Archive for the ‘Adventure’ Category

The kite conundrum
It is that time of the year again. When my city plunges into the depths of insanity. We love to bask in its unmatched profound revelry, and make a silent promise to ourselves, holding out strings of time in our hands whilst looking up at the sky in the backdrop,

“To never growing up!”

Turning the time handle to revisit glimpses from past, I remember, clear as crystal, doing the “kite-talk” with my friends at school. Some would be curious to know how many kites each one of us would be buying just to slap back condescendingly at our numbers, some would be bragging about their kite-flying skills, some would be teaching the correct manoeuvre to take down enemy kites, some would throw in unheard of kite-jargon making things even harder for the newbies to grasp, whilst I would be busy listening to each one of them with jaws wide open in awe. I remember rushing back home and sharing it all with my brother. Something had me convinced, if there was any truth in the world, it would only spew from the mouths of my friends.

With gusto written all over my face, I would always be found on the roof, every evening, months before the actual festival knocked on our doors. Hours wasted in sheer hope of catching a fleeting kite, ‘cause nothing compares the ecstasy of scoring one. When I would catch a fish, I would keep pestering my dad into flying it. I would initially be the live audience, the one that fuels the passion of the protagonist. “Papa! Cut the red one! Go compete with the green one!” would resound like little dares whilst my father would come back triumphantly, “Now, which one?”

Come the day of the festival and I would go loco! I used to be fond of a star-studded sky. But finding myself ‘neath a kite-studded one, hurled me into pits of unmatched euphoria. Those were my learning days. When slackened kites hovered over me, I would leave my own to catch hold of the ailing plaything. Sometimes I would wake up with dreams of strings that flew past mocking me.  I ended up being the joke of the town. Talk to my mom, and she still has my kite stories on the tip of her tongue. She loves that stuff! Having a good ‘ol laugh at stupid things I did!

Time taught me the ‘how’, and my verve got the better of me. Oncoming years found me a fad I am still trying to reason with. Two days of festivity under the hood of the punishing sun. But that’s not how our brains look at it. We see fun! Downright orgasmic leisure!

With tanned skin leaving my face burnt as cinders, I would be surprised to find out my friends talking to me normally at school. I would actually go with extreme honesty, “Dude, are you able to recognize me?” Then our relentless showing off would commence! We would flaunt our injured fingers, then the taped ones, then laugh at those who had all ten of them intact, brag about uncooked parts of our faces, (goggles would often leave an unmarked territory around our eyes) and we would pretend like superheroes, talk about our high scores or come up with a funny account.

Even today, the fever hasn’t run out and the fire is still burning. It is quite surprising how every year I somehow make it home during the festival. To that I am really grateful.

Name it as you may! You can call it Lohri, Makar Sankranti, Pongal or Uttarayan. We really don’t care as long as we get our badass kites to soar! That’s the only thing we know of. This day has only one significance to us.

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The Perpendicular Universe Dhauladhar range

I can’t seem to shake it off. That view! The dark greenish hue of the mountain that was so high and far that it would occasionally blend in with the whites of the clouds. Complementing it gorgeously was another colossal mountain covered in a brownish tint measuring it from a distance, which had almost disappeared, if it weren’t for our keen eyes that were successful in scaling its edges across the heaven.

The latter reminded me of the kite I would fly, back at home – when I would slacken it till it would disappear into the sky. My kite would then blend into the colours of the sea and would get lost. One minor distraction, and lo! It would be hard to tell what I was really holding on to. It would appear as if I was steering the whole sky. Reeling it to make it go further, and pulling sometimes to see if I could bring its blue enormity closer.

Every time I close my eyes, I see the capped freak staring at me from a distance. There were smudges on its body, probably glaciers running down, that seemed silent like a pond from my vantage. Occasionally clouds would cover the beast up, afraid it was showing too much skin. At times, its peak would peak from the blankets to see who the stranger was and why his eyes carried mad love. And why wouldn’t he stop staring?

As our car galloped onto the Kangra road, the mountain followed us. It was inquisitive, while I couldn’t stop myself from gawking. The world must be wondering- “How imprudent!”

About 12 hours earlier we were right there. If not at the top then probably somewhere around its bosom. Heading towards Dharamshala on a bike, we would occasionally take a pit-stop just to marvel at the scenic orgasmic vista the mountain manifested. Cameras would come out at once to capture our perspective in style so that we never forget the unforgettable. Our bike roared in pain as it lunged into the unknown roads. It was hard to tell if we could make it. But the beauty beckoned, and there was no turning back.

From a distance, the ridges looked as if they were drenched in dark. There were shadows over it while the whole world burned alight. It seemed to be sleeping. Quiet like a lifeless thing, which can never be awaken. It slept while its rivers wept. It was written in green. Trees stretched all across its body.

We crossed Dharamshala soon and headed towards McLeodganj. The ascent was punishing. The moment we got closer, it began raining. It struck me at once that the dark was owing to the clouds there. Within seconds we were drenched in the downpour. There was no place to hide, and then we thought, “Let’s do this!” We stormed off to the renowned Bhagsu water fall. The place offered one helluva panorama. My eyes captured it the moment I set them on it.

I was told the summit turns into an alp during the winter season. I just tried to imagine how badass it must look then. The green on the mountains metamorphosing into the white of the snow. As if they have called for a quilt to beat the cold.

When I came back to the same jaded life I live, suddenly I found myself surrounded by a relentless smoke of depression. I wanted to be there. Into the Mountains. Free. Adventurous. Marvelling at the invincible beauty. Taking in the serenity. Breathing in the phenomenal. Gawking at the lively ridges.

Alas! Now I am here. Everything is dead again.

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So we witnessed heaven on Earth. Yes we did. All twelve of us.

We stormed to Coorg, also popularly known as Kodagu district, located in Karnataka. The place they call the Scotland of India. Why do they do that? Who does that?

One of the best things about bike riding is that you have your say, not to mention your will and your way. You can stop anywhere. You can drive crazy. You can test your partner’s guts. You can test ‘your’ guts. You can leave the everlasting roads behind you. You can run ’em over. You can pee fire. No wait that is over-exaggeration.

We sped off in the wee hours and drove incessantly for 5 hours to reach Coorg and by incessantly, I mean with a lot of pit stops. You can’t expect a bike rider to drive non-stop. You can’t overlook loo, now can you? 😛

Roads were empty while we made sure to fill them with our swiftness. All twelve of us sped into the blue, unacquainted with the roads, yet with a thing for destiny. We rode like Ghost-riders only with lesser flames and more flesh.

I defied ‘time’ a couple of times when I decided to test the upper limits of my ride’s speedometer. I went into a trance I was unaware of. For the first time in my life, my eyes literally cried tears of joy and the wind bears testimony to the fact.

We stopped for a refuel, not that our bikes needed it, for we took care of the issue right at the inception, but for our bodies, that became instantly parched when we saw a drinks bar on the way.

We resumed our sojourn once our tanker was 25% full. Roads were bountiful except for 2-3 places where we were forced to defy a sloth. During the later part of our journey we realized we were sort of riding on a mountain, though the exhilaration got the better of us and we reached in no time. We were hungry like hell and exhausted like heaven(….Whaaaaaaaat?) So we feasted or rather hogged on food in a restaurant I am willing to forget.

For newbies, if you happen to accidentally drop by to the Indian Scotland, I’d recommend a couple of places. I am listing them down so you remember yourself eventually.

  • Iruppu Falls
  • Igguthappa Temple
  • Cauvery river
  • Dubare Elephant Camp
  • Abbey Falls
  • Unchalli Falls
  • Brahmagiri Hill
  • Raja’s Seat
  • Omkareshwara Temple
  • Shri Shringeri Shankar Math
  • Golden Temple

The first place that we crashed was Abbey Falls, Madikeri. So what we felt duped when we realized those falls looked puny in front of some other falls on this planet. Yet it was something natural, and I love nature. I can’t criticize its creation. Besides the place added up to a couple of great shots that we are going to cherish forever.

Exhausted we were after 150 kms of journey, we looked for a place to crash. The night was young. We celebrated Coorg with Blender’s Pride in our throats. The same night I realized I had never laughed that much with Scotch in my veins. The temperature in Coorg is said to fall below 4 and so we snuggled up in our beds after gorging up on a beastly dinner. Yep in the morning we realized the legends were true as the biting cold bit us blatantly.

When the dawn broke we hied on our bikes to visit several other spots we had heard much about. The first one was Raja’s Seat. The spot allowed us to look down the vale. The beauty of the dale was unmatched. We kept marveling at the scenic beauty for a while. When there are twelve guys together, you just can’t stop fun from happening. Raja’s Seat called for some excellent and funny moments and we made sure that our cameras remembered them.

Next thing on our map was Dubare Elephant Camp, where we river rafted. We wore life belts to ensure life. Out of the blue, someone played a prank and pulled one down into the water. The next thing we knew, all of us were floating in the water like frogs. Except two or three, nobody knew how to swim. We spent hours in water at the mercy of our life belts.

Boy we were happy! Hadn’t we stepped (rather hurled) into the water, we would have never really enjoyed the place. While our experts taught us how to swim, some of the guys like me, thought they had mastered it for a while. We kept saying that jumping into the water made our day. Our life belts made sure that we saw another. We were pulled back into the raft by our disgruntled oarsman. While we were returning we saw Elephants (that explained the name) dropping deuces and bathing (earlier ignored because of the fun we were having). Our oarsman played a prank when we were about to reach our extraction point. He pretended to hit an imaginary snake in our raft. Boy everyone jumped into the knee-deep water without caring for their lives (er….I mean they cared, that’s why they jumped in the first place) injuring themselves like anything, while I understood the prank and took the oarsman’s side and laughed at my friends. Soon I was punished, when I stepped into the water as something pierced my feet. Bearing injuries has become my hobby now. I bled in pain with the incision. Still I stood up, dusted off, and picked up my ride to satiate the adventure in me.

Next thing in our carte was a temple. We rode like ghost-riders once again when we realized we needed to wrap up the adventure quickly. We reached ‘The Golden Temple’ at around half past noon. It was a Buddhist temple. Smitten, we swayed into the serenity, while three Lords stared down at us in surprise. Three huge golden Buddhas wondered what we were doing in Coorg, while we marveled at all their gold. Their effigies looked beautiful. What surprised me more was the tranquility the place offered. Walls were painted with stories of Buddhism. They told a story we weren’t interested in. However the pictures of various descendants and Lords of the religion beatified us beyond limit.

We had to wrap up quickly as we were running short on time. So we had our lunch right after we came out of the temple. Our eyes, which had turned all golden by now, adjusted themselves to the gold that sun offered.

We took out our beasts and decided to make a retreat. Now this was the best part of the journey. We knew the roads were going down. We knew that we were on a mountain. We switched off our engines at once, when we reached the inception point of the steep. It felt so exhilarating and so beautiful, my words fail to describe it. Roads would always turn left or right. All we had to do was follow it. All six bikes moved silently. I reminded my friends of the part in Tokyo Drift, where 5-6 cars go drifting on roads on a mountain. The only difference was we weren’t drifting and of course we weren’t driving cars. Then again we couldn’t have possibly felt heaven breezing through our skins.

We knelt down at every turn. It felt like we were playing MotoGP. The speedometer crossed 80 at times, and the engines never buzzed. We overtook many cars and buses involuntarily. We were in a trance. All we needed to do was tilt the handle and of course be careful at the turnings. For almost around 20 kms our engines never purred because of the slope. Boy we saved a lot of fuel!

Eventually we reached our destination. It was as if someone had switched off the light. We were back and yet we were there. We had witnessed paradise on earth. We kept talking about how good our experience was. We kept reckoning, had we taken a cab or a van to the place we wouldn’t have really enjoyed it all.

The scorching sun made sure we got our tans. I got mine, a distinctive one. People laughed at me for days and called me a freak. (Well that’s over-exaggeration having its toll again)

Sometimes I wish to be on those roads again. I relive those moments of eternity every now and then. I wish that trance to succumb me at times. The experience brought me into tears, just like that Avril Lavigne’s lyrics, ‘It’s so beautiful that it makes me wanna cry’.

We wished we had more time on our hands. We would have explored more of Coorg. We left out a couple of great places we had written in our menu. Hope that future brings me to this place again and I get to cover it all. Yet somewhere deep down I know, it wouldn’t match the fun and joy, all twelve of us had while riding our bikes and scaling unacquainted, unknown yet magical parts of Coorg.

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Few days ago, I felt I was tied in shackles. There was so much work load, I could hardly breathe. I was surrounded by diplomats. Politics defiled the atmosphere. I would be lost in explanations. I would be fighting battles and wars, yet would feel berated by circumstances. I would always find myself struggling to prove myself and end up being underrated all the time. I needed a break. Big time. Got one at last. A big one.

Now I am in Mangalore. Adorns southern part of India. It’s been just three weeks and I am in love with the city already. I feel like I have been living here for ages. The city has so much to offer and I have so much to take.

My new job allows me to spend awesome weekends. The city takes care of the rest. The coastline of Mangalore is strewn with numerous beaches. Panambur, Mukka, Suratkal, Tannirbavi and Someshwara are to name a few.

I went to Panambur, the very next day I arrived. The irresistible waters drew me unknowingly. It was only after I splashed into the water that I realized how salty sea water really is. I, along with some friends, basked for hours in the bountiful Arabian Sea. The sand was a little rough and coarse yet magnificent. The water carried sediments with every gush. Starfishes decked the entire perimeter of the beach.

I also visited Malpe Beach, located near Udupi. All it took was a ferry ride (Yeah! I impersonated Jack Sparrow on a ferry) and we (22 other colleagues) beheld heaven staring back at us. A place renowned as ‘St. Mary’s Island‘ beatified us beyond limit. I was surprised by the awesomeness of the island. Marveled I, at the beauty of what surged in front of my eyes and wondered out loud, “How can a thing be so beautiful!” (There goes the poet again!)

The water was blue, clean and beautiful. Some naturally carved rocks emerged from hither and thither. They were strewn all across the island. I saw crabs and fishes too. (I absconded at the mere sight of a crab. I was like, “Holy crab!”)

Later when we got back to the Malpe Beach, we decided to spend some time enjoying the scenery. I spent around an hour sipping in the serenity of Malpe. I felt blessed to be able to see the sea once again and to feel the cool breeze through my hair. To be able to rub my skin against the glistening and natural sand that donned Malpe gave me immense pleasure. I saw the elderly rejuvenate with the splash, adults metamorphose into kids with elation written all over them, and kids blast away with the surge of the waves. It was magical.

The water at Malpe carried more sediments. The sand however was soft, white and smooth. Starfishes bedazzled the beach too but were less in number.

Apart from beaches, we have also visited couple of other places in Mangalore. Pilikula Zoo and Gokarnanath Temple are amongst those we have already traversed. Both these places had their own stories to tell.

There are hundreds of places still unexplored by us and we are just getting started. There are so many weekends yet to come and we have the luxury of time.

I am really glad Mangalore happened to me. It brought out the dead explorer in me. It gave me what I was missing for a long time – fun, adventure, exhilaration and booze. Whoa! Easy there tiger!