"Please reach office on time in respect to punctual ones" I hope Vishnu hadn’t meant this catch phrase when he added it to the hiking invitation mail, coz he was given all the time to not just go thru the recent articles in Everest Uncensored but also skim through the comments, which come in plenty these days. The team finally got going at 7, heading south towards the holy shrine of Dakshinkali. The ride through Chobar was itself exotic; the sight of the clouds below us covering mankind was just so appealing. By 8, the team had their share of breakfast and ready for the march. Things started with a visit to the holy shrine of Dakshinkali, after all, we had our list of new year resolutions, and mother Kali was the best bet to have them addressed. With hopes held high, we took a lane through the Masan Ghat (Cemetery). Ah, lane sounds too good a word; it was more of a boundary between a narrow canal on the left and a deep gorge on the right. Putting away thorny branches impeding the way and jumping over the breakaways, the team actually had to construct step-overs in more than one occasion. As this part of the journey was coming to an end and the team was relishing its success, I couldn’t stop a cold sigh running through me upon realization that this was the normal route of commutation between the villages of Lele and Dakshinkali. Just as the team had done through its narrow widths, there were steep heights to follow, and even though the regular hikers were talking of the whole journey as a walk through, I must confess things were not always the same for rookies like me. This uphill walk leads us to Ghyama Devi Lower Secondary School, the destination we had been seeking to add some philanthropic value to the hike. The fact that the school was on winter Vacation was not reason enough to interfere with our noble venture of distributing notebooks and stationeries to the students. The team had informed the village children about the program on their walk to the school, and about 25 excited students were lined up for the reception. We had some lighthearted moments with the kids there, a round of Guchha being the peak attraction. The pleasure on the kids face with copies and pencils in their hands was an achievement no doubt, but our deed just seemed to be a gesture for the good rather than an action towards it. The fact that there were not a single woman in the area with a high school degree and very few men with that level of literacy indicated that the location physically so close to the location was still a long way back. Leaving the school and the kids behind, we headed uphill towards the Bhanjyang. Never had gravity seemed so pertinent a force of attraction, and never had a couple of kilometers seemed so far off. Surendra and Vishnu made the commute easier with their share of experience on vegetation, wildlife and the locality. Appreciating the landscape, locality and feeling the nature a bit more closely, we finally reached the Bhanjyang to be pleasantly welcomed by sticks of sugarcane. The downhill journey was a lot more convenient, walking down the dusty road and conversing with the villagers now and then. After a fulfilling lunch, the return trip could not have been more fun. We had lessons on the values of hiking, on gutsyness, on love and “beyond love” and most importantly on "management and girlfriend(s)" from Lava (and a good follow up by Shekhar). As we stepped out of the vehicles, almost limping, we a ecstatic feeling that this was a we achieved something different. The day was over, but were there were memories to cherish.. SmritiS Finally on Dec 31, 2006 I decided to join hiking with D2 Team. I was filled with mixture of feelings of confusion, excitement and all. I was supposed to be picked by van on the route to DakshinKali. I waited anxiously for half an hour finally when van showed up. The way up to DakshinKali always fascinates me. Climbing it up in the foggy morning was lovely. Being lost in thick fog and finally emerging above it, to be touched by sunbeams was really blessing. Traveling in Buses always makes me sick. This one didn’t prove to be lucky either. After quick breakfast, hike started. We headed towards DakshinKali. After giving quick visit to the Goddess, we headed towards the forest and trailed through a canal which was nearly a foot wide with water channels on left and steep gorge on right. I regretted the shoes I wore because it was too slippery making the walk even more cautious. Being able to cross a big pipe, serving as a bridge, made me feel too triumphant. It was exciting to jump through terrace of hills and being careful not to step on plants. I was glad that Anupa was also there, who was my true friend in hiking, as we both were literally crawling throughout the whole way rather than hiking. As we were really lagging behind the herd, we tried a shortcut way, which apparently proved to be even longer as we were not good at jumping and bouncing. At last, we followed the road track. Our route led to a steep hill. I had no courage to conquer it. Surendra turned out to be my life saver who guided me throughout the way. It was adventurous though. The continuous up hill march was tiring where some refreshment breaks proved to be rewarding. It was a day worth lived by. The views of mountain and feeling the closeness to nature refreshed my brain and made me fresh and lively. I am glad I joined hiking and will continue to do that. AnupaM Hiking and me? That too on a wintry Sunday… My idea of winter Sunday is retiring to my bedroom with hot tea, cozy comfort of blankets, magazines and reruns of weekend TV serials. Who on earth devised this form of Self Torture of weekend hiking was my initial stimulus. However, the enthusiasm of the office colleagues forced me to think twice and the promise of chirping birds and to bid the old year of 2006 goodbye by breathing mouthful of fresh air was compelling enough for me to join the group for this mad experimentation. Further more, I was promised that this is going to be the shortest trek of the series of just about 4 hours and I was guaranteed that we would be safely back in the valley to ring in the new year. And then it was Sunday, 31 December 2006, I managed to rumble out of the bed at 05:30 hours. At that hour even our dog was on a deep slumber and suddenly I was exposed to the extreme chill of the morning and bravely, I over came the first hurdle of reaching D2 office and waited for others to join the group. As the D2 van started towards Dakshinkali Temple I was happy I took this plunge and even confident that I can complete the trek without having to call the ambulance mid way. We stopped at a small eatery in Dakshinkali Temple and rejuvenated ourselves with good helpings of Malpuwa and a cup of hot tea. Here I was on Sunday Morning at about 8.30 hours about to brave the elements and undertake one of the most daring adventures of my life. Suddenly my confidence dipped when I looked at the terrain. For the first fifteen minutes, with my sheer raw energy I managed to keep pace with my more seasoned colleagues, however, thereafter it was another story. Suddenly, the dirty blue winter sky had to two tone colors and I started perspiring on the forehead, then I stated taking a breather of about five minutes in every next fifteen minutes. To be precise, I should say I was crawling rather than hiking!!! After passing the steep hike, the most difficult one, we landed up in GhympaDevi School to prolong our noble cause of distributing stationeries amongst the schoolchildren. The smile on their faces while receiving those stationeries really made our small gesture of contributing society meaningful and worthy. Though there was an easy way to get back to rural walkways, some regular hikers made us head the uphill telling that had Rudra been here, he would have never chosen the easiest route, instead would have made us hike even much steeper hills. The steep hike suddenly turned into easy rural walkways with dried “Parals” and Tamang children making playing with candid gestures as we made out way through the villages of Shimpani We were just about a hop away from Kathmandu and I realized how uncomplicated life really is and so is a hiking. I owe thanks to all the hiking team for their support, for making me feel at ease throughout, without them this adventure would not have been as exhilarating as it was. I will definitely join the team repeatedly as and when the situation favors.