Unsung Heroes of Himalayas
Born in 1966, Shekhar Kadariya spent his childhood running and playing alike every kid, but in one of the flat lands of Nepal, Jhapa. While filling up the blanks of his childhood to his teenage, he never received such an opportunity to have the slightest glimpse of the mountains. Of course, he had seen photographs of the Mt. Everest, a pride of the nation, in his school textbook. However, he had to wait until 23 years of his age to put his first step on the Himalayan Trail where he would spend his 26 years of life; hiking and leading foreign tourists.
After completion of his high school from Jhapa, he moved to the capital valley, Kathmandu for his further studies. In his high school days, he felt he was weak in English, as a subject, and as a language. So, he joined the English language institute in Kathmandu; a first memorable moment he remembers after moving to Kathmandu. Later he joined People’s Campus in Chettrapati for his Bachelors level, while he was living in a rented house with his relatives at Bag Bazaar. In between his college to rented home, he would have to go through the absolute new culture – to his life – Thamel Life.
Thamel in the 80s was a booming town with full of tourists, touristic activities, mountaineers, and western music. When he was starting to appreciate this foreign (alien) culture, he eventually got a job with a trekking company, but he was hired as an accountant. He remembers working with a trekking company was the only adaptable environment where he could earn handsome salary. He was happy with his current job, but then one day in 1989 he was asked to guide an English (old) man for Ghorepani Trek because he was one of the very few educated (English speaking) staffs to be found in the Thamel. He, though, had never been to any trails before, agreed to the proposal. He says those days were completely different. There were evidently minimum sightings of people during the trek, and to guide a tourist for the first time was an extremely difficult task to execute. Now a guide cannot be a guide until and unless the government approves it after proper training and taking exams.
He agreed to be a guide for the seven-day trek to Ghorepani because he, somehow, knew the English man was an English teacher. It couldn’t be a better chance to learn more of English words, and practice his English speaking skills. He prepared himself for trekking, as his confidence was growing; knowing four other experienced potters are going with him. All he had to do is ask potters only if his client would ask anything about the place, and translate it into English. Mr. Kadariya remembers he was as tourist as his client for the place they were going, but the moment he took his first step on the Himalayan Trail, he immediately acknowledged that how incomplete his life but until then.
A guy who was born and raised in Terai, finally got his chances to watch the mighty mountains, so closely that he felt he could touch the peak of a mountain if he would stretch his hand. For the first time, he encountered with the national flower of Nepal, Rhododendron. He was tired, but then the view of serenity would refresh him and pushed him to hike higher and higher. Somehow, his four experienced potters and himself lost the track and had to spend a night in a local stable. Mr. Kadariya remembers being lost, and to found a safety under your head, but again being lost under the millions of stars shining above, at night, was the most blissful experience of his life. That night he thought he had made his first client (English) unhappy, as they had to spend a night in a stable, but the contrast to his expectation he was rather happy to see and experience something new, which he hadn’t planned at all.
After completing his first trek, he received Rs.100, as a tip, from the Englishman. He was earning Rs.600 per month as an accountant, but he spent his entire tips within a blink of his eyes. He says in those days Rs.100 was worth of today’s Rs. 10,000, but again, he and his friends were young and would care very less about spending. After his, first, Ghorepani Trek, he spent his 26 years of life walking different corners of Nepal. He says he has met with so many people, in his lifetime, from so different countries, and continents, that now he feels like he has traveled the world.
From the crystal glacier to the sacred horse race in Dolpo, from Bengal Tiger to the mountainous Yak, he has seen it all. He spent his youth in the Himalayas walking up and down, but in 2007, he decided to take retirement from the adventure life to the desk job. He still works for a travel company, Royal Mountain Travel Nepal, as a Sales Manager. There is no way he would take himself far away from the Himalayas.
In 2016, almost after 10 years, he again ventured for Ghorepani Trek. He says view has not changed a bit; the sunrise from Poon Hill still looks like a magic; a golden ball flying above, emerging from the golden waving hair of goddess. However, the place has become more developed and more facilities are available as per request. He says there were many times when he had nearly lost his life, but now it seems like a fairy tale for the younger generation.
He, however, vividly remembers his first trek since it was, then, when he learned how tiring job it was, but he also understood that strength comes from emotion, from the mind. He believes, on his first trek, he was only able to walk, even though he was dead-tired, because of the beauty of the Himalayas. He learned that guiding and hiking were his only golden opportunity to interact with the outside world, and with its people. He learned to be humble and understood the power of a smile. He also understood that it was a great way to earn handsome tips from his clients, like he received from the Englishman, and later he, finally, understood that his first client was not an Englishman but a Welsh.