kind of liked public speaking.

The damage was done! I had already got involved! I started doing my research on WoMoz, joining their IRC channel, following their wiki, joining a lot other Mozilla channels and before I knew...I was one of them! By the time I completed by first Mozilla event as a speaker, I was already addicted to it. This drug had totally captivated me.

Five years since then and I didn't even notice it until I sat back to write this post. When someone asks me, its tough to answer why I stuck around for so long or what do I love most about the Mozilla community. But today, I know the energy that I had felt sitting across the table in that Coffee Day...its called passion! Its not free Tshirts, its not free stickers...the driving force here is very different. Its the ideology of open web, its the basic privacy rights that we are fighting for, its the principle of web literacy for all and most importantly its the PEOPLE that form this community...I am in love with all of these! Every time I feel I have contributed enough and its time to stop, I meet someone new in the community...someone with fresh ideas and energy and I get energized again towards that one next task!


The Travel Experience That Wasn't Fun at All

Posted by Priyanka Nag on 7:50 PM
I had boarded the bus from Swargate (Pune) bus stop on 24th February, at 10pm. While boarding the bus, I had put my luggage in the lower dickey of the bus. 

While deboarding at Majestic bus station (Bangalore) next morning, I realized that my luggage was missing. There were three different passengers whose luggage went missing at the same time. The bus crew apparently had no clue about the missing item.

When we went to the KSRTC office to complaint against this careless behavior, KSRTC decided to not take any responsibility and put the entire blame only on the crew of the bus (3 drivers). Well, this was probably the most disappointing part of the incident. When booking a bus, I never book it because xyz driver would be driving the bus...I book it because of the brand name of KSRTC! And that very name denying to take responsibility and blaming it all on the crew was not at all acceptable.

We tried lodging an official police complaint, but only to realize that there is going to be no good coming out of it. Police gave us clear indication that they won't put much effort searching for 3 missing bags. The only outcome of it would be that the drivers would lose their jobs. The police suggested us to take some compensation from the drivers and not file an official FIR. Well, we all know how our legal system works...so no surprise.

I don't expect to get my bag back...just like I don't believe in miracles or magics but the one lesson definitely learnt is never to travel via KSRTC again. I am saying similar incidences couldn't happen with another travel agent, but the fact that KSRTC cares least about their crew as well as their passengers is enough for me to not trust that brand any more!

Details of missing items:

* 1 white color duffle bag (adidas brand), with 5 shirts, 3 pair of denims, a few Tshirts, 2 pair of shoes and 3 PS3 gaming controllers.

Passenger and bus details:

* Seat # : 36
* Luggage tag # : 067481
* Bus # : KA 57 F-890

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