Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My first trekking experience

"Be careful Priya", Shyam told me as this was the second time he saw me slipping while climbing down.

It was 6.30 in the evening and it had begun to darken everywhere. We were rushing down so that we can reach the base of the hill before it is entirely dark from where we could easily manage with the lights in the mobile phones.

"Yes, I am trying to. But my slippers are not proper", I told him while keeping my right leg on the bigger stone nearby so that I could stand properly.

"Remove the slipper and walk"he told me. I thought it is impossible to walk in this hill without slipper as there were too many small stones on the path which would still reduce the speed of my climbing down. It was also getting darker which told my logical mind to continue climbing down the hill.

"Its ok Shyam. I can manage. Don't waste time. We have to reach the base before it is completely dark" I assured him and continued walking. But my inner instinct, with all my trekking experience I had so far, was telling me that I am not in my full control and that I could slip at any minute.But I ignored it and continued climbing down.

After 5 minutes we came across a steep slope. We somehow managed to climb up this slope in the morning but climbing down this slope created a feeling of butterflies in my stomach.

"Be careful Priya! I will climb down first and then after I land you can start" Shyam told me.
The slope was very steep and it went till 10 meters after which the path was almost flat for quite a few meters ahead. One could easily break their leg if tried to jump directly without following the trails of the slope. And luckily there was a tree on the path the branches of which helped to keep a hold while climbing down this slope. But Shyam went left, the path opposite to that of the tree, as he always does things different, or that is what he thinks he does.

"Ok, you can start now. Be slow and steady!" he told me after climbing down the slope.
I knew this is going to be difficult but still I thought I could do it and started to climb down. I decided to climb down towards the tree so that I could hold it for support. I kept my first step on the flat surface of the stone nearby and saw that I had to take two more steps down to hold the tree. But the slope was very steep and I wondered how to take the next step. Before I could think further I involuntarily kept my right leg on the slope to get a balance. At first I thought I am going to fall but then I was lucky this time. I was able to manage it. After I got a balance I glanced down which looked even scary with my position on the slope. But then seeing the tree nearby which was just one step ahead gave me a hope that I could do it. I knew the next step is going to be very risky and my instinct told me that there was a very high chance for me to fall.

"Come on, Priya! You can do it! " Shyam told me.

"One more step" I told myself and lifted my left leg.


It was an one day trip with my office troop to this hill. I didn't have the slightest idea about it till I reached there. Before this trip, I have gone to Gingee Fort (Rani Fort) with the same gang and thought this would also be something like that and went with them.

We started around 7 AM from Chennai in Shyam's Car. Shyam came in his Maruthi Alto which he had bought recently. Since it was only five of us who came for this trip, remaining two in my gang actually backed out at the last minute, it was much easier for us to plan for the up and down. Else we would have sit discussing about the up and down travel for another one week. And this is is us... we have visited almost 90 percent of the world in only discussions.

It was cloudy and I felt a bit cold too at 7 AM. Being in Chennai and seeing a Cloudy weather at 7 AM in the morning is a miracle. So, I thought we were lucky since I knew this is something related with mountain climbing and with our timings I was damn sure we will be starting our climb only by noon.

Myself, Radha and Vikky sat in the backside of the car. Shyam was driving and Rahul sat next to him to help him with the way, of course with Google maps.

It is usually Shyam who initiates stuffs like this. Shyam is in his early twenties and looks like a typical tamilian with his moustache. He is 5'6 and dusky in complexion. He is the one who keeps planning for some outings and if the trip is of low budget, actually very low, all of us will start thinking about it. And most of the plans are done only in the last minute.Hardly a day or two is what these guys will give me and Radha to think about it and if  we say no, they will be very happy to make it as a boys' trip.

"All boys are the same!!" I thought while Shyam stopped the car for breakfast in the midway.
It was 10 minutes to 10 when we got down from the car for having breakfast.

"Have a light breakfast guys! We need to climb up a hill" Vikky said. Everyone agreed to it and went inside the restaurant.

On the very mention of climbing up the hill diverted my thoughts to the slippers I was wearing.
"I should have brought my trek shoes from home" I thought. Since this was a sudden trip I did not have any time to pack up things and I have left my shoes in my native.

"Priya, what are you thinking about?" I was disturbed from my thoughts by Shyam.
"Nothing. Lets go inside" I told him and went inside.

We started again around 10.30 towards the hill. This time it was my turn to sit in the front and guide Shyam because Rahul wanted to take a nap. Rahul, I would say is a very silent person in the gang. He hardly opens his mouth to tell something.And even if he talks it would not exceed two or three words. We all call him as Silent killer. Rahul's parents have started the bridal search and probably he will be the first person to get married in our gang.

We stopped near the hill around noon. "The car cannot go beyond this. You need to walk" one of the locals told us. So, Shyam parked the car near that area and we all stepped out of the car. Vikky took his bag along with him and Shyam went to buy some water bottles in the nearby shop as we were told by the locals that the shops will be after half of the distance upwards.

"You can take your camera out", I told Vikky who was busy teasing Radha.
"After some time", he told me. Vikky  who likes to be called as photographer just got his DSLR and started to take shots wherever he goes.I sometimes wonder where he gets so much energy for his non-stop talking with his abnormally lean physique.

After few meters of walking we came across steps which would take us up the hill. We started climbing the steps while Vikky took his camera out and started taking photos.

The impact of working in an IT company and no physical exercise highly reflected on all of us. So, we decided to take a break every 20 minutes and then proceed.
After one hour we reached the point where the steps subseded and the path took us upwards along the hill which looked like real trekking.
"Are these dogs following us?" Shyam pointed towards two dogs which were coming along with us from the beginning.
"Maybe, they want to give us company" Vikky told and offered one of his cookies to those two dogs. It seemed the dogs were not much interested with that cookies. After sniffing it for some time , they proceeded to climb the hill.
"Huh"Vikky gave a sigh and took few snaps of those dogs.


It all happened in no time.As soon as I lifted my leg I lost my entire balance and started to skid along the slope. Seeing me, Shyam climbed the slope again very fast to stop me from falling. Luckily, my left hand touched on something and on that instant I just caught hold of it strongly closing my eyes.
After what seemed like hours, I opened my eyes to see that i was laying flat on the slope , my hand tightly holding one of the tree branches which was much lower because of my hold. I looked for Shyam but could not find where he is.

"Shyam, where are you?" I cried but no one responded.
"Shyam, I need your help" I shouted much louder this time. And no response again.

"Where the hell is he?", I thought and tried to get up from the slope. I was very careful this time to not let go of the tree branch which I was holding still. Slowly , I got up and looked around again only to get startled by what I saw.

Shyam was lying down, his head completely drenched in blood.

After 3 hours of climbing, we reached a point where one could take rest for sometime.

"Enough of the trek. We will go down. Its already 3.30 PM. We need to climb down before it gets dark", Vikky told.

"Yes. He is right. We will take rest here for sometime and start climbing down. I am already tired " I told them and searched for a good place to sit and relax.

After an hour we started again to climb down the hill. I thought climbing up was much easier than climbing down only because of my slipper. I was skidding for every five minutes and somehow managed to balance and walk again.

"Priya, come fast. Its getting late", Radha urged me.

" I cant. My slippers are skidding.", I told her and looked at Shyam.

"Alright. You guys go soon. I will come with Priya" Shyam told Radha. Everyone agreed to it. Sooner, Radha, Vikky and Rahul disappeared from the view. Shyam was coming along with me. I was holding his hand for support but actually I was pulling him down every time when I was about to fall which made him terrific too.


"Shyam", I shouted at him. I still could not believe my eyes. I could see the blood oozing out from Shyam's head. He was unconscious. I think he might have heard me but could not respond. The injury in his head would have made him mute to the surroundings. Or maybe he was totally unconscious and unaware of me shouting at him. But I need to get to him quickly. I started to climb down the slope as fast as I could with the help of the tree branch which I was holding firmly. All the way I was shouting at Shyam thinking that he might get his conscious back and respond me. But everything was in vain.

I reached near the end of the slope. It was only four steps away from Shyam. I could clearly see the blood from his head now.
"It is not a major injury. Just a small one. He can be saved", I thought, though my instinct told me it is not.

"Shyam wake up", I was shaking him vigorously. He was completely unconscious. I didn't know what to do. I was keep on shouting at him. I somehow wanted him to get back his consciousness.

"Priya, what are you doing", I heard my mom's voice from distance. I don't know from where it came. And the voice was very faint that I was not even sure if it was my mom or someone else. But I was least bothered about it now. All I wanted is Shyam to wake up.

"Priya, Enough. Stop shouting", I was damn sure this time that the voice was from my mom. Yes, I heard it. But, Where was she? What is she doing in this hill now and why is she asking me to stop shouting? Maybe, she didn't see shyam lying injured in front of me.

Before I could think anything further, I heard my mom's voice again, this time very stronger and louder for me to wake up.

"Are you going to wake up or not?", my mom's voice broke my dreams apart and brought back my senses. I was pitch blank for sometime trying to recollect what happened in the past few hours while my mom's voice echoed again.

"I have kept coffee on the table. Get ready soon. Your friends will come in half an hour." her mentioning of my friends gave me a jerk. It's today that we have planned for the trek to Parvathamalai. All the while I was too excited about the trek because it is going to be my first time on a hill with my best pals.

I got up soon and had my bed-coffee which was not too cold to drink.While drinking the coffee I recollected my memories again about the last few hours. Though it was a dream, it still looked terrific.
I decided that I am not going to utter a word about this to anyone until I return from my first trekking trip and went to bathe.

Monday, October 20, 2014

On my way back home...

It was almost dark and drizzling. The dark clouds in the sky clearly depicted that there is going to be a heavy rain in a few more minutes. The continuous honking of the vehicles on the road made the situation still worse and created a feeling of urge to go home soon.

It was 5.30 in the evening and I came out to check if it is raining still because I need to go to my hostel which takes 15 minutes of walking. And now, the roads full of stagnant water would take another 10 minutes for me to get to my hostel. “Bullshit with this rain. When will it stop?” I was scolding myself while watching the cars standing still due to the heavy traffic.

“Definitely this time I am going to buy an umbrella on the way back to hostel” I assured myself and started walking.

I came out of the office half an hour before the usual time because I didn’t want to get wet in the rain. “So u are going early today?” Geetha asked me. “ Yes, Geetha. It’s already raining and I don’t have an umbrella. So I thought of starting earlier” I told her. “ You should always have one umbrella in your hand. You can never say when the climate will change. Better get one umbrella soon” she told me. Geetha who was in her early thirties looked very young in her slim physique and straightened hair.

“Bye, Shakthi!” she told me.

“Bye, Geetha, See you tomorrow” I told her and stepped out of the lift. Though she is one of my teammates, I rarely interact with her except for official talks and I don’t have a definite reason for that. Certain things don’t really need a reason and I feel this is one among those.

The traffic signal turned red and the people started to cross the roads on the pedestrian crossing. Myself along with two other guys crossed the road and reached the other end. I continued to walk while the other guys got into a share auto towards IT park(a place where you would find most of the IT guys).

I reminded myself that I should not forget to buy an umbrella this time and put my headset on.

After 5 minutes I stopped at the shop where I usually buy groceries because this is the only shop I knew well in this area where I thought I could enquire about buying umbrellas nearby.

And yes. This is me. I have been in that area for the past one year and the only two places I know there is my hostel and this shop.

“Surf Excel half Kg please”, a short and stout woman was asking the shopkeeper. She looked like she was in her mid forties and had a very big list of items written in her hand. As I went nearby I could see the list had about 40 to 45 items totally written in tamil. She was striking out one by one from the list as and when the shopkeeper takes them and puts them in her basket.

“10 eggs and that’s all. How much is the total amount?” she asked him. After giving the items she asked for, he calculated the total amount and gave the bill to her. “The bill amount is Rs.450, madam”, he said. I was wondering how come she managed to get all the items in her big list for just 450 rupees. As I was looking at her astonished, she kept all the things in her two bags which she must have brought from her home because I knew that this shopkeeper doesn’t have such huge carry bags with him. I saw her going past me carrying those two bags which actually comparing to her size  looked smaller.

“What do you want?” I was interrupted from my thoughts by the shopkeeper.

“Where can i get an umbrella nearby?” I asked the shopkeeper. I found the immediate change in his reaction when I mentioned about umbrella. He seemed to be not much interested with it and started giving roundabout answers. This happens with all the shopkeepers when you go to their shop and do not buy anything but ask questions.

“I am not much sure. I have heard there is one shop in the next street but that will be closed now because of rain. There is no use in going and seeing it. Maybe you can get in some shops 3kms from here” he sarcastically told me knowing that i would not dare travel 3kms in this climate and that too without an umbrella.

As I was talking to the shopkeeper, the rain was getting heavier which told my logical mind to reach hostel sooner before getting complete wet.

“Thank you “I told the shopkeeper and started to walk fast towards my hostel in the rain.

After 10 minutes, I reached my hostel completely drenched in the heavy rain.
"Awe!!!! you look pathetic!!!" I said to myself looking at the mirror.
And before I went to refresh I made up my mind that the first thing I would do next day morning is buying an umbrella...