Monday, September 26, 2005

Dear God, the All and Mighty
Answer my pleas, grant me a boon
I’ll pray to you all day long
I’ll pray morning, night and noon

And to honour my word here you have
A human sacrifice, fresh and un-defiled
And now, dear God, grant my wishes
An eye for an eye, a child for a child

Am absolutely disgusted!
You're now on my speed dial.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

So I went for my first trek. And I have been excited about this for a while. I spoke to a few of my friends and, with the exception of one, received raised eyebrows from all. So ok, I am 26 years old and have never been trekking before. But it is not like I haven’t done adventurous things before. Why once (my father and) I climbed this hill to check out some caves at the top only to be told later that the hill is infested with bears. And that’s just one incident. I have had my share of adventure and travelling. But yes, I had never been trekking before. So as you can well imagine I was fairly excited.

We started early. (I woke up at 4 am!) By 8 am we had reached the base where we were to start the trek. There were three of us. Y (the team-leader), R (co team-leader) and I (the first-timer). The first few hours of the trek were rather tame much to the disdain of Y and R. I was the only one who provided them with some excitement. Now here I would like to say something. Never ever go on a trek on a rainy day (especially if you know that the path is going to be on smooth slippery stones) wearing anything but trekking shoes. My Nikes, though excellent for my month-long Europe trip, completely failed me. I was rather like a penguin and kept slipping and falling every five minutes. Oh well! At least I provided Y and R with some entertainment. And all the giggling and laughing kept my spirits high as well. (There’s something to be said about laughter therapy). We stopped for 15 mins for breakfast around 11 am, but otherwise walked continuously till we reached the base of the fort we were to climb. (Here I would like to refrain from telling you about the few breaks we took when we needed to remove out shoes while crossing streams, etc. Those breaks are simply not counted. Also, walking very slowly is not counted as a break. So I shall avoid talking about that as well.)

By the time we started climbing up to the fort I was going really slow. I didn’t intend to slip again and roll down 100 feet. The climb was not that easy and the slippery rocks made it more difficult for me. Somewhere we managed to take the wrong turn and ended up walking up a path which had not been used in a while. By the time we reached the top I was huffing and puffing like a worn-out steam engine. But boy oh boy, was the view worth the climb or what! We could see till miles away. Everything was green and beautiful. We stood there a while soaking in the view as the wind blew on our faces. R (the hyper one) kept urging us to start on our way back. After listening to a little more of his whining we started the trek down, our energy and enthusiasm renewed.

On our way down we found the path that was more often used. Y commented that we had climbed up to the fort like enemies (from the back) and were now leaving it like conquerors. I quite liked the analogy. Suddenly R, who was leading, called out to us (screamed actually) saying that he had almost slipped (and that too he was wearing super-grip trekking shoes) and that we should sit down on the rock and slip our way down. The rock was barely two feet wide. On the right was a high rock-wall and on the left a steep fall down (not the kind where you break a bone or two but the kind where you DIE). Y went down after R and I followed. As I sat down on the rock my first thought was that I was not carrying an extra pair of under-garments. I said so to Y and R who screamed in unison ‘Just come down!’ As I started slipping down it started raining heavily. So with the rain blinding me and R spewing instructions (hold on to the rock…. there’s a grip… put your right shoe against that crack in the wall….) I inched my way down. By the time we reached the bottom of the hill I was drenched but extremely thrilled about having managed to get so far. We walked down to the village and came across a hut where a villager was selling tea. We sat in hut sipping on hot tea/coffee. He told us that there had not been too many trekkers this season owing to the heavy rains in the area. I asked him about wild animals and he told us that the forest was full of leopards and wild boars. The leopards usually stay away from human-beings but the wild boars can get quite aggressive and can attack humans. He also told us that we had another two hours and a half downhill to the next village. From there we would get a rickshaw to the station. We checked the time. It was 5 pm. Our last bit of the trek would be in the dark. Thanks to Y’s checklist we had carried torches with us. We thanked the man and he showed us the path that we were to take.

And then the unplanned-for happened. We took the wrong turn. We started our descent down a hill which we thought would lead us to the village. The descent was steep and through thick forested vegetation and the going was slow. As it started getting dark we quickened our pace as much as we could. Y and R were being too polite to say anything but I knew I was slowing the group down. By then we had been walking for more than 10 hours and my unexercised body started revolting. My knees were hurting and jumping down was becoming an ordeal. R helped me down most of the way. We came to a plateau in the first hour and realised we had not even climbed down one-sixth of the hill. As it got dark we switched on the torches. We had only two between us. Y led the way, followed by R and me. Every time we reached a plateau my heart sank a little bit more. We were still a long way off from the bottom of the hill. In the dark we could see the lights in the distance. They were much further away than we had first anticipated. Not only did we have to get to the bottom of the hill but we had a long walk in the forest before we reached the village. By 9 pm we reached a stream and realised that we had lost our way. We just could not find a path ahead. Y and R took turns to try and find a way out but to no success. All the paths that we could see came to a dead-end. By 10:30 pm we realised that we would have to spend the night in the forest.

R led us to a grassy embankment next to the stream and we settled down for the night. Sitting next to the stream in a forest infested with wild animals was probably not the best of ideas. We could only hope that owing to the rains (and hence the abundance of water in the forest) the animals would not come to the stream for water. We armed ourselves with stones and a stout stick, just in case. As you can imagine we hardly slept, taking turns to keep guard and alert the group in case any wild animal approached.

It was a miserable night. We were all drenched to our bones and there was no way we could start a fire. It kept raining on and off and the wind chilled us further. In the distance, we could hear trains every hour and our desperation just increased. So close and yet so far away! It is true that sounds get magnified in the valley but it also meant that we could not be too far from civilisation. (In fact, next morning we realised we were barely 20 minutes away from the village) The worst was knowing that our parents would be worrying. But there was nothing we could do about it.

It was a beautiful night. A full moon night. The whole forest seemed bathed in silvery moonlight. The moon seemed to be playing hide n seek in the clouds, teasing us. For we knew every time the moon hid in the clouds it would rain again. The soft gushing of the stream lulled us to comfort. The grass was soft and caressing as we rested our tired bodies on it.

I must have dozed off around 5:30 am. I woke up to hear R saying that it was finally light. Everything looked beautiful in the morning. The light green grass contrasted with the dark green of the trees. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! A new day. It took us only a couple of hours to get to the village from where we got an auto rickshaw to the train station. By lunch we were home.

It was an absolutely wonderful first-time trek. Though my muscles are still hurting and it is a Herculean effort to climb stairs, I can’t wait for my next trek!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I have never been a Forwards-enthusiast. You know, a Forwards-enthusiast, the kind of person who enjoys receiving or sending Forwards on e-mail. Why on earth would anyone inflict somebody with a Forward? Well, some of the reasons might be:

1. I am bored and hence I shall bore you too with a Forward.
2. I am too cool. I am the one who sends the coolest Forwards.
3. I am thinking about you all the time but don’t know how to ensure that you think about me too. So am sending this Forward so that at least you think of me when you see the sender’s name.
4. So you’re somebody I want to stay in touch with but am too busy to mail so am ‘keeping in touch’ through Forwards.
5. I know in all probability I won’t get the ‘Free Nokia handset’ but just in case…
6. I can’t risk any more bad luck than I already have.
7. Forwarding Forwards has been configured in my system and thus Forwards get automatically forwarded.
8. These Chinese proverbs have changed my life completely and thus I would want you to be helped too.
9. Since I have never done any good for mankind I am hoping that this Forward will help that poor orphan in the country I have never heard of. So what if it is not true, at least it will assuage my conscience.

Any more to add?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Me: I am bored.
He: Write something.
Me: What do I write? I have not been able to write anything for quite sometime now.
He: Write on something that makes you happy. Or something that makes you angry.
Me: You want me to write about you?