1 August 2018

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone

         Every human being holds some kind of fear deeply rooted inside their heart. This fear can be of anything which might be affecting your inner desires. This is a common human nature. We always feel uncomfortable when our mind tries to push ourselves to do something out of our comfort zone. And to come out of that comfort zone what you need to have is “COURAGE”. Our Kataldhar Rappelling activity opened up this opportunity for every individual to take that uncomfortable step , face the hidden fear and show the real courage. I could easily sense and read that fear from people’s face when they are hooked up to a rope and started descending from 450 ft waterfall cliff. There were multiple expressions on everyone’s face includes joy, anxiety, curiosity and fear. At some point, fear was rising straight from the heart and challenging their inner desires however every participants showed great courage to win this mind game and finished waterfall rappelling successfully. 
        This activity truly helped all of us in many ways. Learning to trust your leaders, push your limits to the maximum extend are very important things. As a leader we were guiding and building trust in every participant before their move. We learnt to prepare ourselves for unexpected situations. Introduction to process and every equipment helped every participant to became more comfortable to execute this activity. We ensured that the belay we provided was completely secured. We gave enough confidence to every individual that no matter where they move on rocky patch, they are safe with us. It was definitely not easy for first timer to push themselves for this act however we convinced everyone that you will never know your limits unless you push yourself to them. When exposed to height, most people experienced some amount of natural fear. Under our guidance, they could successfully face this challenge and that helped them to reduced anxiety. Descending this gigantic waterfall became one of the thrilling experience for everyone. Along with an adventure, listening to the rhythm of waterfall stimulated inner consciousness of everyone.
Stepping outside of your comfort zone is actually made simpler through this activity and everyone experienced a beginning of new adventurous life again.

© Sameer Divekar
Beyond Mountains

31 May 2018

The Mountains are calling…

          Everest Base Camp Trek is one of the famous and challenging trek in the world and every trekker pursue it as a dream trek in their lives. The main highpoints of this trek would be majestic Himalayan peaks standing alongside and amazing views on every turn. I became impulsive and worried from last 4-5 days since our team reached Lukla village after completing long way trek from base camp. The day before yesterday Beyond Mountains second batch of the season returned safely from Kathmandu and I breathed a sigh of relief. From last 3 days, there was no single takeoff from Lukla due to harsh weather and that made me anxious again as our team was dreadfully waiting to get on to the flight. 

          Tenzing-Hillary airport, also known as Lukla airport rated the most dangerous airport in the world. Lukla is the Gateway to Mount Everest. Runway is just 500 meters long that has been carved into a mountain ridge. Rain, high winds and cloud cover always spoils the visibility resulting in flight delay, cancellation or airport closure. Personally, I feel that getting to the Everest base camp is much easier than getting flight from Lukla. This has become inevitable challenge for mountaineers whoever going to Khumbu region to pursue their dreams. Air traffic control are very strict on flight arrival and departure. Surprisingly, this challenge is not only limited to boarding a flight from Lukla but also in terms of ‘cost’ that ordinary person must bare just to fly off in this critical situation. Our team was also stranded for 2-3 days in Lukla due to worst climatic conditions. Around hundreds of people were waiting desperately to get the things to normal and for smooth departure. Our Guides and Sherpas were continuously following up with these aviation companies and the situation that we observed was hysterical. When flights were cancelled, people started approaching private helicopters. Ideally helicopter companies from Nepal charge approximately $200 per individual for flying back to Kathmandu. While in such critical situation these evacuation rate has been increased to $600 by the companies. These companies were claiming that people are ready to pay them up to thousands of dollars however they can’t take risk in this erratic climatic condition but the reality was different. When the weather and situation was bad and people were waiting for their safe return to Kathmandu, Chopper companies charged double the rate to evacuate them from Lukla to Kathmandu. After some time, it was observed that when the climatic condition was in favor for the flights to fly, they never arrived. Instead, the private chopper companies claimed to fly the passengers from Lukla to Phaphlu which is 15-20 mins aerially away from Lukla by chopper & arranged flights from that place. This way, they presented themselves as the saviors for the stranded passengers while charging double the rate. Ironically, this was happening even when the weather was absolutely promising for a flight to land & take off from Lukla airport itself! We have also observed that for any onboarding, preference is always given to westerners due to high USD payouts. Airline companies are making extra money from the westerners hence Indians and Nepalis are always in low preference. 
Commercialization is the only word I can think of while thinking of this situation. These operators were demanding insane amount of money for flying out of Lukla. No doubt, all these smells fishy to normal person and there must be double dealing among these aviation companies. Local governing authority who controls all this aviation industry should consider this issue to stop these unfair practices. When greed is stronger than compassion, there will always be suffering. Unfortunately, a common mountaineer gets suffered from all these nasty things. 
          Nearly one third of Himalayan arc is occupied and exists in Nepal so ultimately all adventure lovers naturally attracted towards Nepal to fulfill their dreams. Nepal is one of the hotspot destination for mountaineers and real adventure seekers. There are more than 900,000 tourist arrivals is recorded in 2017 resulting in more than 90 billion economic contribution to GDP of Nepal. This has also created many job opportunities to local Nepalians. We all know that Sherpas plays a significant role in every mountaineering expeditions. Sherpas are real heros due to their personality and bravery in the mountains. Tourism is the largest industry in Nepal and its largest source of foreign exchange and revenue but that does not mean this revenue should be generated by exploitation of real adventure seekers by some greedy companies. If such things happen again this will affect not only the ‘tourism’ but the ‘trust’ in long run. And I think this is applicable to every tourism culture of the world. Even in India, we face lot of such incidents where an ordinary tourist always becomes a victim of immoral selfish system. There are some alternate routes to reach Lukla from Jiri Village however this route takes around three weeks to reach Lukla. We can also reach upto Phaplu village by road which is lower than Lukla but it also takes 7-8 hours journey from Kathmandu. This will affect the existing itinerary of Everest base camp trek which fits into 2 weeks holiday. Nepal government is already in process of building a road to Lukla. We are not sure about the project deadline but for now ‘Fly in & Fly Out’ is the only convenient option available for all the trekkers. A common man cannot change the situation however if the government authorities could pay attention and regulate flight companies, things might be in favor of justice.
         The Mountains are our ‘Guru’ and adorable god for all adventure lovers. We seek peace and make harmony when we are in mountains. We get great power and inner bliss after the hardest climb. Being in Maharashtra, we organize many treks in Sahyadri mountains as well. Every single trekker from Sahyadri dreams about climbing the Himalayas. People spends their yearly savings on their passion of adventure. This money is only worth if spend on right cause and the right way. We can only respond to the mountain’s call and we can only pursue our dreams when things are well coordinated and managed between Man and Mountains. 

Thank You!

© Sameer Divekar

Beyond Mountains

11 May 2018

देणाऱ्याने देत जावे !!

        गेल्या दोन अडीच वर्षात Beyond Mountains च्या निरनिराळ्या कार्यक्रमातून खूप लोकांशी जिव्हाळ्याचं नातं जडून गेलं. निसर्गामध्येच नेऊन निसर्गाकडून शिकलेल्या गोष्टी इतरांनी अनुभवाव्यात यासाठी दऱ्याखोऱ्यात फिरून निर्माण होणाऱ्या साहसाचा, धाडसी प्रवृत्तीचा आणि त्यातून मिळणाऱ्या असीम आनंदाचा व्यक्तिगत अनुभव प्रत्येकाला मिळावा या ध्येयानी आमचे प्रत्येक कार्यक्रम घडून येतात. या सगळ्यात निसर्गाकडून, समाजाकडून जेवढं काही घेतलय त्याची संस्थेचा 'Beyond Yourself' या उपक्रमातून कुठल्या ना कुठल्या स्वरूपातून परतफेड होतच राहते

         काही दिवसांपूर्वीची गोष्ट. संध्याकाळी ऑफिसातून घरी आल्यावर पुढच्या तिमाही ट्रेकचे आराखडे करण्यात गुंतलो होतो. तेवढ्यात माझ्या शाखेतल्या शिक्षकांचा फोन आला. दर वर्षीप्रमाणे यावर्षी भरणारे आपल्या शाखेचे श्रमसंस्कार शिबीर पोमगांव या ठिकाणी होणार आहे अशी माहिती देऊन, गावात भेडसावणारा पाण्याचा प्रश्न मार्गी लागावा म्हणून पाणी आडवणाऱ्या बंधाऱ्याची बांधणी दुरुस्ती, शिवाय त्यासाठी येणारा खर्च, श्रम आणि फलनिष्पत्ती या बाबतची सविस्तर माहिती एका दमात शिक्षकांनी सांगितली. वर पूर्णवेळ शिबिराला उपस्थित राहण्याचाही आग्रह करत होते. माझ्या डोळ्यासमोर काही वर्षांपूर्वी मुळशी तालुक्यातल्या भादस गावी केलेल्या श्रमदानाची आठवण झाली. कुदळ, फावडी, घमेली घेऊन दिवस आम्ही शाखेतले तरुण उन्हाची पर्वा करता दुष्काळाशी दोन हात करत गावकऱ्यांसाठी बंधारा उभारण्याच्या कामात राबलो होतो. आज कित्येक दिवसांनी तशीच संधी पुन्हा चालून आली होती पण नेमका मी त्या कालावधीत दुसऱ्या एका कार्यक्रमानिमित्त परगावी असल्याने श्रमसंस्कार शिबीरास उपस्थित राहणं शक्य नव्हतं. हि अडचण सांगितल्यानंतर शिक्षकांनी लगेच दुसरा प्रश्न समोर केला. "तुला जमणार नसेल तर श्रमदानासाठी येणार थोडा खर्च तू उचलशील का? " असं विचारल्यावर मला एकदम ध्यानात आले. आज खूप दिवस झाले उत्सवा व्यतिरिक्त शाखेत जाणे होत नाही. Beyond Mountains सुरु केल्यापासून तर प्रत्येक शनिवार रविवारही या व्यक्तिगत ध्येयासाठी खर्च पडतो. आणि अश्या कामांसाठी वेळेचं गणित जमत नाही. ज्या शाखेनी आम्हाला घडवलं, समाजाला घडवलं त्याच समाजासाठी श्रमदानाच्या उपक्रमातून काहीतरी निराळं करून दाखवण्याची एक संधी चालून आली होती
           प्रत्येक माणसाच्या आयुष्यात असे प्रसंग येत राहावेत जेव्हा स्वतःला कोणते ना कोणते ऋण फेडण्याची संधी आपण होऊन चालून यावी. जेव्हा कुठल्यातरी गोष्टीसाठी 'ऋणी' असणे हि एक जाणीव मनात बनते, या जाणिवेमुळे आपण स्वतः किती व्यक्तिगत लाभात आहोत हे कळून येते. स्वतःमधे दुसऱ्यांबद्दलचा कृतज्ञता भाव मनात जागा राहतो. आपण इथल्या मातीशी, समाजाशी, देशाशी आणि सर्वार्थाने या निसर्गाशी किती घनिष्ठ संबंध ठेऊन आहोत याची आपोआप जाणीव होत राहते आणि नकळात आपले पाय जमिनीवर घट्ट राहतात. आज आपण निरनिराळ्या क्षेत्रात स्वतःच्या कामात कर्तबगारी दाखवून जातो पण ती निर्माण होण्यासाठी ज्या गोष्टीमुळे अंतरंगातून जडणघडण होत गेलेय, त्या गोष्टींशी आपण आजन्म ऋणी असणे यातच आपली विनम्रता टिकून राहील. लहानपणापासून पाठीवर पडणारी एखादी थापही नकळत चांगला विचार घडवून जाते आणि विचार घडवणारा तो क्षण आयुष्यभर आपल्या डोक्यात पक्का बसून आपण त्याबद्दल कायमचे कृतज्ञ राहतो. अश्याच एका माणूस घडविण्याच्या फॅक्टरीत मी एके संध्याकाळी दाखल झालो आणि शाळेत असल्यापासून कॉलेजमध्ये जाईपर्यंत याच फॅक्टरीत काम करत राहिलो. रोजच्या एक तास शाखेत सूर्यनमस्कार, मैदानी खेळ, प्रहार, नियुद्ध, समता यांनी जशी शरीराची घडण झाली तशी पद्य, साहसकथा, बौद्धिके, प्रार्थना यांसारख्या संस्कारानी मनाची घडण पक्की झाली. आज जगात कुठेहि असलो तरी घडून आलेले हे संस्कार दैनंदिन जीवनातही चुणूक दाखवून जातात.आजच्या घडीला व्यक्तिनिर्माण करणारं, व्यवस्थापनाचे चोख धडे देणारं, इथल्या मातीशी निष्ठा जपणारं जगातील उत्कृष्ठ स्रोत म्हणजे संघ शाखाच ठरेल. आज याच शाखेच्या माध्यमातून श्रमदानासाठी अनेक तरुण सरसावले आहेत. उन्हाळ्यात उद्भवणारा पाण्याचा प्रश्न निदान महाराष्ट्राला तरी नवीन नाही. आपल्यापरिनी गावातला पाणीप्रश्न कसा सुटेल यासाठी प्रत्यक्ष मुळाशी जाऊन कामात उतरणे आणि त्यायोगे श्रमसंस्कार घडविणे यासाठी शिबिराचे महत्व चटकन माझ्या ध्यानात आले
      या सगळया विचारांमधून जेव्हा मी बाहेर आलो तोपर्यंत नकळत मी एक चेक फाडला होता. माझ्या बरोबरीने काम करणाऱ्या संस्थेमधल्या इतर साथीदारांचीही याला मान्यता होती. खरोखर समविचारी लोक आपल्या बरोबरीने असणे किती गरजेचे असते. आज प्रत्यक्ष श्रमदानात सहभागी होता आलं नाही तरी त्यासाठी येणारा खर्च आपण देयचा असा सर्वानुमते ठरले. आज इतक्या भटकंतीतून खूप काही शिकायला मिळालय. इथल्या निसर्गाकडून, इथल्या मातीतल्या माणसांकडून, प्राणी-पक्ष्यांकडून काही ना काही घेतच आलोय. विंदांच्या कवितेप्रमाणे 
'देणा-याने देत जावे, घेणा-याने घेत जावे 
घेता घेता एक दिवस, देणार्याचे हात घ्यावे.' 
यानुसार देणारे देत जातात आणि घेणारे घेत राहतात. आज मी देणाऱ्याच्या जागेवर उभा आहे. आज प्रत्यक्ष स्वतःचा वेळ देऊ शकलो नाही तरी या संस्थेमधून काहीतरी देण्याची तयारी झाली आहे एवढंच काय ते समाधान. Beyond Mountains च्या माध्यमातून आम्ही समाजातील सर्व स्तरातील लोकांना आमच्या सोबतीला घेऊन सह्याद्री आणि हिमालयाच्या राकट दऱ्याखोऱ्यांची सफर घडवून आणतो. जाणीव पूर्वक इथल्या इतिहासाची, संस्कृतीची ओळख करून देतो. गिर्यारोहणाबरोबरच त्यायोगे येणाऱ्या सर्व साहसी खेळांचा अनुभव करून देतो. आज हे सगळं मॅनेज करताना या मॅनेजमेंटचे धडे जिथून घडविले त्याच्यासाठी केलेला हा अल्पसा ऋणनिर्देश.

© समीर दिवेकर 

Beyond Mountains