DISCLAIMER: The following post is quite an onerous read and I wrote it just to have a record of my Skandagiri trip. Read it if at your own risk and if u have the time!! :)
Even for a loquacious person like me there are certain times in my life when I am left speechless, awestruck and completely at a loss for words. Some of these times in my life have been
1. When I first had the idly in our college mess and I was left speechless as to how anyone could possibly make idlis like this.
2. When I heard George Clooney say “does he make u laugh?” to Julia Roberts in Oceans Eleven and I was left speechless thinking it must be a crime to look so good.
3. When I saw a new born baby for the first ever time in my life and held her in my trembling hands and I was left speechless wondering if anything in life could be more perfect than this.
4. When I read some (actually all) of dinesh’s posts and I am left speechless thinking “oh my god!! What a gift this guy has”. Most of the times I hesitate to leave a comment because no comment of mine would actually do justice to his posts
5. When I stood at a height of 3000 metres above sea level in skandagiri, looked down, saw the clouds floating below me and the mountains above them, a slight drizzle beating down on my face and a naughty breeze tickling the exposed portion of my neck. I stood there thinking if anything could be more beautiful and prettier than this. I felt sad that I had only two eyes and there was only so much beauty that I could soak up with them.
My trip to skandagiri. Where do I start from?
It all began a couple of weeks back when I heard about the Chennai trekkers club started by a group of people from CISCO headed by Peter, from the friend of a friend and decided that rather than whiling away my weekends worrying about what I was going to do with my future I could go trekking or do something constructive. The registration was free and I immediately shot a mail to all my friends asking them to join. Quite surprisingly, given my group of high enthu friends I got positive replies from only two of them but it was a start nevertheless and we registered ourselves into the group and for the skandagiri trip on june 7th, 8th weekend.
Saturday morning 7 o clock came and fermie, suseela and I (akila was to join us in bangalore) found ourselves in the midst of 35 other highly enthused group of trekkers more or less the same age as us. I think one of the main reasons I completely enjoyed the trek was because of the absolutely brilliant company and highly vibrant group of people we trekked with. We boarded the Brindavan to Bangalore at 7 and I didn’t speak much to anyone in the train choosing instead to complete We the Living (bloody brilliant book. How I wish I could write book reviews!! Sigh!!) which I had bought a week back. It took sometime for us to get rid of our inhibitions and talk to the others and we had just got around to exchanging names when Bangalore came.
To reach skandagiri, we had to take a bus from Bangalore to Chikballapur which is 65 kms from Bang and then from there another 5 kms to reach skandagiri base hill. A game of Dumb charades in the bus helped us be friend a couple of others. Since there is no water or food or shop of any kind at the top we had to carry everything right from water to sleeping bags and we had to carry a weight of almost 5 kgs in our back pack up the hill As soon as we reached the base hill, took a “just-before-we-started-trekking” snap it started raining and we started the trek auspiciously with the rain gods blessing us. The problem with me is that when I really really enjoy something I find it difficult to express it or write about it which is why I cannot write book reviews. How can u write about an absolutely brilliant book in just 300 odd words? Its just not possible. I cannot even begin to write about the pleasure a cup of hot steaming tea, a plate of bhajjis and a good book on a rainy day give me or how much I love to drink a huge glass of chocolate milk shake on a hot summer day.
In the same way I don’t think any words of mine could do justice to how I felt when I climbed up that mountain with a good friend of mine, talking about nothing in specific but just enjoying each others company, helping each other at tricky places, sipping glucose to give us much needed energy, taking in the fresh air which is so rare, almost non existent in Chennai and admiring the natural beauty all around us. The view as we went higher was breath taking and the landscape was a very pretty blend of dark brown and green and looked very fresh because of the recent rains. Something tells me that nature must be a woman. So beautiful, deep, patient, helpful, kind, at times demanding, at times yielding, at times angry, at times playful and something which none of us can live without.
After an arduous but extremely fun trek of around 5 hours and after making many pit stops to rejuvenate ourselves and take photographs, we reached the top at around 8.00. it was dark and the entire city of Bangalore lay right below us decked in golden and silver lights. An absolutely spectacular sight. I wish I was a decent enough photographer but alas all my photos were so blurred that I have decided against sharing them with anyone. By this time we had gotten to know each other well and we spent a good one hour pulling each others legs, teasing grown up men who slept with turtles, teasing men who cracked sad jokes, the saddest being “what? You want to light ur cigarette? Well take my backpack. After I removed 2 bottles of water it has become lighter. Ha ha ha ha!!” , taking photos of women with scary eyes and men with hair longer than me!! ;) and generally having fun.
And then it began. It started off as a slight drizzle and then it started POURING like nobody’s business. It poured and kept pouring, drenching our bags, our sleeping bags, our tents but only partially dampening our spirit. The group of experienced trekkers headed by peter got into action, whipped out the strongest tents, set them up and pushed the girls in. Sigh!! The advantages of being a girl!! The poor guys not only got stuck with weak tents which blew away at night but also had to stand for a long time in the pouring rain setting up tents and taking care of dinner and other things. I must appreciate Chennai Trekkers for being extremely well planned and organized. I mean they made sure all of us had dinner and took very good care of the girls specifically and everyone generally. Hats off to Peter and Ramki the pillars of Chennai Trekkers.
It kept raining for a long time and there were five of us in a 5 feet by 5 feet tent soaked to the skin, shivering, cold, wet and singing at the top of our voices. It takes much more than rain, a cramped tent, wet sleeping bag and wet clothes to dampen the spirit of my friends and me. We cheered ourselves and irritated everyone else by singing at the top of our voices, so much so that it even stopped raining shortly after wards. Finally at around 2 we somehow pushed our bags, made some place and tried to catch some shut eye but it was impossible with the base of the tent all wet, our sleeping bags all wet, wet clothes and no space. Finally at around 4.30 we were slowly beginning to fall asleep and suddenly from somewhere a loud alarm rang jarring our senses and rudely waking us up. It was ironic. The alarm sang “it is raining now. Ooooooo” or some shit like that. One of my friends had given his cell and camera to me to protect it from the rain since we were the first people to go into tents. The jerk forgot to take it back and at 4.45 on a sleepless morning the bloody alarm rang waking us up. God!! With what choice words Aki and I scolded Jassi. Jass if you are reading this, we cursed you so much that if Bal Thackerey had been anywhere near our tent he would have put us behind bars for the continuous and tremendous use of foul language. We are not sorry. You deserved it then!! :P
Morning dawned and it was all misty and skandagiri is well known for its moon light trek and beautiful sun rise. Because of the mist we couldn’t see the sun rise but as the sun rose and dissipated the mist, the landscape shed all its inhibitions, lifted the veil of mist from its pretty face and stood out in front of us in all its glory which convinced me that nature HAS to be a woman. Playful as a naughty child one minute and shy as a newly wed bride the next.
I stood at the top of a rock looked down at the beautiful landscape, small houses, lovely floating clouds and thought “Global Warming?? Huh?? Where??” and a small voice inside me echoes a fear I have always had. That all this is only fleeting, its all surreal and there will be day when we will be buying the air we breathe and our future generation will never know what it is like to have the first rain of summer beat down on their face, will never smell the intoxicating smell of the mud after the rains, will never know the beautiful woman that nature is and I shiver a little and the chilly air is not the only thing to blame.
Anyway we started our down ward trek at around 7. reached the base hill by 9. hitched a ride from skandagiri to chikballapur on a cattle carrying van, reached the bus stop, boarded the bus, played another vigorous round of dumb C. It was amazing where we had all the energy from. I mean our legs were sore, our shoulders hurt, our head ached from lack of sleep but still we played with all the enthu we could muster. We reached the Bangalore station at 1.30 for our train at 2.30, boarded the train, bid goodbye to skandagiri and reached Chennai on Sunday night at 11.00
I was sorry when the perfect weekend ended and as I slept that night, though my legs ached my shoulders hut and my back had a sprain I had an overall great feeling and I am looking forward to my next trek with Chennai trekkers, the coolest trekking club in Tamil Nadu as they call themselves!! :)