Thursday, 21 December 2017

Gifted Gorgeousness SAL December Update

Hello Friends,

It's that time of the month when we show what gifts we have been working on or/and what crafty gifts we have received. If you don't know what I'm talking about , check Jo's blog for more info.

Also last GG check in for the year, where did the time go?
After finishing the knitted blanket, I picked up my nemesis project and have made some progress on it. I'm still searching for reasons why I wasn't able to finish it this year.

Yesterday night I found out that I have done a counting mistake in the left middle section where you see the blue. It broke my heart. I was already finding it difficult to continue with this project with small count fabric and the number of stitches. And then another mistake. But my very helpful husband tried to calm me down and said that the mistake doesn't effect the whole project , so don't frog . So I have decided to continue without frogging , will just not use the blue stitches as reference to stitch. But I will finish it one day.

Never one to give up easily, I tried my hands at crocheting again and made a beanie for hubby. Not bad for first time haan!
I have been using free time at work to knit small things like wash cloths. It gives me a feeling of satisfaction to use my free time productively rather than surfing internet .

On another note, I realised I have never shared the news of adopting a cat with my blog friends though I do post about her on Instagram.

We welcomed "Twitch" in our house in July and she has become such an important part of our lives. No day is complete without cuddles and playing with her . She loves to sit in my lap and contributes specialty fibers to all my projects.

Here she is posing with the cross stitch stash I bought from Michaels in New York in September.

Sorry can't figure out why this picture is rotated.
That's it my friends, I will be back with the yearly crafting report post soon.

Here's wishing my Christian friends Merry Christmas. Enjoy time with your family.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Mesmerizing Garhwal - Part II

See Part I here

The group had lots of stories about the summit climb which were shared on the way to our accommodation for 3rd night. After a short drive the bus stopped on a narrow road. We were told this is where we will be staying for the night. We started looking around and couldn’t see any building, hut or even a brick around. We disembarked the bus, carrying our bags and started following the guide to a place unknown. After walking down a trail among trees this what we saw
Camp Chalkot

A camping ground with pre-assembled tents, the camp had portable toilets, a kitchen where cooks prepared food for the guests. “No electricity, no mobile connection here” is what we were told once we were allotted tents. For once we thought how can we survive with no electricity, no mobile connection in these days. But we did…

Oh what fun it was to request for a bucket of water to clean yourself, water being fetched from the nearby river. I have stayed in a tent before but never used portable toilets or lived without electricity. It was so much fun using torches to navigate to the dining area after sunset , eating local food, karaoke around the bon-fire.

We decided to sleep early to recover from the strenuous hike of the day, to be ready for the next day. Though I must say it’s difficult to sleep when it’s so quite that you can hear people moving in next tent..ha ha .

Day 4 –We had an early start for a long drive to Joshimath, elevation 6200ft. Five hours later we were in queue for a ropeway cable car (or trolley as we call it in India) ride to Auli .Auli cable ropeway holds a record of longest in Asia with total length of 4.15 km. 
Its lower tower is at 1906 m from MSL and the upper tower is at 3016 m. The view from the ropeway captures beauty of the snow covered peaks, the alpine forest and the bracing climate.
View from the cable car
20 min ride to Auli and we were ready for a short trek to valley of Gurson Bugyal (bugyal means meadows in local language).We reached the meadows after trekking through dense oak forest with occasional spotting of Nanda Devi peak.

Our tents at Gurson Bugyal
On reaching the meadow, we selected a ground big enough to accommodate the whole group. We were trained how to assemble our tents, pack our bags and instructions on how to keep away from forest animals and use no water toilets. Boy, did I laugh and weird when it was described on how to use ecofriendly establishments.

View from our tents

Sunset at Gursan Bugyal
The temperature started dipping with the sun going down and everyone started feeling hungry.
The kitchen and dining area consisted of two taller tents and we were served instant noodles “maggi” as evening snacks. Trust me instant noodles never tasted better than on that cold evening. The whole group gathered in small tent of 10 ft by 10ft, sitting so tight, helping each other keep warm. No one wanted to move and go back to their tents to come back for dinner. We decided to stay where we were and started sharing stories from our childhood. We had such a blast laughing our hearts out at the things we did as a kid. Dinner was served and we ate whatever was served never thinking how much we were eating.

Now sleeping in these tents was another story….we started teasing each other that how a jackal can enter this tent or a strong wind will blow it.

It was decided to wake up early to see sunrise at some of the highest peaks of Himalayas. I knew that’s not my cup of tea, waking up early is one thing which I haven’t achieved my whole life.

Day 5: I woke up at 4 am to the sounds of birds chipping. I wasn't able to sleep properly as I was cold inside the sleeping bag. Hubby said why don’t you join us when you are up.I joined the early risers for a small hike for a better view of the sunrise point.

I must say the sunrise was one of the most beautiful natural phenomenon I have seen so far. It was a blessing to be present there and see the colors changing, light filtering thru clouds and sun rise behind the mountains.

The only task for the day was to walk down to the cable car boarding point which seemed easy after the last two days.
View of Nandadevi peak,the second highest mountain in India

After a few hours bus ride , we reached our cottage in Auli with overcast sky and snow covered peaks as the view from the window.
Our cottage at Auli
Everyone took nap, and evening we played cards, sang , shared jokes and had a good rest .

Day 6 – This was travel day back to Dehradun, the group members had become quite close to each other after spending such wonderful times together. The journey back was full of talks of what memories we created.

With heavy hearts we said good bye to the group and got down at Rishikesh (Translates to Hair of a Sage) . Rishikesh is a small town in the foothills of Himalayas with many Hindu temples.

Day 7 - We had our flight in the afternoon so we decided to visit Ram Jhula  which is an iron suspension bridge across the river Ganges built in 1986. We visited the nearby ashrams  to understand more about history of the town.

A late afternoon flight from Dehradun brought us to Kuwait , and an incredible journey in the Himalayas came to an end.

I hope you have enjoyed my ramblings about this trip of mine.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Mesmerizing Garhwal - Part I :My first summit climb

Hello everyone,

The year is coming to an end and I’m so behind in everything: blogging, journaling, crafting. As much as I feel guilty about this, I think the only way to act on this is to pull up my socks and try and catch up. I don’t have any crafting update for now, but I thought I will write about one of my travels this year.

Its month of May, hot here in Kuwait and temperatures are touching 50 deg C (122 deg F). I’m not sure if I have mentioned this before but Hubby and I work in same company and same department… I can imagine your reaction after reading this … Are you crazy? Being together 24 hrs? How come one of you haven’t killed the other? Ha ha. Ok, so the point of telling you this is we can get leave from work at same time (most of the times) and that’s what happened when we finished some big projects in early May.

Hubby hadn’t had a break since long and we wanted to take a quick one which didn’t involve much planning and specially no visa requirement. The obvious choice was India, my sweet home land.

One of the family members had mentioned Foliage Outdoors a few time as he had taken short trips with them. So we checked their website to see whether they had any tours that matched our interest.

As we knew it would be summer in India too, we chose a trek to Himalayan Garhwal region to keep away from the heat. With no mood to plan an itinerary I left everything to Hubby, though I had my apprehensions as we haven’t used services of a tour company in India before.

Hubby tells me the booking process was easy and the tour company representatives were helpful with our queries. We received instructions for things to carry for the trek. One of them was to carry woolen clothes along with socks and gloves. If you have been following my blog since sometime you may know how I love winters and hubby doesn’t. While discussing what to pack Hubby kept telling me he will pack his winter jackets and I kept laughing at him that why are you scared of winters? It can’t be cold when Delhi, which is some 250 km away from Garhwal ,is experiencing temps as high as 48 degC (118 deg F). You see, I like to travel light and didn’t want to carry stuff which won’t be used.

My limited knowledge of Indian weather was proved wrong when a day before boarding the flight we started checking temperatures for the places we were supposed to stay. Out went summer clothes and the bag was full of winter clothes.

We took a flight to New Delhi, nearest connecting airport to Dehradun from where our tour started. We stayed in New Delhi for few days and spent quality time with my brother and his family.

On 21st we took an overnight train to Dehradun, meeting our tour guide on Delhi railway station. I’m always excited about train journeys as it reminds me of my childhood and teenage when we used to travel by train to reach cities where my grandparents lived. Our reservation was waitlisted but it was upgraded to RAC (Reservation against Cancellation -  a common term used by Indian Railways). Me and Hubby were allotted 1 sleeping birth, and we had no problems with that!

The tour started on 22nd May with a bus drive to Kund. The journey was long with some scenic stop. We were provided accommodation at Himalayan Eco Lodge in Kund near Rudra Prayag with the river Mandikini flowing nearby.
Picture taken at Himalayan Eco Lodge
Next morning after an early breakfast we started our bus journey to base of Deoriatal. We were told it is an easy trek and the distance will be covered in no time. No kidding… after months of sitting in anair-conditioned office, my lazy body found the trek difficult. But as always it’s always tough initially and once you get the hang of the terrain and re learn to control your breath, it becomes easier.

This was the view after 1.5 hrs of trekking… We had fun here with some group activities, listening to myths about the lake.

On the way back to the cottages, we stopped at an ancient Hindu Temple. Though I’m not religious, I’m always intrigued by old style architecture, folklore and stories behind why places of worship were built.
Omkareshwar Temple, Ukhimath

After the visit to the temple, we changed into pyjamas and went to dip our feet in ice cold river water.

Day 3 : After an early hearty breakfast at the cottage , we left for Chopta by bus . I slept thru the 2 hour journey, a combined effect of pleasant climate and altitude. When we stepped down from our bus at Chopta, which is base for Tungnath, I started feeling nostalgic. While growing up, my parents often took us to nearby hill stations. As a child I was so amused by the different life style in the hills. People always wearing jackets and caps, mules being used to carry heavy loads, absence of cars and two wheelers… Chopta reminded me of those days.

We started our trek from Chopta for Tungnath with enthusiasm, ready to soak in the Himalayan beauty. Tungnath is a famous Hindu Shrine so the route was never lonely. The path to Tungnath is mostly paved with bars and appropriate arrangements to sit at intervals. When our tour guide told us that Day 2 trek was a warm up, she was right!
On the way to Tunganath

The 4km trek to Tungnath covering an elevation of 2473 ft took us 3.5 hours. It started getting cold at the temple and the view was just breathtaking. Hundreds of devotees lined up to visit the temple and we had a good rest there for 30 mins.
Tunganath Temple

View from Tungnath

“Now is the real test”, said the tour guide when we started to move towards our final destination Chandrashila.I thought how bad it can be, I just trekked for 3.5 hours …boy was I wrong…

Steep turns around the temple took us to base of Chandrashila from where couldn’t see the peak. The group started moving north with guidance from an experienced trekker, locals who were hired for the trek to help us in situations when we were tired or felt lost.
Steep slope to Chandrashila Peak

As I started climbing, I realized why the guide said this was the real test. With steep slopes, no paved steps, it became difficult to climb. I started feeling tired and breathless further we went. 400-500 m away from the peak, I decided not to continue as I seemed to be my limit. The group and guides encouraged me not to give up so close to the peak. However, my mind said I’m not here to prove anything or compete, I should trek until I enjoy. So I and another trekker with a hurt knee stayed back while the group move forward, waving and smiling at us.
10 mins pass by and I look up and see Hubby smiling at me and gesturing at me “You can do it”. The look on his face told me he will not be able to enjoy conquering the peak without me. So, I decided to try and walk until my body allows to. Before you know it, I’m the second last person in the group to reach the peak. It took me a while to realize I had done it….MY FIRST EVER SUMMIT CLIMB AT 13240 FT….
Chandrashila Summit

I can’t explain what I felt at that moment. I wasn’t trekking as part of an expedition or compete with anyone still it felt so empowering. You see it’s special for me as I didn’t know a thing about trekking until I met my husband. The first time I trekked, I was 27 years old. With no background of sports, never moved a leg for exercising, I had never imagined climbing a summit in my life.
But as they say “The things you do for love” and “You’ll never know what you are capable of until you try”.

On the way back
The journey back to the base is a haze now and all I remember was looking for the bus at the base and my legs at the verge of breaking….

While I describe my mental and physical state, I don’t want to give an impression that the trek organisers weren’t helpful. I must mention that the tour guide and others were supporting, carrying our bags at time and paid full attention to our well being.

Will continue about the trip in my next post...

Gifted Gorgeousness SAL April 2021 update

 Hello Friends, It's that time of the month when we show what gifts we have been working on or/and what crafty gifts we have received. I...