Friday, January 27, 2006

trek hangover

Here are some tit-bits:

Geography of Himachal Pradesh. It’s sooooo hilly, you won't even find a single plain place!! It’s very difficult to cultivate crops there. But the villagers are very hard-working. I guess they are born-tough to endure the pahaadi life-style.

There are only few types of trees there - mainly deodar, oak and pine. The jungles only with deodar trees near Kalatop area were just treat to look at!!

The discipline and time-sense all the camp leaders maintained. I felt like I was in some army-training camp; and of course enjoyed it!!

The batch members. There were people from Bangalore, Mumbai, Gujarat, Hyderabad, Bhopal, etc. Ours was a well-balanced group with lots of youth and few wise-and-nice uncles. It was indeed a nice opportunity to interact with people from different parts of the country.

The Bangalore crowd. The camp staff and participants from other places were heard telling "If you are from Bangalore, you need not mention your profession. We know that you are an IT professional".

The chat-sessions we girls used to have. Actually we got to know lots about different cultures, their wedding-rituals, the traditional dresses, etc. Thanks to Bangalore girl Niara who dug out all this information from others, she was very much interested in knowing all these stuff.

The difference between Bombay people and Bangalore people. I guess the software professionals tend to grow-up fast. Bangalore girls Niara & Bel were very wise and mature even though they were the younger ones. They are very sweet too. And I enjoyed Bel's songs..

The students. I particularly like to interact with students, and treks give me that opportunity. Talking to them makes you feel nostalgic about your school-college days. I liked Atul who is studying MA (Economics) in Mumbai, he was very sweet; he's is a Piscean too.

Mr. Ramesh from Bangalore. I guess everyone will remember what he said during camp-fire at Kalatop. He sang a song and then said "This song is for my wife. I miss her. I am wearing this shawl (and showed the shawl he was wearing) though I don’t need it now. But my wife gave me this shawl, that's why I am wearing it." So sweet of him.

I liked all my batch mates; and particularly liked Santosh, the horse rider from Hyderabad; Sameera, the fashion-designing teacher from Mumbai; Bindu, the child-counsellor-cum-teacher from Mumbai; and Raghunath Uncle.

The home-guards who accompanied us for the trek - Ajit Singh and Kartar Singh. Kartar was very smart, he liked to explore our digicams and happily volunteered to take our pictures.

I discovered something about myself. I could find out people's zodiac signs. I found out that Bel was a Piscean & Shailaja was a Scorpio; just by observing them. This is something I want to learn more about..

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Yes, it's been quite long time, but the memories of the trek are still fresh in my heart.

So, here I go.

Details first:

Trek at: Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh.
When: 28th Dec 2005 to 2nd Jan, 2006.
Conducted by: Youth Hostel Association India

We were supposed to report at the base camp (Dalhousie Youth Hostel) on 28th. Because of our trip to other places at Himachal (which I'll write about later on) we got late and reached base camp late at 10.00 pm. The camp staff was kind enough to attend to us. I went to the room where all the girls who were in my batch were staying, felt guilty as they were all sleeping by the time I reached. So, quickly without making much noise I slipped into the sleeping bag & off I went..

Next day was "the acclimatization day" (acclimatization is getting used to the geographical and climatic conditions of the place). They woke us up early in the morning & took us for a walk-cum-exercise routine. It was bitter cold outside, but there was no way we could bunk the exercise. Mr. Parvinder Singh Chauhan, the field director, made sure that all of us lazy-bums went for the walk n exercise. Upon returning we were given breakfast, and then the camp leader took us for an acclimatization walk for a place called Panchkula. Upon reaching our destination after walking 5 kms, the camp leader asked all of us to introduce ourselves. That was the first time we, the group of 45 participants, officially met each other. It was then I came to know that there ware more than 15 participants from Bangalore.

After coming back from Panchkula, we had lunch and then we were supposed to go for baggage check. Let me tell you what it is... We had to chuck out the extra stuff we had in our bags and deposit in the base camp; carrying only the necessary things for the trek, so that weight won't be much while trekking. The camp leader lifted each and every bag to check the weight and cut down some bags. After finishing this ritual we were free for rest of the evening.

No, we weren’t free actually. There was a camp-fire in the evening. And we had to give cultural program. So, we started discussing about that and getting rehearsed. We, Kannadigas in the batch sang "Huttidare Kannada Naadalli Huttabeku" with full dance funda n all...

Next day (30th Dec) was the actual start of the trek. After finishing breakfast and packed lunch on our backpacks we marched out of the base camp. The participants of the next batch were there to see us off and clap for us. We paced out of Dalhousie town and headed to a place called Lakhadmandi where we stopped for lunch. The trek route that day was mainly on road and jeepable tracks. Before 4.00 pm we reached the place called Kalatop, where we were to camp that day. Soon I joined the gang who had put the fire and sitting around it to chase the cold off. A hot cup of tea did good to all of us.

Kalatop is very beautiful. It’s called so because it's at the top and since it's surrounded by dense forest, it used to be dark there all the time; hence the name Kalatop. The sunset view from Kalatop was mindblasting!!

After dinner we had another camp-fire cultural session. It was good to listen to many people and many languages; and of course some old Hindi melodies.

The next day morning was the same routine, but there was an air of excitement since it was 31st Dec. The trek that day was bit tough. There was climbing-down part first and then the climbing-up. One or two had falls and were seen limping. We stopped at a water point for lunch. Even in the middle of the dense jungles, the localites had put up some shops where we got Maggie noodles, omlet, tea & stuff.

The second session was tougher (actually it was not a tough trek, but the first-timers in the batch had a bit of problem). We reached the campsite for that day, Khajjiar, at around 4.30 pm. Khajjiar is called the "Mini Switzerland of India". We were lucky to celebrate new-year eve in that scenic place. That night we had the camp-fire again, which started a bit late so that we could stretch it up to 12.00 and be awake to welcome the New Year. The enthu of the crowd was very much visible. As the clock hit 12, we all wished each other. Our camp leader brought out hot, delicious gulaab jamoons. The whole place was looking so festive with all our shouting and screaming, hugging and hand-shakes!!!

Definitely, all of us who were present that day will remember that new-year eve forever. We were celebrating new-year with people whom we had met only 3 days ago, but still we all felt like a close-knit group!! The feeling was wonderful and I am not even trying to explain it in words.

The next day (1st Jan) was the last day of the trek. We reached the destination, a place called Mangla, in the late afternoon. The trek that day was entirely climbing down part. And that day we didn’t trek in jungles, we had to trek through the villages where we got the closer view of life of those villagers. They were nice to us and greeted us all thru the way. I clicked pictures of beautiful kids on the way.

After reaching the campsite, we rested for a while and then took a bus and went to nearby town Chamba. Spent quite a lot of time there, visited the museum, temple, market, etc.

Next day (2nd Jan) was the disperse day. We were taken in bus from Mangla to Dalhousie, the base camp. On the way we got to see bit of snowfall (actually it was rains and hailstones). We reached Dalhousie, had lunch, got the certificate for completing the trek successfully and left the base camp.

On the whole, we trekked around 50 kms for 5 days.

It was not just a trek; it was a wholesome experience for me. Will write about all that in next post.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

bangalore to bangalore

I was more-than excited about my maiden flight experience. It was December 23rd, 2005. The flight was at 16.00 hrs; Jet Airways, flight no. 9W-816; Bangalore to Delhi.

That afternoon I said big-time bye to people at office, as I was going on a loooooong holiday! They were having Christmas celebrations at office that day, I was going to miss it, by I didn't mind, all I was thinking about was my first-flight!!

I was supposed to meet some people over lunch that afternoon, so I left office by 1.15 pm. with all my baggage, since the meeting was at a restaurant in Airport Road I had thought of going to airport directly after that lunch n meeting.

As I was finishing lunch I got a call on mobile phone, it was from Jet Airways office. My flight was delayed by 4 hours!! The flight was now scheduled at 20.10 hrs. So, I went back to office. Though I was sad that flight got delayed I was lil' happy that I could take part in Xmas celebrations at office! (Seeing the glass half-full u see)...

At 6.45 pm I left for the airport again, this time little conscious that the flight may get delayed again. On the way I called the Jet Airways help-desk, and yes, the flight was further delayed. It was to depart at 9.45 pm. I called my cousin at Delhi, who was to receive me. I was concerned about her that she had to come late at night to receive me.

Finally, at 9.30 we were called in for security check. I messaged my cousin that I am going in for security check. The flight started moving by 10 pm. I was very fascinated and enjoying everything!! There...the aircraft left the earth & plunged into the sky!! My heart stopped for a moment when it took off!!

Then the usual things: the welcome drink, dinner, etc etc... but one thing here, they were serving buttermilk, orange juice & only one soft-drink! And most of the passengers were opting for buttermilk. Healthy practices on the go...

By 12.30 we were almost over Delhi city. Then came the captain's announcement: Due to fog, the aircraft is having problems landing at Delhi airport; anyways he’s going to try n wait for some more time.

After 20 minutes of hollering around, the fog was still not cleared. Captain announced that we were flying back to Bangalore. They couldn't even land in nearby airport as all the airports were full. That day was major trouble for airline companies!

Two and a half hours of journey back, and we were in our very own Bangalore at 3.00 AM in the morning. Jet Airways was nice enough to give discount vouchers worth Rs. 1500 (which I encashed & got hard cash :-)) and residence drop for the localite passengers, and hotel accommodation to non-localites.

Thus my first-flight was eventful & memorable. All I got was a free air-ride for 5 hrs. Courtesy: foggy Delhi, co-sponsor: Jet Airways.

ps: I went to Delhi the next day.

pps: Why I went to Delhi? Watch this space...