KAZI SHERPA – The Mount Everest Record Breaker

In 1998, a mere human being became a legend.

A Nepali Mountaineer, Kazi Sherpa, defied all odds, as he set forth for a record breaking journey – to climb the highest peak in the world aka the Mount Everest (8,848 m) in only 20 hours and 24 minutes without supplemental oxygen.  As I spent my last day in Pokhara, Nepal after having climbed two mountains on the Annapurna Circuit, I took the opportunity of visiting the International Mountain Museum. The whole visit seemed even more auspicious as it was The Mount Everest day, the day Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzin Norgay became the first ever summiteers of the mighty Everest in 1953, 64 years ago.

A little talk was given by a very down-to-earth man standing behind the podium at the assembly room. It hit me – I was listening to KAZI SHERPA, or ‘SPEED KAZI’, the 2000 Guinness World Record setter of the fastest Everest climber. Every nerve in my body lit up with excitement and I couldn’t help myself but ask to borrow a fraction of his time and interview him about his extraordinary journey. Believe me, get some tea or popcorn before reading this one, it’s totally worth your 10 minutes!

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What makes you, YOU, Mr.Kazi?

“My name is Kazi Sherpa, and climbing is my life’s calling. I have summited many mountains out of which eight were above 6000 m. I was in fact born on the foothill of the Mount Everest in Solukhumbu. Growing up, I saw people going for the Mount Everst expedition and it grew in me to do the same. I could never go to school since I was a Yak herderer in our family farm. I didn’t like what I did so I rebelliously left home when I was 14 to start climbing Mt. Lang tang (7,205 m). Lets just say that this is where my journey began. ”

Kazi was only 19 when he first tried summiting Everest. Unfortunately, his attempt failed but his zest never did. So he tried over and over, until one day, on his fifth attempt, he not only made it to the top and back, but also did it faster than any human being on the planet!

 

Can you lay out your experience in detail for us – What were the thoughts that crossed your mind throughout that day as you were climbing?

“I didn’t focus on many things, except my ambition to make a record. The only thoughts that crossed my mind were about where I had to be, at what time and how exactly. But most of all, through my entire journey, I was praying to God.”

You connect your journey with ‘prayers to God’. Can you explain how climbing the Everest could be a spiritual journey? 

“Our two main belief systems are Buddhism and Hinduism. We believe in and worship the Gods and Goddesses (as in hindu polytheism) very much. For most people who are unsuccessful in their expeditions, it is assumed that they have sinned, for example having sex with someone who isn’t their vowed partner. It is believed that the Mountains are so sacred, that they know, and they punish you for your wrong deeds.

For instance, this once I was climbing with a Korean expedition team in 1995, and I found out that they came from the Tibet side and carried a dead dog with them to eat. The next thing you know, a huge block of ice fell on them and and all except two died. That was clearly because they were disrespectful towards our religion. I thank God that I could summit the Everest.

A famous superstition is the signaling of crows. Crows are quite big in Tibet and it is believed that if a crow takes three rounds near an area, that is a warning from nature of an avalanche.”

 

Were you always this spiritual? Did you come across any intuitive signs yourself?

“No, I wasn’t a regular worshiper, but climbing the Everest is like visiting Lord Ganesha’s (Hindu Lord of obstacles) house. So I asked for strength in the form of prayers and got signs from the nature in return. Whenever I had nightmares, it immediately came to me that the day would be a rough one to climb. One time, I saw a lady in front of me, but the next moment, she vanished. When I was sleeping in the tent, I would also hear some noises of people moving around me outside, but no one seemed to be there, and no footsteps on the snowy ground when I checked in the morning. ”

Did you maintain a journal or record your journey in any form?

“I had recorded my voice through the day’s climb, but unfortunately there was a flood at my home later on October 6, 1998, and my recording device and camera was damaged.”

 

Do you know anything about the Everest that people wouldn’t know – what isn’t so much in the mainstream media?

“There is one such thing that many don’t know – In 1953, 12 years before Hillary and Tenzin climbed the Everest, a man named George Mallory tried to summit it. His body is on 8,500 m and is still intact ant frozen. A letter by his wife was also found in his pocket by a group of researchers in the US that I do not know the details of. This mystery has the ability to change history. However, we also have found records of E.Hillary saying that a true summiteer isn’t one who makes it to the peak, but is one who is also able to make it back to the base camps safe and sound.”

 

Would you like to leave a message for the future climbers?

“Yes, people should climb for greater good of the whole globe, not for individual interest. For instance, light should be thrown upon bigger causes like awareness programs about the dead bodies, pollution and little oxygen that there is while climbing. Climate change is another big one.”

Nobody has been able to break Kaji Sherpa’s record till date and to this he smirked showed us how keen he is for someone to break his record and for a good cause. He also said that he dedicates his record to his ‘Apna Rajya’ which means his nation and Nepal is obviously very proud of him for that!

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*All the pictures in this post are original and subject to claimed but not legal copyrights. The cameras  used to capture these pictures are Canon EOS 50D and iPone 7. For more information, contact me via email or leave your comments in the section below. Please feel free to provide feedback or just share your thoughts!  🙂

Yours,

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NEPAL ON A BACKPACK

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Nepal, a country often overlooked in terms of travel destination as it is seen as a lost space between India and China, is in fact by far one of the most substantial countries I have ever set foot in. Home to an exquisite marvel of nature, the Himalayan Mountain Range, Nepal has had a luscious history that dates back to the Neolithic Age. On one hand, it is the birth place of Lord Buddha, where a strong belief in Buddhism stems from, and on the other, a home for Hindu monarchs that used texts revived from the Vedic age to reproduce lexicon. Even though Nepal was never colonized, it was always seen as an inheritor of a blend of the Indian and Chinese culture located on its South and North respectively, as it allowed various trade routes between the two.

What sets this country apart is its genuine, down-to-earth people that I got to experience first-hand, as I travelled to Nepal this May. Sponsorship wasn’t an idea with which I started blogging, and to me, this offer seemed like a dream. I left my May semester of University courses in the US to fly to Nepal on a backpack as soon as I got the invitation. Zero regrets, this trip did not only open my eyes in many ways, but also injected my soul with pure drops of purpose.

But I shall pause, before I proceed with everything Nepal has to offer to you; something was taken away from it, from our Nepal. In its grace and magnificence, people do not notice its limping and aching cry for help. In 2015, Nepal was shook by an earthquake of 8.1 vector magnitude. Almost 22K died and unfathomable amounts of infrastructure got lost in the smoke of destruction – an unforeseen dystopia.

I stood on that land last week, exactly two years later- May 2017; My heart crumbled. Thousands of Nepali men and women, working hours in a row to preserve and rebuild what was lost- prevalence of unity. Loss of loved ones echoed as I walked down the brick walls that were constantly being renovated. Strange as it was, wherever I went, people smiled with their glistening pure eyes, as if we were their saviors; we, tourists, who were privileged and futile in every way in that very moment.

The Travel and Tourism Board of Nepal had clearly made genuine efforts to make sure they left no stones unturned for us invitees– a group of travel writers and bloggers. We landed in the capital city of Kathmandu on the 23rd  of May, and spent three days soaking in the rich culture, heritage, and energy there, before we left for a road trip to Pokhara– the gateway city to the Annapurna Mountain circuit, where we climbed the Ghandruk and Pothana Ranges for 2.5 days and spent a day white water rafting in Trishuli river on our way. Having overcome too many challenges as we adventured, our group built a sense of family and a kinship toward the Nepali culture. We celebrated our last day in Pokhara at the International Mountain Museum on the auspicious Mt. Everest day. Come May end, we flew back to Kathmandu and attended the Himalayan Travel Mart from the 1st-4th of June, a platform for all online buyers and sellers to network.

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To me however, this trip was so much more than the jest I just gave you. It was a sense of belonging as I meditated amongst monks in a Buddhist Monastery, it was the shared pride in promotion of ecotourism, the number of times strangers smiled at me and said ‘Namaste’, the simple act of running my hand through the fresh water river stream that originated from the mountains I was climbing for the first time, the sense of the fact that everything material can be lost in just a moment from the reconstruction sights that I visited, the satisfaction from the spicy as hell food in the mountains – the food I thought I could never eat, and most of all the realization that there are bigger problems that need solving than my own – an unique sense of inner peace.

One blog post obviously doesn’t do my experience justice; so I have prepared three– ‘How To Be A Nepali in Nepal: A Tourism Guide’, ‘Top Five Places to Visit in Kathmandu’, and ‘My first section-trekking experience in on the Annapurna Mt. Circuit’. I was also very lucky to be able to interview Kaji Sherpa, who broke a record of the fastest climber to Mt.Everest back and forth in just 20 hours and 24 minutes in 1998.

Looking forward to sharing the Nepal blog posts with you this week and the next, and the interview with Mr.Kaji on the 15th of June! Stay tuned 🙂

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*All the pictures in this post are original and subject to claimed but not legal copyrights. The cameras  used to capture these pictures are Canon EOS 50D and iPone 7. For more information, contact me via email or leave your comments in the section below. Please feel free to provide feedback or just share your thoughts!  🙂

xoxo,

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The AT series: Coffee with Mark Perlin

Photo Feb 19-21The mere thought that I am not the only one who is hiking the Appalachian Trail cuts me a great deal of slack. Mark Perlin, a student from James Madison University, who is graduating in a week, took some time to geek out on everything AT with me yesterday.

Prior to meeting him, I knew that thru-hike and section-hike existed but I had never heard of something called ‘flip-flopping’; that is exactly what Mark is going to do. He has wanted to hike the trail since he graduated high school and wants to eventually get the triple crown in his bag.  How he would flip-flop is by starting midway in Virginia (Va) and going up North to Maine to return hitch-hiking back to Va. Then from Va he will go South to Georgia and repeat the process till he is back to Virginia for good. An optimistic and dreamy person that he is, he encouraged me for my journey and gave me some excellent new tips in terms of clothing and research resources for AT.

Mark’s tips on clothes, electronics and resources:

CLOTHES

He is taking two pairs of tops, pants, underwear and socks. His clothes are obviously synthetic, since they dry quickest in rainy conditions. For underwear, he highly recommended the brand EX-OFFICIO. He loves it because of it’s high quality and durability. The sock brand that he went for is called DARN TOUGH.

ELECTRONICS

He is taking a phone, an iPod and a power bank. It’s minimal electronics and his iPod has all the songs, books and podcasts that he needs. To record his journey, he is taking an empty journal.

RESOURCES

Just like Chandler Thomas (my the other AT interviewee), Mark has bought Awol’s AT Guide, an all inclusive AT guide-book that 99% of the hikers refer to. He will carry it with him and tear off pages as he goes.

He also referred me to Erik the Black’s Blog and said that it has helped him a lot. He bought all of his gear online.

Mark is all set and ready to leave in mid May. I wish him luck on his journey!

To read more about why I want to hike the AT, click on this link.

xoxo,

Arushi Sachan

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PHENOMENAL WOMEN’s CONFERENCE: 10 SPEAKERS REVEAL

Here is a glimpse of the 9 absolutely phenomenal women that I have the opportunity to share the stage with tomorrow on the 15th of April at the first annual Phenomenal Women’s Conference!  I am very grateful to the Director of James Madison University’s DUX Leadership Center, Erica Eckel to give me the most amazing opportunity for fulfilling my passion to serve, celebrate and empower women!

  1. ERICA ECKEL- DIRECTOR OF THE CONFERENCE

    2016 Staff Photos
    Taken for JMU Technology and Design by Amanda Harvey. All rights reserved. No usage without permission.

“The word phenomenal can be thought about in two ways. One being something or someone that is extraordinary. The other, something or someone that is perceived through experience, something that is sensed. I am so grateful to have always been surrounded by people who I consider to be phenomenal, and I believe that they were brought to me by some sort of magical phenomena fueled by positivity and intention. I truly believe that we all have the power to create our reality, manifest our dreams, and leave behind a meaningful legacy. That is what this conference is about for me. What started as a simple thought in the library, is now unfolding before my eyes. The Phenomenal Women’s Conference will bring young girls and established women together to encourage mentorship, positive role models, and female empowerment. I want people to walk out of this conference feeling rejuvenated, inspired, and ready for action. Let us celebrate you we are and who we can be! It’s time to become the you, you were always meant to be. Let’s learn together what it means to be phenomenal.”

 

  1. KIRSTEN MOORE – KEYNOTE SPEAKERkirsten moore

Kirsten Moore is owner of The Hub Coworking, a marketing professional, writer, food lover and serial entrepreneur. With six successful startups spanning 15 years, a painful divorce, and one personal reinvention later, Kirsten has learned the art of living fearlessly in the midst of constant evolution, never shying away from an opportunity or starting a conversation that matters. She and her husband have mad love for Downtown Harrisonburg and have made it home along with their three sons (one of whom is a JMU student) and two male dogs. With so much testosterone in her life, she is grateful for the opportunity to connect with and celebrate phenomenal women.

 

  1. SARAH CHASE – FACILITATOR 1Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 1.30.59 PM

“Hi! I’m Sarah. I’m just a girl who likes to write. I’m a sucker for a good cup of coffee or tea; unique words tickle my fancy; mountains move me to the deepest level; traveling and being uncomfortable are my favorite pastimes; the word that best describes me is ‘eclectic’ ; hearing people’s stories makes me the most passionate and telling people’s stories gives me the most purpose in my life. I believe each woman has a soul worth baring and a heart worth sharing because each woman is breathtaking. Let’s talk about that, shall we?”

 

  1. CORALIE NORRIS – FACILITATOR 217634684_10212252859100319_1506666592865310744_n

“For me, women empowerment, is about supporting, encouraging and mentoring women in a way in which we can help each other achieve our full potential, be happy and be successful in whatever it is, we decide to undertake. Women empowerment is about genuinely wanting the best for our female peers and allowing our actions to reflect that. It’s not a political agenda, it’s not a social concept, or a business slogan. It’s a way of life, a conscious and active choice on who we decide to be for our present selves, our future selves and for others.”

 

  1. KENNA DICKARD – FACILITATOR 3kenna

“I am a student, a researcher, a special needs attendant, a sister, a lover of plants and a musician- but above all of these titles, I am a phenomenal woman, and I am enough. To me, women’s empowerment is found somewhere on the line between pushing women to be their best self and shouting over the societal noise that ‘YOU ARE ENOUGH’. Empowerment is listening to what women need, rather than telling them. It is collaboration, support, and sisterhood. It is recognizing each woman you meet as a teacher from which you can learn. Women’s empowerment is gathering together, at a conference like this one, to learn and grow together. I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together.”

 

  1. HANNAH MELOMO –  FACILITATOR 4thumbnail_IMG_7317

“Hi!! I’m Hannah. I get distracted by looking at the sky and can’t go a day without laughing at myself. I think each day that the sun rises is a blessing and that heaven exists in a good cappuccino. Sometimes the chaos of the world distracts me from believing in myself, but if there’s anything that those lessons have taught me time and time again is that I have the sun in my bones and I am meant to share that light with those around me. I AM a phenomenal woman who wants to do everything I can to help other women see that they were put on this earth to be exotic and unique and bring a force to the world that no one else could. ‘Cause we are women, phenomenally.”

 

  1. BREANNE MARTIN – FACILITATOR 517888214_10206653602617408_1417561921_n

“Greetings! My name is Breanne. Forgive me if any of my grammar is off; for math is my favorite language to speak. I am lucky enough to still be unearthing my passions but as of now I am driven by a fascination with technology and a yearn to serve. I believe that encouraging women in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) is one of my greatest responsibilities because the perspectives they have to offer the industry will revolutionize everything. Although I study engineering I do not think that has to define my personality type or goals. I am unashamed to foster my outgoing, communicative, femininity in a male-dominated field. A power drill in one hand and a makeup brush in the other – I embrace them simultaneously.”

 

  1. NAJEEHA KHAN – FACILITATOR 617909527_953939174742826_840353952_n

“Hey fam, I’m Najeeha! I have a passion for learning and getting to know the world around me every single day. Part of my life journey is building relationships with many different kinds of people. I’m a proud Muslim woman–made in Pakistan, built in America. My motto in life is: if not you, then who? YOU are a phenomenal woman. I am a phenomenal woman. And we will grow together.”

 

  1. ASHLYN KELLY – YOGA INSTRUCTOR Ashlyn

“Hi! I’m Ashlyn, and I’m a happy soul with a love for yoga, writing, reading, and connecting with others. Before practicing yoga, I didn’t have a concept of what it meant to love myself, to be comfortable and at home in my body. Over time, yoga has connected me to those spaces within both my body and mind that I hid from. And believe me, it’s a practice. Of movement, breath, intention, and release. An active process that unfolds each time I step onto my mat. When we come together with this intention, we honor and celebrate each other’s journey, we hold space for each other to be unapologetically and authentically ourselves, and we shine our light to show others the way home.”

 

  1. ARUSHI SACHAN – MASTER OF CEREMONIEScropped-33052632373_1590d06c4d_o

Last but not least, I am Arushi and I will be walking you through the event, just like I have, with all our phenomenal facilitators. An inspired inspirer, what I create from within, overflows without in splashed colors of my paint brush and the flamboyant tip of the pen I write with and the tongue that I express with. In my map are the experiences of over ten countries, five languages and an endless journey of self-acceptance. In a cyclical pattern, curiosity fills me up and the universe’s answers empty me. I want tomorrow to be just that – a canvas so empty that all our combined feelings, yours of seeking and mine of giving – fill us up and create a cycle where we all grow immensely as we learn from each other.

 

For more information on the conference, click on this link 🙂

Love,

Arushi Sachan

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BEING A WOMAN: OVERPOWER OR EMPOWER?

33866115545_362cd8a5f8_oWOMEN ARE: 

‘Art. The 9 month home. The painters of grace and love. The poems in his book. Back bone. The mason jar of hope. Magic. The collision of strong and soft. The singing caged bird. The phoenix. A source. Resilient and dauntless. The compassionate badass. Unique. Immortal. Phenomenal.’

———– x ————

Here is a series of choices I didn’t make: I was only 7 when I lost my virginity to a guy who didn’t ask for my permission; 11 when I realized that carving my best friend’s initials on my wrist till I bleed won’t make her come back; 13 when I moved to a new country and was bullied for wearing a ‘long skirt’ to class; 17 when I put on make up and designer clothes to avoid being mocked by my ex and family for being ‘fat’; 19 when I realized I had been cheated on for almost an year.

Here is a choice I did make, though: EMPOWER OR OVERPOWER?

EMPOWER.

33052358753_1a22be67d5_oI chose to let my experiences empower me rather than overpower. I feel blessed because these early on encounters showed me that no matter what I do or who I become, I am never ‘perfect’ enough as long as I’m a woman. So what did I do? Embrace my imperfection. That has honestly been the most liberating experience of my life. Channelizing my pain gave me a voice – I became a writer and a speaker.

Every woman deserves to know how much she is capable of. My vision is to see women speak up in large crowds, negotiate higher salaries, fight against injustice, love themselves and build each other up.

“I don’t think of myself as a poor deprived ghetto girl who made good. I think of myself as somebody who, from an early age, knew I was responsible for myself, and I had to make good.” – Oprah Winfrey.

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Today, at the age of 20, I constantly seek to empower women through blogging, networking and public speaking. I have been a participant in two Women in Leadership Conferences held at James Madison University(2015 & 2017) and an organizing host of International Student Leadership Conference (2016) in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Last fall, I traveled to Austin, Texas to attend the ‘BLOGHER  FOOD’16: Experts amongst us’ which was a large scare conference organized by SheKnows Media, which is a collective network of 79 million women from all over the world. I am also able to influence the importance of embracing, self love and self acceptance by being the Public Relations Chair of James Madison University’s Fashion Club– a community of fashionable and confident women and men.


HOWEVER, one of the most fulfilling developments in my path toward women empowerment manifestation is the Phenomenal Women’s Conference on Saturday, April 15th at JMU, for which I have been given the honor of being the Master of Ceremonies. I am pouring all my passion in anticipation and preparation for this huge event with a capacity of over 100-200 attendees whose curiosity drives them from not only the University itself, but also the entire town of Harrisonburg in Virginia.

As a feminist who supports gender equality, I plan to raise many questions and get my audience’s thinking caps on. Obviously, I do want to open their eyes to the issues in society with hard data and let some of the few most phenomenal facilitating women do the rest in terms of walking our audience as to how they can collectively solve these issues. Our Keynote speaker for this year is Kirsten Moore, who successfully runs a few business in Downtown Harrisonburg, including a huge networking hub for entrepreneurs. The rest of the speakers are being introduced on the event social media: PWC Facebook PWC Instagram.

I will most certainly be writing about the whole conference experience this Sunday, but if you have the chance to make it, you are most certainly welcome to do so! All you have to do is register for free by clicking on this link: PWC 2017 REGISTRATION. It is absolutely free and a great opportunity for what it’s worth! The event is on Saturday, April 15th from 11 am – 4 pm and Breakfast/Lunch is provided by our sponsors.

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The good news is that we aren’t the only ones working toward birthing a huge reform. There are millions of people all over the globe who have given their hearts and souls to this cause. Today more than ever, I am grateful to each and everyone of them.

Follow my journey on Social Media:

Subscribe to my blog to get email notifications of my bi-weekly blogs and giveaway/travel opportunities. Do Like and Share your story with me on comments below. ALWAYS looking for feedback!

Photographer: Kyle Van Fleet

xoxo,

Arushi Sachan

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How I Manage Time As A Student And Blogger?

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Being a college student majoring in competitive creative fields like Journalism and Writing, I learnt soon that if I were to commit to blogging, I’d have have to manage time wisely. Like Pareto said “roughly 80% of the effects in life come from 20% of the causes” i.e., it became about how I could hone my skills so that I could get twice the amount of things done within same time-frame.

To make the best of your existence, you would first have to pay 100% attention to yourself and your needs. THREE THINGS: MIND, BODY & SOUL. It is simple; you take care of your mind, and your body takes care of itself. If you are in touch with both your mind’s and body’s needs, you are automatically in touch with your inner being, or your soul.

Three things I do to sharpen my mind that help me manage my time very effectively are:

  1. EAT SMARTPhoto Mar 02-6

I am not saying eat healthy food; I wish someone had told me these food hacks earlier in life. In just two months I saw a huge improvement in my memory and brain capacity as I added a few foods in my life.

The first thing I do every morning is having green tea no matter how much I detest the taste – nothing beats it as a digestive system detoxifier. If you wake up light, you tend to stay light throughout the day.

Then, I mix two walnuts and three almonds in my cereal-milk breakfast. This way, I don’t have to eat them separately. A substitute would be oats and walnut-almond combination in Greek yogurt.

Starting your day with a detox and crunchy mind-sharpening nuts really fuels your system up for the day – not just physically, but also psychologically. You will find yourself wanting to eat light throughout – naturally.

17910925_10210394615195562_392441599_nOmega -3 pills are the messiah in this game. Made of fish oil, they have been known to promote brain health significantly. I bought a bottle of 50 soft gels and eat one a day after lunch. If you start having these three things regularly for a month, you will find your mind functioning a lot better and yourself feeling less tired.

 

  1. EXERCISE YOUR BRAINDSC_0225

When you get into the ebb and flow of your day-to-day life, you aren’t really pushing your brain to THINK beyond its comfort zone. My ideology is that just like your body, your brain too has a metabolism which needs kick starting early morning or it would lead toward subsequent lethargy.

To combat that, I solve one Sudoku puzzle every morning. If you don’t like Sudoku, you could solve a math problem or a riddle. But doing one every morning while drinking tea can really get your brain cells working. In the long run, it improves your problem-solving skills tremendously.

 

  1. CHANGE YOUR HABITSphoto-feb-25

It is one thing to know about everything I just told you, and another to breathe it in till it becomes synonymous with who you are. For that door, there is only one KEY- CONSISTENCY. Without consistency, nothing you do in your life can be extraordinary enough.

“What is the most rigorous law of our being? Growth. No smallest atom of our moral, mental, or physical structure can stand still a year. It grows–it must grow smaller or larger, better or worse–it cannot stand still. In other words, we change–and must change, constantly, and keep on changing as long as we live. What, then, is the true Gospel of consistency? Change. Who is the really consistent man? The man who changes. Since change is the law of his being, he cannot be consistent if he’s stuck in a rut.”

-MARK TWAIN, “Consistency,” The Complete Essays of Mark Twain

The point I am trying to make here is that yes, there are days I just cannot do it physically or mentally. But those are the days of real test – when I am all worn and looking for just one beam of light. That is where I have to remember why I started and with belief in myself keep flying and soaring high. It is that one extra mile uphill that isn’t crowded – the one breath away from from personal success.

To do this, start building a relationship with yourself and try to motivate yourself everyday- either through prayers or just words of gratitude. Optimism is your magic potion to self fulfilment because it quickly becomes a lens through which you see all situations in your life- good or bad, and handle real life problems, accordingly.

xoxo,

Arushi

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Scuba Diving – My Freedom

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One of the best experiences of my life has been learning how to Scuba Dive. In the beginning of this semester at Uni, I was registering for my classes and I stumbled upon this one-credit Scuba diving class that my university partnered with PADI to offer. I wasn’t able to resist my urge and so I signed up for it.

It’s been three months now, and I am loving every second of my experience. Yes, I was scared as hell in the beginning and I was the least fit of my classmates. But as soon as I did my first few deep dives, I realized that up in the sky isn’t the only world that exists in this planet – there is an infinity down below as well.

Photo Mar 19-4Photo Mar 20Through my third and fourth week, not only was I building leg muscle, I was also experiencing a very peaceful and meditative state of mind whenever I went to the deep end of our school swimming pool (14 m deep dive). The way PADI teaches scuba diving, there is theory and practical learning. The theory consisted of all the physics that you need to know about pressure and how your body deals with it. The practical (and fun) part consisted of learning all skills underwater. I invested in my scuba gear and it costed me around 150$ for good fins and snorkel. This May or June, I will be doing my first open water dive- the final step before I earn my certification. I cannot wait!

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xoxo,

Arushi Sachan

Why am I hiking The Appalachian Trail?

The nature is so powerful and it had always called me, as if it held my freedom in it’s palms and tempted me through each breath of my life to come and taste it – my own freedom called.

Photo Feb 25-7‘It’s a calling’ – Tom Kennedy

I get asked this question very often- why on earth did I decide to section-hike the Appalachian Trail for two months when everything is going just fine in my life and I’m in the middle of getting my undergraduate degree?

Well theres the catch – when is everything ever just fine?

Last November, my best friend (also my roommate) and I watched watched ‘WILD’, a Reese Witherspoon movie based on a true story of a woman who hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail in the US west coast after she lost her mother.

That was it. 

I mean it wasn’t. Yes, I was born and bought up in Dubai, but I never did fit in. Cities with glittery lights did touch me, but never as deep as the nature. The nature is so powerful and it had always called me, as if it held my freedom in it’s palms and tempted me through each breath of my life to come and taste it – my own freedom called.

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Being 20 and having traveled across the globe to come to the US and study amongst the most beautiful valleys that could every be – The Shenandoah, I realized that maybe after all, things do happen for a reason. Like Rumi once wisely said ‘What you seek is seeking you’. 

This isn’t the reason though; but what this is, is a path that might lead me to find out why I am here- my being.

So after watching Wild, this strong urge to hike the Appalachian Trail got triggered within my roommate and I. We made a pact to do it this year in the summer. We both were as serious and clueless at the same time as we could’ve possibly been. For me, the journey began then itself- November 2016. Since then, I have grown tremendously as a human being. The path of soul searching isn’t something you’d have to deter yourself from your present situation to go on, I have learnt- it is an ever-manifesting thought process that simply depends on how strongly you desire it.

I very passionately desire soul searching, and hence, I will be hiking the trail.

I have been doing a lot physically and mentally to prepare myself for it and I will keep writing about it as I go, for it is the journey that I am focusing on and not the destination.

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*All the pictures in this post are original and subject to claimed but not legal copyrights. The camera  used to capture these pictures is Canon EOS 50D. For more information, contact me via email or leave your comments in the section below. Please feel free to provide feedback or just share your thoughts!  🙂

xoxo,

Arushi Sachan

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SWANNANOA – THE ABANDONED MANSION

Photo Mar 30-22Amongst the beautiful valleys in Virginia lie some of the most historically prevalent structures- discovered and undiscovered. I am going to tell you about a place you haven’t seen before- The Swannanoa Mansion.

A relaxing Thursday afternoon, I sat sharing a celebratory coffee with my roommate and best friend Jessica, who recently earned the title of graduate assistant for a post-grad degree in occupational therapy. As I expressed my pride in her, she stopped and stared; and I knew in that moment that her mind stirred just another crazy spontaneous idea – “Let me take you to a place where no one goes, you will love it!”

I am not one to say no to adventures, and so we set forth on a 45 minute drive from harrisonburg to Augusta County, with some nice indie music, refreshing conversations and mesmerizing views.

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We might have crossed the ‘No trespassing’ sign to get to where we did, but hell the destination was worth it – An abandoned mansion just like the Villa Medici in Rome, built by the millionaire James Dooley back in 1912 for his wife Sarah. It is said to have taken a workforce of 300 men and eight years of hard work to assemble this symbol of love with absolutely gorgeous Georgian white marbles and Italian gardens.

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What added to it’s beauty was the aura. I was impressed by the ability of this structure to take me to a different era. It really felt like I was in 1900’s when this place could’ve been a perfect mountain retreat in the midst of industrialization and transportation that flooded towns during the Gilded Age.

Seeing the cracks in the marble and creepers that grew over the years evoked so much within me. It inspired me in a lot ways- How could something so beautiful exist?

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And as we walked around, we saw the unreal view one the Blue Ridge Valley as the sun was setting.

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*All the pictures in this post are original and subject to claimed but not legal copyrights. The camera I used to capture these pictures is Canon EOS 50D. For more information, contact me via email or leave your comments in the section below. Please feel free to provide feedback or just share your thoughts! 🙂

xoxo,

Arushi Sachan

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Top 5 Useful Tips To Prepare For The AT

Photo Mar 16

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of meeting Chandler Thomas, A 23 year old broker who who left his job to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine – An extraordinary step in an ordinary life. Lucky for me, I met him just in time, before he set off to leave from Virginia to Georgia this Saturday.

What? The AT? To which he smirked, having earned and saved enough to sustain himself for two years. He must indeed be a great salesperson.

When did it come to him? At the mere age of 16, when he watched ‘Into The Wild’, an Emile Hirsch movie that dazzled so many, and he became just another fan who failed to resist buying the novel, which deeply inspired him to make this trip. He lived all these years since, actively dreaming about hiking the AT at least once a month- No surprise that he has manifested his passionate thought finally.

So what were his five KILLER TIPS to help us prepare for the AT? Or for that matter, any long duration hike?

  1. RESEARCHScreen Shot 2017-03-20 at 10.29.25 PM

Do your research few months ahead of your hike. It is a good place to start as it helps you organize your thoughts. Watch YouTube videos, watch vlogs and read as much as you can. Chandler’s recommendations:

 

  1. COMMUNITYPhoto Feb 25-6

You are not the only one who has made the brave decision to sacrifice your 9-5 life to be able to hike the trail. Connect with the AT hiking community through different platforms and get to know them. Chandler’s recommendations:

  • AT Reddit
  • Internet connectivity: Social Media platforms and YouTube following

 

  1. FOODScreen Shot 2017-03-20 at 10.30.52 PM

The most important question for me- how do you deal with food on long hikes? Chandler seems to have it all figured out with sufficient food for the first five days until he could buy the next bunch. He says it depends on whether you like warm food or you are okay with cold; that is the deciding factor to whether you’d need a portable stove or not. But keep in mind that the stove increases the overall weight- so only buy it if necessary.

He packed a lot of chocolates, candies, tinned food, tortillas and Nutella. He also suggested to have them available at hands length somewhere on the sides of your backpack where you could easily grab them on the go without having to stop, wait and eat.

 

  1. GEARPhoto Mar 11-13

It is of vital importance that the gear is of good quality (i.e. durability factor) and it fits you well. Hence, Chandler asks us to buy all the gear at once toward the end, since it can be expensive.

So how do we plan our gear? The BIG THREE, he said:

  • BAGPACK
  • SLEEP SYSTEM
  • SHELTERS

A great resource to have the entire set up at the bare minimum weight is Erik the Black’s Ultralight Backpacking Gear List (2016). It’s best to stay between 40 lbs to 60 lbs. A few things to keep in mind are the temperature you’ll you be hiking in, and personal preferences. But at any cost, be prepared to stay protected from the heavy rains as they are unavoidable in the AT no matter what time of the year you decide to hike. It’s viable to get a pair of crocs and a net to protect yourself from insects. Remember to get something to keep you busy– a couple of journals or a go pro; music helps a lot.

The two equipment companies that Chandler recommends are:

 

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Training for the AT is a two-step process: Physical and Mental. You can train physically by going on regular weekend hikes with heavy backpacks or simply walk miles in a row on side-walks to find out your all-day-pace. This will increase your stamina considerably. The primary focus should be your legs as the backpack’s heavy weight can cause knee problems potentially as you hike for miles in a row.

Mental strength can be increased in doses. It is good to keep going when you are the least motivated- that is the real test of your mental strength. A little discipline and avoiding a lot of social media indulgence can go a long way. Positivity is the key, though.

Talking to Chandler was very insightful as I not only gained access to these great resources, but also made an awesome friend that I might potentially meet through my section-hike this summer. I am excited to walk for days in a row in a bare-minimum-survival mode and develop a relationship with mother nature as I go. Watch out for more about my preparations for the trail as I blog about it bi-weekly under the new website category: ‘The Appalachian Trail’.

Follow Chandler and his adventures on instagram: WE THE WAYFARERS

xoxo,

Arushi Sachan

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