Himalayan Ballbuster

It was supposed to be a leisurely ride through the valley. ‘I just want to rent a bike for a few days and ride around’, I told Godwin.

Godwin had plans of his own, running in his head from way before. Godwin and Snehal are the amazing couple running ‘Ride Inn’ at Shanag Valley, 6 km north of Manali. A gorgeous place with probably the best food I’ve eaten while at Manali. Also the  best view, and the cutest dog Luka.


View from Ride Inn

‘Let’s do Pangi Valley and Sach Pass, you’ll love it’, Godwin said. I heard ‘valley’ and ‘pass’ and got excited. What i didn’t know was that since he, a regular rider, hadn’t been on the road for over a year, he was already pushing the limits in his head.

I’m not a biker really. I don’t like groups. I don’t like following others’ plans. I don’t even like bikers much. They talk about pistons and cranks and rods and shafts and *yawwwwn*. But since this was Godwin and Snehal leading the way, I had no problems at all. Digvij and Bhuwan, two of their friends, were coming in from Rajasthan, and we’d join them on their way through to Pangi Valley. And those two turned out to be super fun.


Godwin & Snehal


Leisurely ride, I thought. So I booked myself a nice 500cc classic. A tad expensive, as is the norm renting bikes in Manali (Rs.1200 – 1500 a day).

The rule was Godwin & Snehal rode up front, me second, then Digvij, and finally Bhuwan – the most experienced one to keep a watch on us.

This should be fun, I thought.

It was, for the first two hours…


The ‘leisurely’ bit



Day 1 brought that easy ride to a shattering demise. It took us 9 hours to get across 190km, from Manali to Tindi. In my head, before we started, I was all ‘hmmm, that’s about the distance from Bombay to Poona, should take us about 5 hours…’


Not when there’s NO ROAD. No kidding. The road disappeared after the first 40 km or so. Then there was only mud and rocks. Boulders and water crossings from glaciers melting above, foxes, and roads that you shouldn’t look over if you have a fear of heights. Up until Rohtang pass (50 km from Manali), everything was nice and reminiscent of a romantic scene in a Ryan Gosling movie.

After that it was all downhill, literally. Your ass hurts, of course, from the constant bump and grind on hard rocks. But readjusting your balls every 10 mins inside the boxers you wear, while using just the other hand to balance a 200 kilo bike on rocks and boulders, is a bit tough. Life lesson: never wear boxers to a long and treacherous bike ride.

Around 5 pm after i bounced over some 200 rocks and boulders, I turned to Godwin and asked him ‘how much longer is the road like this??’

‘Why do you ask so many questions, just ride man!’

That was it. I was trapped. If one question got that response, no more questions.


Resting it out at the Forest Dept Villa…


…wondering WTF I got myself into

At night, after Bhuwan had hustled our stay at the forest department’s guest house, we rested our respective arses. They had old monk for company, and as always – the spirits bring out the funnies in people. And Digvij went on to tell us how, from behind me, he had a field day watching me ride.

According to him, I was either faster than a bullet, or slower than a snail. No in-between. Sometimes I was so slow, he thought I was stopping, and he’d imagine I was taking a break to pee, so he would too… and as soon as he stopped and got off, I was speeding like that bullet again. I didn’t even know this was happening. I don’t know what was going on in my mind. Just survival, I guess.

Next morning we were up, post some chai and parathas, on our way again. If day 1 was hard, day 2 was US army torture in Iraq. It took us 11 hours to cross 137 kilometers.

Let that settle in. Add to that the cold. Early October, season’s almost down cos of snow. Yeah, its freezing cold. By the time you end the day, your wrists, fingers, ankles, legs, face, everything’s numb. Even with gloves and innerwear and jacket on.


Ummm, road block! *BEEP BEEP*



And in case I forgot to mention earlier, this terrain that we started off, can be seen on youtube under some of the videos that say ‘world’s most dangerous roads’


Bhuwan & Digvij playing Dark Knights




Now ain’t that BREATHTAKING

One landslide delayed our progress by about 30 minutes. Chairi was our lunch stop. There’s not many options for food in these places apart from dal-rice-chapatis, parathas and maggi.



Waterfalls from glacier melt. Quite a few on this stretch.


Sometimes the manoeuvring is VERY tricky, that river is upto 3 ft deep

Just before sunset, Digvij’s thunderbird breaking down was our big worry. The bike just wouldn’t climb the steep slopes anymore. And these heavy ass bikes have a mind of their own once they’re on a sharp angle. The number of times I just let the bike lay on the ground instead of bothering to pick it up was quite a bit. Digvij was in two minds to head back. But our peak was only 20 km ahead now. So we worked on constructive thinking. And Godwin, the champ that he is, just pulled out the bike’s air filter, and voila, it was all good again!

I learnt a few things about riding through glacier melt this same day. Snehal taught me a few things about staying steady and keeping your legs down. Cos I was treating it like a theme park ride. Legs up in the air and WHEEEEEE splashing water. But one rock under the water, slipping, could be the end of the ride. For the bike. And the rider. So the next time I almost fell in the icy water, I simply jumped off and let Godwin rescue the bike.


Sach Pass, our peak.


After reaching our highest peak, which was Sach Pass at 4440m, at sunset, we had to get to the next guesthouse before dark. My bright idea was to turn the bike into neutral and let it glide down the mountain.


It was pitch black by then in the mountains, moonless night. And the narrow beam of the headlight was all I could see ahead. Everything else around, black. The speed I had managed to pull with gravity alone was ridiculous. And I’m grateful to the foxes and dogs that did not run across my path. It’s not too good for the bike though, this neutral gliding thing. But there’s some things you can do on a rented bike…

It was almost 9 pm when we reached satroondi checkpost – which is a heavily guarded point because of its proximity to the Pakistan border, and history of militants coming in from the same. Shortly after that, we were at Bhairagadh – and cozily settled into ‘Mannat Guest House’. There’s nothing more rewarding than a pillow for the bum after a whole day of riding on rocks. These guesthouses we lived in were all in the range of 200-400 rupees a night. And the forest department houses are pretty cute too.

Day 3 was the calm after the storm. Also the easiest day for my bum to handle. Flat roads again, and despite another 11 hours, we managed 255 kilometers. We halted in Chamba for lunch at Zaika Dhaba, and bike corrections for Digvij. The ride from Bhairagad to Chamba was a beautiful one through the forest. Our boys from Rajasthan split here at Chamba, so it was eventually Godwin, Snehal and me heading back to Manali. There was still 2 more days to complete though.


Chamba to Dharamshala and eventually Bagsu was our final stint for day 3. Bagsu is right below Dharamkot, where unbeknownst to me, I was going to lose my heart a week later.

Day 4

Godwin & Snehal decided to stay at Bagsu a day or two. And since I had to return to manali to give back the bike, and catch a bus to Dharamsala and eventually get to Dharamkot to attend my retreat, I spent the final day solo. 10 am kick off from Bagsu, through Dhauladhar tea estates, where I stopped for some awesome green tea and juice, and then moved on to Mandi where I had a massive lunch of dal, chappatis, and you-guessed-it, parathas.

I was getting to Manali just around sundown. That’s when the Aut tunnel threat happened. Within the helmet was my sunglasses, which I should have taken off before the tunnel. But I didn’t think of the consequences. As soon as I got into that tunnel, everything was pitch black. And this is a tunnel that runs about 4km. Imagine riding 4km BLIND. I’m half-blind after sundown anyway. Old issue. Add to that, sunglasses that I cant remove mid-ride, because I have fat gloves on. I cant stop cos I cant see the side of the road, and there’s no way one can really stop in a tunnel. There’s a sinking feeling in your stomach. There’s panic, there’s also prayers. And you hope the one guy you’ve been ignoring all your life will somehow get you through this. HA! Eventually, the glare of oncoming traffic, which I usually cant tolerate, saved me.

It’s just I have a history with tunnels.

This here is Aut tunnel (via youtube) – but doing the same thing like The Terminator is a different story.

As soon as I got out of the tunnel, I stopped at a quiet little tea stall, and reflected on life.

For a first ride, this was the hardest, and the most gorgeous ever. Would i attempt it again? Hell yeah! If it wasn’t for Godwin, this wouldn’t have happened, so i’m glad he got me into this ‘easy ride’. You learn a lot of things about yourself on the road.

Survivalism is just one of them.


Bend it Like Me

Stretching the resume a little bit. I’m a certified yoga teacher now. No, seriously.

So if you need a DJ for the night that’ll kick off yoga lessons in the quiet room at the afterparty, call Johnny B. Say farewell to hangovers and blocked noses!!!

If you just need a yoga teacher, call. Do it do it.

Think of the possibilities here. Great soundtracks for yoga!

Huge shout out to the peeps at Yoga Vidya Gurukul, Nasik. And the amazing batch 104 of Yoga TTC there.

I’m damn excited. I can’t wait to get you all bendy.


Shaanti Bruh

I have no experience at parenting, but in hindsight, our folks did a lot of things right bringing us up. The most meaningful and lasting one was the lack of religious teachings. Not religiousness, just religion. The only one time they sent me to church, it ended terribly. Religion is a fucked up scheme today, a marketing/publicity/my-dick-bigger-than-yours scheme. You can do any shitty thing and ask for forgiveness in temples and get on with life. Give some donations, talk to a priest, and all your sins are forgiven. The world is a fucked up place and hence business is good. It’ll stay fucked up till people don’t grow a conscience.

What all the religions meant to teach was a simple rule. Do right to others. Karma, Dharma, all simple teachings really.

But look around, everyone’s out to bring someone down. Curse, wail, brag, diss, insult, blame, kill, complain. But Sunday mass, can not miss. Must bow to the lord every Sunday for his blessings.

Wars. My religion is the best, those other religions should fix themselves first. Kids are conditioned into this state of mind very young. It’s just one little pie of the bullshit they’re conditioned with at childhood. If you taught your kids instead to be good to other kids and just love without conditions, we’d have a better world to live in. And that would happen sooner than you think. Look at the wars and scams and calamities around us and ask ‘who’s responsible for this? what are we bringing our kids into?’ 

Why are you holding onto something you had no choice in deciding decades ago when you popped out yo’ mama? Did it do the world around you, or you, any good? Then putting your kids through the same? Hey man there’s nothing wrong in teaching the things Lord Shiva or The Prophet or Buddha shared with us. If you do bother to read though, you’d realize they all taught the same thing.

Get your kid a puppy. They teach unconditional love. If you must teach religion, teach the basic goodness of it. Love and compassion is the universal message. It’s not that complicated. If you must take your kid to christmas celebrations, take them to diwali and eid and everything else. Kids would love that! Stop categorizing them at a young, impressionable age. Don’t put your kids through that circle. There’s a reason babies are the sweetest. Then they get older and the whole ‘process’ begins. A system that has only propagated fear and hate on the basis of religion. And then some of those once-upon-a-time babies are out killing/dying in the name of religion.

Even if there was a heaven, religion doesn’t get you there. Spare the kid. Let him/her choose, if they want, when they want.

“As little children, we are authentic. Only the present time is real for us; We don’t care about the past, and we aren’t worried about the future. We enjoy life; We want to explore and have fun. Nobody teaches us to be that way; We are born that way.”

~ Miguel Ruiz

Update: 31 Aug 2016

Just found this.


Throwback Goa – The Hippy Days

Ever since the post that featured Goa Gil, i’ve come across him a few times on various other links.

This one came up on my fb timeline today. A heart-wrenching look at what happened to Goa in a few decades. To think we were not even born during the best days.

It’s a thing with human beings; find something beautiful and destroy it. We’re all guilty. That’s why I’ve spent most of the last two years in sparsely populated lands.

And yes, when a man from the 60s tells you that cocaine and heroin killed the hippie era, stay off that shit.

This dude right here, if you can find him, spend as much time as you possibly can.

What’s in a name?

This is the prequel to the last post.

The previous week, we’d bumped into Adrian. Lovely guy. Adrian’s the only person i know, who’s been married twice in his life.

Once to a woman, then to a man.

We bumped into him again, as we were exploring our Saturday night plans. He looked at me with fire in his eyes. She looked at me with a clear ‘no fucking way i’m sharing you with a guy‘ stare.

On the prowl, shack to shack, zipping our bikes, hunting for a place with barely decent music, given what a whiner I am at these commercial music shitholes, we went all over Anjuna. Some dude was supposed to play ‘tropical bass’ at Lilliput at 3 am. Sounded interesting, but we had lots of time to kill.

Stopped outside Hilltop Lounge to gauge the music – SO shit. Kept moving, reached Waters Lounge and rode our bikes into an empty parking lot. There was silence, but the bouncers were setting themselves up at the gate. So I went up to have a word. It was midnight, and the bouncer said the dj would start at 1 am.

‘Which DJ?’, I enquired.

I heard him say Goa Gil.

‘Right. Here.’, I flayed my arms at the empty parking lot.

‘Yes, people will come by 1 am.’


‘Free now, charged after 1 am.’

So i told my two lovers, ‘WE ARE BLESSEDD!!!! Let’s run in NOWWW’.

So we walked into the empty club, thanking our stars, that we didn’t even have to be in queue or pay entry for a Goa Gil gig. Goa Gil has chilled with Albert Hoffman. Albert Hoffman is the man who created LSD. So this is the Godfather of DJs we’re talking about. I mean, at gigs in South America, when people knew I was from India, they’d come to me just to talk about the Goa Gil. Like those evangelists talk about Jesus.


That’s Mr.Hoffman (a personal hero of mine) on the left, and grandmaster Gil on the right, in 2003.

A few minutes passed, we opened the menus to get something to warm up to. It was half past midnight and still no people.

I was bewildered. So i asked the manager if they’d promoted this gig.

‘Yeah, we put it on our facebook page.’

Wow. Nice. Very confident of you. I’m still raving to my people, how lucky we are..

‘So where’s Gil right now? Is he setting up? Are you sure he will play even if nobody turns up…’, I ask the manager.

He started to give me the desi head nod and suddenly stopped.

‘He…? Sir, which Goa Gil are you talking about?’

As far as I know, there’s only one bro, I say. The old wizard that plays 10-12 hours. Him. Goa Gil.

‘No sir… our dj is a young girl.’

My heart shrank into itself till there was a vacuum where it existed.

Young girl? What the fuck are you talking about man?

‘Yes sir, young girl. Goa Gail. Gail.’

Holy mother of God. My old friend Gail. Even she’s a DJ now. But couldn’t she have chosen a better, unique name? GAAAAIL. There’s an A in that name you numbnuts, i wanted to scream to every one of their staff.

By the time i turned to my peeps, they knew something was amiss, from the look of plain horror on my face. I had to apologize, explain this miscommunication thanks to my Goan brothers’ pronunciations. And we sheepishly walked out. I didn’t even have the air in me to go talk to my old friend Gail.

We went to Curlies, where Adrian looked at me with more fire in his eyes, my girl went in to dance, and i slammed some calamari. Calamari for life. Calamari for sad days. Adrian proceeds to tell me what he felt the first time he saw me.

I’m not Mad Max. I’m #AwkwardMax.

I downed two beers and we made our way to Lilliput. And danced to shit music all night. Not really all night.

There was one DJ there, who as of two weeks before this night, i had seen as part of the REGGAE RAJAH CRU MAHN PULL UP PULL UPPP PWAAAAA. But by this night he was already fired by the RAJAH ARMY CRU MAHN PULL UP PULL UPPP PUULLL UUUUPPWAAA. Personal reasons, he said. He played the only decent music I heard this whole time in Goa.

There was this absolutely smashed birthday celebration crew of 20-21 year olds there. Sweaty as pigs, and hugging me all night. I still don’t know why.

What happened the next day, you already know. Else, catch the post below.

Post Dated #ECP

This morning around 5, my lady and I had a booboo. The kind where you have to find an emergency contraceptive pill within three days. 72 hours, they all say. I don’t know about your country, but I live in India where this is legally available across the pharmacy counter, and yet the population is 1.5 billion.

This morning was her peak potential for pregnancy given menstrual cycles and all that. So finding that pill within the first few hours of waking up was utmost priority. I wasn’t going to debate it, cos winning the debate might have been easy, but her calling me 9 months later would have been a tough one to digest.

This morning was also a Sunday, when everything in Goa is shut, apart from wine stores. The only open chemist, is a staunch catholic. And the next guy too. They’d kill you but they wouldn’t sell you contraceptives.

So a long ride ensued from Anjuna to the surrounding towns and villages. The hunt for the pill. In my hurry, and in the panic of the situation, and my still half-sleepy brain, I forgot to carry my license and documents. I did expect the rest of the day to be thrilling, but even i wasn’t prepared really…

There were two bunches of cops that halted us. I was hoping they would all just laze in bed on a Sunday. But no, ‘many tourists, no!’. And this was after i put on the helmet and confidently stated ‘now no cops will stop us’. But six cops saw right through my face. Cops, they just know when the fucker doesn’t have his license on him, just by looking at his eyes.

I’m proud to say I got off with paying just 200 rupees, from their initial 3000 rupee quote. ‘Here, do it in the corner so the Russians don’t see it’, the cop said. The Russians in line behind me, were paying 6-10 times the amount. But I was still pissed off with myself for forgetting my documents. Mindlessness. I’m grateful to my dad for teaching me life’s biggest lessons can be in bargaining your arse off. ‘Look, I have 500 rupees, but i need 300 to buy some verrrrry important medicines’, i told the cop. He asked me what medicines, i said gastro. He gave back 300 to me.

Both chemists we visited looked at us like we were Satan’s little babies. ‘We don’t keep anything like that’, they proclaimed. I could almost hear the curses in their heads. ‘WE DON’T KEEP ANYTHING LIKE THAT YOU BABY KILLING BASTARD BURN IN HELL YOU *#&!)*&$)(!#^&#!^

Those were the only chemists open this part of the world, so we hit the highway.

Somewhere along the course of our treasure hunt, the front number plate falls off the bike. Great, a dead giveaway for the cops now. But I didn’t bother to fix it ‘cos hey, i got my helmet on!’

Thirty kilometers, two hours, a dozen U-turns and even more hitches later, we finally found an open, non-catcholic pharmacy that was open. On the day of the lord, i was seeing strange signs. We may have even planned, at a destitue moment, what we might call him/her. She even resorted to meditation by the side of the road to stay calm. I was busy haggling with cops. And more cops.

When it rains, it pours a shitstorm.

Finally, on our way back home with the necessitaaahs, we were stopped by four RTO cops. The big daddies. Where i just got off the bike, handed them the keys, and said ‘I have no money, no license, no papers. The bike is rented so you taking it won’t help.’ One cop said ‘this fucker’s drunk’, and they let us move on.

Tonight i’m going to dance my ass off.

Our Unforgettable Honeymoon

No, I did not get married.

I was safely enclosed in the jungle a few months ago, absolutely unaware of what was happening around the world. After I got out and got back into civilization and connectivity, news trickled in about what happened back near the homeland, in Nepal. This is a recount of the events, as it unfolded for my friends who were present there. A big thank you to Handoo for letting me share this. Also, you’re a great guy.


Our unforgettable honeymoon

None of the characters appearing in this story are fictitious.  Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely intentional.

As a kid growing up, my mother used to tell me a phrase in Hindi, which meant, ‘You never know in what form you will meet God. So always be ready for Him.” I might not be religious, but I would call myself spiritual.  I believe in a force of nature, universe, and alchemy, and not necessarily idols and thousands of Gods of Hinduism or any other religion.  In the last decade, where I believe most of my individualistic approach to life has developed, I have tried to be kind to most of the people I meet.  I believe in loving life, because if you love it, it loves you back. For me, the greatest religion is humanity and being nice and kind to everyone. I firmly believe that if we seek with the right energy, we all get what we want in life. Universe is a science; it always gives you signs and what you look for.  Like Rumi said, “Everything in the universe is within you. Ask all from yourself.” This is a story that will make you believe in God.

The reason I say this is because I experienced all of this during just one holiday of my life.  I married my soulmate, Arti, in December of 2014. Normally, couples would go for their honeymoon just after the wedding, but ours was a different affair.  We wanted to wait for the right place and the right time to go.  Arti and I met on the internet and were a riot together on our first date.  We took off like an F-16. The first time I met her and her two sisters, I knew I had found my tribe. I knew she was the one from the first time I spoke with her.  After only five months, I was already engaged to her!  And after just 11 months, I was married to her on the most beautiful and happiest day of my life!  Like they say, when you meet the right person, it just fits the bill in every way.  Actually Arti said that, but I like to believe her.


— Interruption: Here’s the funny thing. I know these two an equally long time, but from different cities. How they met and got married is another story altogether. Here’s the sad thing – I couldn’t be at their wedding. Back to the story now —

We initially decided to travel to Bhutan, considered the happiest country in the world, whenever we could accumulate some leave at work.  Like the tech-savvy and self-proclaimed internet freak that I am, I researched everything about travel and things to do in Bhutan for months.  A day before I was to book the tickets for our flight, I realized that my passport was expiring in two weeks and could not be renewed in Pune due to some security reasons. This was a letdown, but I immediately felt there was a different plan in the works.

One of the very few countries in the world that does not require a visa, or even a passport for Indians, is Nepal.  A few weeks before this day, Arti and I had subtly discussed that it would have been better if we were going to Nepal.  We are both big fans of electronic music.  Around the same dates as our travel plans, a big electronic music festival called Universal Religion was going to happen in Nepal. The moment my passport seemed in a bit of a turmoil, I called Arti and asked her if she as okay with traveling to Nepal.  Within minutes, we were excited about the change in plans.  The next week went by booking airline tickets, hotel stays, and festival tickets.  Our happiness knew no bounds and I couldn’t just wait for April, 2015.

I made bookings and researched everything that we were to do during our 18 days in Nepal. I called and messaged all of my close friends asking them to join us at the music festival.  Some of my favorite artists from across the world were coming together to play my favorite music genre and I just could not wait for it.  Arti’s two sisters, Payal and Poorti, even booked tickets and we four were going to the festival together. The idea was to attend the festival together and after that, Arti and I would continue our holiday, while her sisters returned to India.


We arrived in Nepal in the early morning of April 23.  While we were landing, we got a glimpse of the beautiful Himalayas.  It was one of the most beautiful forms of nature I have ever seen.  We felt a little low as well, however, because an hour before our flight, we found out that the festival had been canceled due to permissions issues in Nepal.  We were nevertheless going to go, thinking that we would make the most of what lies ahead of us.  We landed in Kathmandu, the capital city, and by the time our immigration checks were done, Poorti too had landed from Dubai.

We reached our hotel, Throrong Guest House, which belonged to a friend of my family.  The hotel is located in the tourist area of Kathmandu called Thamel.  It’s a cultural hub, and the whole area is full of shops, hotels, restaurants, and clubs.  The excitement levels were so high that we did not even want to nap for a minute, even after being awake for almost 20 hours!  We had a quick breakfast and headed to a placed called Funky Buddha. This is where all the festival attendees and artists were to meet.  The festival organizers were working to find an alternate venue and that kept our hopes alive.  We stayed there until evening and then late into the night. The moment that the organizers announced that a different venue for the festival had been found, the people who were there went mad!  We went back to the hotel late at night.  Almost 40 hours had passed without a wink of sleep, but none of us felt tired.

We woke up the morning of April 24 deciding to get our supplies ready for the festival the next day.  By that time, there were six of us, with two more friends having joined us.  We picked up tents and camping gear from an adventure shop that was owned by an acquaintance in India.  We spent the remainder of the day picking up essentials for the festival and walking around Thamel.  We met some of our local friends for dinner and a late evening party.  By this time, Payal had arrived from India and I could not wait for the morning.  Our local friends helped us with a car that would take us to the festival venue, which was about two hours away from Kathmandu.  Nepalese people are some of the happiest and kindest people I have ever met.


The fateful day of April 25, 2015 was here. We had our backpacks ready by 11 and were at the breakfast table. We had loaded our bags into our waiting car.  Payal and Poorti headed out of the hotel lane to exchange some currency.  Arti had been pushing me to wear my jacket since morning. I felt a little chill in the air and decided to wear the jacket, after which Arti asked me to follow the wife’s advice in the future. I smiled and we shared a laugh. And the next second, BOOM!!

I had never been in an earthquake before this, but within three seconds I knew what I was caught in.  Arti was shocked to the point that she completely froze!  I held her hand and pulled her to run with me to the house next to the hotel. I thought that we should get away from the buildings around us and head to open land.

As we ran to the other side of the bungalow, I saw a massive ripple created in the road.  Yes, the road!  If you ever tried to clean a carpet, you know how the ripple is created.  I saw that happen to the ground where I was standing.  As we entered the premises of the bungalow, I saw a massive crack run through the ground and shatter the wall that was between the hotel and the bungalow. It was a scene from the Avengers movie where everything around you is falling and people are screaming. I still have these scenes in front of my eyes.  All this and much more happened in less than 30 seconds.  When the ground became still, I could see a water tank burst in the hotel.  Part of the hotel next to ours come crashing to the ground, and people were screaming.  And I hugged Arti.  These were the longest and scariest 30 seconds of my life.  This quake measured 7.9 on the Richter scale, which is huge!

I got out of the lane to check for Payal and Poorti.  They were coming back to check on us.  The hotel owner asked us to go to open land that was close by. We took two maids and an elderly Swedish couple along with us. There was chaos everywhere. The beautiful lanes of Thamel were devastated. I had never witnessed a scene like this other than in the movies.

We sought shelter under a heavy metal gazebo near the hotel.  We saw hundreds of scared people walking around trying to find a safe spot.  We saw several ambulances and choppers in the sky evacuating people in no time after the quake. At this point, we realized that the damage was more extensive than what we thought. Under this gazebo, we were joined by many people. People were praying, some were crying.  It was a very horrific scene. After an hour at this place, there was another massive aftershock. This caused a lot of fear and a feeling that the worst might not be behind us.

I am generally a very positive guy. The quakes had left me shaken.  Arti and her sisters were trying to make things easy and relaxed, but with two massive back-to-back quakes, it was not easy at all.  We decided that we had to get out of Thamel now. It was not safe to be in an area with so many buildings close by.


We held each other’s hands and started walking back to the hotel.  We decided to go to Funky Buddha again to get an idea of what our friends would be doing. The roads to the place were devastated. It was getting worse. People were offering water and food supplies, and a sense of panic and paranoia was everywhere. Just when we reached Funky Buddha, we met some of our friends. One of them started crying the moment she saw us. We learned that several buses had already left for the festival area in the morning, and they had not heard whether they were safe or not. While we were talking, another aftershock hit!  Believe me, once you are in this situation, even a single inch of movement feels like turbulence. There were rumors that an earthquake measuring 13 on the scale was going to hit at 3:00 pm.  It was 10 minutes to 3:00! It was a scene where everyone was so scared and waiting for another quake to happen. People were consoling and hugging each other, trying to make the situation easier.

Our friends, Sahil and Tara, also reached us. Tara had been getting a tattoo at the International Convention in Nepal when the first quake struck. They reached this place three hours later to check on us and get their luggage. We hugged each other as if we had never met before!  They persuaded us to leave Thamel with them and head out of this area as there were several parks nearby that were safer.  We four decided to walk back to the hotel.  Things were getting worse with every aftershock.  I saw a lane that had been cordoned off because all the houses had crumbled to the ground.


We picked up our luggage and camping supplies that had been packed for the festival and headed out. It was a lot more relaxed when we got out of Thamel.  I could see open sky. There was devastation everywhere, but I could feel that this was safer with no buildings around.

The six of us got together and pitched tents on the lawn of the Social Welfare Council in Kathmandu.  We had three tents ready for the night. We distributed some food and toilet paper we had to a few people we met at the park.  We spent the night in the tents.

There were aftershocks all through the night. We received a call from the Indian Embassy at 4:00 am saying that our names had been registered for evacuation (Sahil’s parents had sent them an e-mail as instructed on TV).  We woke up to another aftershock and decided to pack our belongings and head to the airport. Just as when we reached the airport, Poorti blacked out and fainted. There was a queue of approximately 10,000 people waiting to be evacuated.

When I saw the long line of people, I rested the hope of being evacuated on this day. We got into the queue as it was growing every second. Tara refused to be in this queue, and she went by herself to find an alternate.  People were fighting and arguing with each other, and during this time, another quake struck!  It was one of the most difficult times of my life. Tara came back and said we had to leave the queue and go somewhere else. She took us to another spot where people were being asked to form another line that would be airlifted.  She had obtained the necessary immigration forms as well.  There was massive chaos in this area of the airport. Somehow, fighting our way out, rubbing through a thousand people, we almost reached the gate.

The authorities were doing their best to maintain discipline and decorum.  But the people wouldn’t listen. I was standing next to a wall and was continuously being pushed by the thousands of people who wanted to get in.  The authorities let the women and children in, so the women from our group got in, leaving Sahil and I outside.  We were pushed around by the mob.  I kept thinking that the wall next to me would collapse at any minute and I would die right here.

Half an hour later, I could see Arti trying to get us in.  It was a glass door and I saw Arti crying and begging the authorities to let us in.  And then, God miraculously showed up. This time in the form of the Airport Authority who saw Arti fainting.  She begged him to let me in.  Minutes later, the gentleman came to the door and asked Arti to point at me.  He asked me to come ahead to the gate and I was let in!

This was a miracle that I will never forget all my life.  I saw Arti and hugged her.  Security led us to the front of the queue and in a few minutes, we were inside the Indian Air Force C76 airplane ready to be evacuated.



Our friends were in the line for 40 hours.  We luckily made it from the queue at the main gate to the airplane in four hours!  This was a sign of God and we were definitely blessed. The flight got us to Delhi and we stayed there for the night.

I still think about the worst that could have happened. For one, I could have died. I met wonderful people, and saw a beautiful place.  Nepal is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.  I feel sad for the over 8,000 people who died in this tragedy.  UNESCO heritage sites were reduced to dust, and thousands of people were left homeless.  During the past few months, I have realized that one gets a chance to live this life once.  If you love it, it loves you back.  I was blessed to have escaped such a tragedy unhurt.  I try to be kind and gentle to everyone I meet.  I love my family and try to be a better human being every day. My friends have jokingly issued travel advisory against traveling with both of us but I feel there was a super power blessing us all throughout. Arti and I have been a part of 2 natural disasters in the last 6 months. There are several ways to look at this coincidence. I like to think that no matter the kind of situation I am in, I will get through it. The only way I did it twice and might do it again is being a good human being. And lastly, I would not have survived these disasters with anyone else but with Arti. I wouldn’t have done any of this and that with anyone other than her.

I will visit Nepal again soon. Hardly a day goes by when I don’t think about Nepal and its beautiful people. I still think of the people who I did not even meet, the tribe at the festival, the brilliant artistes who I did not listen to. I am sure there will be a day when all of this will be fulfilled. I did not go to Nepal just to come back like this. There was a bigger purpose of all that happened. I pray to God everyday to help me be a person that I intend to be.


If you would like to help Nepal and its people, please visit Nepal soon. It is a beautiful place with amazing people! If you cannot travel, please donate to the Nepal Relief Fund. Get in touch with me – Prabhat.Handoo@sas.com and I will make sure that your donation reaches the right people.