This was something I hadn't done in a long time -- to walk in the rain (not drizzle, mind you, pouring rain) the whole day. In fact, I guess, this was my longest period of getting drenched. And, that way, this was indeed a record, however insignificant.
We were trekking towards Torna Fort one cloudy morning in July.
The Torna Fort, which sits atop a steep rocky hill, was shrouded in dense and mysterious-looking clouds. There were green slopes, cascading waterfalls, fresh morning air redolent with wild fragrances, and the occasional chirping of unknown birds. Yes, it was picture perfect!
But there were difficulties beckoning us, as we soon realized. We battled steep climbs, slippery rocks, sheets of rain, and howling winds. We were wet to the bone and our bodies shivered uncontrollably. Occasionally, the wind blew with such ferocity that it almost toppled us over. And the raindrops, aided by the wind, pricked our skin like tiny arrows.
But, it was all worth it. We made it to the top, ate a lunch of paranthas, roamed around the ruined fort, and made a swift descent.
And before I end, I must also say something about the team. We were a team of four, and I was the only male member. P1 was my colleague (who coordinated and organized the whole thing), P2 was a friend of P1 (who had been a wonderful companion), and S. (the frail-looking girl, who was a veteran trekker and, in fact, our guide and mentor and who was climbing Torna for the eighth time!).
And I used to think, trekking was not really for girls!
Saturday, June 16, 2007
- Each morning as I walk for office I pass by this leafy gulmohar tree, its vibrant red flowers scattered on the pavement, and I think "Why this name gulmohar?" (The Wikipedia entry, though informative, does not explain the name.)
- I'm caught in a drizzle as I'm walking home. Tiny droplets float in air and fall on my specs, blurring my vision. But I keep walking, not bothering to wipe my specs clean. The world looks different through blurred glasses and I'm happy.
- The elderly and affable gentleman at the shop introduces me to his granddaughter the other day. "She sometimes come to help me after her school," he says pointing to the little girl standing behind the cashbox. I nod, grin, and ask her name. "Sunayna," she says, rather embarrassed at being introduced to a stranger. "That's apt," I say to myself, "she indeed has very beautiful eyes."
- Lonely evening. Sipping beer and reading Pankaj Mishra's An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World. The book is quite engrossing and I'm lost in the times of Buddha, centuries back. I take a happy swig and wonder what these things -- 'renouncing the world' and 'detaching from desire' -- are like.
- Fresh uniforms, neat shoes, water bottles, schoolbags. Shuffling impatiently on their sprightly legs the children wait for their school bus in the morning. I smile at them as I walk by. Most of them shy away and look elsewhere. However, the other day, for a change, I found one of them making a face at me.