Sunday, October 18, 2015

THE BAG THAT OUT-TRAVELS ME

Date: August 20th 2014. Place: Hyderabad.

A bag came into my life. It was a green colour Quechua Forclaz 60 litre bag. The bag was pretty and I was immediately hooked. The bag belonged to Majid Siddique who worked with me at Deloitte then. I borrowed it from him for a trek to the Jhindagada peak, the highest peak of Andhra Pradesh. He also gave me trekking shoes that I would rather not talk about. I was astounded at how much the bag could fit. I was so excited that I put everything in it that I could carry. The result was that on my very first 3-day trek, I carried a load of 12kgs on my back. The problem, however, was that I weighed almost the same as the bag (See photo below for reference). Carrying the bag was an honour that came at a big cost. I was depleted by the time I returned from the trek. Truly Madly Deeply spent. 


Skinny Paradise

(Left) In front of the Peak - (Right) On the peak(Literally on cloud Nine. I counted)

But as they say, the first time is always special (Trek or otherwise). I returned the bag back to to Majid. Less did I know that the bag would come back to me. Over the course of the next few months, the bag was carried for a few treks. The bag had already been on about 3-4 treks before I took it on my first. Majid offered to sell his bag and he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I accepted the offer and the bag was mine.

The first place I took the bag to was Hampi. While my other fellow travelers carried hefty suitcases, I literally lived out of a bag. All my stuff came out and went into the same bag. Result: I took at least half the time that anyone else would take to pack their stuff. Stuff it, zip it, forget it. The bag made me feel like Superman. The T-Shirt in the picture below is a mere coincidence.

Clarke Kaul

Meanwhile, Naveen, who also accompanied me on the Hampi trip, needed a bag to go to Leh, Ladakh and he borrowed the Green Quechua awesomeness. Cognizant of the remarkable advantages of the bag, he was keen on saving some energy while packing in the oxygen depleted atmosphere of Ladakh. I graciously offered it thinking that that even though I couldn’t go to Ladakh then, at least my bag would. Naveen could literally live out of the bag as well. The bag had now seen heights of 16000 feet and above. The bag was initiated to the Himalayas.

Come May and I went on my first Himalayan trek to Roopkund. The bag faced a heavy challenge. I had to pack upwards of 15 kgs into the bag. If my bag were Sita, this would be its Agni Pareeksha. I stuffed things everywhere possible. I also discovered that the bag had 2 additional pockets by the sides. Desperation is the mother of life-saving discoveries. This was a tough trek demanding an uphill climb of around 30-40 kms. I travelled with truckloads on my back but the bag was utterly faithful. Not once did it fail me. I walked in winds, in rain, in the chill of the night but the bag was sturdy and intact. I came back with fond memories and the bag was a witness to it all.



(Trying to be Alexander Supertramp

The bag isn’t visible. I’m just flaunting here. It’s a good picture en route Roopkund

In the coming months, the bag was taken by Naveen to Coorg, and by Suboth to Hampi(Again!! The bag has some connection with that place. I’m planning a solo trip to Hampi soon. That’d be a third for the bag)

A very interesting thing happened when Vivek Gupta borrowed this bag for his
Mullyangiri trek. On the 2nd day of the trek, news arrived that Vivek (our Roopkund trek organizer) and Sashi were lost in the jungles of Chikmanglur(Read here) . At first, I was worried about Vivek but after 5 minutes, I was worried about the bag. This was shallow on my part. I was told that Vivek and Sashi set out to search for the trail after leaving the bags behind with the other members of the team. I was not sure how to react to the news as I was still sad that Vivek was lost. I was worried that I would not be able to ever look at the bag if there was a tragedy on the trip. Luckily, both Vivek and Sashi made it out of the forest with a few scratches and leech bites, long after everyone had written their chances of survival off. The bag now had the tag of a survivor's bag.

In the month of August, I took a trip to Pondicherry and the bag followed. The bag was getting some serious miles under its belt(s) (like literally).

Now, there is this thing about me - If you know me, you’d know my love for mountains. Himachal Pradesh is one place I have been wanting to visit for quiet some time. As destiny would have it, my bag beat me to a trip to Himachal as well. Praneeth Nadella recently took the bag to Himachal Pradesh on the trek to Triund and Indrahar pass, a trek I’ve been planning since December 2014. I had a deal with Praneeth - I wanted a picture of the bag on the summit.

A moment of sombre reflection for the bag, thinking of all the days gone by

 Praneeth not only sent me pictures of the bag, he also took a picture of the bag with Shoib Akhtar (Yes, the fast bowler from Pakistan). My bag not only beats me in travels but it also meets celebrities along the way.

Praneeth made the shoulder hoops count

The bag is pretty special to me. It has become a part of my identity and the life of my travels. I hope to take it to Himachal, Ladakh - Stok Kangri and East India in the near future. If not Everest, this bag will at least go to the Everest Base Camp during its lifetime. For as long as it lasts, it shall be my travel companion and will always be my Trekking bag that out-travelled me, in style!

Come to think of it, I should have a name for the bag now. #Now_thinking


Peace. . .