Mr. President and Fellows of the RGS,

I am grateful to Her Majesty the Queen for awarding me the Patron's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society for the year 2003.

When I started enjoying the mountains, almost 40 years ago, any honour or achievement was far from my mind. Being in the mountains was good enough. Living in a busy city like Mumbai the need for mountains was felt with greater intensity. It all started with trekking in the Western Ghats, the range near my home and later I visited the Himalaya as a young schoolboy first time in 1962 and have continued going to the Himalaya ever since, every year.

Since early days I had two habits, which perhaps were helpful. I generally never liked to visit the same place or area again. Though there were favourite places to go to, but the serious ventures, the expeditions were more of an intellectual activity and not only physical exercise. Looking to a new hill or range gave memore pleasure than simply climbing a peak. Most of the peaks I have climbed were to look on to the other side of the mountain and look at the vast panorama. The second habit I developed since the early days was to maintain detailed notes of my activities. These notes ultimately allowed me to write about the visits to mountains and publish books. In fact writing about the mountains is almost as great a pleasure as visiting it. Like the passion to visit the mountains, I had to write when the need was felt, there was no escape from it.

I have shared mountain trails with many people. Today I remember all of them, though the list is too long to recall them individually. Many people and associations have helped me to enjoy the hills, from earliest mountain instructors and companions, to my devoted porters from Kumaun, each contributed to the pleasures. As it happens in any risk taking activity, I have lost a few friends and their loss was felt more as they were young and fit people. I myself survived two major injuries to continue with the passion.


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