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Bhrigu Lake Trek- A trek to the Himalayan lake at 14,000 feet.


It was the second week of August in 2014. Independence Day was approaching and I was all excited because of the accompanying weekend. 4 days of vacation is a big thing for an MBA college. This looked like a clear sign of getting away from Delhi and experiencing freedom from the hectic MBA life. I asked my roommate about his plans, but he denied any interest since he had recently come from a trek near Kasol. I asked other guys on my floor and everyone seemed to have their own problems- ranging from monetary constraints to constipation. I was all determined for  a trek as visiting a hill station with an ‘all guys’ gang didn’t make any sense to me. Everybody had money for the latter, although both these plans would cost the same. I thought if I failed to convince a single guy for the trek then my purpose of studying marketing would stand defeated. I finally managed to convince the guy next door who was equally bored. Now the problem was to choose the right trek! I rang my friend Pushker who had recently opened a trekking company near Manali. He told me that they were going for an expedition to Bhrigu Lake. I Googled the place and found it to be a high altitude lake located over 14,000 ft.

So finally we are 2 guys in a Volvo owned by ‘Fauji travels’ travelling from Delhi towards Manali. The journey was never ending with several road blockages in the rainy season. For a moment all those worries from our parents’ side seemed reasonable, but then we decided not to think much of it. We finally covered the supposedly 14 hours journey in 24 hours to reach Patli Kul, where Pushker had arranged a cab for us to reach Rumsu.

Day01:

The car stops at the entrance of Rumsu village, where I am greeted by the ‘Bicchu ghass’ on my left hand, a dangerous plant that feels like the scorpion’s sting on your skin. We walk in the dark for around 500m and reach the cottage house/resort owned by the company. The cottage is fairly new and the fresh smell of wood was really pleasant. The actual owner of this cottage goes by the name Subhash ji and he made every effort to inflate our belly from his food. Considering we had to start our trek the next morning, we decided to upset Subhash ji instead of our stomachs.

Day 02:

We woke up quite early in the next morning. The cottage looked more beautiful than the night before. I saw beautiful apple orchards in front of my eyes, plucked an apple and bit it with that cracking sound, quite similar to what you might have heard in the Vico Vajradanti advertisement that featured a couple near waterfall.

Meanwhile Pushker explained me the concept behind his company Kailash Rath. The aim of this company is to promote the experience of trekking among Indians. The treks are conducted at really cheap prices and the profit is used to develop the Rumsu village. I liked their approach and I was convinced that they are different from the plethora of money making trekking companies that exist today. Even the walking sticks used during the trek are manufactured by the locals and can be purchased for 300 INR  less compared to the market price of 800 INR. The guides available with them are certified and have an experience of over 15 years with the YHAI.

I saw a beautiful view inside as well as outside the cottage. I roam around the area and then decide to take out the borrowed camera from my borrowed bag and click some pictures.

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View from the cottage
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The cozy room

At this point, the comfort of cottage had provided the much needed refreshment from that tiring journey. We have a light breakfast and then board the hired cab to reach Manali. Let me tell you guys something about the Bhrigu Lake.

Bhrigu Lake is a high altitude Himalayan lake located at an elevation of around 4,300 metres (14,100 ft) in Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh. It is located to the east of Rohtang Pass and is non-motorable. It can be reached by trekking either from the Vashishth temple, which is famous for its hot water springs, which is close to the town of Manali or from Gulaba village. Actually there is no settlement in Gulaba and is an area of the Pir Panjal mountain range. It is named after Maharishi Bhrigu.

Legend has it that the sage used to meditate near the lake and hence it has been rendered sacred; the locals believe that due to this the lake never freezes completely. You are not allowed to camp at the Bhrigu lake and one must descend few meters to find the suitable ground.

Starting point: The trek for Bhrigu Lake can be approached either from the Gulaba Village or Vashishtha. The path from Vashishtha is steeper, less scenic and has lesser spots for camping. Gulaba is accessible from the highway between Manali and Rohtang Pass.

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All set for the jorney at Gulaba village

Trek duration:  4-5  hours

We stretch a bit and then start our trek. I have trekked over 14,000 ft altitude before and along the steep trails, but I had never expected the starting portion of the trek itself to be so steep. We kept walking and after an hour we felt completely drained out. We ask the Guide to take a break and open the carton full of snacks and protein bars for us. Right at this moment, we saw some dark clouds passing below us. The guide said we need not worry as they are flowing along a different direction. We pack the carton again and ignore the clouds. We were all charged with the energy and trekked really well for next 30 minutes. There was a lot of greenery around us and the bright flowers were all around.

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The horses ignored us, but we could not ignore them.
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Getting there before others and taking a rest by the time they arrive.

We paused a bit for clicking beautiful pictures and then saw the clouds taking a 90 degree turn to approach us.

Rains are the last thing one would like to encounter while trekking on a mountain. It derails the speed, demotivates first timers as well as the experienced ones, lowers the temperature by 2-3 degrees in less than an hour and if it makes your bag wet, that would spoil the entire trek for you. There were 4 of us on this trekking expedition, accompanied by 1 guide and 2 porters cum cooks. None of us knew how the exact route looked like since it was a part of an expedition and not an organized trek. When the clouds approached we increased our speed, and then the rains happened. We were running now trying hard to locate a trail beneath those streams of water. We were wearing rain jackets, the bag was waterproof and we had even kept our clothes inside plastic bags before putting them in the bag. Pushker and I didn’t realize that we were much ahead than rest of the people. Within few more minutes we saw our camping spot. The porters arrived immediately and we set our tent. We have our dinner and everyone falls asleep by 10.

Day 03:

Today was going to be a tough day. The first part of the trek involved climbing through a very steep section, visible in this pic.

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The smile on our faces was soon to be replaced by the expression of despair.

We have our breakfast followed by the morning tea. The porters were busy in packing the entire stuff and washing dishes. I decided to play Guitar for them.

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The only way I could have entertained these innocent Pahadis.

We start afresh for our journey. The steep climb was exhausting, but what tired us more was the sight of another similar steep section. We climb that too, meet some other Guide on the way and we were directed to a very steep mountain that required us to step on several rocks for climbing it. Assuming it to be the last portion of the trek, we were all determined to cover it. We encountered a few glaciers before climbing it. Once we reach the top, we have this this painful realization that we have come the wrong way. The view was nevertheless breathtakingly beautiful.

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The snow capped mountains.

We tried descending this mountain, failed on this path and then descended it along the same way we had climbed it. We kept moving and had realized by now that the lake was located behind a huge snow Glacier. We needed to climb a different mountain for this. The effects of high altitude had started showing on one of the guys and he suffered mild headache. We had to get behind this huge glacier.

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Huge obstacle ahead.

Every one showed their grit and we climbed this portion. We were welcomed with our first view of the lake and now it required only few minutes for us to reach there.

We trek further and finally reach the lake. I didn’t want to miss the holy dip inside this sacred lake, although I was terrified of the cold water.

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After the dreaded dip.

We spent few minutes at the lake and then decided to descend towards the route that would take us to Vashistha the next day. Camping is not allowed near the lake, so we descended around 400 metres to reach the spot that looked perfect for camping.

Day 04:

The morning welcomed us with a bright sunlight. We were happy with the way our trek had turned out. Our camp site looked beautiful and couldn’t help myself clicking a pic.

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Our camp at nearly 14,000 feet.

We later started descending towards Vashistha. The trail was quite muddy and I slept almost 10 times during the descent, more so because I was running down since I had to catch a bus the same evening. I could see several flowers on both sides of the trail. Our guide said that we were lucky to be trekking in August and these would not be visible during the latter half of October. We made a quick descent towards Vashishtha and reached down within 3-4 hours.  The place is famous for its Vashishtha temple and its natural hot water spring, which is claimed to have healing properties.

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Run bitch, run! You will miss the bus.

In retrospect, we did realize there was a mistake from the guide who misguided us. That made the entire 30 Km trek to be around 60 Km for us, but we got to see a few unexplored sites along the misguided path and that made all the difference to our experience. It’s always better to look at as many beautiful things as you can, get mesmerized more, get to walk more and learn to appreciate nature’s magnificence.

Once my feet touched the grounds of human settlement, the painful realization of living in Delhi struck me. If only I could change certain things, but I will always continue to find some time for myself and keep running to the Himalayas.

 

PS: For any other info related to this trek you can reach to me on 8826946805 through Whatsapp.

Why Arvind Kejriwal deserved to exit and India’s continuing corruption problems


The foundation:

Arvind Kejriwal had already left his job with the IRS in 2006. AK got popularity during his struggle with the Anna Hazare led movement for Jan-Lokpal Bill. Media had its eyes on this man who led a life of simplicity. He formed AAP on the moral grounds of simplicity, anti-corruption and a voice for the aam janta.

Populist measures?

The party had several items on its manifesto to attract the masses. It always sounded confident about coming into power. It loathed corruption and declared its averseness to join hands with the existing corrupt Government. AAP came into power on 28th Dec, 2013. A new Government was formed, but AAP had joined its hands with Congress to enter into power.  Joining hands with the very same party which it was opposed to, AAP raised doubt among several of its followers, but most of them decided to remain silent and observe AAP’s efforts to deliver what it had promised.  AAP opened its magic box in the next few days.  It announced that its ministers won’t be staying in large bungalows and there would be no red beacons on cars.

Then came the turn for subsidies. It first announced distribution of ‘’free water’’ for a consumption not exceeding 20,000 L per month. This was severely criticized by policy experts, but it sounded like a telescopic measure. It was a case of cross subsidy . There was a simple assumption to this, the poor would use water judiciously to not exceed the free limit ,  the rich can afford to pay for its consumption exceeding the limit. Those rich families that did not consume more than the free limit would not have to pay anything, though they could have easily afforded it. This can be best explained in terms of a reward for these families for using the water judiciously.  After 66 years of independence, at least citizens of the capital deserve free access to water.

The very next day AK unveiled his New year gift for us, announcement of 50% power subsidy. The Electricity Act, 2003 expressly requires all stakeholders to eschew needless politicisation of power rates and related statism. This was directly disregarding the independent tariff setting.

Double standards:

AAP has exhibited double standards on several occasions. It said that it would not be wasting money on private cars and 2 days later every minister gets an Innova, of course, without a red beacon. It seemed as if AAP was more concerned of AK’s public image and that public would ignore the perks enjoyed by its ministers. AAP had said it did not require big bungalows for its ministers, but small VIP bungalows sounded alright for them.  AAP was opposed to the Congress Government, but did not mind forming a Government with the help of Congress.

If AK had to resign because the Jan-Lokpal Bill was rejected, why was his conscience sleeping while forming a Government with Congress. He should not have come into power at the first place in that case.

 

The weak foundation:

AAP’s foundation sounded alright when it was struggling to come in power. Simplicity per se, is intrinsic in nature. AAP was formed on the moral grounds of simplicity, anti-corruption and a voice for the aam janta. One would put a tick mark on each of these, though a shorter one on the simplicity part because of the double standards mentioned previously. Talking about simplicity, simplicity per se is an intrinsic part of someone’s personality. AK however got full support of media in advertising his simplicity which eventually transformed into an election plank. The solidness of foundation is best ascertained during the rains. After coming into power, the same moral grounds sounded shallow. The very same moral grounds that were opposed to corruption, joined hands with Congress for forming a Government.

Cannibalization?

Forgive me for my political mindset, but I could not give away on the possibility of a cannibalization strategy adopted by Congress. If you think from the perspective of Congress, it could have silently formed a party that was exactly opposite to what the citizens had been witnessing from Congress. So you form a party that vehemently opposes corruption. It will definitely find its followers who can be swayed away by BJP in the next series of elections. And this is what exactly happened, AAP kept opposing the Congress Government but finally took its support, while BJP fell just short of gaining a majority and forming the Government. AAP destroyed BJP’s chances of coming into power and eventually joined hands with the very Government that it had been opposed to since its inception.

 

The serious problem:

 AK finally resigned from his CM post on 14th Feb. If you look carefully, AAP did a few special things. It engaged itself in a Guerilla warfare. AK left on a short notice, AAP is still there. Congress’ puppet or not, the problems with AAP or AK were too many in terms of strategies. Attack is the first weapon of the fool, which AK gracefully embraced while dealing with business houses and other parties.

Talking about the serious problem, the problem is not with the Congress, BJP or AAP. The problem lies within us and it is serious because we are too ignorant to notice it.  Indians, especially the aam janta, have traditionally been emotional in nature. This time, It confused morals with high administrative abilities. The party had several populist items in its manifesto, but people were so stuck to the idea of ‘anti-corruption’ that they never considered it seriously. AAP’s unique value proposition offered a voice of the aam janta opposed to the corruption which found several serious takers.

We support a party that claims itself to be against corruption, but we forget how corrupt our society is. Bribing for passports, licenses, etc. are common and we don’t even consider a part of corruption. The feeling of indulging in corruption has nothing to do with someone’s economic status.

Consider a typical college where only students whose parents’ annual income is less than 5 Lakhs INR are eligible for a scholarship. I have seen students vehemently supporting AAP on the grounds of anti-corruption. These same students, who make their everyday college visit in a different personal vehicle, avail scholarship benefits by deflating the net profit figures from their parent’s business, which can be any amount. Corruption is any dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power. Compare this to a student whose parents are employed in public sector and earn just over 5 Lakhs annually.

You will find many instances where you have seen other people or yourself indulging in acts of corruption. We desire quality of life offered in European countries, but while trying to imitate the West, we forget to copy the good things prevalent in their society. We forget how disciplined they are in abiding rules, we forget to copy their punctuality, we forget to respect women, and so on. We take pride in claiming that rules are meant to be broken, ham toh aise he hain (we are like this) , arrey sab chalta hai, and corruption continues to thrive.

The question then remains, ‘’Does a corrupt society deserve to have a corruption free Government?’’

That Grilling Interview- Part 2


Me: Sir philosophy pursues questions rather than answers. The main source of philosophic questioning is the sense of wonder, a childlike  wonder just about everything. It starts with bewilderment, astonishment, amazement about the world, life, and ourselves. Philosophy teaches a number of skills that are valuable in a variety of professions. The hallmark of philosophy education is critical thinking and inductive reasoning. Additionally, philosophy demonstrates that problems often have multiple solutions, and teaches its students to approach problems from a number of different perspectives (“lateral thinking”). The key point to remember is that philosophy is not a collection of facts to be memorized – it is a methodological approach to thinking and problem solving, which is highly valued in a number of professions.

When I read philosophy, I find myself involved in a process of critical thinking which may develop into ‘out of the box’ thinking for me in a professional world. Most of the scientists from few past centuries have been lovers of philosophy.

 

P3: Good, convincing. You also mentioned that you write on philosophy?

Me: Yes Sir, though I have written very few such articles. One of them is also available on the Yahoo US website.

P2: Let me give you a case. Suppose you are the HR manager and an employee approaches you seeking a one week leave saying  that his mother is seriously ill. What would you do?

Me: I would first check with his colleagues if his mother is really ill. I would also check his social networking profile to see if he was planning for a vacation and just trying to fool me. If I am convinced, I would grant him the leave depending on his requirement in the office.

P2: What will you do if he is found guilty? Let’s say he has updated a Facebook status that he is about to go on a one-week trip to Goa. Won’t you lash out and make a symbol of him in front of other employees?

Me: It won’t be a good idea to lash out at him in front of others. Every employee has certain ego and a sensible manager won’t not try to hurt that. I will ask him what made him to tell me a lie. He is always free to ask for a leave in case he is in a holiday mood. It might be even possible for the whole company staff to take a break on some weekend and go on a trip together. He may very well be granted holidays if he is speaking the truth. There is no point in telling lies in a professional world, for when truth confronts you ultimately you are going to suffer.

P2: Nice approach, but how does it prevent other employees from not doing it in future?

Me: ( blank for 10 seconds, then started speaking). That is something that needs to be taken care of during the induction period itself.

P2: (nods) Hmmm…

P3: Tell me about your engineering subjects.

Me: Told him about 5-6 subjects. Then explained him about biomedical instrumentation.

P1: One last question, Bhubaneshwar is very close to your hometown, then why haven’t you applied for that campus? Why did you choose the Delhi campus?

Me: ( Seriously puzzled, couldn’t tell them on face that Bhubaneshwar campus sucks at infrastructure and its placements too… Delhi was a far better choice. Finally something clicked my mind and this is what I said). I don’t think so. In today’s world distance is a relative concept. People see distance as the time that it is going to take them to reach there. My uncle works with the UN in Sudan and takes a flight for his hometown, which lets him meet his parents within 4 hours, though Sudan is thousands of Kilometers away. My grandparents live just 500 Km away from my home, but it takes my dad an 8 hour train journey to meet his parents.

P1: Didn’t speak anything. ( Now it was his turn to go silent).

P2 and P3 are smiling.

P2: We are done. Thanks for your time.

Me: Thank you.

 

 

RESULT: I made it, but I am joining a different college since I am more interested in studying marketing.

 

 

That grilling interview-Part 1


I have attended nearly 10 interviews for admission into B-schools, in the last 2 months. The selection process for each oh them first required shortlisting done on the basis of an MBA entrance, in which I scored above 90 percentile and that was decent enough to fetch me interview calls for at least 10 schools. The interview call consists of  a Group discussion(GD)+Written essay+Personal Interview(PI).

This process was never going to be easy as one needs to have a good knowledge of current affairs to clear the GD, above average writing skills for the essay and most importantly, confident enough to clear the PI. Moreover, all of the institutes that I had applied to appear among the top 20 institutes in at least one ranking, so a tough selection procedure is followed by these.

One of these interviews will hold special importance to me. I was grilled on a lot of subjects and I had never expected so many unexpected questions in a single interview. I was grilled on almost everything I said, but I tried to remain calm and confident. I thought I shall share this experience with you all, and moreover, I can look at this post in future to assure myself that I have faced something so tough in the past.
The selection process that I am talking about is of IMI- Delhi. 1200 people had been shortlisted for the course that I had applied. Final selection would not exceed 60 which happens to be the total no. of available seats. This as going to be tough, highly competitive, but hat really bugged me was the fact that this institute had selected only 45 candidates last year, saying that they did not find anything special among rest of the people and they could not compromise with their quality just for the sake of filling 60 seats in total.

The selection process started with a written essay of 250-300 words (time limit 15 minutes). This was followed by a personality test in which we had to answer some general questions that would help the evaluators in determining some of our personality traits.

Next was the interview round. Students were divided into certain batches and each batch was assigned a panel which would interview them. I was the last person in my panel. It was 11 in the morning when I saw my name at the bottom of the PI list and I had already spent 5 hours at the interview venue. I went for documents verification, took a nap and then had my lunch. My watch read 1 P.M.

Now I had nothing to do, so I started interacting with other candidates. I talked to them about the questions that were being asked in the PI and tried to compile them at one place, but all in vain for no conclusion could be drawn from them. There was no specific pattern and it seemed what one answered for the first question lead to a series of more questions. We patiently tried to wait for our chance. I met a senior from my college who had a work-experience of 3 years. His stories only gave me more reasons to do MBA as a fresher. I tried to approach a hot chick there but she was already done with her PI and was in a hurry to leave the venue. My turn finally came up at 3:30 PM. Here starts the description of my PI in detail:

Three interviewers- P1(an HR faculty), P2 (Finace HOD), P3 (an industry expert). P3 was bald and all of them looked to be in their mid-forties. I enter the room expecting the first question to be ‘tell us about yourself!’

P1(smilingly): So you had to wait a lot, the last person. Are you annoyed?

Me: Yes sir, but thankfully, one person before me didn’t turn up and that saved my 45 minutes. Annoyed? Not at all, I just made some good friends outside. Moreover, you people have been interviewing us right from the morning, you have been busy all the time, it does not give the people like me who are just ‘waiting’ to be annoyed.

P1(no change of expression): Hmmmmmm…

P3: Tell me where are you from? What is famous about your place.

Me: My native is Jharkhand. My state is famous for Dhoni.

P3 starts laughing. P1 and P2 join him.

P3: Hahaha… not minerals, not forests, not about steel plants, but you say Dhoni.

Me: Sir that would have been my answer had you asked what’s good about my state! If you repeat your question then I will still give the same answer, because that’s how people from other stated recognize my state, that’s how my friends reacted hen I told them that I am from Jharkhand.

P3: Fine, I have already answered the good things. Tell me few bad things about your state.

Me: Poor literacy, poor infrastructure, most importantly, the political instability. There have been 8 different chief ministers of my state in the last 12 years and currently there is a President rule with no chief minister.

P3 looks convinced but doesn’t say anything.

P1: You have applied to the HR course. Tell me what interests you about HR?

Me: I love challenges. I believe that an HR professional handles the toughest job, since he has to handle people. The definition of management itself says getting things done with the help of people. This makes people the most important asset of any organization!

P1: You are a fresher. Tell me what you know about HR?

Me: (I had researched a lot on this. Told them everything that I knew).

P1: I agree with what you have said, but tell me how can you learn to manage people without having any work experience?

Me: I don’t have any work experience, but I have a ‘Life experience’. In the last 3-4 years I have desperately tried to learn ne things, failed a lot and yet never gave up. Now I have learnt most of those things. If you talk of learning then that’s the reason why I have applied to your college. I am sure I can match up with others or even outperform them with my dedication. I have made a few commitments in my life. I wake up early every morning, sweat myself in the gym, get outside my comfort zone by doing those extra Push-ups. The same discipline with which I do that one extra Push-up, the same discipline with which I push myself for trying a complex note on the guitar, that same discipline applies to all other aspects of my life.

P1: Hmmmmmmm…

Me(thinking, wtf! I just said such strong lines and all he has to say is Hmmm…!)

P2: We will give you an extempore topic now. Think for 1 min, stand and speak without stopping for 3-4 minutes). The topic is ‘ Is HR as a profession underrated’?

Me: Spoke for 3-4 minutes.

P3: What are the things that interest you?

Me: Fitness activities and playing guitar interest me a lot. I am also interested in reading and writing Philosophy.

P3: What’s the use of Philosophy? It’s just another genre, just like fiction!

…………………… TO BE CONTINUED!