Monday, June 18, 2007

We came. We saw. We conquered !

It was a tossup between a trek and a night at a beach. Heated conferences on yahoo messenger, telephonic convos and finally a get-together-brainstorming session sealed the matters in favour of a trek. Mahuli was chosen as the final frontier. Initially there were only four of us. Lots of coaxing and cajoling later and the party had finally swelled to seven. And what a perfect seven it finally turned out to be. Trek-experience wise, the composition of the group was highly colourful. There were three of us who were total novices - Sumit, Anand and I (Arunabh). There were two who had been there and seen that a couple of times - Aashish and Nirav. Rounding up the group were the hommes responsables - the trek hardened warriors, Sai and Poddar.
We left IIT for the railway station at around 5am. Wihin half an hour , we were inside the local heading towards Asangaon. Most had slept only a few hours the previous night while a couple were on nightouts. But that didn't reflect on anyone's spirits as most were quite chirpy and cherubic. And no, we didn't play any antakshari in the train. It was more about the hitherto unheard 'manly' games as the pic clearly shows :P. In around an hour we were at the small decrepit Asangaon railway station. The sun was out in all its might which was not a good sign. The place reminded me the of typical Hitchcock murder plots but i somehow managed to keep it to myself.Only one eaterie was to be found- hot succulent vada paos, amul kool and walnut muffins formed the brekfast. Having a couple of marathis in the group made communication with the locals much easier. The bravehearts that we were, we decided to walk the distance from Asangaon to Muhali. A little help from an autorickwallah, who seemed high on something didn't help too much either. We could have actually asked him to take us all the distance to the base camp. But one of the more enthusiastic group leaders thought that walking the distance shouldn't be a big deal. The decision was catastrophic. But no blame games here :P
The road definitely seemed the road less travelled. There were only autorickshaws plying on the road carrying loads of trekking enthusiasts. Alas! every group but ours had a good enough sprinkling of the other sex. This added salt to the wounds. But then Lady Luck had better things in store for us. Not for the first time. Black clouds started gathering. Now we could see the silhouetee of the intimidating peaks. I could literally feel the butterflies in my stomach. But the enthusiasm didn't sag. Even the four kilometers of walk had not done much damage to the enthusiasm. At the base camp we were greeted by the sight of another group which was almost 6 times as large as ours. And they also had girls:( This group had a wonderful origin upon which i would dwell later. The sight of the peaks was awe inspiring and intimidating for a newbie like me. I was going through a gamut of emotions which i did well to keep to myself. Not that i would have frightened others but would have made me the butt of ridicule for the remainder of the trip.
The initial climb was a child's play as we were almost running. The land was largely flat which made it easier. But hardly had we gained a little height when all of a sudden, unannounced, the climb became steep. The path had become ragged, slippery and stony. After about half an hour of ascent, i was left high and dry. The party came to a halt on a little piece of flat land. It was only when i looked around did i realise that we had actually gained a lot of height. The other group used this opporunity to get a lead on us. A friendly talk with a group member and we realised how omnipotent Orkut has become. The group comprised trekking enthusiasts from Maharastra who had come together through a trekking community on Orkut on a whim. This gives the Govt another reason for considering/not considering the idea of clamping down on orkut. 10 minutes later we started the second round of our ascent. This was more gruelling and more demanding. I was feeling something that can be best described as a close cousin of vertigo. The other group was using 'Aye O!' to keep in touch with each other. The whole landscape kept resounding with loud screams of 'Aye O!' every now and then. It also turned into an 'Aeee O!' when one of the female enthusiasts decided to give it a voice. We had to fight back. We zeroed upon the F word. 'Fuck u' was how we were going to communicate with each other. And soon the "Fuck u"s drowned the 'Aye O!'s That was the first among many of our victories that day. Then came the time for the second break. My legs were giving away and i wasn't the only one who was making noises. The climb was also showing its effects on Aashish and Sumit.
The second rest was a tad shorter than the first one because Sai and Poddar were keen on making the conquest asap. We were forced to tow their lines, but not before i had done my lil bit of Pranayama. And Nirav his lil bit of smoking. The climb now was the toughest. For this purpose, the party was practically split up into two. Sai would be dragging me and Sumit up the slopes while Poddar would lead the remaining three ahead of us. If Sai was getting frustrated by the way we somehow dragged our loads, he didn't show it. At some places, he was even pushing me.
Meanwhile, kaviraj Anand kept twisting the lyrics of "Ganpat" of the Lokhandwala fame to egg everyone on. Lady Luck seemed delighted with our efforts. Scintillatingly (for the lack of a better adjective) soothing wind began to blow combined with a comfortable drizzle which was pleasant enough so as to not hamper our ascent.For the last 500 fts or so, the slope became absolutely precipitous and the ascent gravity defying. Had i missed a step, you would not have been reading this account. Every 100ft, i paused, did a rapidfire version of pranayam and then repeated the question to myself,'To do or not to do?'. The answer always came from behind in the form of a light push from by Sai.
Finally, after approximately 3 hours of an arduous jouney we were there where everyone craves to be. Been there and done that! Now was the time for the hunger pangs to start showing their effects. Biscuits were all we had. I was having an uncontrollable craving for non veg food and could have eaten anything raw. Alas! that was not to be. We rested our tired limbs and then decided to explore the landscape. If there is beauty on earth this was it. We were literally walking on the clouds. And it had started to pour now. The script couldn't have been better. We were all soaked -Nirav and I more that the others because we had landed there without any protection. No words can do justice to the divine beauty of the place. So i would let the pictures speak for themselves. After roaming around and soaking in the beauty of the place, thirst started getting the better of the men. We had been forewarned to carry enough water on us. But we never knew that the enough would not be enough. We were having a steamy hot affair with Lady Luck. We chanced upon a group of locals who emerged as if out of thin air. They led us to a source of water where they did rain water harvesting. We drank water as if there was no tomorrow and then filled all the bottles. Replenished and rejuvenated, we were back at our helms. We had still a lot to explore before we could be on our way back. This curiosity had us walking into a jungle which reminded Anand of Kali's jungle from the bolly flick 'Kaal'. The jungle had lots of variety to offer. But the most noteworthy was an engraved stone with a long key drawn on it- something that brought back memories of another bolly flick Haatimtai where there was a tilasmi chaabi. This one had a chaabi but the tilasmi part was beyond the comprehension of mere mortals like us. Finally, we came upon the Kalyan Darwaza which was a paradise for the rock climbing enthusiasts. Fortunately for me, my group members had not given a thought to this and so were without the basic paraphernalia. Which meant that we weren't going rock climbing :D
Now having seen all that was to be seen, we started our descent. Compared with the ascent, the descent was a child's play. Although the legs were hurting badly and there were rashes, bruises, broken nails; the descent lasted for approximately two hours. Once we were grounded, we turned back and bid our final adieu. Once amongst the population, we dined at a restaurant in a way that would befit a pack of hungry wolves.
Before i wind up, a few facts and figures to spice up this gory and wonderful tale. This is approximately 2700 feet high which means i can go up 1/9th of Mt Everest :D. Sounds boastful and vainglorious but i would count that as an achievement for someone who had not climbed more than 500 feet before. A few casualties here and there - my costly nike shoes suffered irrecoverable damage. A few wind cheaters that weren't actually wind cheaters - couldn't bear the brunt of pre-monsoon showers. Someone lost a cap.
For a newbie like me, a few lessons were also there to be learnt.
Like jeans might look cool but thats not what you wear when you go on a trek.
Never ever look up. The height left to be covered keeps increasing in geometric progression. Water bottles might be difficult to carry but you realise the importance of them, only when you have to stick out your parched tongue in the hope that some rain water will fall on it and quench your thirst.
Lady Luck changes even before you have had time to thank her .
Pranayama rocks !!
Having a few girls is always a bright idea. But boys dont suck either! You all rocked!
The guide is the GOD!
And finally, the joy and excitement and the kick that you get out of such a trek is simply unparalleled. Hats off to all my mateys. You made my day :)

33 comments:

rathi said...

abe fundoo likha hai !!.... itta saara text and ekdum positionally placed pics :) ...but saale initially Aashish and Sumit ne fatigue ke signs show nahi kiye the :D

Sumit said...

nicely written ..got all facts right..would have written something admiring the scenic beauty of mahuli also ..

arunabh said...

@rathi
Thanks re... and most of the pics mein u are present :P
abey i said ki initially only i was showing signs of fatigue. Only after the second round did aashish and sumit start getting tired... justified naa ?
thanks again and keep visiting :)
For the uninitiated, rathi and aashish are one and the same person. He is actually Aashish Rathi :)

@sumit
Thanks re
Abey it was already longish enuf.. so i thought ppl would get tired reading tht itself. So kept it a lil short :D And guess pictures would do a better job of describing their own beauty
keep visiting :)

prachi said...

Know what? I love you for writing such a post :)
This was so picturesque and vivid. Its wonderful if someone can so wonderfully describe a trek. Now also i long to go on a trek.. mumbai definitely scores over my pyaari dilli on this count *sob sob*
The pictures are beautiful. And dude you definitely lookin very cute ;)
More such trips on the platter ?
i was under the impression that you are not the too much outgoing types but i guess you are more of a braveheart :D
Keep wandering and keep blogging :)
lovely lovely post

rathi said...

so dude when r we planning our next trek ...this monsoon we gonna have a handful of dem .... waise i love u too :)

Anonymous said...

abey sahi trek gaye ...aur maine miss kar diya :(( ... plz mere aaney key baad ak trek aur chalege ... (22nd ko aa raha hu)

mazaa aa ayega ... anyways nice pics

Malik

SaIk said...

I had guessed quiet rightly most of the content of this blog while we were on the trek .... in fact had thought of some typical sentences which i found engraved here :D ... also i couldnt stop laughing seeing some one practicing prayanam at such breaks .... i just found that hilarious though preferred to keep it to myself :D
And u revealed my nearly bald head in that pic to all X( !!!

SaIk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SaIk said...

ya ya and the pics :D... thanks malik they are real good :D

arunabh said...

@prachi
Oh how do i thank you for going so overboard with your praises? :P
Definitely there are a few things in mumbai that poor delhites can
only long for. Thats why its called mumbai dearie. Yeah once the
body aches have ceased, nails have regrown, energy restored- another
trek or something adventurous would be there in the offing.
No i aint no braveheart x-(
keep visiting :)

@rathi
again i leave the initiative part to you :)
and thanks :)

@malik
abey tu ghar kab chala gaya ?
anyways 5th year hai yaar.. aise hi toh time pass karna hai:p
Most of the pics were taken by sai.. lekin kuuch acchi pics maine
bhi li hai :D
keep visiting :)

anand said...

"hey Ganpat jara table vable saaf kar dena yaar..."...kisi ne ye gaana sahi likhah ai be ...itna inspire karne vaala gaana maine to nahi suna ....main to kahta hoon ise national enthem hona chahiye ....mujhe to lagta hai 1947 me yahi gaana gaate honge log bas thode words alag the..."hey gandhi jara firangi virangi saaf kar dena yaar ..." vaise achchha likha hai ...blog padne me poora 2700 feet hi lamba lag raha hai ...aise lag raha hai jaise ek ek moment ko tune likh diya hai ...

Anonymous said...

Did you fuckin see something ugly like a bigfoot?
If you dint, your blog is incomplete.
But man the descritption rawked !
And prachi seems to be desperately in love with everything that u do.. help her man :P
~vardaan learns to rock..yaaaaay !!

arunabh said...

@sai
smart enough!!
And dude! You are nuts... pranayama actually rocks. Infact at first sight the very concept of yoga looks hilarious..but helps a lot . Ok not a lot cos i dont practise it ... just do it once in a while :D But yes kinda helpful. And being baldy is in vogue these days :P
But ur photography skills sure rock man:)
keep visiting :)

@anand
Baap re Baap,err, Bapu !
kya fundaes hain.. agar yeh fundaes angrezon ko chamak gaye hote, toh bahut pehle hi india chor kar bhag gaye hote. National anthem toh nahi lekin maharashtra ka national song kaisa rahega?
keep visiting :)

@vardaan
'vardaan learns...' - is this something thts actually happening or are you one of those extremely pathetic souls that have been sucked into the idiotic MLTR craze ? Hmmm.. as for the advice.. lesse :p
Keep visiting :)

Anonymous said...

wanna comment ...but I m afraid ur frnd ll like it or not...

Dee Spake Trash Anyway... said...

all that travel reading seems to have nourished ur posts more than ever before!!! this was such fabulous fun to read... i mean wat can i say apart frm the fact that i wished to god i was there!!! and yes, u ppl sound like real fun company :))

Dee Spake Trash Anyway... said...

and o yes the pics are really well taken and sit along so wonderfully with the story...

Anonymous said...

Aaawwwwwww! Yet another instant that i am so late. 16 comments *shrieks*.
Amazingly well written! But how come this change .. i mean how is Mr Arunabh Sinha getting so transformed? Weren't you the one cute studious looking boyish character who seemed disinterested in going around and seeing outta types? You sure are some case study material. Why is it the other way round with yo.. aye mean differetn from normal guys.. its always guy who manage to get the wild streak in u.. :p
Ohkay dont fume.. kidding, ok?
take care :)
~ruchika

SaIk said...

using adsense on ur blog ???

arunabh said...

@anon
yeah sensible
keep visiting :)

@deepti
This had nothing do with the fact that i do indulge in travel reading once in a while...reading a couple of travelogues doesn't make me a travel reader. And i am feeling bad about it. How i wish i were a travel reader :(
The company-Dont have words to describe the company. Rocking!
For most of the pics, i have to thank Sai :)
But a few random pics here and there have also been taken by me :D
keep visiting:)

@sai
Yessss! Now do me a favour. Click on any ad tht u see on my blog... will get me some badly needed revenue :D
Keep visiting:)

Yashika Totlani said...

What a cool account of a day well spent!! Well worth all the damage that your nike shoes bore, and the hunger-cum-thirst pangs and the shitloads of prayanam! Strategically placed pictures, lucid text sprinkled with subtle humour and tid-bits of advice for anyone going for a trek of their own made it a 'complete read'.

My best pick-
"Alas! every group but ours had a good enough sprinkling of the other sex."
LOL funny!

And tell you what... you might think that girls would have made it more fun, but being one myself i can assure you of something with 100% certainity--- their 'oohs' and 'aahs' and whines and pakhras would have ignited anyones short/long fuse. Glad you guys were just a pack of men... im sure it was more fun that ways(though you might beg to differ!).

And shall we count this as the first leaf of you very own travelogue? I mean when the 'traitorish' tendencies come calling... you'll have more pages to add to it. Get what im saying... ya too cryptic ho gaya :( ??

Anonymous said...

wtf... why has my comment not been countered as yet :((

~ruchika

arunabh said...

@ruchika
Awww... sorry sorry! Missed u somehow
No point is that i always had this wild streak in me... all i needed was a good company:)
Yeah somehow i have a thing for guys ;)
Dont cry so much over being late in commenting. It doesnt really matter as long as you comment :D
keep visiting:)

@yashika
First of all thanks:)
Now you cannot be more wrong than that. You have belittled your own fraternity (??) without giving much thought to it.
The other group (which had a fair sprinkling of the other sex) reached the summit atleast half an hour before us though we had all started at the same time. And in fact, it was our group(specially yours truly) which was more into the oohs and aahs :(
So you need to do something about your friends circle i guess
But yeah, my boys rocked!
keep visiting :)

JITIN said...

firstly, CONGRATS on an exhilartingly adventorous trip!!!
well in an ordinary case any article can't describe the enjoyment as well as the ups & downs of such experiences... But Hats-Off to u buddy u have narrated the tale wonderfully well & the pics r just awesome, they really are!!! infact i feel like living those incredible moments myself with those amazing pics & reminds me of my Mcleod ganj trip in those good old college dayz...
Outstanding effort yet again mr. blogger...
& the latest news from my side is though all chatting sites r banned here :(
but blogosphere is not :)
actually i m replying from office...
so keep blogging mate!!!

exclusively_me said...

If u dont wear jeans on a trek , then what do u wear , anyway?

P.S. You had so much fun ,I WISH I WERE THERE!!!!!!

arunabh said...

@jitin
I dont have words to thank you matey :)
But honestly, the experince was absolutely amazing-one of the beshtesht in my life.
And since blogspot isn't banned- keep the posts flowing!
Keep visiting:)

@priyanka
I guess you wear experience. By which i mean, a more trek toughened warrior wud be able to tell you better. But the first time experience with a jeans was a lil nasty.. so the inference.
YOU WOULD HAVE LOVED IT had you been there.. thts a certainity
keep visiting :)

Hershey Desai said...

treks are always fun.
But if the place looks like something out a hitchcock movie...I rather avoid it..
and whenever some wise being says, "we can walk, no problems"..its best to let him walk while you hitch a ride...

lol, sometimes the best emotions are better left hidden...

lololol,
the F words always win...

"Every 100ft, i paused, did a rapidfire version of pranayam and then repeated the question to myself,'To do or not to do?'."

I think that is the most hilarious sentence in this entire post.
You don't wear jeans while trekking??? Apparently I have been doing it wrong then...
I think you meant don't wear your favorite or new jeans...
wear ones which you wouldn't mind being torn in certain areas and muddied...

anyway..seems like you really had a blast.

arunabh said...

@hershey
Hey thanks for all the well intended advice :P
But the problem with leaving the poor soul to fend for himself while we hitched a ride was tht the guy happened to be the group leader. And as i concluded, the leader is the GOD :)
Yeah you can say that ... because i really loved tht jeans :(
And blast..we sure did have!

keep visiting :)

Mihir said...

pretty well written.
!!!

Richa said...

I know i am commenting aftr a long time, sorry for that but...whew!! that was a mindblowing description, I actually feel short of words to tell u how much i felt like going for a trek (kinda) on my own after reading this....u must have had so much fun n' thrill!!
And u r an amazing writer , I didnt feel bored reading this....

arunabh said...

@mihir
thanks matey. Keep visiting :)

@richa
Yeah long long time.. but good that you are finally here.
Thanks for all the accolades. Any chance of the hiatus ending any time soon?
Keep visiting :)

Soul of Dawn said...

i dont have the time to read the whole post,but looks like u had a blast! that reminds me..i shud blog abt my panchgani n pune trips...they really are blogworthy...

with referance to my post, well..its okay if u dont understand the post,as long as a certain someone does. "she" refers to...well, most of the she's in my writings refer to me :P:P:P:P:PP:P....so...infer what u like...

Devangee said...

and that was a detailed post! but written very well, and the pictures are lovely :)
i like walcotts writing as well and the poem i blogged struck a chord so thought id just post it.
thanks for dropping by n commenting.

arunabh said...

@soulofdawn
you actually should blog about your travelling experiences. Travelogues are always such fun to read.
And no... no inferences drawn :p

@devangee
Thanks for the accolades.
But bigger thanks for actually reading the entire post:)
I love walcott also because he happens to be Caribbean. My love affair with Caribbea started with Viv Richards and has remained strong to date :D
keep visiting :)