articles by Shail Desai

India

Among first Indians to summit Mount Everest, Sonam Wangyal recounts fabled 1965 expedition on its anniversary

Sonam Wangyal was 12 when Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary made the first successful climb to the summit of Mount Everest. Twelve years later, he would be among the nine Indians to perform the same feat.

Lifestyle

Cyclist Amit Samarth cycles indoors to raise Rs 2 lakhs for Maharashtra Police on frontline of COVID-19 crisis

How Amit Samarth made his 40th birthday a memorable one by riding a stationary bicycle at a stretch for 48 hours on an indoor trainer, and raising funds for the Maharashtra Police.

Life

Road to Mekong: Piya Bahadur chronicles how four women on bikes ranged deep into South-East Asia

In Road to Mekong, Piya Bahadur chronicles her unique journey through South-East Asia, along with three other women who left their 'regular lives' to travel from Hyderabad, through the East Indian Coast and the North-East of India, past Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam along the river Mekong, and ultimately, to Cambodia.

Life

Running in loops without a definite finish line, how ultramarathon The Last Man Stands tests mind and body

On 25 January, 19 runners lined up at the start of The Last Man Stands. Each of them had an unflinching capacity to endure pain and enough experience of having tread many running miles in the past. Only this time around, the game was different. For starters, there was no defined finish line in sight, and as the name suggests, the winner of the lot would be the one who was still out on the course, when the rest had called it quits.

Life

The Forgotten Few: New book remembers birth of the Indian Air Force, its first pilots to conquer the air

While a lot has been written about the contribution of the Indian Army during World War II, The Forgotten Few by KS Nair, is a rare account of the Indians who participated in the war in the air, alongside British and other Allied pilots. A passionate war buff since his childhood, Nair realised the need for the book only after travelling outside India as part of his day job.

Life

Truck De India: Rajat Ubhaykar on traversing highways across the country, and the fascinating, complex lives of Indian truckers

Rajat Ubhaykar geared up to take on the snaking network of highways while at the mercy of the generosity of truckers, all in a bid to know their lives better. It’s an experience that he intricately captures in his first book, Truck de India.

Life

How endurance cyclist Neha Tikam aced her sport, despite being a late entrant in cycling

Endurance cyclist Neha Tikam talks about her recently undertaken Deccan Cliffhanger, and the challenges faced by a 'late beginner', whose training in Bharatanatyam came in handy while gearing up for her cycling adventures.

Life

Astride his motorcycle, Jay Kannaiyan's journey from Chicago to Delhi comes alive in his new book

In 2010, Jay Kannaiyan quit a stable corporate job to tread a path that would lead him into the unknown. Keeping him company was his trusted steed, sanDRina — a robust Suzuki DR650 bike. Kannaiyan's book, Riding Towards Me: A Thousand-day journey from Chicago to Delhi, captures his unique adventures that unfurled over the course of three years.

Life

'It soon became a survival race for me': Naresh Kumar on navigating 1,705km long rugged terrains of Kyrgyzstan on a bicycle

The second edition of the race was flagged off at 9 am on 17 August; of the 135 riders in the solo and paired categories, only 71 made it to the finish by the 31 August cutoff — the last man to get there after a staggering 14 days, 13 hours and 57 minutes. Naresh Kumar ended his race in 31st place among the 46 solo riders after seeing his fair share of drama over the 12 days, 13 hours and 30 minutes.

Life

Pushing the boundaries: David Göttler on attempting to scale Mt Everest without supplementary oxygen

At a time when commercial climbing on Mt Everest (8,850m) is setting new highs — and lows — David Göttler, 40, and his climbs over the years present a striking contrast.

Life

Atop Mt Everest or not? Climbers challenge Haryana trio's claim of scaling world's highest peak

Mt Everest, the highest peak in the world, has attracted thousands of mountaineers and adventure seekers for decades. On 26 May, three climbers from Haryana — Vikas Rana, Shobha Banwala and Ankush Kasana, claimed to have summited its peak. But the climbers' community have their doubts based on evidence, or the glaring lack of it.

Life

How Priyanka Mohite made history as the first Indian woman to scale 8,000-metre-high Mt Makalu

Priyanka Mohite, a 26-year-old mountaineer from Maharashtra's Satara, became the first woman in India to scale Mt Makalu, the fifth highest mountain in the world at 8,485 metres. Mohite achieved the feat on 15 May this year.

Life

Free Solo: How rock climber Alex Honnold scaled the 3,000-feet-high vertical face of Yosemite's El Capitan

American free solo climber, Alex Honnold, talks about his fears, injuries, and the years leading up to his conquering of the mighty El-Capitan.

Life

Runner's high: How Brijmohan 'Breeze' Sharma completed a daunting 200-mile race in Australia

A mountaineer at heart, Brijmohan Sharma decided to take on the Delirious W.E.S.T., a 218-mile race (350.7 kilometres) with a 104-hour cutoff for a successful finish.

Life

March through the mountains: Peter Van Geit's solo journey through 40 Himalayan passes on foot

Struck by the natural beauty of India, Belgian citizen Peter Van Geit decided to leave his country and explore Indian landscapes, first on his bike, and then on foot. He undertook his most testing trip in 2018 — a 75-day journey across 40 passes in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir, which was self-supported and solo.

India

In the Himalayas, growing population of feral dogs poses threat to wildlife, humans

The explosion of tourism, the lack of proper garbage disposal mechanism, and hyribidisation of breeds has led to a growth in feral dog population, leading to attacks on livestock, wildlife, and humans.

Sports

Bachendri Pal's ascent of Mount Everest was just a stepping stone in her endeavour to touch people's lives positively

At 1.07 pm, Pal took the final steps towards the summit alongside Dorjee. She went down on her knees and put her forehead on the snow, kissing the crown of the world.

India

On the road: A school teacher's travels in the Himalayas on a scooter, amid breakdowns and bad weather

Though a scooter is not really fit for high altitudes or tough conditions, Narender Kumar Gautam chose the vehicle because of its charm and storage capacity. He has named the scooter Shaan, which means snow leopard in Ladakhi

Life

In the world of extreme sports, a few women are defying stereotypes and inspiring others to join in

Kopal Goyal hopes to create a community where women have a platform to share their stories, exchange notes on alternate sports and take them to others who are interested.

Sports

Back from the brink: Nikhil Poojary battles injuries, rejections and inner demons to forge 'accidental' football career

Without a little bit of enchantment, Nikhil Poojary's dream of playing professional football would have remained just that, let alone turning out for the senior national side in the Indian blues.