Meet this mountaineer from Jamia promoting peace between India and Pakistan

Travel insane and adventures in all lanes. straight out of school this Jamia student went on a monumental cycling expedition from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. For 37 days he was on his bicycle expedition. Meet Faisal Latif who has seen north to South on two wheels. Faisal is a final year student of Department of Tourism, Jamia Millia Islamia.

An explorer and a peacemaker, Faisal Latif is known in Jamia for his myriads adventures. From climbing peaks like Stok Kangri in Leh to Shitidhar in Himachal (That was a dangerous one) to Skiing, he is one hack of the adventure bug. Along with students of Delhi University Faisal went on a cycle expedition to promote peace between the India and Pakistan. Though, without the required documents to further the cause they couldn’t go ahead. The Motto of peace cycle expedition was ended at Wagah Border Amritsar, Punjab. But this didn’t stop Faisal from visiting Pakistan (P.S- He is not an anti-nationalist, just a traveller). As soon as he got visa he explored Pakistan as well. Faisal aspires to join Indian Army for which he is preparation, Aapka Times reached out to this much celebrated adventure bug Celebrity of  Jamia Millia Islamia to know more about his adventures, Here is an excerpt of Faisal Latif in conversation with Asna Azhar.

How was your trip to Pakistan, in times of political upheaval? What was the best part of your trip?
The decision of going to Pakistan is probably the most thoughtful decision which I have taken in my life. There was so many things which was going through my mind. We all know whenever Pakistan is discussed most Indians are filled with hatred and vengeance, as if they have personal scores to settle and not to my surprise many people discouraged me and advised not to go there. And as you I want to join the Indian Army many people also said to me that it will weaken your chances of getting into the army. But I was determined to go, the curiosity of knowing what lies beyond that border took me there. As far as the political upheaval is concerned it is only after going to Pakistan that I realized that we need to keep the political differences between the two nations aside. We can’t afford to be swayed by all the political rhetoric.

Politicians will change colours whenever it suits them. We are being brainwashed into believing Pakistan to be the enemy country without being aware of the historical background. We need to look beyond the political animosity. I’d make a very strong appeal for that. The tragedy of the political divide between the two countries is symbolical, it should go. That will never happen until we travel to Pakistan more often and interact with the local people. The best part of my trip was the hospitality “mehman nawazi” for which Pakistan is known for. People were very warm welcoming and very curious to know about India and also the best thing which I noticed as soon as I entered Pakistan was the similarity it shared it India, Lahore was so similar to Delhi as Karachi was to Mumbai .It was a memorable trip and the only regret I have is that I was not able to visit any place other than Karachi and Lahore as I had a limited visa, As a mountain lover I was so desperate to see the mighty Karakoram range and explore other cities like Islamabad and Quetta but it didn’t happen. But still I would consider myself lucky that at least I got a chance to visit Pakistan which is a farfetched idea for most of the people in India.

What took you to Mount. Shitidhar in Himachal Pradesh? Since it’s a dangerous climb, of late two people lost their lives while climbing, share your own experience.
Honestly speaking Mt. Shitidhar is not a dangerous climb the only thing made it look dangerous was the death of two climbers in the previous season. I and Anirudh, my friend from mountaineering course days decided to join a team which was going to attempt this the next season. It was an 11 member team including both of us who started from Manali. The team was quite sceptic from the beginning about the success of the expedition. In addition to that when we reached our base camp we met a team which definitely looked more experienced than us, and they said that  they were not able to summit the mountain as the snow condition was not good and an avalanche can get triggered any time so it’s better not to know. So this was enough for a team like us to abort the expedition. But we had a chat that we have come this far and at least we should give it a try once by ourselves. It was decided that 3 member will go to the higher camp and will update about the situation through the walkie talkies and accordingly rest of the team will act. So I, Anirudh and one more guy went up. After reaching the point from where the summit is attempted we too realized that the snow condition was not good at all and an avalanche or a rock fall can happen anytime. But having come so close to the summit Anirudh and I was not ready to back down and we convinced each other by saying more the risk more the fun and we decided that on the same night we will push for the summit and the third guy will sit in the camp and if anything goes wrong he will inform the rest of the group. We started at 10 at night and the most interesting part was that we chose a different route altogether just to minimize the distance because we didn’t want to spend even an extra second on the mountain. It was a decision which could have gone either way but luckily it worked in our way and we reached the summit in just 3 hours. I know both of us were a bit scared but none of us wanted to express just to keep the morale up, we cracked jokes and did whatever we could to make that scary atmosphere lighter. I remember when we reached the summit I said to Anirudh that ‘ bro this point looks like the point shown in Ye Jawani hai Deewani’ and he shouted to the top of his voice “Bhuta Parbat” and we started laughing like hell. After summiting we came back comfortably as now we were confident of ourselves and happy too. I don’t consider climbing Shitidhar as a very big achievement because as I said earlier it’s not a very tough climb. But yes I learned lot of things from this expedition which ultimately helped me in shaping myself as a more courageous and confident person.

What are your future prospectus regarding expeditions and studies?
After being into mountaineering for almost seven years now I can say that it’s a part and parcel of my life. No matter what I do what I eat where I live I am going to climb mountains for sure. I never see mountaineering from Job’s perceptive. I just do it for sheer joy which I get in climbing mountains. In future like any other mountaineer aspires. I too want to climb Mt. Everest but not that just that I want to climb the 13 other eight thousand meters peaks as well. Apart from that I want to complete the “seven summits” which is a mountaineering achievement in which you climb the highest peaks of all the seven continents. As far as my studies are concerned I always wanted to study something which I would love to study not just because of job opportunities that’s why I chose to study Travel and Tourism in my graduation. Now I have just graduated in that and now I am looking to do masters in the same subject as well. I don’t know where my career is heading to, if I get in for the army I’ll definitely serve in that as no other career option would give me the opportunity of doing the adventure expedition and at the same time it will also give me the satisfaction of serving my country. If not that then probably I’ll continue with the studies and will work in the travel industry and side by side continue my adventurous expeditions.

How was your journey in Jamia?
It was great. If I have to describe my journey in Jamia in one word it would be “quick” because it passed too quickly. Although the duration of my graduation was 3 years but I spent 4 years here as I came here in 2013 as a Geography Hons student and then in 2014 I switched to Tourism. I was an irregular student as mostly I used to be busy in travelling or adventurous stuffs but still I loved coming to the college not because of the classes but because of friends in Jamia. Also when you study in a university like Jamia you get the opportunity of meeting so many different people who can teach you so many new things. I have a lot of good memories in Jamia. I’ll always be thankful to Jamia not because of the degree but because of my friends and memories which I made here which I consider as the real treasure which I found here.

 

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Asna Azhar is an Interviewer at Aapka Times and one of her interview of Lady Biker was picked up by almost all mainstream medias including BBC