Arun Veembur

I will never meet Arun Veembur – and it is very much my loss. Arun was an intrepid traveller who died earlier this week in a tragic accident while trekking near the remote city of Dali in the Yunan province of China. He was just 28.

Arun started out as a journalist with an english newspaper in Bangalore. On a trip to India’s north-east, he came across the story of the Stilwell road (Ledo road), the tough mountainous road that the british built in the backdrop of WWII. And was hooked. Soon he gave up his job and went to Kuming the chinese outpost where he spent the next few years. He was researching for a book on the Ledo road and in the years that he was there became a bit of an institution.

More on Arun:


10 thoughts on “Arun Veembur

  1. On behalf of his folks and family, many thanks for remembering Along (that was his name in Chinese).

    Yes, Arun was just 28…something of a maverick…everything of a writer and traveller. Was a Bangalore product – wanted to try out law, then engineering, finally dabbled in journalism. But knowing him, he wouldn’t stop at any of that. Wanted to do something different. Even when most stuck slavishly to the well-treaded, middle path, he would walk the ends. In his self-deprecating brand of humour, he would admit that he had an odd imbalance of the head. For those who believed in his dreams, we loved him for that.

    He happened to hear of the Stilwell road (also called the Ledo road – the road the Allied Forces built across Arunachal, through Burma and
    all the way to China to counter the Japs during WWII) and got obsessed with it. He left his job three years back and travelled that road all
    the way to Kunming in South China. Ever since, he had been in China – first in Kunming, and later in Dali, working towards promoting travel
    through an online effort . He had also been helping the local tourism and commercial bodies in as selfless a way as is possible these days. Needless to say, everyone loved him for that.

    He was more than a nephew to me. We shared much in common – a love of reading, writing and travel. As for books, despite having a sizeable
    collection myself, I would always stumble upon a few unheard of gems in his well-stocked library! What I could give back was hunting down the
    autobiography of Joseph Stilwell from the Blossoms…I still remember his childlike excitement when I presented it to him.

    Arun’s dream was his book on the Stilwell road and he so wanted it to see the light of day. The only child of his folks, he was a little too
    intrepid and was, in his own sweet way, something of a trial. He had been an experienced trekker and mountaineer. But the treacherous
    Cangshan range in Yunnan, I suppose, can humble the best of them – apparently another group of Europeans also met the same fate a week ago.

    He is on his way home now. And on this flight, the pilot and the crew can rest assured that one of the passengers will not be a delightful nuisance by insisting that he be allowed to blow the horn on the aircraft (yes, it actually happened once!).

    • Rajesh,

      My condolences to you and your family. I knew Arun from Bangalore. He was a junior in college and we worked together at his first job. We spent hours talking about travel. He’d relate stories of his travels in Arunachal Pradesh at that point: one particular story about being stuck in Arunachal because of some flooding and waiting for the Indian army rescue boats to ferry him across and then, a few kilometers down the road (I think), finding a dam sitting on absolutely dry ground because the river had changed course.

      Unfortunately I fell out of touch with him but for a few mails he sent in 2007 from Yunnan. I wish we had stayed in touch.

      Arun did things that many of us wanted to do, but never did. He will always be remembered.

  2. Dear Rajesh,

    I never knew any of his family but Arun was one of my dearest friends. I travelled to China to meet him and a lot of what I’ve done, and developed the braveness to do was a result of my long chats with Arun. I was in Dali and have been on the Changshan mountain as well. I feel terrible to say that I am one of those who really encouraged Arun to do the hike. I wish what happened could be avoided and I want you to know there are many people who loved him. I’m trying to deal with it and make sense of it like all his friends and I hope I do not cause any more pain in the process. My deepest condolences to dear Arun’s family. He will be missed.

  3. I remember him as the coolest colleague I have ever come across. Looked up to him in several ways. I interned under him in MiD DAY for a year or so, and believe me, he was the face of everything I wanted to be.
    Always as eccentric as eccentric could get, the man had a way with words, copy and pagemaking like no-one i’d ever seen before him.
    He will be missed and I hope he knew he was respected and looked up to.

  4. I just chanced up on the news of Arun`s accident in the Hindu and was curious to know more about him. I must say that I am fascinated by the kind of life Arun must have lived. Its unfortunate that it was cut short at a very young age. I personally feel less fortunate to have not got a chance to know a person like him..

  5. 10 more days and it would be a year since we last heard about Arun or his antics !!
    It seems like yesterday, when we spoke to him and jumped around Urakam (Kerala) at a cousin’s wedding……………..
    More than just my favouritest brother-in-law, he was a friend who always brought not a just a smile, but more often a loud laugh out of me.

    Arun etta wherever you are…..don’t stop cracking your ‘suppandi’ jokes.
    The Chinese currency that you gave me is the only memorabilia I have from you and that it is safe….you still owe me the chopsticks !!

    Your ‘Oppol’ misses you.
    Till we meet again

  6. I am glad I came across this page, even though it’s been long since Arun Veembur passed away. I still find it hard to believe he is gone. I worked with him. And even though we weren’t the thickest of friends, I was fortunate to get to know a person like him. During coffee and lunch breaks at work, I got to know this free-spirited person who never ceased to live and love life. His natural curiosity for everything around him was inspiring…. pray he is happy wherever he is.

  7. I tried to contact him many times.. Really shocked and saddened to learn about the sudden demise of my dear friend, Arun. He was such a genius, optimistic, kind hearted gentleman! We talked a lot about scientific communism and its modern perspectives …He corrected some of my writings that time. Rarely seen people of his caliber… Miss him…my thoughts and prayers for him!

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