Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Tracking the locomotion

10:00 AM:
I awake from my slumber. Its Sunday, or was it ??? Errr... not sure, but it sure felt like sunday. My body aches, I look around and decide to sleep some more. As I close my eyes again, I slowly float back into never never land, as I tend to sway between reality and my dream-like exploits from before.

4:30 AM:
The first rays of the sun were yet to refract their way over the horizon. The air was crisp, brindled with a whiff of raw breath. Still groggy, but with an immense feeling of emancipation we walked out of the bus, looked at each other, smiled and set out on our respective journeys to our warm cosy beds... I dropped Lakshmi at her place on my way back and then was about to hit the bed, when I looked at my clothes and gear... RED!!! It was covered in red dust.

7:55 PM:
We were at the side of the road, brandishing our flashlights, hoping that luck would favour us and hoping that we would soon be carried back to the place we had ventured out of. A truck stopped and we hauled ourselves into the open container behind. On closer inspection we found that our habitat for the next 2 hours had previously been used to transport red bricks. We stood for the initial part of the journey, grasping the sides along the sharp curves, grasping the sounds made by the wind in our hair, grasping the beauty of the clear star studded sky above. Then while some decided to lie down and get some rest, others decided that there was more to grasp.

The truck could not drop us inside Hassan so we got down outside the town limits and found a tea shop along the way. We freshened up a bit and then found ourselves in the back of a milk container carrier on our way to the bus stand. Just before the bus was to leave Sandeep realised that he had lost track of time, the watch on his hand having deserted him. Then ironically Raoul and Sandeep set out back to the tea stall, to reclaim lost time.

6:45 PM:
We were losing an already lost battle against time and light. It was the only path we had not chosen so far. We then took a deep breath, armed with our flashlights and a faint belief that we were still not lost, and then we marched on ahead. After more than half an hour of following the unknown path we were still in the dark, our choice being reaffirmed every now and then by the faint sound of a vehicle, only to be stifled by the overwhelming flow of the stream nearby. Finally the sound of the vehicles overcame that of the stream. But then the stream decided to pull another one on us, as it stood between us and the road ahead. Then in the dark we attempted to cross the stream, stepping on slippery stones, using all fours. Some of us fell into the water since the stones were pretty far apart. It took all of us like 20-25 mins to cross it. There was this other group in front of us where the guys were standing straight and with the girls besides them flat on the stones. The guys were flashing the torches for the girls next step. Wanted to take out some snaps as it was really funny... but I guess I would have been beaten up after that...

5:15 PM:
After being seduced by nature we took a wrong path, only to realise the same about half an hour later, when we found ourselves back on the railway tracks. But instead of nostalgia, our thoughts ran amok. We decided that it was not a good time to start beating each other up, so we started to trace our steps back. Then Sandeep mesmerised by nature, lagging behind us, took another wrong turn. We realised he was missing after about 10 mins. We yelled till the forest resonated with "SANDEEP", "SANDEEP!!!". We decided to scout the area and after a few minutes I found myself alone. Surrounded on all sides by trees that seemed to be growing at an alarming rate, their shadows creeping up behind my back. Even the sounds of nature seemed to take on a new avatar. After about 20 mins we found each other again and started to trace our steps back to the place where nature had seduced us.

4:10 PM:
We decided to leave the railway station and take the short cut to the road, through the forest. The route downhill felt like a real trek as our knees took a beating. As we cleared through the bushes we found ourselves panting, standing infront of a beautiful stream, which we just had to delve into. We unanimously decided that we had a lot of daylight time on our side. And since hindsight is always accurate we finally gave into temptation and cooled off our desires.

3:00 PM:
After walking for about 18-19 kms we had reached Yedikumari station that was still under constuction. A solitary engine stood there waiting for us to explore it. There was also a modified truck and a sumo that could run on the railway tracks. After trying to strike a deal with the station master to give us a lift to the next station, we decided to satiate our hunger, only to see our negotiated means of transport leave without us.

1:30 PM:
After having crossed over a thousand bridges and been through a thousand tunnels the journey started to feel a bit monotonous. Trepidation no longer had a place in our hearts as we found our footings across the bridges. The screeching of the bats in the dark tunnels felt more like an accompaniment of nature. Our system had been programmed to move our legs ahead just the proper distance, to find the cemented planks that were vertical to the rails. It was sometime around then that we decided to have a carrot break. It was also sometime around then that a thought arose in someones head, that maybe we should not stay overnight and trek the next day. The thought spread like wild fire.

12:00 PM:
I thought I had gotten used to initial fear before crossing a bridge but the best was yet to come. We then came to this bridge that was about 50-60 meters high. It was high noon, the sun was above our heads and with the dark shadows from the near future trampled beneath our feet, we set out to cross this bridge also. At some points we had planks (1 foot wide) laid along the tracks to assist us in our endeavour. At others we had to manoeuver our fear, as we focussed on the horizontal steel planks. At some points the gap between them was a little more than 2 feet, through which we could see the ground about 50-60 meters below us. Our complete nervous system was on high alert as each foot was firmly placed on safe ground. The trick was not to look ahead at the never ending bridge. Just focus on the immediate problem, one step at a time. After crossing the bridge we took a short detour downhill where we took a lunch break along the stream. From there we could see the old wooden bridge which had been overshadowed by the new mighty bridge.

9:00 AM:
After crossing another bridge we decided to stop for breakfast besides a stream. The bridges ahead were to see a lot of action from us. One of them was to be used as a modelling ramp where I was to showcase the 'Camping (Don't) Fall 2006' collection. Another one was to be the setting for the 'Heads popping thru the tracks' photo session. The snap that is gonna win me the Pulitzer prize :-)

7:00 AM:
We stopped along the tracks where we found a mountainside that we could climb. Manish and Sandeep managed to get to the top. It was too tricky for me. We also found a wooden plank that joined two iron wheels at the side of the track. We decided to carry it and place it on the tracks and then we fooled around a bit. I re-enacted a train scene from the movie 'Ghulam' and nearly got run over by the oncoming man-powered engine. After gathering our bearings we headed out along the tracks, ready to cross all the bridges and tunnels that came along our way.

6:15 AM:
We came across our first bridge. The sun was still rising and so we had to use our torchlights. Horizontal steel planks, about 1 foot wide, were strewn along the tracks to assist us in crossing it. Inspite of all the assistance we were still very cautious as to where we landed our footing.

4:00 AM:
The bus dropped us at Donigal in the wee and cold hours of the morning. A few feet away we found our way to the tracks. We had decided to trek along this train track that was still under construction. We walked along the tracks, aided by our torchlights. After about 20 mins we decided to park ourselves and start a fire. I had not been able to sleep a wink during the bus journey. So I decided to make the railway tracks my bed, while the others warmed themselves besides the fire. As we lost ourselves within the flames we realised that we didn't start the fire, the fire actually started us. We did not know what lay ahead. The unknown journey, layed out with bridges and tunnels was till then subject to the metamorphosis and evanescence of our imagination and moods. Finally we were ready to do the locomotion. It was now reality's turn to etch them out in our memory.

2:00 AM:
I must have been fast asleep, alternating through the various stages of sleep. They say the memorable dreams occur in the last stage of sleep commonly known as REM sleep. I guess it was time to float away into never never land.


1 comment:

Etchen said...

I loved the pictures of your trip--though the one titled "heads" was creepy! ;-)