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Rope No 5

by Sid Mewara

I met Nawang at the Himalayan Mountaineering institute, Manali in the summer of 93. The mountaineering class of 93 was mostly made up of 20 something year old lads from various cities spread out over the Himalayas with the exception of 3 city slickers and a solitary Brit. The three city slickers Nawang (Bombay), Saurabh(Delhi) and me(Delhi) hit it off from day one, connecting over our perceived coolness of being worldly amongst our peers.

I remember our short hikes into Manali city to get momos and thukpa at Moonlight café and talk about our escapades from home. Nawang had some very cool stories to tell, about his father’s travels as a celebrated Indian mountaineer. We carried ourselves with an extra bounce in our step around the institute shamelessly throwing around Mr. Harish Kapadia’s name not having met him, but basking in the fact that 1/3 of our cool trio was his son. To think if, it some of the better and senior climbers took it stride but did give us a good ribbing every opportunity they got. Nawang and I were at that time not that interested in the running, jumping and the PT part of the training. We were both driven to the romanticism of being in the majestic Himalayas knee deep in fresh snow, hanging from a overhang, and other daring encounters that we didn’t really care to prepare for. We were out there to have fun and get a bit of climbing done.

Once we moved from the institute to base camp in Beas Kund, the three us ended up tent mates, and both Nawang and I were on the same rope (team) # 5. We managed to get the instructors to add Saurabh to our rope as well and complete our trio. From then on we were inseparable for the duration of the coarse.

After completion of the coarse, the three of us decided to travel back together. We stayed an extra day or two in Manali, just hanging around the institute showing off our sunburns to the trekkers. On the way back home, Nawang stayed with my family for a day waiting for his departure for Bombay. We had talked about keeping our rope intact, and promising in the naiveté of our youth to always climb together. We kept in touch sparingly for a while, but I moved to the US in 94 and that was it.

I was looking in the archives of the Indian Armed services for my uncle who received the Vir Chakra, when I somehow came across this tribute site. It hit a specially deep cord in me. You see, My mother is a Kashmiri pandit, whose ancestors and relatives have been slowly pushed out of Kashmir over the decades. Until I read about Nawang it was just part of history of my family, but this brought all those thoughts and that reality to me in a way that changed me in some ways.

In conclusion, it was a pleasure to know Nawang, I have sent some photographs I took of our time in Manali. My regards the family and thank you for keeping this memorial going.

Jai Hind
Siddharth Mewara