Featuring Chandra Shekhar A K
What are you currently doing (job/study)? your interests?
After a 4 decades-long career including two decades as Cost Accountant, Finance Executive and Government Economist and two decades as Finance Director on three central/state PSUs in different parts of the country, I have been leading a retired life in Chennai since 2009. In my post-retirement life, I have been pursuing interests, for which I could hardly find time during my career, viz. drawing/painting, music, reading, writing, trekking, cycling, swimming, tree plantation, social work, animal welfare, ecological conservation,, etc.,
When & How did you get started CTC?
Pursuing my love for trekking and mountaineering since 1970’s wherever I resided, I began an online search for a trekking club in Chennai when I came here after retirement in 2009. I didn’t take much time to locate the most active trekking club in the country, CTC, and promptly enrolled myself as a member and began participating in its varied and numerous trekking activities.
What are the activities of CTC that you are involved in?
Starting with trekking, I participated in practically all CTC’s out-door activities, viz. cycling, tree plantation, flood relief work, marathons/triathlons,wildlife walks, heritage walks and heritage monument preservation, writing articles in CTC house magazines, display of my drawings/paintings of mountains and wildlife done mostly in my college days and so on.
What will you say has been your biggest achievement when it comes along with CTC?
Though I am now 69 going on 70, I feel as fit as I was in my 30’s, thanks to CTC’s outdoor activities and its young members, mingling with whom I have kept my enthusiasm and energy levels in outdoor activities high.
Anything else you might want to add?
The youth of Chennai are fortunate to have Peter Van Geit in their midst, who is the moving spirit behind CTC in each and every activity under its umbrella. He is not only a participant but in most cases the planner, coordinator and executor of CTC’s events from scratch to finish. His enthusiasm and enrgy are inspirational. His stubborn policy of keeping CTC a purely voluntary, cost-sharing and outdoor-passionate organization has no parallel in India and even abroad in mobilizing over 30,000 members and keeping most of them active on week-ends in outdoor activities instead of being couch potatoes and becoming a health burden to themselves and their dependents. My salutes to this Belgian-born Indian in the best sense of the term.
Share any one of the CTC Best moments you had !
My first trek to Parvadhamalai near Thiruvannamalai is memorable for the sheer verticality of the hillock made possible by its unique steel stakes bolted to the rock walls for providing hand-holds and foot-holds without which the hundreds of trekkers and local male and female pilgrims cannot regularly visit the picturesque site.CTC’s most visited trekking destination, Nagala Range, is at once the most favourite site for all CTC members. The night camp atop a Nagala peak with shooting stars in the pitch-dark sky studded with thousands of stars and the Milky Way clearly charting its heavenly spread have been my unforgettable memory. When I was the organizer for a cycling trip to hillocks and forests in and around Chennai, I was happy to show-case the greenery and outdoor opportunities that await youth of the city in pursuing their passion for nature. On my Venkatagiri trek, I experienced the camaraderie and the concern for safety of all team-mates that its team-leaders like Masu and Sridhar have always been observing with “one for all, and all for one” as an unwritten rule, when I fell down an unstable rock wall on our way down and hurt my back and I was taken care of and escorted down to the base camp. Each moment of each event of CTC is like a sparkling jewel and I find myself amiss trying to figure out which of these moments are best and which are not !
How do you manage your work life balance ?
Call it management or mismanagement of work-life balance, as my 4 decades of professional career left very little time or opportunity for vigorous outdoor activities, though I manage to do memorable treks to Lam Khaga pass on the Himachal-Uttarakhand border, Kabru Peak base in Sikkim for training in mountaineering under Nowang Gombu of HMI, Aanaimudi Peak in Munnar, Mukurthi Peak in the Nilgiris, Kailash and Manasarovar. After joining CTC, however, I could complete nearly a dozen and a half outdoor treks and events in 8 years, while I could do hardly a dozen events during my 4 decades of professional career. In my long career, when I was 30 years old, my elderly Sikh boss was the lone person who gave me special leave and encouragement for undertaking my mountaineering training under Nowang Gombu and Tenzing in HMI at Darjeeling !
Any specific goals/dream that you are working on ?
For all the pleasure that I have derived from nature, I wish to pay back by undertaking whatever protects and furthers nature and its beautiful landscapes, flora, fauna and inhabitants who live with and not against nature.
How has your life changed after joining this CTC ?
CTC has transformed my personal passion for nature and outdoor activities into a very fruitful team activity in the pleasant company of friends with similar passion.
Share some of your cycling that you did in the CTC?
During the course of cycling events of CTC , the memorable carrying of our bicycles In the vendor compartment of suburban electric trains with special permission obtained after much persuasive talking of leaders like PVS Kumar and Masu with the railway officials. On an Independence Day cycling trip in the southern suburbs of Chennai, we had the pleasure of participating in the flag hoisting ceremony at a village cross-roads enjoying the company of local children.
We have seen you in leading many of volunteering and how does this helps you outside CTC ?
It helps everyone to do whatever one does with passion to do it well following the rule, “do what you like, and like what you do”.
What are you other interest?
In younger days, I was passionate in drawing and painting portraits, landscapes, wildlife and outdoor life. I have always been a great lover of music of all types and of all nationalities, classical, folk, light and what have you. I have written and published many papers, both professional and otherwise. I am a voracious reader, particularly those on outdoors, arts, sciences (specially ecology) and economics.