I think it is the final year of college that leads you to do crazy things. Submissions to be done, films to be edited, the sound design incomplete and a whole lot going on inside that tiny supercomputer called the brain, faltering at times, and simply not being able to cope up with the multitasking going on, and yet, it accepts an offer to go on an overnight trek.
“Aaj sabne red kyun pehna hai” I said to Ali, as he chuckled and gave his signature smile, as we stood in queue to bill our items at Decathlon. It being an impromptu plan, we had no other option but to make a dash for the Mecca of ‘Outdoors stuff’. Vivek and Aditi soon joined us as we left Decathlon, and were faced with the next big question — Dinner. “Idhar foodtruck pe khaana hai, ya McDonald’s pe?” Vivek asked. I don’t have an opinion on whether telepathy exists or not, but this time, it did happen. “Chalo fir udhar hi.”, as we drove off to those huge yellow arches. Having McDonald’s just before a trek, not one of the brightest ideas, no? We packed up some food, just in case.
A.R.Rahman played on loop, as we made our way to the base point of the trek, the route being dictated by Google Maps. The hill, with its two peaks dominates the landscape. The path to the temple could be seen, lit by halogen lamps. We found a place to park the car, and started the climb. My trekking regime has been extremely erratic. The three last treks I went to, two Sinhagad treks in 2013, and then a major Himalayan trek to Chandrashila in 2016. This Kaurava Kunda trek posed a challenge to my strength and stamina.
One of the stupidest things to do on a trek is to get an unbelievable amount of baggage (pun not intended). A fully packed camera bag, a tripod, and another bag full of food is what I was carrying, as we made our way up the stairs, carved out of the limestone face of the hill. Fifteen minutes later, at the first stop point, we lie down against our backpacks, panting. There’s an eerie silence, which is suddenly broken by a bhajan-keertan somewhere in the distance. Aeroplanes, on approach to the Bangalore airport went above us, and traffic on the nearby National Highway could be seen; and here we were, the four of us, all in a pensive mood, looking at the dark horizon, while the only thing that illuminated us was the moonlight. The feeling was of liberation, liberation from the monotonous schedules and long sessions in the claustrophobic sound studio.
A lot of rest in between two climbing sessions isn’t recommended, and Vivek, assuming the position of leader, took charge, and kickstarted the climb, a torch in one hand, and with the other, shielding himself from the thorns of the tall grass on either side of the path. The thorns were getting embedded in my feet and legs, and all I could do at this moment, was keep moving upwards and forwards — a funda I wish I can apply in life. I could still get 4G signal there, so decided to let the Snapchat world know that I was on this trek at almost thirty seven hundred feet above sea level. The peaks were now in sight, and it was a matter of minutes before we reached the small valley flanked by the peaks on either side.
The moon was right above us, which gave us ample illumination to pitch the tent and find firewood required to light the campfire. The two man tent was pitched, and the firewood brought behind a huge rock, and placed inside a makeshift pit, made by Srishti students themselves, on earlier expeditions to the place. A cool night with campfire it would be, I thought. I didn’t think of the surprises nature would throw at you. It suddenly became cloudy. No, not just the sky. We were literally engulfed in clouds. ‘Contact’ by Daft Punk played on the small speakers, and the human figures were reduced to just hazy silhouettes, even though they were barely a few metres away, the now-invisible moon, and a random Fillet-o-fish burger packed from McDonald’s in the right hand. The whole sight was too magical to be true. Words fail to describe the scene.
I went inside the tent to pull the thorns out of my skin, a tedious procedure, but I still decided to do it, comforted by the warmth that the insides of the tent had to offer. I started drafting the letter, inside the dimly lit tent, and my thoughts took me on a trip, which reflected in the letter I wrote. The clouds disappeared, and the party ended. All four of us were cramped inside the two-man tent, and decided to lay down, exhausted. And all I could think of, was of how thankful I was to God, that I didn’t have miles to go before I sleep, literally.