| Akshay Randeva, 24: From B-school to Everest
From management classroom to magic mountain. It took a boy from Chandigarh with a current Calcutta connection to represent the city as part of the ‘famous-five’ National Geographic Channel Mission Everest team.
After a week of regimental training, back-breaking exercises and screaming army personnel, who reminded him of his “bad old school days” in Rashtriya Indian Military College, Dehradun, 24-year-old Akshay Randeva’s dream, “to see Mount Everest from close quarters”, has finally come true.
Midway through his first year at IIM Calcutta, when the channel called him with the “thrilling news”, Akshay had to contend with more than just the gruelling training at Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi, and the constant fear of not making it to the final five.
While he was giving it his all to make it to Base Camp with the Indian Army, his friends back at Joka were doing the same in trying to clear the exams. There was trouble at home, too. His father, an armyman, was not keen on the idea of his son slogging it out with rucksack, snow boots and ice axe, instead of his course books.
But the ‘must-be’ management-guru turned ‘would-be’ mountaineer had it all planned out. “I would catch the morning flight from Delhi to Calcutta, appear for third semester exams of the first year and take the evening flight back to Delhi,” he smiles. “In the end, I even left a test midway to catch the flight to Kathmandu.”
But it was worth all the trouble. “I made it to the base camp. My grades will be affected, but, after seeing something as awe-inspiring as Mount Everest, I guess it’s all right,” he admits.
Akshay, though uninitiated as far as mountaineering is concerned, is no stranger to adventure. With an armyman for a father, “who is transferred every two years”, travel, too, has been a way of life. And he is “into sports in a big way”, with a para-sailing stint and an adventure course at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling, to his credit. “We (Akshay and some of his peers) were the youngest team to participate in the Four Square White Water Rafting Challenge in 1996,” he recounts.
The Everest experience, however, was something else. The average eight-hour walk on muscle-tearing inclines from Lukla to Base Camp at 17,500 ft, braving freezing temperatures, lack of oxygen and fending off altitude sickness might not be the idea of a laid-back holiday. “But the rugged beauty, interesting people, quaint hamlets along the way, a visit to the Kumbhu icefall and the Indian Army expedition team for company more than made up for all the pains,” he says.
And has the highest peak baptised him' “Trekking is definitely a hobby I would love to take up. A few of us at Joka are already looking for interesting locales to venture into,” signs off Akshay.