2021: A year of Love, Labour and Loss

Love is a mystery. Love is unitive. Love is how we connect as human beings with one another and with the whole universe together. Love is how we learn, become better, and make the world a better place to live for us and others. Love needs freedom to breathe, equality to thrive, and openness to flow and grow. Love is personal, political, philosophical, social, historical, metaphysical, transcendental, et al. Sadly, we have only one word to describe such a complex emotion. The ancient Greeks had six different words, but even that’s not enough. 2021 taught me new ways to describe the complexity of love and its various hues. Love lost on many counts, but it miraculously sprang on a few occasions like a phoenix. My LOVE vocabulary was defined and redefined by people who touched my life one way or another this year.

shillpi a singh

LOVE IS ADVENTURE: Anshu Jamsenpa

Her name means the sun’s rays, and she’s been living up to it, in letter and spirit. Like the sun that shines above the mountain even when the sky is covered with clouds, Anshu Jamsenpa, the young mountaineer from Bomdila in Arunachal Pradesh has been shining on the highest peak of the world by standing atop it and unfurling the Tricolour on five occasions, a feat that only a few can match.

President Ram Nath Kovind gave away the Padma Shri award to Anshu Jamsenpa at a function in the Rashtrapati Bhawan on November 9, 2021. 

She’s the fastest woman mountaineer in the world to summit Mt Everest twice in five days, the first woman in the world to do two double ascents of Everest (first one on May 10, 2011, and May 21, 2011; the second one on May 16, 2017, and May 21, 2017) and the first Indian woman in the world to summit Everest five times. Her third successful attempt to conquer the 29,029 ft peak was in between the two double ascents, on May 18, 2013.

LOVE IS ADVENTURE: Anshu Jamsenpa from Arunachal Pradesh.

A mother of two girls, Anshu was busy looking after her husband Tsering Wange’s travel and tourism business when one fine day she happened to accompany a group of three mountaineers for rock climbing and river crossing activities in her hometown. “The month-long Himalayan Trekking Expedition Programme had been planned by my husband’s company. I used to go along with them daily, stand and watch as they went about rock climbing. One day, I just walked up to the trio and told them that I want to try it too. I did it, and quite well. It gave me an adrenaline rush,” she recounts.

The rock climbing incident stoked her dormant adventure streak, and she was enthused to take it up. She was finally initiated into mountaineering in 2009 after being egged on by the mountaineering instructor of the Arunachal Mountaineering & Adventure Sports Association to follow her passion seriously. She enrolled herself in a course. But the toughest part about taking up mountaineering seriously as a career was convincing family members, especially her husband. “The thought of summiting Everest crossed my mind while I was undergoing a training course, but it was easier said than done. Climbing Everest was obviously the toughest one so far. Barring my second summit of the double ascent in 2011 when the weather was pleasant, the rest of all the other four summits have been tough from different perspectives,” she says. But in the same breath, she clarifies that there is nothing like the easiest or toughest climb. “In the mountains, there is no surety. The risk factors are always there,” she adds.

As someone who yearns to travel to mountain-tops, she says it is because there’s a sense of belonging and an emotional connection with the peaks. “Mountains bring out the best in me. I’m most happy in their company,” she adds. But she also derives a lot of happiness listening to music and being with her children Pasang Droma, 19, and Tenzin Nyiddon, 15.

In between, she is busy working on her pet project, starting a training institute in Bomdila to encourage other deserving candidates into mountaineering and adventure sports from across the country. “It is just a small piece of land, and the building is yet to come up, but I have managed to train more than 5000 adventure enthusiasts here so far,” she says with a sense of pride.

She has also scaled Mt DKD2, Mt Trishul, Mt Nun and Mt Shivling. 

Quick ones:

A fact not known: She played the female lead in the feature film ‘Crossing Bridges” that won several awards including the National Film Award.

The weirdest quirk: I used to keep a notebook with my favourite songs written in it. Writing songs and singing has a calming effect on me.

Must carry items to the mountains: I carry a photograph of His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Kindle and camera.

https://www.newindianexpress.com/magazine/2017/sep/30/on-top-of-the-world-1664215.html

I know you want adventure, I know you want to see the world. But love is the greatest adventure, where you risk the most for the greatest reward. What good will all this exceptional living do if you’re doing it only for yourself?

Penny Reid

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