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'I don't feel 19. I don't know what it is to be 19," says Krushnaa Patil who became the second youngest Indian girl to scale Mount Everest on May 21, 2009.
"I still don't feel like I have done something special and I am very surprised and overwhelmed by the kind of response I have got," continues the youngster.
"In fact, I, along with a friend had decided to cycle to Kolkata from Kathmandu after the Everest expedition. But my mother told me about the tremendous response we were getting back home and I came back here to a welcome I had never expected. I have to admit I love it."
Talking about the journey, Krushnaa says the toughest part was when they lost a Sherpa during an avalanche.
"It was devastating. Until then I was in contact with my mother almost everyday, but after the tragedy I didn't call her for a few days.
"We heard about the avalanche and when Krushnaa did not call, I was sure she would come back. I got a little worried but at the same time I also knew I could not let my fears affect her," says her mother Ashvini Patil.
"The thought of returning mid-way never ever occurred to me", says Krushnaa.
She has been busy collecting awards and attending functions ever since she got back. "There is no time to sit back and relax. I want to work towards creating awareness on environmental issues concerning the Indian Himalayas. The mountains have given me so much, I have to give it back."
Text: Seema Pant