Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ganesh Chaturthi: last in this city



I'm not much of a religious person; I have my personal rites and rituals and sometimes I don't even follow that. Nonetheless, it didn't pass my notice that this time would be the last time I "celebrate" Ganesh Chaturthi in Bangalore. 'Course I meant to celebrate it by sleeping till late and watching Mad Men, except that (with my wedding on the cards), my mom wanted me to visit a temple and present some boondi laddoos to Ganesh-ji.

I had half a mind to just let her advice slip by; in fact, I slept until half a day was already over. Then I watched Mad Men till 3pm. Then, I'm not sure what happened. It was drizzling and I (more than anyone else) wanted to have boondi laddoos and good food.

For Boondi Laddoos, I can rely on the nearby sweetshop but for good food and company, I knew I had to visit my friend's place. I spend most of the festivals at their house. It's like a fine balance between listening to my mother's advice to offer prayers and getting good food and company in return.

So out I was on the streets, packet of moti choor laddoos and boondi in hand, in the high hopes of getting home-made nice food. And surely I wasn't disappointed. Of course, in Ganesh Chaturthi, no household will ever be without good food. At my friend's place, we had masala vada, gajar ka halwa, coconut potlis, and sweets-which-I-didn't-quite-get-the-names. I returned home fully loaded and slept soundly as soon as I hit the bed. Yes, we are all "mini-Ganu"s once in a while. I guess in food lies the true spirit of the festival :P ...
And of course, I did pray for prosperity to all!.... especially the Indian Rupee!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Skandagiri: Conquered

Won't you love being here?
For starts, I'm no trekker. I'm lazy. I'm hedonistic. I am not interested in trekking but I love seeing new sights.

So obviously, I must have been bored out of my brains by city-life when I said 'yes' to a trek to Skandagiri. Before going, I did my usual research online and found that Wikipedia mentioned the trek as 'moderately difficult' (which sent shivers down by spine). Also, my friends' account of their trek to Skandagiri filled me with dread. But braced with a lot of self-motivation and false courage, at 5:30am on a Sunday, I bundled into a car. Yawning, doubtful, worried and sleepy. My biggest worry was death on the mountain, the second worry was slipping and losing some of my front teeth (I have my own marriage to attend in a few months and losing a tooth or two would create havoc on my already jittered family).

Anyway, you'd be glad to know that none of the bad things happened. I survived to tell the story of my trek.

I know that Skandagiri appears to be a favorite for night treks. You start the climb at 3am and try reaching the peak in time for sunrise. But we did a day trek. We weren't sure if night treks were still allowed after a mishap (re: murder? fall?) happened last year and treks were banned in Skandagiri.

Reaching Chikballapur took us an hour and a half from the city, with breakfast in between to boot ourselves up. It was 10am by the time we reached Chikballapur. At around 10:30am, we started on the incline. Lucky for us, the day was pleasant. Sun and shade in parts. The first 30 minutes of the trek was the most difficult for me. My body is not used to climbing huge boulders on an incline. But we were taking frequent breaks. After the first 30 minutes climb, I was feeling so sick and giddy that I let one of my co-trekkers carry my stuff. Yes, I felt miserable that he had to carry extra load from me, but I'm, as it is, a fat female and carrying another 6kg on my body was too much on my constitution! I think my head would have burst if I were to carry that load for another minute. After shifting the load, it was easier to carry on. The frequent stops gave me enough time to steel myself and motivate myself to carry on.




Besides my self-cribbing, the views that the trek provided was gorgeous. The clouds shifting through the valley, the fields at the distance, the constant breeze... it felt good. At one point, we came across a sort of cave, naturally formed by three huge boulders. We sat there, chit-chatted and sheltered from the sun for a while. Then again we went... Aage Barho! The higher we went, the higher my spirit soared. I knew I would be reaching the top soon and hopefully, in one piece. It gave me josh! With our snail-slow climb with very frequent rests, we managed to reach the peak at 1pm.
At World's Edge

The Roof was our Picnic spot
The view at the top was absolutely mesmerizing. All the fatigue we carried to the top disappeared in a jiffy. The peak had ruins of a fort along with an old temple. It was green all around with the ruined structures providing added beauty to the place. There was no one present except our group. Earlier there used to be vendors at the top selling food at exorbitant rates but the police stopped these activities after the mishap. In a way, this was good for us... we had the peak all to ourselves!

After enjoying the green panoramic view, we climbed on top of a ruined structure and had our lunch. We had carried our lunches; bread-omlet, puris, biscuits, beverages and Vachana's Kaya (all the way from Malaysia) with bread.

After that satisfying a meal, who doesn't want a nap? Some of us fell flat on the rock and rested our tired bodies. We laid down on the flat rock and let the breeze blow across us. It is a feeling that can't be expressed, but only felt. I remembered feeling this sort of serenity when I laid on a rock at Athirapally falls in Kerala. These moments are so rare, so tranquil, they make you forget every worry and just be in the moment.



The Wind chimes...

While meditating on my thoughts, I must have dozed off a while; when I did wake up, I realised Vachana was clicking pictures of me! Bad, bad girl!

Afterwards, we explored the area for a while longer and at around 3pm, we started our descent. The descent was, of course, faster. Notwithstanding a few slips here and there, we were intact when we reached the base at 4:20pm.
We were at the top!
At the base, we looked at the hill that we had climbed. 1350 meters... it towered like a giant... I couldn't help but feel a sense of awe mixed with pride. Awe at the hill and proud that I conquered it!

If you are looking for a moderately difficult weekend that is very, very rewarding (in terms of views and calorie-burning), I suggest you take the trek to Skandagiri. ;)

While on it, you might want to carry (i) light jackets (ii) water and (iii) food. Happy Trekking!

Encouragement note # If I, a lazy slob, can do it, then you can definitely do it!

I want to turn the whole world upside down!

And if you require musical motivation, the song "Upside Down" by Jack Johnson should give you a nice, comforting push to the top.

Who's to say/ What's impossible/ Well they forgot/ This world keeps spinning/ And with each new day/ I can feel a change in everything/ And as the surface breaks reflections fade/ But in some ways they remain the same/ And as my mind begins to spread its wings/ There's no stopping curiosity

I want to turn the whole thing upside down/ I'll find the things they say just can't be found/ I'll share this love I find with everyone/ We'll sing and dance to Mother Nature's songs/ I don't want this feeling to go away

Who's to say/ I can't do everything/ Well I can try/ And as I roll along I begin to find/ Things aren't always just what they seem


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