Monday, August 22, 2011

Chitradurga diary part 2 - 3 days of fun and adventure in nature's lap

Rock climbing –

During the warm-up to rock climbing, a new word entered our lexicon – “Ji-goo-ja”. Brainchild of our instructor Prabhu, we swayed to its every syllable and laughed our lungs out in the process! The short trek to the rock - that would be our object to scale for the day - proved to be the perfect occasion for cameras and sun glasses to come out. With the Chitradurga fort and the wind mills in the distance, the scenery around us slowly and surely, like a magnet with just about the right attractive powers, drew us into its embrace. 
Fears – how do we deal with them? Mostly we try to circumvent them or carefully postpone their onset by trying our best to avoid them as far as possible. There are exceptions though. Sometimes, more than our own belief in our capabilities, we might just discover that others around us may believe strongly. That is the most opportune moment to confront our fears and emerge on top.

In other words, when “I can do this” becomes a little tough, “you can do it”, heard a 100 times magnified, repeated over and over again, might just work. Rock climbing, to the majority of us, had a similar effect. In a group that had come together with the sole objective of indulging in adventure, this encouragement, which constantly floated in the air, subtly aided in bonding.

The bravehearted and the supremely confident among us took to rock climbing like fish to water (Niles bhai for example), while for the rest (the category of the lesser mortals), it took time to build that confidence thanks to the “You can do it” shouts in large measure.

Raghav – an inspiration -

Raghav, when he made the climb, stood out with his attitude. He writes in his blog space – “I have a hunger to do everything whichever is possible in this life including a space travel. I love good food, theater plays, music, adventure sports and all that where I can live the life to the fullest.” His attitude towards life is highly inspiring. He has not let his vision impair his dreams in any manner – indeed, positive attitude and optimism should have Raghav as synonym!

Exhilarating experience –

I was among the last ones to climb – to get a grip just before the summit, one had to back oneself and give one final heave – the best part of the 3 minute exercise was that single moment! Even the best experiences crystallize into some intense moments – it was such a moment.

Cave exploration -

After rock climbing, instead of heading for lunch, we decided to do some cave exploration. Led by Prabhu and armed with torches, we marched. The first few caves that we entered were all small and relatively easier to navigate. The coolness of the rocks, despite the searing sun right above, kept us going. Soon enough, we were staring at paths that were overbearing in their resolve to hinder our progress. 

We had to bend, squat, squeeze through, slide, crawl and long jump – through all this, there was a buzz of slight tension in the air. A journey is thrilling when we know not where our next step will take us! This certainly was one such journey.

Luncheon –

Still marveling at the labyrinthine maze we had just traversed, we took a much needed lunch break. Rice and rotis found their way into our stomachs in almost no time. Numerous monkeys surrounded us, intently watching our every move for lapses in concentration, but alas, our focus on the task at hand was so complete for them to find any opening :) 

Life king-size –

Man has, since time immemorial, tried to outdo nature and every time, fallen short. Be it the construction of dams and zoos or cloning, he has been unable to reconcile to the fact that he is simply not good enough to match up to the creator with the capital C. But, if ever, he came close to emulating His feat, it must be during the reign of kings who encouraged architecture and sculpture. Ankali cave exemplified one such piece of architecture. Undoubtedly, once a lavish abode of royalty, it is now a sad remnant of its glorious past – the Indian penchant to scribble on temple walls extending to caves! With one meticulous piece of architecture leading to the next, Prabhu briefed us patiently on what we saw– down to every minute detail. 

 Small town life -

With enormous effort, we dragged ourselves towards the bus. Alighting at the Chitradurga town, all around us, we found signs of life in a small town – the demurely dressed women and buses and autos moving about leisurely. There was a slow rhythm to life that made me envious of the people of the district. Living life on the less maddening slow lane, people seemed relaxed and so sure of their future – there was optimism in the air.
Camping –

Back at our accommodation, while people waited for their turns to get refreshed, some of us got down to the exciting activity of pitching tents. Me, Sayan and Dada unwrapped one and did a decent job with it – I remembered the evening after I had trekked to the top of Kumara Parvatha peak, an evening truly adventurous! Dinner was spent recounting the events of the day – tiredness that had engulfed all of us hours back had given way to incessant chatter and laughter.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Chitradurga diary part 1 - 3 days of fun and adventure in nature's lap

Plans, excitement and the journey to base camp –

“Nature is not, of course, always benign and beautiful. It can be frightening and terrifying also.

Not too many generations ago, raw nature and wilderness tended to inspire fear and dread in "civilized" people.

They represented Otherness and the Unknown. That which is "wild" is also "bewildering".

Today, wilderness is usually considered to be something good and in need of preservation.

The beauty and awesomeness of it dominate our attention.

We are attracted by wilderness, the Otherness of it, the sense it is something inevitably outside of us.

Always beyond us, it is what is ultimately real.

We cannot adequately appreciate this aspect of nature if we approach it with any taint of human pretense.

It will elude us if we allow artifacts like clothing to intervene between ourselves and this Other.

To apprehend it, we cannot be naked enough.

In Wildness is the preservation of the world.”  Who else but Henry David Thoreau could have expressed so beautifully mankind’s tryst with nature? He says somewhere else, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” If something can best sum up the experience of 24 adventurers in Chitradurga district (~200 kms from Bangalore) nestled in the wilderness, these quotes would come very close!

Indeed, a city with all its attractions and scope for entertainment, fails to offer its inhabitants, the opportunity to enjoy some finer pleasures of life – the pleasures of hearing the sounds winds can make or those of seeing a rusty gate leading to a battered pathway covered in dense fog!

24 people from different backgrounds and professions signed up for an adventurous event – the Jogi Matti Adventure camp organized by Nisarga. There was little else except a strong passion – a passion to explore nature and indulge in adventure – that connected all of us. At the end of 3 days though, through the course of some demanding physical activity, we found enough common interests in each other to exchange numbers.

It all started with a mail – so attractive was the itinerary that I decided to be part of it in almost no time! The journey to the base camp till the forest department guest houses at the Jogimatti hill station was infused with a lot of anticipation and excitement. As people got in and settled in their seats, the introductions and conversations slowly started. The most happening row was the last row with Nilesh alias Niles bhai, Vijetha alias Viji, Vinay, Raj and Jayalakshmi uproariously crackling with laughter.

Morning @ the camp –

Nature has its own unique way of often, exposing humanity for what we really are – almost a nonentity when compared with its combination of ferociousness and generosity. The fog and the chillness in the atmosphere, thanks to the windy conditions, were the first signs of our encounter with raw nature – unblemished, untrammeled, pristine and towering in its entire splendor.

The watch tower, as we climbed up to it, was inviting. With every step up, our hearts filled with fresh, unpolluted air – lots of it! Reaching the top, we wandered to the corners to have a look at the surroundings. The fog teased and lured us – it hid more than it revealed and the titillation was almost sexual in its rawness. Our instructor Prabhu -with his child like smile, he captured our hearts over the next 3 days – elaborated on the geography of the place; freezing cold winds that can topple cars and a wildlife encompassing sloth bears and leopards – it thrilled us no end!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara – Redefining what hindi cinema stands for!

Every journey of self discovery entails confronting and battling inner demons. All of us, with few exceptions, have problems in life that we prefer to paper over so that they take root deep in our subconscious and we end up carrying them like hidden badges! Often, the answers to one’s problems lie within us and not with others. If only, we have the courage to admit to ourselves that, day in and day out, the reason we are unhappy or the reason we are not able to strike successful friendships or relationships is, perhaps, we either think too far ahead or brood far too long in the past! We fail to “seize the day” as Katrina Kaif puts it aptly in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.

Arjun - In some cases, the problem might be fundamental, for example, it may lie in what we seek from life. If we seek money from our work instead of challenge or fun or excitement, we can never be happy, for no amount of money will ever be enough. On the other hand, if we continue working in unhealthy environments imagining that we are addressing challenges, then too, the road might lead to a dead end. The key is to strike the right pact with work – balancing priorities at every step!

Kabir - In other cases, the problem might arise if we sacrifice our happiness and joy to see someone else happy or please someone else. While this is a little tricky based on who the “someone else” is, beyond a certain point, it is better if we acknowledge upfront that, “to me, my happiness should matter more than anything else!” While some might argue that this is a selfish stand to take, aren’t we all selfish? Why the duplicity then when it comes to admitting it?

Imran – In some other cases, we attribute to ourselves, a greater ability to discern what is right and what is bad than we can actually take credit for. A most dangerous trait, this can lead to an existence in ignorance, while putting on a confident façade. Oblivious to the good judgment and feelings of our near and dear ones, in these cases, we close our ears and fail to listen.

This movie compels the protagonists to confront these problems as it takes the viewer on a fantastic journey through the length and breadth of the Spanish landscape. Conquering one’s deep seated fears also means choosing to break barriers that we have fashioned for ourselves. During the course of a road trip, our actors realize that, the reassuring presence of close friends away from familiar surroundings can be the perfect driver to be themselves. All three shed their masks, act foolish and begin doing what they truly like.

Dotted with excellent poetry oozing the class of Javed Akhtar, the movie strikes a chord with the viewer not because it is unrealistic, but because, it convincingly conveys the message that self discovery entails a journey into the very recesses of one’s mind! Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar and Abhay Deol play characters far meatier than Saif Ali Khan, Aamir Khan and Akshay Khanna in Dil Chahta hai. Katrina Kaif and Kalki Koechlin too get to play unconventional roles. This movie is also a complete ‘Watch with friends’ one, albeit of a slightly serious kind with the protagonists having to make far more difficult choices. Perhaps, the poetry in the movie is the ultimate hero – kudos to the genius of Javed Akhtar!

Yeh jo gehre sannate hain
Waqt ne sabko hi baante hain
Thoda ghum hai sabka qissa
Thodi dhoop hai sabka hissa
Aankh teri bekaar hi nam hai
Har pal ek naya mausam hai
Kyun tu aise pal khota hai
Dil aakhir tu kyun rota hai

Dilon me tum apni betabiyan leke chal rahe ho,to zinda ho tum
Nazar me khwaabon ki bijliyan leke chal rahe ho,to zinda ho tum
Hawa ke jhokon ke jaise aazad rehno sekho
Tum ek dariya ke jaise lehron mein behna sekho
Hr ek lamhe se tum milo khole apni baahein
Hr ek pal ek naya sama dekhe nigahein
Jo apni ankhon mein hairaniya leke chal rahe ho,to zinda ho tum
Dilon mein tum apni betabiaya leke chal rahe ho,to zinda ho tum