Where were we? Oh yes, Ratanpur at 4 in the morning! The first restaurant we knocked on did not offer anything as it was too early. We moved to the next open air one which graciously welcomed our intrusion. Chairs were arranged and we sat with cold limbs and hot food. It had slowly started to settle in me that did we really come this far to grab some food? Was the ride till here the only part to watch for? I was sitting facing the night sky, disheartened. I watched the day break into a purple hue with sunlight piercing through. Purple changed into misty grey and gave way to a hill. It appeared like a sorcerer emerging from mystical smoke.
The day was finally upon us. We went to the edge of the restaurant and saw the ground go downwards like a valley. The other side was the hill and many others too. I remember it was Priti who had a thought to climb it and we followed suit. We were in the mood for adventure. I have an amateur experience of trekking in Manali with beautiful sceneries and snow. This was rocks, dirt and thorns!
We went down the small valley and started to walk across what seemed like a barrier. The initial climb was easy. It seems like some other fools had tried doing this before and thus made us a path. I clearly remember Rahul joining in and we did most of the trek together. To think of it, this trek embarked the beginning of hmm-hmm between him and a certain Nasik dweller. He wore a loose green T-shirt which did no justice to what’s inside (a good heart is what I meant and it’s not the right time for random flashes) 😛
I learnt the basics of trekking while my way up to the summit. As the journey progressed, so did the slope. I was on all fours now. Standing up and walking was not an option. Rahul talked the entire time and I still have no idea what it was about. Surprisingly, he had a dog following him like Man Friday. The dog had no problem climbing. As for me, I was struggling. There was something about this trek that no matter the scratches and sweat, I went on. The sudden slips rendered me cold at times. Being an altogether sweaty person, bullets shot out every time my shoes slipped. Criss-cross climbing my way up, I paused and noticed there was no way ahead. It was flat; vertically flat.
I still have the vision fresh in my mind; brown soil, grey rocks and green thorns, they were everywhere. I looked down and there was my first mistake. I had come a long way up. I gulped as I pictured myself tumbling down. But then there were Aayushi, Mallika and Tushara, all teeth and gums. And that’s me saying Hello!
Amongst all, a pretty person too tried to make the trek but unfortunately he had lost his shoes. I wondered how does one lose shoes on a trip. You always have them on! He tried but then the rocks and thorns got to him. Poor adorably-forlorn-face and naked feet!
By now we were half way up the hill when we see Mohit at the top! Unfortunately, Nidhi was pricked by a thorn and it was hurting. Priti tried to help her out. I was in two minds. Half way up, the idea to struggling my way down weakened my grit. Just then, Sidharth, Reddy and Rahul passed by for the upper half. I narrowed my eyes like an Olympian focussing on the linchpin – Not quitting.
It was very dramatic as we moved forward through a bush of barb; reminds me of Bollywood heroes brushing away snag with swag. The second half was tougher. Every time we had to hold the lashing bushes with one hand and walk forward. The one walking ahead would leave the bush and it would come swinging up in your face unless you catch it and swung it to the next one. And before I could realise, I had realised the apex.
Mallika and Tushara caught up too. We sat together and enjoyed the view which by the way was one of a kind. Get ready to be amazed!
I was appreciating the suburbia, when Mallika asked me if I was being contemplative. I smiled; couldn’t tell her that I was making a mental note of how the highway bent like a sickle so that I could write about it later.
It was beautiful. There is only one word for it; ethereal. Somewhere between surreal and sublime. Like childhood drawings, the mountains were 2D and overlapping. It was still early and fog covered most of the ones at the back. Cars and busses looked like toys. I lifted my finger and placed it against each passing car. Funny, how small they looked. Funny, how far I had made it.
Akshat and Pooja drove away towards the other end of the town; wonder what they might come across. It was life’s one of those fundamental reminders that you can’t have it all. All you get is the moment which sang Tanha Dil at Deep’s JBL sound bar. The song changed from national to international. With so many of us there, it was still very hushed. We sat towering over the town, looking as far as our eyes could stretch. Except for one; who could only see our Nasik ki Mulgi!
The ones who didn’t climb were at the restaurant waving at us. It was time to go back. Slowly we made it downwards and severely messed it up.We took the wrong turn giving way to a small waterfall. Medium sized rocks had withered into slates, tilled upon each other. They went all the way down like that. We sat, slid and grazed on our butt to trek down. It was horrible. Going down in a line was a big mistake. The waterfall path was cold, wet and treacherous. With the slightest folly, the slates betrayed and slipped. It fell on the person just below. Every time a rock tumbled, we would scream in unison.
My hands were sweaty which made it difficult to grasp. I came sliding down the rocks. After me was Mallika who was damn scared. Everyone kept asking her to simply slide but she just couldn’t. Rocks kept falling and so did her nerve. We stepped forward and held out our hands. She finally trusted us and made the leap of faith. And crashed! 😛
On landing, the first thing she said was, “I am never following you guys anywhere anymore.” 😀 Now that is some great insight. Never to follow the tunes of loons!
Back, down on the town, us interns got into the car. I sat at the back with Aryaman and Mohit on either side. We were exhausted and sleepy. The ride was quiet with me occasionally rising from slumber, finding myself huddled with Mohit like lovers.
At the campus, we were summoned by our course coordinator. It was foolish and irresponsible on our part to have left without informing him. He was worried and annoyed, justly. Some of us arrived bathed to class, rest in our overnight travel and gravel robes. I sat through the photoshop class thinking about hills, landscapes and something that had changed.