Friday, February 24, 2006

Beyond getting tagged

I have been tagged by two people - RoadBlogger asks me to list out what I would like to see in my love interest and EnemyOfRepublic wants me to list out the things I hate. Ironically, both are what would be asked of you when you meet a prospective groom, in the Indian scenario.
I would like to write this post smiling but I am not in the position to. I am experiencing the pressure that a normal Indian girl would. Parents are getting worried. They are hoping that they will find a guy who would match their parameters and that I would like him. When they started their search I wasn't one bit keen on getting married- that has changed a very tiny bit now. From 'I don't want to marry', now, I want to marry only once I am totally convinced that this is the guy I want to spend the rest of my life with and when I know that he likes me the way I am. But in time I have learnt that there never might be a moment where I will enjoy that level of conviction. My problem is perhaps that I am not able to come into terms with the previous statement. And while that bothers me, it doesn't make things any better to know that your poor folks are anxious. Your heart and mind becomes one big mess. In fact its so disturbing that it could screw up your peace of mind for days to come. And as you try hard to forget about it and move on, there will be a moment where your folk's anxiety surfaces on their face or its time for that lecture on, 'you need to settle down'. I haven't cared to know what were the problems my folks were facing while hunting for 'the guy'. And why should I? I am not the one who's dying to marry? And even while I ask these questions in annoyance, I feel sorry for my parents. I understand they have a responsibility as parents and that they are doing their part. Recently in a heart-to-heart talk with my mom, I was oriented towards the problems they faced. I feel worse now. But these are problems that all the groom-searching families are going thru. My parents are firm God believer, but doesn't the stress they put them selves thru, prove that fact wrong? Why worry when you have faith in God? It will happen when and if it needs to. I feel sorry that they got a girl who just can't swallow the marriage pill that easily. I don't know if something's wrong with me… cos I have seen a lot of girls who have been able to take it easy. Sometimes I wish I could push my self to blindly accept a guy they point at. But I really, truly can't! Then that would be a favour I would do for my parents. I could do that favour today but I would have to live with that favour for a lifetime. I know that that's not what my folks want either.
Till 3-4 yrs ago, I didn't really think much about love - the kind that you would feel for someone who is not a part of your family, yet is neither a stranger nor a friend. Frankly, I did not have any regard or appreciation for this emotion. I had looked down upon it, till I passed out of college. Funny, thinking of it now, cos campus is the best place to hear and know of love stories. But somehow I couldn't appreciate what I saw on campus- people faking it, people who were in love cos it was a fad, people who thought of it as a time filler, etc. All thru my campus years, I have relaxed, sat back and laughed at each one of these lovey-dovey couples. After I passed out, I was surrounded with friends both at office and outside who were in love (arranged & love). That's when I was initiated to the inside story of the love scam. I learnt that love is a powerful currency. When two people exchange it, both become rich- rich in confidence, strength, faith, courage, peace and experience. It has the power to transform people to an extent they would have never thought possible before- for good or bad. Today, it gives me joy to see people who enjoy each others company, who are there for each other, who fight like cats and dogs but get over it to be sweet as chocolate-vanilla ice cream, who learn and mature together, who like each other for all the good and bad in them, who are aware that love need to be constantly worked on and that they would have to do it together. That's what I would want to feel when I decide to enter wedlock. Now I am wondering whether that's too much to ask for?
I really hope there are other girls who are going thru the same problem. I want to know how they are faring. I don’t know if its been stupid of me to write this. I don't even know if this post was worth publishing but anyway I am just gonna do it. Or do I need to visit a shrink? Its been a long blabber already. Think I will write the tag-list tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

KAKABE:And it happened for real !

I should have posted this earlier, but life at office and home didn’t let me… so here goes.

So my alter ego- a unrelenting trekker, has finally been unleashed thanks to the joint initiatives of my 3 hard-core adventurists friends. And no shrink in the world can stop me now ! *wicked laugh*
The dude who arranged the trek, Malu, calls me the night before the saturday we were supposed to leave and says,(NOTE: read the dots as seconds of silence)"Nita,..aa.. about the trek on Satureday.....*laughs* is on. we will come somewhere between 6:30 and 7". Needless to say, by the time 3/5 seconds after the 'Satureday' was up, i was mentally prepared to gracefully accept that this TOOOO wasnt gonna happen. This time around i had made up my mind to not get too excited about anything. The packing was over like a breeze. I usually have a habit since child hood to walk a lil faster and to overtake the group with whom i am walking. My mom warned me not to do that and that i should always be with the group no matter what. Now read further to laugh at my gift at 'walking fast'.
To tell you the truth, it was a good thing that I kept my emotions under check. I had prepared to face all possible scenarios that would stop me from going. So unless I and my brother were in the cab and the cab was visibly moving out of bangalore- i wasnt gonna let destiny fool me into thinkin that this was gonna happen.
I was my organised-best on Saturday, 11th Feb. 06 morning. Woke up at 5, had a good warm bath in the chill morning and changed into my 'departure clothes', checked everything one last time. Pestered my brother till he was dressed to leave. the threesome- Malhar,Raksha(Mrs.Malhar) and Vivek landed at our place at about 7-7:30. We soon bid our goodbyes to my parents and left for what would become my and my brother's first trek.
The travel was nice for a couple of reasons:
a)we travelled in an ambassdor after more than a decade. Nostalgia swept over –reminded us of school days when we would comeback to India to meet our cousins. The huge ambassdor was our 'vahan'. It brought back a lot of nice memories.
b)I got to see the south part of bangalore- which I had never seen or visited. It felt like steppin into another town. It seemed nothing like the cosmopolitan half i come from.
c)stopped over at a tiny restaurant where they served 2nd and 3rd generation customers with the same delicious idlies they served the previous generations with. Absolutely heavenly idlies- it makes you wish that the restauranter be blessed with eternal life so that he may be able to give the commin generations the same Yummy ....*sigh*
d)reached virajpet at lunch time. Set out to find a Ragavendra mess... the search turned out to be one big mess thanks to a couple of people who took us out on a tour of a different kind:(1)A generous cop tried to help us and we wanted to dole out some ungrateful swears in return.(2)Then there were some local college kids who would answer in hindi in response to our queries in kannada. As if that wasnt enough, they were eager in sending us on a merry-go-round ride. We filled our tanks else where, anyway.

Around 3/3:30pm we reached our final destination in Kakabe, the residence of Sagar Ganapathy , the generously hospitable host and the Commander and Chief of the Jungle Mount Trekking. New or old to adventure sports -he and his trusted right-hand, the affable- Dr.Topaz(urf Uncle Topaz) will do everything to turn you into a fun loving challenger.
The first thing on our agenda was to dive into the stream that’s just a stone-throw away from Sagar's home. We marched-on guided by two smart dogs to find a tiny lil dock snuggled in a veil of greens .It was a bright and sunny day but the water was sOoOoO IcY! Malu was the first to get into the water. The rest of us did some Kayaking- which I absolutely loved. My brother and I did pretty well together. We wondered it might have had something to do with our place of origin- Allepey/Allapuzha - the Venice of India, the place famous for its gigantic boats, boat races and back waters. Quirky way of thinking- but thats us! :) Shivering, Malu had enough of trying to warm the water, so he decided to join Viv and Raksha on their canoe. They had a great time documenting their zigzag travels thru the stream. After that, Raksha and I dived into the water to have some fun but getting out of it was more than torture. We were a lil short of turning into icicles! The only wise man who wasnt wet was- Vivek.

That night we were to join a team of 16 guys from AOL for a 12 km night trek on the second highest peak in Coorg - our (me,my brother) first ever trek. We were strictly told to carry only the necessary- meds, water, glucose. We were handed a torch each and given instruction to use it to the minimum. By the time I had reached Coorg I had already suffered 2 wheezing attacks. Now, at 7/7:30pm we are about to leave for our adventurous night trek, and I was having my 3rd attack. I prayed things wouldn’t get worse during the hike. It was a beautiful full moon night. We were geared to face the chill winds. Sagar and uncle Topaz shepherded us onto their Mahindra pickup- yes, all 21 of us, and took us on a very slow but exciting ride in complete darkness without the headlights,negotiating the narrow roads and the hair-pin curves to a certain point on the mountain from where we had to start our trek. When we got to the designated spot, we started marching. I hadn’t gone more than 20 steps, I was close to being breathless, plus, my legs started aching. But I went on… I pushed. I couldn’t keep up with my pals and my brother. But I refused to stop. My brother could see that I was not doing so well. Finally my body gave up, I stopped. And my sweet lil brother stopped to be there by my side. I sat for 3-4 min and the moment I felt a lil better, my muscles would get back to charging towards the summit. Every part of my body wanted to get there and I was determined that I would make it no matter what. But it looked like my lungs were the only rebellion. Two muslin bags would have worked better than them! The trail was narrow, just wide enough to keep your feet side-by-side and at times the path would run along the edge of the mountain- meaning you step centimeters off from the unevenly-floored trail, you would save on some funeral money! Our walk to the top was interrupted an umpteen number of times thanks to my under performing lungs. I would take a puff of my inhaler when needed and move on. I was such a slow coach. I felt shitty that I slowed down my lil brother though he so happily stood by me all thru the trying trek. Though he suffered from wheezing too, his lungs were real happy being in Coorg, they ran in top gear. He didn’t suffer a single attack. My poor mom’s admonishments went wasted; I was so slow that at many points on our trek we were the only people on a trail. Finally we were one of the last people to get there – the summit. We met our friends, we sat there dangling our legs from the cliff ledge. No description can beat what you experience on the top… and may be my description will fall short of what my eyes met. Its an amazing site watching the ghostly mountains in the moon light. You feel a oneness with all that’s black and dark, the graceful stillness and the whispering wind. And yes, you can see lots in the darkness…lots. I only hoped I could have enjoyed it better, without the strain I experienced with my wheezing bouts. It took us about 3 hrs to get there and were there for hardly 10 min! I hadn’t had enough of it. I hated having to leave, but we did. My lungs gave-in to my intention and cooperated on my way downhill. This time I made it a lil faster than my travel up and my brother got to do what he enjoyed… moving at his own pace… which is fast. And I hated that cos I was worried what if he slipped – he’d need someone near him to catch him… yeah yeah… I am the old fashioned sister you wouldn’t want to have. We and our friends were the first people to reach the holy pick-up truck. We were dying to dive into food .The rest of the team arrives almost 45 min later. We had a sumptuous dinner and went to bed. It was so bloody cold; I didn’t think I would wake to see my toes still attached to my feet!
That night I was a lil depressed. The trek in some way was like a search for some truth… about your self. A trek can give more ans than you would if you’d go to a place of worship- if the question was about your self and not about the stock market or your mother-in-law. I learnt a lot about my self that night.

Come next day- 12th Feb 2006, we were so dog-tired that we woke up at around 12 pm! We washed down some brunch and decided to go rock climbing to Dandi Falls. We set out at about 1, accompanied by a sweet young chap, Sajjan- a professional rock climber. We had to do some walking before getting to the small yet elegant falls. yes I was slow as ever. And yes my lungs didn’t quite like the idea and expressed it freely. But unlike the last time I didn’t fight, I negotiated. I moved at my own sweet pace… this time I looked around me, admired the sunlight stream down thru the tall trees, the creeping pepper plant, the shorty coffee plants, the pungent cardamom, listening to the gurgling streams as if to say, “Ok. Go ahead do your thing. And I will do mine. I will enjoy.” When we came up to the fall, it was the simple water fall you'd like to have your cottage by. We climbed till what we can call the second level and the only one with the zest to go further was raksha. The rest of us sat leisurely on massive boulders drinking off from the clear tumbling water- the sweetest ever. We were concerned with being able to leave for home by 3/4 pm. I knew if I climbed any further at my pace then we all would have to leave for home the next day! The proficient climber raksha was, she came back soon and then we started our descend. I enjoyed the rock climing more than the trek. Its like poetry or any artistic expression-free to interpretation. You could be short or tall, it wouldn’t matter, the destination is the same but how you get there is up to you, you make your own path. You have to find patterns and follow them. This time on our way back to the ambassador we came in, we – the women ,of course, plucked off what fancied us – pepper, but for two varied reasons. I wanted my mom to make a chutney I love so verrrry much and raksha, to give birth to an artistic creation. I wonder what stage would it be in right now? My mom decided to make a pickle of my pepper. I love that too, so me verrry happy. One of the things I enjoyed watching while walking back was how malu was helping raksha with plucking and carrying the pepper. While he was at it he kept cribbing with a smile and talking big about his generous services- all cos he was carrying pepper for his lady love. Entertainin to watch the lady's retorts too. Nice to see people in love. We got back to the car, drove to Sagar’s place, ate our delicious lunch, packed in a jiffy , thanked and bid our farewells to the Ganapathis and set home ward bound. The travel back home was fun. We entertained our selves with music from our mobiles. When we passed thru the rajiv Gandhi national park we all peered our eyes out into the dark hoping to see some animal.We had no high hopes but raksha- optimistic as ever- hoped to see any one from the big cat family or else at least a massive pachyderm. All we saw was the ghostly figure of a Samba deer, majestically standing by the road. We stopped at a restaurant which supposedly served ‘food’, we left paying an amount as big as our dissatisfaction. When we reached bangalore it was just past midnight, I think. They first dropped us home. It felt good to be back home- not just cos we were back home, but cos we were back home after doing something we so wanted to do. We owe a big one to the threesome and of course our parents who fought with their fears and let us go on this trek. I hope this has prepared them to handle it better the next time ! heehehee yep there is gonna be a next time and Insha-allah very soon. I have left a part of me in coorg and have to go get it back. But I have a feelin that I will end up finding more happiness,wisdom and strength and leave some more of my self there.

Things I feel good about, lessons learnt ,wants:
1) I did that trek despite all discomfort- so I have it in me to go on. Not bad!
2) One photograph I took while liberally clicking away in Vivek’s camera- a tiny stream lined with greens rolling thru lil rocks, while the sun shone thru the leaves- proud of it.
3) The rubber-soled lee cooper formal wear was good only if I was gonna attend a conference on top of a cliff. So get some decent sneakers the next time.
4) Get that lazy ass to exercise!
5) i'd like to do the trek again but in day time. want to see the hills ans green in the day.
6) next time take more pepper home

So that was the story of our first trek- the longest ever post I have written. I will try to limit the length the next time.