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The Story Of My Death

“You are going to die. Few more breaths, and that’s it!” alerted my dog-tired mind.

“You can do it. Push yourself.” encouraged my I-can-do-it mind.

It was the summer of ’15 in India, the same period when a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal. Sikkim, one of the most beautiful states in India, shares the international border with Nepal, Bhutan, China, and being a neighbor of Nepal, aftershocks were experienced there. At the same time, Siddharth, Prachetas, and I were cycling towards North Sikkim under the campaign ‘From Free India to Green India.’ North district is known for the steepness of its valleys. The ‘what if‘ factor had already started infiltrating our minds- What if the landslides happen due to the aftershocks? What if we get stuck? What if we get carried away? What if we get buried? Being stubborn travelers, we wrapped that thought, kissed it, and kicked it into the valley. There isn’t any place for negative thoughts in our minds.



With the excitement and energy to reach Gurudongmar Lake, we were steadily cycling up the Himalayas. Already stunned by their massive scale, they had soaked us into their energy. The mountains seemed fierce proud- Proud of their beauty!

People we met on the way asked the only question, “Where are you heading to?” And the moment we said, “Gurudongmar Lake…” a big WHAT came our way! Everyone told us it’s impossible to cycle to the lake without support. As I mentioned earlier, stubbornness is in our blood. The more you say it’s unachievable, the more passionate we are to prove you wrong.

We reached Thangu. There we met Captain Savio Thomas and a few soldiers from his battalion. Captain was amazed to see us on the cycle. However, the dialogue with him was a game-changer.



The moment he told a story of the guy who died on his way back from the lake, our terror-stricken eyes glanced at each other. Yet again, negative thoughts started infiltrating our minds- Should we give up? What if we also die? We don’t even have support in case of an emergency. The dream for which we had cycled up the Himalayas was just 30 km. away, but now it felt impossible. We had no support vehicle, no oxygen cylinders, and no thermal clothes. Knowing that the temperature was 1° C, just 13% oxygen, and fierce winds post noon, we had to find a solution.

The battalion hosted us for lunch. We were grateful for fresh and warm food after many days. Soon after some joyful conversations, they started sharing their stories of war and sacrifice. That was the kind of inspiration we needed at that moment. After this story session, we settled down to plan our next step. First and foremost, we will do it! Secondly, we will leave at 4:00 am, and lastly, we will cycle together so that if anything happens, one will be there to help others. And if we fail to achieve it, we will try the next day again. We won’t give up. Although there was the catch- We had to reach the lake and return to the military post before noon. We had 8 hours, 1221 m. altitude to cycle through 25 km. of rugged terrain.



We couldn’t sleep that night. Every passing minute tested our patience for the big day. It was dark when we started cycling! Tourists in jeeps who crossed us looked dazed as if they had seen three aliens cycling on earth. We cycled hardly a kilometer or two and could feel the heaviness in our breathing. Siddharth was ahead of us when he saw a truck going to China approaching us. He waved and asked if they could give us a lift to the lake. Gurudongmar Lake is about 5 km. to the south of the China border. They agreed! Siddharth loaded his cycle on the cargo bed and waited for us to come. Prachetas also reached and loaded his cycle. When they saw me, Siddharth cheered, “We have got the lift. Load your cycle as well. Let’s go on the truck. It’s already getting difficult to breathe and cycle.” There were two options for me- To take the lift or to cycle alone. I nodded in disagreement and continued cycling. I was by myself if anything goes wrong.

The road to the lake passed through rugged terrain with moraine, high alpine pastures covered with many rhododendron trees. It was getting colder than the hinges of hell! I was pushing myself. Every pedal tested my strength. My breathing was heavy. I stopped, opened the tetra pack, and had a sip. It was an orange juice which I hate. But at that moment, it felt like heaven! Thanks to the Indian Army for the juice packets. With every pedal, it was getting difficult. My thoughts were louder than the music in my earphones. I was scared! Suddenly, I fell off the cycle. I had no energy left to pedal even one rotation. I was completely drained. I wished there was someone on this tremendous landscape to motivate me to go ahead.



“You had an option of taking the lift. Yet you denied!” prompted my dog-tired mind.

“You denied it because you knew you could do it.” said my I-can-do-it mind.

I screamed in pain as I was standing. The cold was slowly causing an inflammatory response in my joints. Bearing the pain and trying to shut my thoughts, I started walking with my cycle. Probably 10 min. after it, I started feeling chest pain. I could barely breathe as I fainted. Lying unconscious for a while, I wheezed as I slowly opened my eyes. I had no idea how far the military post was and had no energy to cycle back to Thangu. I was caught in-between. I had given up. I could feel the muscle rigidity. I believed it to be my end. Soon I’ll freeze to death. I was lying on the cold sand, listening to the music and hoping for some miracle. I wanted to live.

“You are going to die. Few more breaths, and that’s it!” alerted my dog-tired mind.

“You can do it. Push yourself.” encouraged my I-can-do-it mind.

The mind-fight was on when the impossible happened. An instrumental version of the Indian National Anthem in my playlist started playing. Within a few seconds, I could feel the blood rushing through my veins, goosebumps all over my body, and the belief that I can still do it. I had always heard that music has the power to transform, and now I have experienced it. It made a dying man alive! Emotionally and mentally I rose, but physically I still had no energy. I played the anthem on loop and used every inch of energy to go ahead. Sipping juice after every five steps, I started again. Trudging for a kilometer or half, I saw an Indian Flag waving. It was far. But at least the military post was now in sight. Knowing that the lake is also a few kilometers more, I started cycling and did not focus on my pain. The only thing I knew was; I had to do it!



I reached the military post and had just 45 min. remaining to cycle till the lake and return before the fierce winds blow. Lake was still 10 km. away. And if I fail to make it back, I could get hit by the stones due to the stormy winds.

I made it to the lake. Honestly, I am out of words to describe the beauty and energy of that landscape. It was so peaceful!

I wanted to stay. However, due to the time constraint, I started cycling back. I timed myself perfectly and safely reached the military post. Siddharth and Prachetas were waiting for me. I waved at them, left my cycle, and rushed inside the bunker. I couldn’t hold back my tears. I sat near the window staring at the mountains, crying!

The realization of what I had achieved hit me hard. Personally, this achievement wasn’t just about facing death and cycling to one of the highest lakes in the world. Moreover, it was about overcoming my comfort zone, pushing myself beyond my capacity, and proving others wrong. At 19 years of age, it was the first time that I was proud of myself. Never did I appreciate life. Never was I grateful in my life. So many past moments started flashing in my mind wishing for another chance to set them right. I couldn’t stop crying. It was the birth of the new Tanay. Tanay with more self-confidence, Tanay who appreciates what he has in life, Tanay who wants to live in present, Tanay who never wants to stop!

…and this was the story of my death.

– Old Tanay


  • February 2, 2019

    Kedar Gokhale

    Experienced your thrill while reading!

  • March 30, 2019

    Parshwa Mutha

    This is just Amazing

  • April 16, 2019

    Parnavi Habde

    Hi Tanay ! I’m truly inspired after reading the ‘story of your death!’ It usually so happens that people’s life stories inspire us to be better. But this is the first time that your story of death has been a great great inspiration. The way you experienced goosebumps after listening to our National Anthem, even I could feel the goosebumps and inspiration, motivation inside me after reading the story. I wish I had read your story before, but better late than never!
    I’m sure your works, travel experiences, photography and architecture has changed me, inspired me to be better! I will write the story of my new birth for sure!!
    Thanks a lot!!

    – ‘Old’ Parnavi !

    ( a new born architect seeking to explore and learn)

  • October 18, 2022

    Prathamesh Mashere

    Your words felt like a short film playing in front of me. What an experience!! Thankyou for sharing


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