Friday, July 27, 2012

The night that never ended...

It is more than half a year now since me and my friends went for a trek. As I have mentioned in my earlier posts, I love the forests, the mountains and the rivers, so this time off we went to the Western Ghats. It was to Kumaraparvatha (KP), Karnataka.  Anyway I am not going to write about the peak or the beauty of the Ghats in this post of cause that is just not possible.

 The KP trek was unlike the usual one day treks we do, this one was an overnight trek. We are usually a group of 3 for the treks or for the travels, but for this we had 6. For all of us this was the first experience of an overnight trek. We were equipped quite adequately. We started striking out the items of the checklist, 4 litres of water per person, veg pulao, cookies, bun, candies, blankets, extra pair of socks and briefs, extra t shirt, sweater and jacket, blankets 2 each, a 4 member tent, a 2 member tent, medicines, swiss knife. Done. Set to go.

We started our trek at 8 on a fine Sunday morning and we made it to the peak by 5 in the evening. We were all good and happy at the peak. It was windy, cool and beautiful atop the peak. By around 5.30, we devoured on the vegetable pulao we had packed in the morning. I am not a major veg freak, but the pulao with chutney, sambhar and curd was enough to give me a palatal orgasm!

The Signs – part I
After a small round of sitting around circles and cracking gross jokes, by around 6 pm we pitched the tents at a fairly neat place, but windy. Not more than 45 mins from then it started raining. The rains were okay, not too bad, but first signs of trouble started showing up, the tent wasn’t capable of holding up against the wind. It was almost dark and the rain subsided for a while as if to tell us, get a place to pitch your tents soon dodos! Started scouting for a new place to pitch the tent, this time we were better experienced than 1 hour ago. We looked for a place with some sort of bush or wall to one side so that it would act as a barrier between the wind and us. In the next half an hour the tent was fixed. In one tent 4 people and 2 bags, in the other tent 2 people and 4 bags. We spread the bed sheets inside the tent, wore our sweaters and monkey caps and started talking about the trek and the descend next day sounding serious and charged up. Not too comfortable, but at 5400 feet above sea level, this is a luxury. So there atop the peak were 6 men, darkness and the some square piece of land to call a peak.

The Signs – part II
It started raining again, this time stronger than before. The winds also started blowing hard...and now we knew we are in for trouble. In the next 15 minutes the first red signal stared us in our face, water was getting inside the tent!!! And in a few minutes afterwards our tents looked like a bad maintained pool with leaves and leeches and stuff which we couldn’t figure out. Resigned to fate, we just sat tight hoping the rain God would show some mercy on us and slow down a little….nope, nothing. It poured and poured until our tents, us, our clothes, our sweaters, our surrounding and everything which could be was wet and dripping. I called out to my friend in the other tent “Aliya (a mallu version of macha) whats the scene there?” His reply “we are swimming along with the bags”. We checked the time, it was just 11.30 pm, it’s the time I should be watching The Departed and having a beer at home! But here I was waiting for it to be sunrise next day morning so as to escape the terrible ordeal of the night.

The Culmination
It was pitch dark with the occasional streaks of lightning. Thunder and storms sang us a lullaby, It was below 6 degree Celsius and needless to say, cold. Wet to the bone and shivering, there was nothing much we could do; we started singing songs to live through the night. We hugged each other for body heat and sang one after the other in all possible languages. We promised if we made it through the night we would go back to our life which we wilfully put at stake for a while and ask the girls we loved out, eat good biriyani, bring more focus into life and beyond everything, we just hoped the night would end, that the rain would stop, that we would see the light next morning. Finally at 4.45 am, me and 2 others left the tent, got out. It was cold to say the least and pitch dark. We kept on jumping so that we wouldn’t go numb. At last at 7 in the morning the sun showed up…we had lived through the night.

I have heard about nights that never end, but for me atop the mountain was the night that never ended. It took more than sheer physical endurance to make it through such a rash night, it required an amazing sense of humour and a zest for life. It is experiences that make a man and KP stands by far the corner stone of my experiences. One might be able to quote a zillion authors who have written about life, but I understood life better, I understood myself better, I understood my friends better, I understood my people better, I understood my aims better, I understood my confusions better, I understood what its truly to face the wrath of nature better, I understood the crux of what Marx said better that “Philosophy is to the real world what masturbation is to sex” (you should get screwed from all quarters to understand that better by the by)

On some nights like this, I am pregnant with a deep desire to travel and then I think about my life so far…I have less to complain, after all I have survived KP and the night that was. I couldn’t have asked for better people to travel with; The man who works for the World’s best Bank at B’lore, The immaculate Financial Consultant at Pune, The Engineer for Infosys at Sree Padmanabha’s blessed land, The quintessential Kannur guy who works at the Big Blue and needless to say The dude who quit a French company to serve Indian soil better…Blessed am I to have been in such company!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The story of how I reached the Himalayan land - Nepal

I am not the irresponsible kind of guy, I am adventurous to a large extent and sometimes I push it too much, but I am not irresponsible. I am the kind of guy who will make sure my bags are packed properly (I travel with only one backpack as a policy), my tickets are in place, my id cards and everything is fine. Anyway let me tell you an incident, the story of how I reached Nepal.

I travel very frequently, to the Ghats or rivers or mountains; nature was and is a huge source of inspiration for me. So this time around I decided to go to the land of the Himalayas, Nepal. To go to Nepal, Indians don’t need passport, just a voter id card is enough. We i.e. three of us took a train from Bangalore, sorry swalpa adjust maadi, Bengaluru to New Delhi and subsequently was supposed to fly from New Delhi to Kamandhu. All was well, reached Delhi, checked into a place at South Ex, had a couple of pegs of good ale and super excited about the flight next day i.e. a Sunday morning.

Scene change

Sunday morning - Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi 08.45 hours As we were producing our e tickets at the gate, I realised I have left my voter id card at Bengaluru and happily come off to Delhi without it. Need I say more? A lot of pleading and drama happened, but to no effect, they wouldn’t budge! I whipped my drivers license, old identity cards, atm cards from nationalised banks, everything possible! But no…Without voter id card, no permit into Nepal or even inside the airport. You know how it is to realise you’re royally f****** up? Well…I knew it then. My dear friend Mr Menon had wonderful ideas like flying to B’lore on Sunday, getting it from home and flying back to Delhi and taking the same flight next day. It was a fantastic idea, just that the idea’s cost was 28 grand, so that was out of question. The next idea seemed better, Mr Menon’s roommate could courier the card to Delhi and I could fly on Tuesday morning with it while the other’s go the same idea.

So there I was, stuck in Delhi for 2 more days when the dearest of my friends flew to Katmandhu…questions were many, do I really deserve to go on this trip after being so irresponsible? What am I good at? Anyway…reconciled myself and went to another friend’s room at JNU and was waiting for my friend to courier the id card from B’lore. I was waiting and waiting and waiting, but no calls! All couriers closed on a Sunday and the earliest I can get it is by Tuesday sometime! How screwed can I get??? When something goes wrong, the entire world conspires against you. By 12 noon on a Sunday when I should be on my flight to Nepal, I was sitting in a hostel room in Delhi counting every second. Losing 2 or 3 days and reaching Nepal is a bad idea, so yes...let them go, I will go to Dharamshala and drown my sorrow there, I told myself battling hope.

Scene Change again

You know how people are when they have nothing to lose, they will try everything to make it happen. I put up a status message on facebook saying ‘if anybody is flying from B’lore to Delhi today or tomorrow, please get to me at the earliest’. I put this up at 12.05 pm and by 12.10 somebody responded that his friend is flying to Helsinki from Delhi the next day morning and that his friend is flying to Delhi from B’lore in 2 hours time!!! Life was moving super fast. Courier plans cancelled, put the people in B’lore in touch, rest before I know my voter id was on an airplane coming to dear papa. By the same evening, went to the Delhi airport, got my voter id card, literally fell on the girl’s feet and ran to the Indigo counter to see if I can get a ticket for Monday morning in the same flight instead of Tuesday. Got it, mischief done, got myself a ticket for Monday morning and hit a hotel nearby waiting and praying that nothing more goes wrong. I couldn’t believe what had happened; it was a stroke of sheer luck to put up that status update and even luckier to have a bug network out there in a social networking site!

Nothing went wrong the next day morning, everything was just perfect and beautiful…I checked in on time, had a good coffee, boarded the flight and I was on my way to my much needed break…from people I know, from cities I know, from everything into a new place where my phone doesn’t work and getting online is not an addiction. While on board I was lost in what I day I left behind. I understood the power of facebook, I understood that one can never know who comes and helps you when in trouble and beyond everything I understood I have been very very lucky and that the Universe didn’t conspire against me in actuality. I had my faith restored. What happened in Nepal is an entirely different chapter and I can write a book on it, but as of now…let me just celebrate this blog post of mine after more than half a year. I was searching for a worthy come back and I guess this experience is worthy enough. I have lived life and I am living, its difficult to do so, most of them just exist.