ClamorWorld :Tell me something about yourself.
Aloke Surin : To begin with, let me first of all thank you for thinking me worthy of an interview on your website! As someone wiser than me has remarked, “Life is what happens while you are busy planning for it!”
In my case, this is one hundred percent true. I am now almost 59 years old and when I look back on my life from this perspective, almost everything that has taken place seems to have happened quite “accidentally”. Of course the more spiritually inclined will interpret this as God’s will. Let me elaborate : I was born in a small village in what is now Jharkhand in India, went to school in a suburb of Calcutta (before they renamed it Kolkata!), completed a university education at St.Xavier’s College in that city, joined Air India as a flight attendant in 1977 and thus had to move to their Bombay (yes, it had not changed to Mumbai then) base where I spent the next 28 years of my life.My long stint in Air India gave me the opportunity to see quite a bit of the world, gave me the time and the means to pursue a hobby which soon became a passion. The sight of the Kanchenjunga massif from Darjeeling in the early 1970s kindled a desire to see the Himalaya from up close. In the summer of 1976 I joined a Youth Hostels of India trekking programme (it cost a very modest Rs. 350 for a ten day jaunt) in the Kishtwar region of Jammu and Kashmir.
In Bombay, I met my future wife Margaret also quite accidentally through her cousin. In turn Margaret introduced me to some other friends she had met who in turn introduced me to the incredible hiking potential of the Sahyadri range. I shall never forget my very first hike to Visapur fort near Lonavala in March 1978 with this group who later coalesced into a small hiking club called âTrailblazersâ! Over the next 28 years we explored the Sahyadri in all the seasons, with hikes ranging from simple day walks to multi day excursions. In those days, travel to the more remote regions of the Sahyadri was more adventurous than today and we have splendid memories of trips to the Salher-Salota region on the Maharashtra/Gujarat border and to the lush forests draping Vasota around the Koyna Lake.
For a taste of hiking in the Sahyadri, please check out thappyfeet.blogspot.ca/2012/08/pride-comes-before-fall
The Trailblazers also ventured into the Nepal Himalaya, completing a great trek to the Annapurna Sanctuary in autumn 1980 and another one to the Langtang Himal in 1983. For these stories, please seeaccidentaltrekker.blogspot.ca/2013/10/annapurna-sanctuary and accidentaltrekker.blogspot.ca/2013/12/torrock-to-langtang
In the meantime, I had found the time to complete a Basic Mountaineering Course at the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering in Uttarkashi in 1978. This was a small introduction to Himalayan climbing, which promptly went on the back burner since I was already having a lot of fun merely hiking and trekking.
In Feb 1985, I had a real rock climbing accident which potentially could have terminated me while climbing on the cliffs of Dudha near Thane! Destiny intervened to preserve my frail body, so that I might experience another near fatal fall at Dhauj near Delhi three years later.
My wife tolerated my misadventures and even joined me on some of them in the Himalaya!
By the time I immigrated to Canada in 2001, I had visited various parts of the Himalaya about 20 times, trekking or climbing, with each trip lasting from one to two months! For someone who was not a trekking or climbing professional guide, and someone who also had to earn a living working at a job, I considered myself extremely fortunate!
When I arrived in Vancouver, I was thrilled to find that the North Shore mountains provided so much hiking potential – they were closer than the Sahyadri had been to Mumbai and as a bonus they had snow in the winter and plenty of wildlife (black bears and white tailed deer) to keep you on your toes!
In Pic :My friend Sumeet Surve hiking on the shores of Barrier Lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park
I managed to complete an Outdoor Educatorâs Course at the National Outdoor Leadership School from their Pacific Northwest Center at Conway, WA and this was a wonderful opportunity to backpack in the wilderness of the Olympic National Park and climb on Mount Olympus!Â
In the winter of 2008/2009, I took on a weekend job as a snowshoe guide at Mount Seymour in North Vancouver, while working full time as a freight forwarder with a logistics company.
When I got laid off in Sept 2011, it gave me an opportunity to devote a lot of time to a secret passion I had harbored for decades – to write about my trekking and mountaineering and other life experiences. Thus was born the Accidental Blogger!
(Interview to be continued next week…..)