Newsletter July 2018
A year has passed since I did Himalayan Odyssey for the second time, and though I had done Odyssey before in 2013 as well, 2015 Odyssey attracted me as this was first time in over 5 years we were attempting to pass Spiti valley in the first leg of the trip. Since last five years though Royal Enfield riders tried but could not make it to Kaza, and as I was part of a failed attempt in 2013, that Odyssey felt incomplete as an important leg of it we all had missed.
A year back when I completed it I was a bit reluctant in writing about the trip as I’ve heard some friends complain that the Delhi~Leh stretch has become a part of the rigmarole, a consumer product for not-so-serious riders looking for a cheat-code to motorcycling cool, and a product strategy for RE to keep its Motorcycles looking more Hardcore than any and keep the sales chart climbing. I am writing about it now as this was special to me and many, a trip that has kept all the riders in that Odyssey bonded for over a year and in this article I want to put down not how the trip was and how beautiful landscape of Ladakh is but the experience that will remain with us for our lifetime.
It was in this Odyssey that I learnt the term “Odyssey” comes from the legendary Greek king Odysseus, as famous for his idea of the Trojan Horse as he is for his eponymous journey after the war in Troy. In our time, a Trojan Horse has come to mean a malicious bit of computer software code. But an Odyssey still means what it meant in classical Greece. A once-in-a-lifetime, epic journey. For such an expedition, motorcycles constitute a fair trade for horses and ships. A means of epic transport.
As usual the Odyssey started from Delhi this time again, my home town, but that day was special. It was raining overnight & it rained so badly that all newspapers even compared Delhi to Vienna for its roads turning into streams and cars setting afloat instead. It was a miracle that I made it to Flag Off in time somehow, but rain took it as it’s flag off as well and accompanied us for two days till Narkanda, a town past Shimla. After Narkanda the first day’s ride till Kalpa was a dream, but we were all unaware for what was coming at us up ahead as we barge in the most notorious Valley called Spiti.
‘Spiti’ actually means the middle land, what lies between the Tibetan plateau and the Indian plate. As we rode up the Spiti valley, everything began to change dramatically – the landscape, the people, the attire, the language – and the lips began to go dry as the effects of high altitude kicked in. Each corner along a demure slope and over a steep ascent, is a step closer to the plateau. The transformation is as much geographical as it is psychological.
In our ride from Kalpa to Kaza, two of our riders met with an accident, one so serious that he couldn’t ride any further, plus we got stuck because of a landslide and late at night we all had to take shelter in a small town called Tabo. The town didn’t have accommodation for so many so we slept wherever we got place. For me it was a balcony of a nice old friendly man but as I got blanket to keep me warm at night, I was more than happy. I never had any complains with the diversion as due to this unscheduled stoppage I got to see the oldest monastrory in the region there.
Next day ride to Kaza was a breeze, but biggest obstacle of all was yet to come. After leaving from Kaza we all got stuck in a river crossing. Royal Enfield bikes are heavy, and crossing with them in waist deep water was not something anybody could do alone. To make one bike cross 4~8 persons had to get down in water to help the bike out. I was one of those who stayed in that ice cold water the most. We reached the water crossing just after having lunch & were stuck there till it got dark. Though we managed to get the bikes across, but our support vehicles could not cross that night & passed that area only after BRO team came there the next morning to redirect the water and clear the pathway. That night everyone was tired to bones, plus we had damaged a few bikes and few persons either got sick or took some small injuries as well. With the strength we had we somehow reach Chatru, a very small place with declared population of less than 100 people and only two Dhabas to accommodate travelers who get stuck in that area because of frequent landslides. For sure that town was not ready to accommodate 58 rider’s plus support staff, so we all slept wherever we could. Few only got bed which they were very reluctant to share & most of us were sleeping on various corners of dhaba just to keep up warm & protected as it had started raining in the night as well. I slept in sitting position in a corner with head of one of my friend on my lap & feet of another behind me. The next morning day was a clear one, with another challenge for all as there were no washroom’s in that area. There was a river close by but as ground was slippery because of rain and river offered no privacy we all preferred going behind various big rock’s in adjoining area and we all made a point to either sing a song, play it on our cell or keep humming something so someone else don’t land up there while we were at it 🙂
Anyway, we proceeded ahead and after one night of staying in a cozy hotel in Jispa we again spent a night in dhabas in Pang. As most of the riders were not ready for this dhaba stays with no showers, toilets and clean beds, plus few accidents along the way with riders getting fractured, getting open wounds and having their shoulders dislocated as well. By the time we reached Leh most of the riders had made up their mind to leave Odyssey midway, ship their bikes & take a flight back home from Leh. To add to the number there were road jams in Leh by local cab drivers one day and a landslide blocking our route on the next that kept us in Leh for four days instead of two and that delayed the completion date of Odyssey by a day. As people with jobs and other committments had their deadlines, and the experience on the way to Leh had them thinking as well, by the time we realized how many are thinking to leave, we were reduced from 58 to 23 in no time. There was pressure on me too to leave by family back home and friends I made in the trip were really forcing me as well, but on this odyssey another wise friend of mine said, “Pain is temporary. Quitting is permanent”. He had reiterated it loudly, over and over, like an article of faith and as I kept listening to it every now and then, it got embedded in me like a permanent tattoo or something, and though hard pressed I decided to stay back and be a part of the ones who will finish what they had set off for.
After four days at Leh, 23 of us headed back. Another round of adventures, soakings in heavy showers, tyre punctures, parties. On the descent from Lachung La, while negotiating the groovy corners of Gata Loops, we stopped at a quaint shrine, littered with water bottles. I learned of the legend of a driver’s assistant who died there. After the truck had broken down, the driver hitched a ride to get help. But the weather turned nasty, an early winter set in, the road had to be closed. The assistant was trapped in the truck and died in the severe winter. A legend was born. Truck drivers began to report supernatural sensations at that spot. The ultimate outliers, truckers have their superstitions. It became a custom to stop there and offer water and prayers. I stopped there, too, and bowed. The legend may or may not have emerged from a real story. But it had a greater message. A message of humility and passage in this the most challenging of terrains. Humility was not a difficult message after what I had witnessed over the past few days.
Standing there, watching people offer bottles of water and pray for good luck, I again thought of people who had said the Himalayan Odyssey is now a predictable affair. I offered an imaginary bottle of water for returning with the body intact, the mind enriched. Since the completion of the 2015 Odyssey, I’ve stayed in touch with some of the people I met there. I even go out on weekend rides with the new friends I’ve made. Successful professionals and businessmen, with full lives, families, creature comforts. And yet they crave to get out on a motorcycle, to experience the outdoors, to get a taste of the epic, an escape from time measured in balance sheets and political elections contested over the price of onions. After a year on the anniversary of that trip participants are still posting pictures of the ride on social media. These memories are not going to fade in a hurry. Other people leave wistful comments on their pictures. For seasoned riders like me every year with a new ride the cycle just keeps repeating, the circle just keep growing, but this particular ride was surely different and that is the reason I have been up all night trying to put all of my experience in words.
There was something I believed in, something I even said in my Video Interview with Royal Enfield team, a video that is still there in Adventure Section of Royal Enfield Official website. When all was not working out well and we were getting caught in tougher and tougher situations day after day, when faith was being shattered and survival instincts were having better of us I told everyone loud & out that it is a ride you will remember for life not because of what you have seen on this trip, but because of all you have experienced on the trip. We all can forget the scenic view that surrounded us but it is hard to forget that one hand that lifted us when we were down in the mud or drowning in that ice cold water; that one man who crouched his position as much as he can to make space for you to sit in a cold unforgiving night. It is those adversities and setbacks in the trip that made Himalayan Odyssey 2015 a trip which though I will never like to repeat again, but I will never forget to recite in my stories to my Grand & Great Grand Children whenever I tell them about experiences I have had in my lifetime.
– Capt. Ritesh Mehra
Cadet Akshay Yadav LPG PINZA
Cadet Ravi Teja MT BW IRIDIUM
3/O Abhay Pratap Singh FEDERAL YOSHINO
Tamed Lion – Deck Cadet Sachin Thakur
3/E Gokul Rajaram
INTERNATIONAL HAPPINESS DAY WITH LAUGHTER YOGA
M. V. HARMONIOUS
M. V. COURAGEOUS
M. V. MOUNTPARK
ONBOARD HOLI CELEBRATION
LITTLE HANDS AT WORK : M.V. AMSTEL LION
LITTLE HANDS AT WORK : M.V. AMSTEL LION
CONGRATULATIONS TO JOHANNA J. THAPA – (DAUGHTER OF JUVITA THAPA – DM AT ANGLO EASTERN)
Johanna J. Thapa (Daughter of Juvita Thapa) won the Chairman’s Prize for The Best Student Of The year at Tolani College of Commerce for being the most versatile & talented student. The achievements are as below:
* Very good at Academics & has performed well in all semesters
* Subject topper in Company Secretarial Practise in Semester IV
* Very good sportsman especially in field event like shot put, discus throw etc.
* Awarded Annual Sports champion degree section for the A.Y. 2016-17
* Participated in Mumbai Athletic meet held by Mumbai University
* Awarded the 2nd prize in research & convention held by the University
* Participated in Udaan festival – in Essay writing competition
* Awarded the first place in slogan writing at the Yuya Abhi Yakti held by MAVA
* Awarded the second place in A.D. Shroff Memorial Elocution competition
* Awarded various prizes in various inter college events
* Apart from academics, she has been an active member of the College Women Development cell
* Has assisted in organising self defence program for female students , seminars , work-shop’s & health check -up campaign
* Member of Student council of the college
* Active member of DLLE (Department of life long learning extension)
* Rendered her assistance during the NAAC visit
* Assisted the faculty in data analysis for research paper work
DIPLOMA IN MULTIMODAL TRANSPORTATION C/O ANUBHAV SAXENA
CHIEF COOK HARISH POOJARY’S DAUGHTER SCORED 95% IN 4TH STANDARD
A SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEUR
MRS MILI DHIMAN.
WIFE OF AN ARMY OFFICER / MASTER MARINER,
CAPT BIPIN KUMAR, MRS MILI DHIMAN IS A
She belongs to the beautiful town of Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh and was closely associated with the politics in the region. She is marriage to Capt. Bipin Kumar, who is sailing with Anglo Eastern Ship Management. Capt. Kumar brought her to Mumbai. Today she runs a three star hotel by the name “Hotel The Woodz” in Dharamsala. She has recently started her second venture of a Mineral Water plant in Mumbai under the name ‘Classy Blues’ which is an ISO certified company. We felicitate her for her achievements as a successful entrepreneur besides being a Merchant Navy Officer wife.
MEO CLASS II & M. V. TUCAPEL MUNDRA PORT COO VISIT
MEO CLASS II
M. V. TUCAPEL MUNDRA PORT COO VISIT
FROM SAILORS DIARY
INSIDE A SAILOR’S MIND
When times get sad and life gets hard,
We look up to the sky, to the stars afar.
Hoping for strength to fight through the day,
Hoping that we’d somehow try and find a way.
To get back home in just one piece,
Although we’re covered in paint and grease.
Sailing with pride through the mighty ocean,
Rolling along in a synchronized motion.
Waiting to berth to go ashore,
Cash advance in our pockets, so like lions we roar.
Not regretting this decision we’ve made,
To sail the seas until our caskets are laid.
Cause no one knows the feelings, the blues,
Maybe someday you should try and walk in our shoes.
Metaphorically speaking, surely not for real,
Just so you know exactly how it feels.
Running around at anchor searching for a network,
It may sound funny but it sure aint a joke.
Working everyday with a clear and fresh mind,
Locking our troubles in our cabins and leaving worries behind.
Learning and growing at a steady pace,
Through all the sleepless nights and work filled days.
Overcoming our fears and the problems we face,
Keeping in mind our loved ones want us safe.
We know we’re far away from home,
But a second family for us is the crew onboard.
A Master of the brain, if you ever want to find,
Take a peek “Inside a Sailors Mind”
– Sean Sam Gallyot (Third Off)
TATA MUMBAI MARATHON 2018
“Mita de apni hasti ko, agar kuchh martaba chahe Ki dana khaak me mil ke gul-e-gulzaar hota hai”
These lines by Iqbal have always been the mantra of life for me, never more so than when training for my first marathon. I remember the conversation clearly when I called my wife from the ship in July 2017.
“Hi babe, please book my 2017 Airtel Half Marathon and the Mumbai Marathon”
“Mumbai!!!” I had been waiting for that reaction, so I just smiled.
“Yup! Planning to run Mumbai Full Marathon”. That’s that! It’s been said. Finally.
“Anuuuuup!” I love the way she puts a whole lifetime of questions in that one simple word.
“I know, I know, I’m scared too but I promise I will be careful”
That’s how I planned my First Full Marathon. Mumbai is an extremely prestigious, though difficult course for a first full marathon- the heat and humidity is such a wrong combination where running is concerned and that makes it the coveted one. My well-wishers tried to dissuade me from running it but what can I say? So the training began.
I was 88 kgs so first of all I needed to shed weight, a lot, at least 8-10 kgs, come to an optimum BMI so that my joints (hips, knees and ankles) and my spine would be able to propel and hold me upright for the enduring time of 5 hrs that I needed to finish the marathon in. I began by eating smart- more quality than quantity. Proteins, sprouts, dry fruits and berries were my go to food for the next 3-4 months I was on the ship. I avoided fried food and drinks and even munched healthy. Ultimately I did manage to shed 10 kgs over a period of 4 months and felt fitter at 78 kgs. The race was on!
As I was disciplining my life on the ship, my wife (who has been a couch potato all her life of 50 years) underwent an amazing transformation. Her fear for my heart and over-running concerns spurred her to do research on Marathon running, which further inspired her to start walking and finally running about 3 – 5 km and doing Zumba 3 times a week. She was reassured by her own performance, realizing that our bodies are capable of much more than we think. She formulated a plan for me and sent me pertinent information regarding my running interval training and diet.
I have always been running – in school, college and more recently for the past 2 years during holidays, when I would run half marathons (21k) whenever and wherever I could. But a marathon is a different ball game – It’s 42.2 kilometers, double the distance, which means you have to run continuously for several hours (4-5 and that also if you are good). It’s a test of mind over body. Actually my mind is like that of a college guy (you are stuck at 18- says my wife) but the body is definitely 52. I needed to train cautiously not over reaching or injuring myself, so I bought a Garmin sports watch when the ship reached USA. I constantly asked my wife to do research on terms like cadence, max VO2, Max heart rate and their significance in running. Lighter and fitter and armed with technology and research I devised a plan. I needed long runs, speed runs and hill runs and of course loads of interval training, right food and gear, so I could peak in time for the Tata Mumbai Marathon.
I reached home on 21st of October, joined coach Ravinder for interval training and on 29th October ran my first race of the season, a half marathon or 21.1 km (2:02:01) First trial long run check! My son ran 10 km and my wife ran 5k-what more can a runner want!
On my 52nd birthday on 19th November I ran Airtel Delhi Half Marathon in 01:57:08 and then partied the whole night. My time and my life are rocking!
It was a cold 3rd of December at the 10th Gurgaon Running and Living Marathon and running 10.55 km I ranked 1st overall with a time of 49:59 – I am on a roll!
On 16th December there was a trial run for Trail-o-thon where I ran 10 km and came 7th overall and 2nd in my age group (49-54)
17th December Gurugram Grand Half Marathon-5km (20:43), was a calculated speed run and I ranked first in my age group again and surprisingly wife did well, running her 5km in 36:01. Winning was turning into a habit!
To avoid the chilly North Indian winters we flew to Pune to my brother’s place, also to get used to Mumbai weather. From there we drove to Mahabaleshwar and during that week I did some pretty long hill running, apart from the usual sightseeing and bits of trekking.
Came back to conquer Pune in style on the 7th of January ranking first in 10k at Pune Polite-o-Thon (veteran category above 48 years of age) with a time of 48 minutes.
We shifted base to Ganpatipule on the 10th of January to mimic the hot and humid weather of Mumbai and to run on beach as resistance training. Acclimatization seemed like a good idea considering that my home city of Gurgaon was reeling under cold and pollution.
Ganpatipule is a paradise village tucked away on a serene, clean, gorgeous Konkan beach presided by the Swayambhu Ganpati temple. From 10th to 18th of January, I ran 3 very long runs ultimately reaching 33 km to remind my body of the huge task ahead. Took cooling dips after the runs in the ocean washing away all cramps, aches and pains! Then did swimming and pool jogging in the evenings to stretch my sore muscles. My wife was coach, fellow runner, water and sports drink supplier, masseur all rolled in one for all of these 3 odd months.
We went back to Pune and then on 20th of January left for Tata Mumbai Expo to collect my bib and kit where I also met up with my coach and other dear friends. I had an early dinner of pasta, took a warm shower and slept soundly.
I always wake up early for my races, get ready, have a bit of breakfast , take some bananas and sports drinks and my phone with me. That’s what I did on the 21st of January 2018 when I walked the short distance from our hotel to the starting point of the Tata Mumbai Marathon. I stood there soaking in the familiar electric, enthusiastic energy which surrounds marathons and all runners. So this is the day, the moment of truth, of all trials and training and sweat and tears, aches and pain. All of those 90 odd days in which I have done nothing, thought nothing, wanted nothing, dreamt nothing but this! This day is mine.
A marathon runner is not competing with others, he is only competing with that small voice in his head which tells him to stop. And of course you never listen to it, you just laugh and tell it to shut up! So with butterflies in my stomach I lined up, I had my first gulp of sports drink at 5 km all according to meticulous route plan and I just ran, even when it became impossible to run I did not stop, I limped, I walked and finally ran to the finish line, spent, exhausted, joyous and elated! I had finished it! I had completed my first full marathon! With a fabulous time of 04:11:57 and an even more fabulous two in one medal- one for the finisher and one for the inspiration (my wife loves it).
Words fail me! The feeling is incomparable as the marathon runner John Hanc puts it-
“I’ve learned that finishing a marathon is not just an athletic achievement,
It’s a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible.”
– C/E Anup Singh
M.V. LPG / CELLINGTON
REPUBLIC DAY CELEBRATION
VISIT TO JYOTHIS CARE CENTRE
Venezia and I visited Jyothis Care Centre at Taloja on
Wednesday, 13 th June, 2018. We were welcomed
very warmly by the Sisters and the inmates, who
were eagerly expecting us. The care centre is
located in 1 acre land and is neatly maintained.
Sr. Jisna told us that there are 23 inmates currently,
most of them mentally challenged. They are under
medication and are calm most of the time, but
they do get a bit unsettled at times. Medicines are
regularly provided by volunteers.
The inmates performed a small action song for us.
They were thrilled to have the vada pav that we
had got for them. The Sisters were also grateful to
receive lassi packets and alphonso mangoes.
The Sisters repeatedly told us that they were very
happy and thankful that the monthly rations are
provided by us, thus saving them the effort and
embarrassment of begging for these at APMC
market. Both of them sent their prayers and wishes
to all of us.
We did ask the Sisters if there was anything that we
could help them with. They were very hesitant to
ask for any further help, but on much probing by
Venezia and me, they asked if we could arrange for
pillow covers and a manual sewing machine.
All the inmates gathered at the door to see us off,
most of them hugged and kissed us. Needless to
say, it was a humbling experience for both of us.
BLOOD DONATION CAMP ORGANIZED BY ANAVI, KOLKATA
On the eve of Anavi’s 9th birthday, Anglo Eastern Ship Management, Kolkata organized a blood donation camp for Child Cancer Society. We are pleased to appraise you that the camp turned out to be a grand success with 94 donors including our Fleet Director Mr. Maneesh Pradhan attending the Camp.