As I sit down to write this, I come across the farewell speech made by India’s outgoing President, Mr Pranab Mukherjee – a line catches my eye and I use it here – substituting Himalaya for his idea of India:
“[Himalaya] is not just a geographical entity. It carries a history of ideas, philosophy, intellect, industrial genius, craft innovation and experience.”
It is this rich tapestry that I have tried to weave into this volume of the Himalayan Journal as the Himalayan Club completes 90 years of active existence.
This Volume has taken a year in the making – as usual, I took lessons – I was happy to note that every single author was enthusiastic and cooperative. Thus to all the contributors to this Volume – thanks very much – it was a real pleasure. I took more lessons about checking facts, spellings and claims. And finally I learned that I would have to take editorial decisions for better and for worse.
In my last editorial, I had talked about increasing the presence of Indian writing. Although I have not quite managed that, I have tried to introduce many more Indian writers in all the sections here. I open this volume with Shekhar Pathak’s intensely researched piece on Pandit Nain Singh. It makes for a very interesting story. This is followed by a beautiful climbing essay by Aamir Ali. He saw the Special Volume of the HJ we produced earlier this year and sent us a return present – from one 90 year old to another. The next piece is a recap of the Himalayan Club over the last ten years, written this time, by Deepa Balsavar, who brings in an objective perspective, raising questions that do need answers. Following this there are more histories, as varied as that of Nanga Parbat, the Piolet d’Or, and Indo - Tibetan wool trade. Other elements in the tapestry are papers on innovations in Himalayan tourism, Sherpas of Rolwaling, Himalayan wildlife, mountain accidents and how to avoid them, the discovery of a new species of blue poppies, the spiral kora of Mt Kailash, pilgrim routes in Garhwal, and an article on the beautiful Sonamarg. Finally young Karn Kowshik has examined the question – Why aren’t Indians, Alpinists?
There are three photo features – stunning, quirky and informative – in that order. And of course our section on expeditions and explorations covers a varied range of climbs and treks in different parts of the Himalaya – people from different regions and nationalities searching, walking, taking photos, climbing, naming routes and peaks to reflect their moods. How far removed this world is from the times we live in!
We lost many loved ones during the year. Pradeep Sahoo, until recently Vice President, HC, stood proudly atop Everest with his wife last season and a few months later, died suddenly, at home… Three Bengali climbers including Gautam Ghosh died on Everest; Hari Dang, Col Roy, Jim Curran, Nick Clinch, Junko Tabei, Warwick Deacock – all friends and staunch supporters of the HC passed on leaving memories, and yes – stories. So the ‘In Memoriam’ section celebrates these lives by telling some stories. So enjoy the laugh-outloud Jim Curran film screening episode like I did and shed a quiet tear reading of Junko’s music club.
Most of the books have been reviewed by young Indians, with a few notable exceptions as always.
A word of explanation about the look and design, which we have tried to contemporise within limited means – many photos are probably not technically great but have been used as visual representation to make a point.
I present this cover to you with trepidation. The sketches are by a young artist, Shital Didwania, of people most of us admire – people who have loved the Himalayan Club over decades. Forming the backdrops are stunning photos by Ashok Dilwali and Jeff Shapiro.
As always my colleagues – Sheela Jaywant, Aparna Joshi and Satish Kulkarni – have risen to every problem and challenge put to them. Thank you.
I am proud to share the news that Harish Kapadia, Editor Emeritus of the Himalayan Club will travel to Seoul later this year to be honoured with the Asian Piolet D’Or.
Thank you as always Shailesh Mahadevia and Tanil Kilachand – without you, THJ is just not possible.
Mumbai, August 2017