Sandhan valley – O really?

Sandhan valley – O really?

Itinerary

Day 1 : 14/01/2017

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to Kasara via train 

We boarded the train at midnight. It was a perfect time for us trekkers to socialize and to know each other. One of the major highlights of the trek for me personally – Diversity.

Location-wise – Not just from Mumbai Suburbs, Vashi, to Gujarat.

Profession-wise – Police officer, Chartered Accountant, students pursuing Architecture, Law, Computer Science, Psychology, Literature.

All in all, the start to the trek itself was refreshing, away from the mundane life, peers and social circle.

Kasara station – Samrad village via Jeep 

3 AM ride in the Jeep, navigating the Ghats and light-less roads was some thrill!

I was introduced to Anup, one of our specially-abled friends. What ensued was – 2 days of epic banter! Anup was a livewire. Fully expressive, continuously pumped up and his gestures and emotions did the talking. We couldn’t even recognize the difference between us and them. Interactions with Anup and Yadnesh made me realize –

“To such people, even if you give them 1000 reasons to cry, they’ll show you the one reason to smile and be happy about”

sandhan

Base village – Sandhan Valley 8:30

Walking towards the Sandhan valley – we were briefed by Vitthal Awari sir (Trek Instructor) about the course of action and few instructions.

At first, it was all about setting the right foot on the right stone with right position. Simplest way forward was to follow the immediate person ahead of you. However the real fun was to explore on your own.

Stones.. at times.. play real good tricks..

What might look as an easy firm landing ends up miserably bad due to wrong judgement. That error gets introduced either due to soil beneath causing it to slip or due to awkward landing of foot.

“Plant your foot and plant it well..No half measures..”

After the initial hiccups, it was about time we got another adventure. And bamm.. we had this water body in front of us between the valley. The only way to navigate through it was through the water body.

As is the case with any mirage or huge mountain – “Appearances are mighty deceptive!”

What we guaged as knee deep water ended up till our throats. Imagine what happens to 5feet ladies n gentlemen! Deplorable sight!

And it’s not just your 60 kg. body that has to be transported alone, you have your luggage to cater to as well!

Rucksack which for most times is a savior turns into an obstacle and hindrance!

watertry

Maintaining balance in the water, being aware of the biting stones underneath your feet, and firmly holding your bag above – It was all worth the effort. As we reached the middle portion, we were embraced by a spectacular view. Nature at its best! As we started the descent, I got to do rappelling not once but 3 times.

To top it off I was dispatched as the first one to do from our group!

Harness and ropes.. Certainly felt like – Living the Life on edge!

(Farfetching it..although at first it looks daunting .. it’s absolutely safe in truth )

chairapel

“Keep your knees straight!”

“Stand firm!”

“Don’t push yourself towards the rock!”

“Hold the rope with left hand and use the right one to push yourself down!”

Chants kept ringing. Drama continued till 5 in the evening as we finally bid adieu to the rocks and the valley.

Camping – Night stay

Upon reaching the campsite, we felt a sense of joy and triumph of safely tackling the challenges presented to us by Mother Nature. Just like after a mammoth 200 run stand by a test cricket batsman, we enjoyed nice chilled ice bath. A small pond nearby was our makeshift – bathtub. We swam to our hearts content (only 15 minutes thanks to super exhaustion and dehydration). Post the super relaxing swim, we built our own tents and had early dinner (7pm). After which, we sang to our hearts content in the company of bonfire. Dozed off to sleep by 9:30pm. (A rarity I must admit)

Day 2: 15/01/2017

Sandhan Valley Campsite – Asangaon – Dadar

Woke up to the unpleasant chattering caused by alarms and began our last lap.

One of our fellow trekkers – super-experienced Police Inspector – Mr.Kadam gave all of us handy tips and instructions for Safety and Security. For e.g. – How to save yourself from Thieves, Robbers, troublesome Rickshaw/Taxi drivers? Especially for women – Using dupatta, Holding the collar to choke him, Using kitchenware for saving your own lives, etc.

lecture

From the camping site we walked through forests and barren land for 3 hours to reach a village near Asangaon. Staple diet – Rice bhakari, mix vegetable (brinjal,potato,beans). Cherry on the cake moment – playing cricket with young Turks for good chunk of an hour! As we left the village in a jeep to reach Asangaon station, our songs continued while we relived all the amazing moments throughout the trek.

The banter triggered on most occasions by Anup and Yadnesh

The tussle for winning coveted prize Ladoos

And most importantly Scenic beauty of Sandhan Valley..

Difficulty level – Moderate

Do’s

  1. Follow the leader
  2. Better to go through a trekking group (especially if you are a novice)
  3. Carry Light-weight rucksack with Water-bottle, Sweater, Torch

Don’t

  1. Get high (already its taxing your body a lot)
  2. Smoke in the valley (It destroys the sanctity of place, nature besides unsettling the honey bees tormenting the other fellow trekkers)
  3. For God’s sake litter that abode
  4. Expect network / service

Special thanks to Him Sahyadri Trekkers.

To the Good times! To one hell of a trek!

groupeveryone

 

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Life’s review or Life in a review?

Life’s review or Life in a review?

As I sit back, sipping a cup of coffee, watching John fly to London, it dawns upon me – “What a roller-coaster ride it has been for last 3 days…”

As I take stock of events that have transpired ever since their VISA application process began(H1B Visa stamping), I come to realize –

May it be India or Uncle Sam or any other nation, administrative procedures can be clumsy at times. And by clumsy – I mean they can represent a gamut of possibilities – red tape ridden, inconsistent, sloppy, shoddy, incomprehensible, non-transparent, slow and at times – downright pathetic.

H1B visa stamping in the passport is needed for a foreign national to enter/re-enter the United States as an H1B worker.  If you currently hold H1B work visa, you may need to get the re-stamping upon the extension of your expired visa. And here’s what happened with their H1B re-stamping for returning to the States.

Clock struck 2pm and we were busy chit-chatting, when John checked for his application status and that triggered the meltdown.

2 words – it just took 2 words for a whirlwind of thoughts (mostly pessimistic) to overwhelm our mind.

Administrative Processing

2017-01-07-photo-00000438

Google search of these 2 words and I learn’t –

Google is not always right

and

Google search can mislead

At times your seemingly correct search can in reality turn out to be incomplete and hence misleading.

screenshot-from-2017-01-07-11-08-20

My google search – US Visa Administrative Processing.

First link itself directs to – 221G – the dreaded code for every US Visa applicant.

Simply put –

“221G = VISA Reject” termed as “Application Pending Further Action.”

Applicant is told that a final decision regarding VISA cannot be made. Here, consular office invokes Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act – aka “Processing time-out.”

To make things cheesy – they have 4 kinds of slips – Pink, Blue, White, Yellow; meaning of each of them is as hazy as Mumbai University examination criterion. Moreover, consulate of Chennai may use Pink slip to signify Administrative processing while Mumbai consulate can use it for “Additional Document Required.”

Categories / Types

Detailed info about 4 types / categories
1. Administrative Processing
2. Further Consulate Review
3. Missing information or documentation:
4. Employee Employer Relationship(EVC/EC Model)

Delving deeper into similar searches led us to –
Similar Unresolved issues
http://www.immihelp.com/forum/showthread.php/123536-H4-Visa-Drop-box(IWP)-Administrative-Processing

Ultimately, after numerous web-sites, pages, thought-showering and finding, we got our –  “Calm your tits momentcalm-your-tits-no

That Administrative Processing isn’t the one we feared it to be.

It aint what you dont know that gets you into trouble,

its what you know for sure that just aint so.

For most part of our search, we were sure AP meant Visa Reject..and then we saw the light at the end of the tunnel – AP is Administrative procedure when it comes to Dropbox facility and one can be patient and await Visa Issue in 2 days.

There were few who said

Administrative Processing is nothing but 221g

While few others who said

It’s a part of their procedure

Finally I deduced – Routine Cycle
1. Case Opened/ Created
2. Ready
3. Admin Processing / Under review
4. Issued

Few other sources go on to call 221g as a Beast –

  1. Beast called 221G
  2. Administrative Processing 221G
  3. H1B Wiki – 221G

From the agony of the impending rejection, to despair and helplessness, to patience and hope, to ultimate elation and celebration – we raced through an array of emotions in these 3 days.

Instead of being a review of life experience, we experienced an entire life in that review.

In hindsight, it comes as a blessing in disguise for it enriches our lives and adds spice to our life. Amidst all this, I take home 1 important learning – Every experience is a life within and every experience documented is a lesson learnt in life.

Looking for the bigger picture, every decision we take in our life is based on such reviews, on lessons learnt.

Whether to take Commerce or Science after 10th grade..
Whether to do CA / CS… Whether to pursue Masters / MBA post under-graduation..
Whether to join a startup or an MNC..
Whether to work under someone or work for oneself..
Whether to free-lance or to start a company..

Life is all about choices. Every time we are spoilt for choices, its the lessons others have learnt, their experience, the hard yards they have put in…in 1 word – “review” that guides us. It may not necessarily be the final word, but definitely is a factor to be considered.

Hence every time someone posts a review of a gadget (read cNet, TechCrunch for App review, phone / laptop reviews), a restaurant review (remember Zomato/Yelp?) or even location / product reviews on Amazon, eBay – its a life experience documented.

While opponents may argue of the fake, incorrect, incomplete, flawed reviews and one can’t deny the possibility of their existence, still the worth of 1 genuine, real review overshoots the damage due to other fictitious ones. Again this may vary from person to person and situation to situation. But as it was in our case – Such quality reviews did settle our nerves..

Such an experience with reviews makes me wonder – how many times do we visit such sites and find them useful.. and how many times we could have documented our experience..We could have taken that pain of writing 4-5 lines on the product we used, on the solution that worked..

Here’s to the happy Zomato foodies, the thankful Amazon customers and so also to the unhappy, cheated YZ-kart user or the disgusted buyer!

Your views, documented ones – will never go waste.

Your words, real ones, have left an indelible mark, not just on digital platforms, but in the form of decisions and choices of other customers.

I pay tribute to such unsung heroes, whose digital footprint is nothing short of a valiant knock that a warrior takes upon himself. Your efforts are truly creditable.

I hope this serves as a clarion call to one and all
Its not just about you, its about the review
Its about spreading the word – good and bad
To make everyone’s life better and glad!