My inspiration from day 1 was Mr Krishnan. He took 1 year of No Pay Leave and volunteered under the Singapore International Foundation for 1 year to teach at the Sree Saraswathy School in Gorkha, Nepal. When he resumed teaching in Raffles Institution, he spear headed an overseas community involvement project involving students and teachers of our school heading out to assist in the school that he previously taught in. We were the 1st batch of Singaporean secondary school students to have gone for an overseas community service project back in 99. That was my 1st trip to Nepal and 1st exposure to the mountains. We did the Annapurna trek and made it up to Poon Hill together with the teachers. As I stood amazed at the jaw dropping Annapurna range in the background, I asked my teacher if we could go climb one of the snow-capped peaks the next day. He laughed and said, probably one will need a year of training and at least a month to climb anyone of those snow-capped peaks that were within sight.
It is unfathomable that everything has come a full circle. 13 years later, I will be going back to the same place where it all started. My amazement for the mountains when I was a sec 3 student will be addressed 1st hand during the next 3 months. I will be climbing Everest; and this will be undoubtedly be the seeds that Mr Krishnan planted in me back in 99 when he 1st exposed this simple mind of mine to something greater out there. Thank you Mr Krishnan for being the inspiration that u are.
What is even more fantastic is that we will be returning to the same school together this time round. I got back in touch with my teacher as I was planning on the execution of my service work at the school in Gorkha with Cerebos. He is now the vice principal of West Grove Primary School and was exhilarated to hear this new story. He eventually got his leave approved to come along to Gorkha during the 1st week of the school holidays which will be the same time that I will be ending my climb. We will be going back to the school together! It was one of the most exciting things that has unfolded during this journey.
After Mr Krishnan heard of my story, he began telling his P5 kids about Nepal. He encouraged them to write pen pal letters to the kids in Nepal such that both parties could improve their English. When I visited him in his school a few days ago, I was shocked to find that there were huge stacks of big envelopes from each class with numerous letters in them. I had the pleasant opportunity of meeting up with the P5 kids and collecting these letters. All of them seemed extremely excited and were shooting questions after questions at me. One of the most fascinating questions that was asked from a P5 boy was, “What will be your aim after u climb Everest since it’s the highest mountain and there is nothing else to achieve after that” I was awed at his maturity. I did not know whether to tell him that I’d be going back to work or some other answer to match his level of maturity. I answered, “I’ll have to set my next goal higher than Everest then”. I hope he understood what I meant.
Now for a special mention to Dr Gayathri. After I set up my clinic in Phortse and start climbing the mountain, she will be the one solely running the clinic for another 1.5 months. She is currently working in the A&E dept of SGH and has taken 2 months of no pay leave to pursue this venture. She has devised a through plan of how she wants to run the clinic as well as to provide basic medical education to the villagers in the region. She has also the plans of traveling to each of the 5 villages with the outpost clinics of Kunde hospital and rendering her services there. She will be helping out the clinic and then proceeding to help out the school in Gorkha together with myself and Mr Krishnan after my Everest climb.
The day has come for me to part my comfort zone for the longest period of time ever. I’ll be leaving for Nepal today on a Silkair flight and won’t be back for almost 3 months. I’ll be setting up the clinic, climbing Everest and helping out the school while I’ll be there. It has been a logistical nightmare working all this out in the shortest of time frames and the smallest of budgets but I hope it all falls in place in the days to come. I would like to thank each and every one who has helped me in one way or another throughout this journey of mine. For one person to reach Everest, there are hundreds of people behind him that actually made it happen. For all the unsung heroes out there, I salute to u. I’m a little hard pressed for time as I have been packing the whole night through and my flight’s in a couple of hours’ time. So I shall end here and continue when I reach good old Kathmandu.
The journey finally begins…. I’m waiting nervously and with baited breath. Whatever will be, will be and it will be for the best.