Trekking & Leadership - The Hanifl Way

Photo of Trekking & Leadership - The Hanifl Way by The Renegades

“There is no road to freedom – the only roads that have

ever been built are for the purpose of commerce

and government – and yet to truly identify one’s purpose and calling

in life one must make a journey, and possibly quite a long one.

In order to genuinely see things differently and to develop new

ideas and values you must put yourself in circumstances that

you have never been in before; circumstances that give nature

the chance to speak to you. This is no holiday, no luxury cruise,

no paid-for entertainment . It is a journey of self discovery and

understanding and it starts with a deep desire for change in

one’s life and willingness to see and hear”

-Kondo Syokai

Arre bhai arjun, aur kitna duur hai ye hanifl centre.

It all started last November when Arjun and I took a drastic career change in our lives and left our perfect jobs, finding a career into Trekking.

Sounds interesting, yeah!!

Well, the first step to all of this was to getting yourself enrolled in a mountaineering course.

Aur jaise har seedha saadha mountaineer krta hai, humne bhi bilkul wahi try kiya. But as usual shani meri kundali par chokri maar kar betha hua tha. And every damn mountaineering institute was filled for almost a year.

I felt heartbroken…as I called every possible mountaineering institute in India and received a BIG NO from the other side.

Interestingly, I was net surfing one day as all of us do in our free times. And I found a blog on mountaineering, it was written by a girl in her 20’s who was pursuing her study in law and living her dream of wandering in the mountains. She mentioned in her blog that apart from all mountaineering institutes which everyone knows of, there is an institute in mussorie which offers a course in trek leading and Wilderness first aid.

And I was like….

Badal pe paon hai

Ya choota gaon hai

Ab toh bhai chal padi

Apni ye nav hai…..

Instantly I started looking at their website and found that the course was scheduled for next month in November and seats were available.

Next thing came very naturally.

“ Jhanvi, can you please lend me some money, I asked with those crocodile tears in my eyes and a puppy like face.

And this is what the reply was.

Kyu .

Now, this kyu is not a normal conversation wala kyu. Listen very carefully and every sister and brother can relate to this kyu.

If ever you have asked for a favor, generally money from your elder sibling. And then you see their face turning red and the eyes bulging out with anger and with a sarcastic tone the Kyu comes out. Then you think and you think until the most ridiculous answer comes to you.

Ummmm… let me think, kyuki mujhe chaiye.

And the story is never ending. Nevertheless, I got the money thanks to my lovely sister. Arjun and I booked our seats and waited for sweet November to come.

Here comes the November and we started our much awaited journey towards my dream “The Hanifl Centre”.

The bus that we boarded from Delhi, left us some 5 kms away from the taxi stand at picture palace, mussorie due to some miscommunication.

No problem, I told arjun.

With our usual heavy backpacks and “I don’t care lets enjoy” wala attitude, we started walking towards Mussorie. After a few kilometers hike, I realized that the bags were quite heavy and the road steep. It was the month of November, we were in mussorie “the queen of hills” & it should have been cold but we were sweating like pigs.

Arre bhai arjun, aur kitna duur hai ye hanifl centre.

Kamar ki tootan ho gayi, Arjun replied.

For all those who are thinking ‘what the hell is tootan’, don’t you worry it’s a word made by my dear friend Arjun, I guess even he doesn’t know the meaning & there will be a lot of similar words coming in next few chapters to enjoy.

With this tootan we somehow reached the taxi stand and booked a taxi for Hanifl centre, landour. Reaching Landour, I felt mesmerized by sheer beauty and calmness of the place. That time I felt what Ruskin bond the famous author must have felt living in those amazing mountains and so close to the nature. It was so quiet and peaceful that you would not be able to leave the place without shedding a tear or two.

Photo of Trekking & Leadership - The Hanifl Way 1/6 by The Renegades

Finally, we reached hanifl centre and my dream of getting into trekking was coming true. Going inside I could feel heartbeat incresing & the blood in my veins was running like some wild horse in an open field, entering the premises of that beautiful bungalow with big smile on our face we were welcomed by a handsome Nepali guy named Tensing.

Le bhai arjun, apna Sherpa Tensing Norgay toh yahi mil gya. Ab aaega kuch mzaa. I said!

Arjun gave me a grim smile.

But in reality he knew nothing about mountaineering and was the administrator.

‘Hey, how are you?’

Exhausted, both of us replied.

The course isn’t even started yet, Tensing said with a smile on his face and showed us to our dormitory which we were about to share with 4 other guys.

Yeah, you heard it right.

We were only 6 people in the course. Actually there should have been 10 or 11 but due to last minute cancellations we were the lucky 6.

I remember lying on my bed and a guy entered the room. With a heavy backpack on his shoulders and a weird look on his face he asked the most unexpected question.

Bhai ji, Maine aap ko kahi dekha hai.

Mtlb 2 minute toh mai sochte hi reh gya ki kya mtlb bolu kya.

Acha, I replied.

And arjun came in the room. Aur dono bhaio ne 1 hi nazar mei pehchan liya ki woh garwali hai. And I being a Punjabi got sidelined.

It was 5 in the evening, and the time for dinner.

Bhai, ek baat btao mtlb kon sa bnda sham ke 5 baje dinner krta hai. Hume toh 10 baje fir bhook lag jaegi.

What can I say; the institution has its rules like pratishtha, parampara aur anushasan hahahaha. Just Kidding

Photo of Trekking & Leadership - The Hanifl Way 2/6 by The Renegades

So we slept early because next day was our first day. Woke up early around 6 o clock, had our breakfast which was delicious and I can almost guarantee you that no other trekking course will make you eat so much of delicious and healthy food. After that all of us assembled in the training room.

I saw a tall thin man passing by the room, he must be in his late 50’s and exactly resembled Dumbledore, I swear I am not making this up. Later on you will get to know that he was actually like Dumbledore.

Well Akshay da, we called him that out of respect & those who don’t know Da means elder brother in garwal. So akshay da briefed us all about the programme and introduced other faculties that were Gaurav da and titu.

After this small chit chat with our instructors, we got the schedule for our next 16 days. The next 5 days were quite hectic as we learned Basic knots, how to make anchors and few sessions on first aid.

Photo of Trekking & Leadership - The Hanifl Way 3/6 by The Renegades
Photo of Trekking & Leadership - The Hanifl Way 4/6 by The Renegades
Photo of Trekking & Leadership - The Hanifl Way 5/6 by The Renegades
Photo of Trekking & Leadership - The Hanifl Way 6/6 by The Renegades

Days were warmer and the nights were very cold.

The evening of our fifth Day was quite crucial because of our ration planning and bag packing was scheduled for the day.

Gaurav da taught us how to pack our bags and our gears with the ration & you won’t believe our bags weight was around 20 to 24 kgs, out of that 10 to 12kgs of weight was of food.

Dekha, I told you the only institute which will make you eat a lottt which made me remember a quote by Akshay da

When in Mountains

Nutrate Nutrate Nutrate

Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate

That’s how you enjoy Mountains and genuinely it’s true. Packing the bags was fun but all night long there was only 1 thought in my mind that carrying those bags will not be that much fun. Alas the sun rise & we were ready to go deep into the mountains, last minute checks were done by the instructors.

And the journey begins….

Day 6

Day 6

Photo of Landour, Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India by The Renegades
Photo of Landour, Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India by The Renegades
Photo of Trekking & Leadership - The Hanifl Way by The Renegades

We started walking on the beautiful roads of landour, the weather was cold & the light breeze of air made us shiver a bit, the sun was not visible but hidden somewhere beneath the clouds. All of us were smiling and cracking jokes & few even cracked some bones due to those heavy packs. After walking for a while, we left the road and started descending down into the deep forest.

The descend got steeper and steeper and hard to walk as all the leaves were fallen down making the path slippery to walk. But we managed and luckily nobody fall.

Oak trees were all around which made the forest look beautiful and after every 5 minutes akshay da used to tell us about some species of flora and fauna which was making my day. Crossing few ridges the instructors decided to take lunch break as all of us seem tired.

The packed lunch was given to us as it was our last lunch and after this we have to cook ourselves. Eating those tasty aloo paranthas with pickle in that amazing valley was an out of the world experience which doesn’t lasted very long and we started the trek again, crossing few more beautiful views after 2-3 hours we reached our 1st camp site which was a little uphill surrounded by the trees and was very near to the water source & beautiful shiv temple.

Pitching the camp is by far the best thing & I love to do it because afterwards you can go inside and sleep but not here because akshay da was ready for the First aid session which he took really seriously & you cannot mess with his session.

After that long hike and a quiet long first aid session it was time to cook our food. That was the time I understood why we used to eat dinner at 5 in the evening back at the institute because in the mountains it starts getting dark early. So we started cooking and the first thing Gaurav da taught us was Spaghetti in béchamel sauce oo lala . I can assure you it was better than any other sphagetti I ever had only because it was cooked in mountains and it’s that amazing feeling which makes everything better.

Day 7

Photo of Trekking & Leadership - The Hanifl Way by The Renegades

It was a rest day for the team. Now don’t you misunderstand it as we get to chill on this day No... It meant that we will be camping there only but all the sessions will be taking place starting right after the breakfast.

“Who’s making the breakfast”, Gaurav da asked?

Basically we were separated in 3 teams.

First team of the instructors of which gaurav da was the chef of followed by two more teams.

And as arjun and i are the Hotel Management graduates, we were bali ka bakra most of the times. Still it was fun and an enjoyable experience. I mean how many times you get the chance of cooking in the mountains, such a wonderful experience and when one praises your food that works as cherry on the cake.

It was a hectic day as we learned about

- Map Reading

- Session on first aid

- Weather in the mountains

Had Dinner and slept like a baby.

Day 8

Photo of Trekking & Leadership - The Hanifl Way by The Renegades
Photo of Trekking & Leadership - The Hanifl Way by The Renegades
Photo of Trekking & Leadership - The Hanifl Way by The Renegades

Waking up early in the mountains has its own rewards & one of them is you didn’t get scolded by your instructors… hahahaha

Poha was cooked for the breakfast, Bags were packed and after having the breakfast it was time to move but there was a twist in the story, we had to read maps and find our way to the next destination which was some village named kandajhak.

All of us being the clever people, it was difficult but nothing is impossible. All it took was a little while for gaurav da to figure it out ki

Humse na ho paega

So he came to the rescue and gave us hints and how to work as a team, how to lead the team 1 by 1 and so on.

And the fun has just begun, after few minutes it started raining. No worries we were prepared for everything, so we took out our ponchos and started hiking again. Believe me rain in the mountains gives you the most scenic views that you can ever imagine, everything looks so refreshing and fresh as if born a new.

Photo of Trekking & Leadership - The Hanifl Way by The Renegades
Photo of Trekking & Leadership - The Hanifl Way by The Renegades

Finally, we reached Kandajhaka and it was dinner time. This evening Gaurav da had a surprise for us.

“We will be baking today”.

Baking! Here in middle of the jungle, you must be joking. We said.

Let’s take out your Ration. Gaurav da said.

We will prepare Chicken sausage pizza today.

Photo of Trekking & Leadership - The Hanifl Way by The Renegades

That sounds insane and delicious at the same time. And that pizza was better than dominos or pizza hut; it was thin crust and had a smoky flavor as it was cooked on coals. We even invented a name for it as it was cooked in kandajhaka, vipul one of our batchmates and the most experienced guy in the team decided to name it la piazza kandajhaka.

‘It can’t get any better’, I said!

And to that gaurav da replied.

Boys, let’s make some hot chocolate.

After this wholesome dinner, gaurav da made us reflect the Day and asked everyone to give some feedback of the day popcorn style (matlab anybody can start)

And so the day ended.

Day 9

It became a habit to wake up early without the sound of an alarm clock thanks to my tent mate Deven from aamchi Mumbai, who helped me a lot in waking up early. Moreover we were not allowed to carry our cell phones and had to leave them back at the institute so putting an alarm was out of question.

The mornings were cold and gaurav da used to drink matte every morning, some days even I used to drink it. FYI matte is a South American tea which actually doesn’t tastes very good. But subha subha thand mei chai ka mazza alag hi hai. The days went as usual as we hiked a lot and did our classes in the upcoming days. On few occasions we even had bonfire keeping in mind all leave no trace principles that is you respect the mountains and flora, fauna. But the most amazing thing of bonfire was the classic songs sung by titu da which were melody for our hearts and sweet to ears, on few lucky occasions we even heard some self written poems by titu which were intense to the core.

Photo of Trekking & Leadership - The Hanifl Way by The Renegades
Photo of Trekking & Leadership - The Hanifl Way by The Renegades

Coming to day 14 and the last day of the trek. It felt as if we just started the trek and it was about to end, I got so habitual of living in the mountains, travelling out of my lovely bag pack, cooking on my own and all of the other amazing things that it felt bad to go back. The last day went by in the blink of an eye.

Day 15

We woke up at 3 in the morning, by 4 am everyone got ready to hike as we had to reach back to the institute early morning.

The cab was waiting in a nearby village and it took us all the way from pantwari which is starting point of nag tibba trek to the institute in landour. The time in the cab made me feel happy and sad at the same moment.

Happy for all the memories I made , the amazing people I met and the things that mountains taught me.

Sad for actually I don’t know, maybe because the course was ending so soon. But then I thought it is just the beginning. I felt blessed at the moment.

Reaching back to the institute, everyone took the longest bath of their lives and why not we haven’t bathed for 9 days. After that it was cleaning and washing of all our gears which took half of the day.

The story didn’t end here because the last and 16th day was our test of first aid and luckily all of us passed it with flying colours.

Photo of Trekking & Leadership - The Hanifl Way by The Renegades

Certificates were given to each one of us, pictures were clicked and everyone was happy and laughing and talking about the moments that happened in last 16 days.

It was time for goodbyes

Akshay da, ek baat bolu. I said!

Haan, he replied.

Ghar janne ka mann nahi krra.

To which everyone smiled.

We packed our bags hugged each other had the last laugh together and started back to our lives with some new dreams in our eyes.

For more amazing journeys stay tuned


With love from The Renegades