Braving The Himalayan Cold

Uncles-in-law, aunts-in-law and friends-in-law headed over to take in a spot of the Californian sun from the hot plains of Chennai, India. During the rare glimpses of television time that we get when the house is full of visitors, the husband picked out a 5 minute segment of folks climbing Mt Everest, and wanted me to watch it. That poor optimist.

I don’t know whether the husband has thought about a role of a shepherd actively before this, but I think he now appreciates their task. Fluffy lambs, obstinate rams and flighty sheep are all fine by themselves. Put them together and try giving directions, and that is when things fall apart.

It is somewhat a situation like this that faced the husband.

After a half a dozen explanations and as many jump starts, he got the program going.

“Everest Base Camp: The weather on the mountain can take a life of its own”, says the sharp voice in the commentary, when Maama #2 asks, “What is this?”

Pause Program.

Explanation: Showing a documentary on climbing the Everest and it will only take 5 minutes. You can also watch.


Maama#2 feels that his friend, Maama#1, would like the program since he once went to the Himalayas. The husband nods politely, intensely aware that Maama#1’s Himalayan visit, starting from Chennai Central Railway Station with puliodare & curd rice (with lime pickle) packets in tow, is not in the same league as the poor mountaineers trying to summit the Everest, but he gallantly refrains from saying anything.


Maama#1 saunters to the TV, and the Play button is pressed, when Maama#1 feels that Maami#2 would like the program since she has heard so much about Maama#1’s trip to the Himalayas.

Maama#1 hollers to Maami #1, “Are you coming? Himalaya on TV.”

Protocol demands that Maama#1 does not holler for Maami#2.

Pause Program while Maami#1 finishes her task with the laundry (drying her sarees outside because the washer and dryer do not do a good job with sarees) and comes to watch.

Explanation: Showing a documentary on climbing the Everest – these people have to take their own supplies and go up the steep inclines. You can also watch.


Maami #1 hollers to Maami#2, “Everest-aan! Come and watch – your Maama will like it.” i.e, Maami #2’s husband will like it, so the protocol demands that Maama#1 calls out dearly to his wife, Maami#1. Maami#1 hollers to Maami#2, who then bellows the message to her husband, Maama#2. But Maama#2 is already there watching the program, so there is a side-show wherein communication channels are halted all around to ensure everybody understands everybody else and whoever is interested in watching the segment gathers.

This goes on for about 10 minutes, before the husband shows signs of impatience. He nudges me to watch intently, only to find that I have fluttered away to the sink to do a spot of washing while the tedious interruptions and explanations were being done with. For some reason, the husband is upset by this and just to mollify the shepherd in him, I head back filled with docility and plant myself on the sofa to watch.

Thirty seconds into the clip, two of the team slip on a crevice and go crashing down, trying to jam their pickaxes into the snow to break their descent. It is a tense moment, and the cameras do a good job of capturing the bitterly cold winds on the unforgiving mountain. I have always looked at the mountains with awe, respect and fear. At 28000 ft, how quickly a good expedition can turn into a scary and savage one?

Maami#2 interrupts : “Weren’t you saying that when you went also, the Himalayas were extremely cold, and that you could not sleep at night even with 20 blankets, and the room heater switched on?”

Maami#1 glories in her adventure and launches on an explanation of the wicked Himalayan cold, and the effect on her arthritic limbs at 5000 ft.

I don’t know whether the poor sods in the documentary made it up to the Summit, they didn’t on our Television.

P.S: Artistic licenses invoked.

2 thoughts on “Braving The Himalayan Cold”

    1. Puliodre, curd rice with lime pickle – nice touch that!

      BTW your drawing skills have vastly improved – that actually looks like a mountain range!

      Second BTW you might enjoy “No Shortcuts to the Top” by Edmund Viesturs.

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