“Did you ask the permission of the mountain to climb on it?” was the question posed to me by Col. Premchand , who has been training youngsters aspiring to reach on the summits, 26 years back during one of the adventure training sessions. What rubbish, asking the permission from the mountain? That was the response writ large on my face, a typical response from a 21 year old, urban brought up. It must have taken more than a decade to realize how true he was. You cannot climb on a mountain without its willingness.
All these thoughts crept in while I was reading “Think Everest” by Atul & Anita Karwal. While reading the book, I felt the journey was worth, as if I had accompanied Atul Karwal in his dream of scaling Everest. To enjoy Karwals’ book you need not be a mountaineer or a mountain lover, it is already mentioned in the title itself. It is all about scaling mountains with the Mind and having the courage to follow your dream. So if you have a dream, irrespective of the nature of it, you should join Atul’s voyage to the Mother of the Oceans that is the Everest.
If by any chance you are a reader in search of the meaning of spirituality and have been reading and appreciating the works of Paulo Coelho, Osho, Swami Rama, Swami Bodhananda, Deepak Chopra, John Harricharan, Eckhart Tolle… then Think Everest could be an extension of similar thoughts, forget the unpronounceable names of the Himalayan Peaks. The book is rife with enthusiasm of a person obsessed with fitness and an overwhelming courage to follow one’s dream. Most readers are likely to pick up individualistic practical solutions from this book as if it were a ‘self help’ manual.
The foreword is by Kiran Bedi, the Magsaysay Award winner and the first ever woman IPS officer who had created her own history. Moreover, the book has been appreciated by the Nobel Peace laureate His Holiness the Dalai Lama. After going through the words of appreciation from these two great individuals, it is difficult to say anything new about what lies in the core of the book.
While you travel with Karwals, interestingly they have written the work in such a way that you cannot be just a reader but a companion traveller; you would be taken to the arduous task of climbing Everest along with the day to day mundane chores of life. It is quite possible that your eyes become moist while reading about the efforts of their daughters to fit in the right kind of songs into the iPod that was carried by Atul throughout his journey. It’s the same feeling when you read about Anna – that’s the way Atul addresses his wife throughout the book – who right from the beginning played the role of a friend, companion, motivator and critique.
Of course, while climbing with Atul, many a time a skeptic reader might get into trouble. Most of the time Atul is a person with scientific temper and reasoning, but at the same time he goes beyond it and finds solace by realizing “I have began to feel as if I am one with the mountains and we are made up of the same stuff. There is no duality”. Many a time he questions the futility of clinging to one’s own life which is already destined and tries to find courage in stepping beyond the pull of fear and apprehensions.
Most of his diary scribbles are monologues, very interesting because they express the concerns of an ordinary person irrespective of being an IPS officer, who has always been looked upon with a lot of respect and sometimes with jealousy because of his official status. He tells you throughout the book that he is well read and well trained to attempt the summit by quoting reputed authors and lesser known trainers of the wonderful mountaineering institutes of India. To give an example, the author quotes Dr. Kemlar, “every man climbs Everest alone” which sounds almost like “every man carries his own cross”. Another very striking quote was “Everybody needs someone to pack his or her parachute” by Charlie Plumb.
We seldom find humour in khaki, I mean in IPS officers, but Atul is carrying a bag full of sense of humour and shows off his skills at it in totally unexpected situations. In the most arduous and near to impossible situations he strikes a comment, like while tucking the toiletries and a frozen pee bottle into the sleeping bag at a height of 23000 feet, he realises that though one climbs the mountain alone, you have a bunch of sleeping partners. And some times he creates phrases like “beautifully dangerous”. In a similar tone, he also signs off most of his diary jottings with a philosophical uttering, for himself and for the readers.
Most of the time it is a journey with an energetic, determined traveller, but in between he tries to go back to his house, his personal space and talks about the efforts he had to make in accomplishing the near-impossible, most difficult journey. The book is authored by Atul Karwal and Anita Karwal but it is Atul who is telling you the story with a fragrance-like presence of Anita throughout. May be, it’s a proof that “with every successful man there stands a silent woman”. The only solace here is that Anita is not all that silent; her voice comes in between and that has been credited with lots of appreciation, gratitude and love from the man in front.
A well produced book with a number of expressive photographs, this is a must read for anybody planning to follow their dream. Think Everest would definitely help you to achieve your own Everest if you have one already and if not, it would guide you to find one. I can only compare it with the latest Bollywood success “Three Idiots”.
Atul Karwal, Anita Karwal
Pages 254 Price: 295
Publishers: Viva Books Pvt. Ltd
By Madhu Menon – a freelancer communicator practicing development communication with an emphasis on environment. Also Director, Anala, a group committed to create an environment conscious society.