Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Summer Night Camping

This write-up, on Summer Night Camping , is written by Bharat Reddy. Thank you for the write up on the experience, Bharat! Very well written.

This write-up is originally posted here:

I just came back from what was my first ever night camping trip. I’m perhaps completely exhausted right now with the amount of physical activity I’ve been through on an April Summer day. But I want to write about it before the excitement sinks in and I fall trap to the regularities of a frustrating IT life.

I joined the Great Hyderabad Adventure Club (aka GHAC) a few weeks ago and went on the Moulali Trek (see my blog post here). That experience was so very exciting that I feel like going on every one of the adventures/trips/treks GHAC organizes.

I signed up on this Night Camping and Adventure trip (RSVPd as folks at meetup call it!) and along came Vijay, Karteek, Pranshu and Puja. Shradda who co-organized the trip called us to meet at the pick-up point, Yatri Nivas near Paradise, Secunderabad. We were to meet a few more GHACians there and were to car-pool and head to the adventure destination.

All that was in store!

That’s where we met LakshmiPathi. We five hopped on to his Bolero to meet a few more GHACians in Nanal nagar which was the other pick-up point. Soon as we introduced ourselves to LakshmiPathi, he asked us to call him Pathy instead. So did we! And more interestingly we came to know, Pathi is a Scientist working with Dow Chemicals. Me being a techie, rarely do I get a chance to meet people with careers completely different from mine. Luckily for me, I meet these amazing people from both GHAC and Toastmasters.

As we reached Morine Bakers just by the Nanal Nagar junction, we saw so many more GHACians all decked up for the trip. While I expected some hi-hellos there, Sharadda was rather busy ticking out the attendees and noting which car would each of us travel in.

Bonfire, cave, wild flowers, beer bottle chimes, tents and more

So where were we headed? We were to reach a place called ‘Trails’ by the Anantagiri hills near Vikarabad, some 55Km from Nanal Nagar. Did we know the route? Nay, none in our car did! But fortunately for us, Shradda gave us the GHAC stickers to be stuck to the rears of our seven odd cars. So, we could follow any of those other cars. This was fun, trying to follow. We only had people following us lost-souls, but not one car for us to follow!

We were to stop by at this Tawakkal Family Dhaba for dinner. Less did we know that many had other plans and stopped by at a different place. While we figured out what to do, Srini joined us and more GHACians came soon. Tawakkal Dhaba had this lush lawn (of course sans the grass!) where they clubbed tables for eleven. While we ordered food and waited, we had quite some time for intros, well actually three rounds of them!

First round was sort of an ice-breaker where every one would intro their names and what they did for a living. We thought the food would come by then. It didn’t. So we thought we’d know more. To somehow match the context, each of us shared about places we’d traveled to. That was done. The food did not come yet. So there was another round of talk, and here, each of us would share some thing of their personal lives. Most talked about their life partners, would-be s. One interesting part of that chat was Puja, who assumed the head-of-the-family position at the table and the only girl in the current gang. Obviously, she was asked to talk first, each time!

Finally the food came. Let me tell you, the food was good. Even the cats at Tawakkal Dhaba knew it, for, Puja shared almost half of her rotis with cats and kittens that came greeting us visitors.

By the time we finished dinner, we came to know one IT consultant, a chemical Scientist, four TCSers of which I was one, three IBMers of which one was a Bengali another was a mallu born and bought up in north India and who thinks IT guys don’t really have a personal life, one entrepreneur who owns a Castro Bike Zone franchise, one Oracleian who hopped eight companies in his twelve year IT career, been to the Everest base-camp twice and traveled the length and breadth of India, one Satyam Ventures automobile designer, and what not.

After what I call one-hell-of-a-dinner, we were headed towards Trails. On the way there, we checked out a three meter long viper, dead, apparently killed by a few people. While we thought we’d be one of the first that would reach the venue, as irony would have it, we were the last but one!

We were shown the place where we’d erect our tents and camp for the night. It was a matter of minutes and the tents were there. A small one, an Igloo style tent, a looking-like-a-cave tent etc.

Shradda arranged for an intro for us thirty two member camping enthusiasts. And as would it obviously be, at least 25 were IT guys. Not again!

When we were trying to figure out what to do, a bonfire was lit and we joined for some talking. Okay, I cant miss telling you that we had one Mr. Neeraj, the Guitarist. Neeraj started by saying he is not much of a guitarist and not a good singer. And as a matter of fact, for some reason, not many of us knew most the songs he sang. So every time he said he was missing a line or not playing the guitar well, we all repeated in chorus ‘we wouldn’t know, so keep playing’. But to end this ordeal, Neeraj played John Denver – Leaving on a Jet Plane, and proved that he is not at all a bad singer, and that he could actually play the guitar!

An antyakshari of sorts ensued soon later as the bonfire cooled down. It was bed time. It was more than bedtime but we went on a small little trek on which Puja told us ghost stories (ha, she does that, you know!). The story inspired us to click this.

We reached the tents at around midnight and contrary to the usual expectation, most of us slept outside the tents, thanks to the summer heat! Puja thought it was unfair to tell the Ghost story to the select few on the trek. So she repeated it again to all that were already struggling to catch some sleep. Good night was that?

After a few hours of sleep-of-sorts, Jitendra who was co-organizing the trip, woke us up at a ghostly 0530hrs and said “lets get going guys”. We stood in queues at the one and only toilet and freshened up soon as we could, went out to a morning trek into the wild. I had been through such walks before as a kid but this one felt different. Well, it seemed to me as though a bunch of us got lost, and I thought it was fun to be lost in a jungle. But as fate would have it, we eventually were back at the camp. It seems the other groups (who were apparently not lost) spotted rabbit, deer, peacock and wild boar. We could only spot the most peculiar species on planet earth, the humans, us! :-) My camera spotted a little more.

beautiful sunrise, (clock wise) ant hills, wild plants, burnt grass and don't-know-who's shit!

We came back and talked and talked as waited for breakfast. Waiting for food has never been so much fun! There was a host of other activities lined up for the rest of the day. So, we were split into two groups headed by Shradda and Jitendra each. I thought that it would be easy on me if I put the camera and phone in Vijay’s bag and be care free. But what I miss now is the snaps for what I’d talk here on!

Okay, so people, it was rock-climbing time! This was much like the simulated rock climbing we see in Prasads cineplex. What I realized however was that it takes quite some energy and stamina. Thanks to a sleep-deprived night, a jungle walk and puri for breakfast, my batteries were at the lowest to start with. I could manage rock climbing, of course clinging on to a harness, a helmet and someone holding you tight up with the ropes. But I could not manage Zoomering, which is climbing up ropes using a device called zoomer. It requires quite a bit of your arm-strength.

After that, we did Earthquake. Well not actually quaking the earth, but crossing a host of wooden swings, while still wearing a harness! These activities were more than just exciting oneself with the adventure, physical and psychological challenge. It was loads and heaps of fun with the group who tease, appreciate, make fun of and encourage each other. I came to know more of each of them in my little group, we almost became friends! I’m sure if we meet again somewhere in the real world, it’d bring us back these wonderful memories. :-)

Shortly after that, we valley crossed clinging again to a harness on ropes and pulleys. While that was not too exciting, it was sure fun to watch everyones’ expressions!

The feeling was exhaustion and what would come tomorrow would be body pains. Shradda said these would be ’sweet pains ‘.

After so much activity, which we would usually not do in our lazy lives, we were mighty hungry. We washed fast (and some even asked ‘haath dhona zaroori hai kya?’) and jumped to eat some yummy lunch. The food was good, especially the jalebi.

It was time for a group photo and then a game in the shade. My photo doesn’t capture all of them, but believe me, there were thirty two of us! Soon after, we reluctantly joined for a group game. The game was something like this – I choose a partner, and my partner responds to questions I’m asked, and that too quick. If he/she could not, he becomes the questioner. That kept us all completely alert!

Then Shradda and Jitendra did some accounting, and we tried our hand at Archery.

L to R - Me, Pranshu, Puja, Karteek, Pathi, Vijay

It was parting time and we did the bye byes quick!

The resort ‘Trails’ was a litter free and well maintained place, not too many arrangements and not any less. The staff were friendly and ready to help. Good food and great ambiance.

All in all this was one hell of a camping trip, thanks to the diligent organizing by Shradda, Jitendra and all those who assisted them. And thanks to all the thirty two who attended, and made it memorable.

I would look forward to more such trips. The spirit that you see amongst GHACians is unparalleled.

Guess I wrote too long a post. I’d so much to say, what do? The trip was worth it!

Please share your views in the comments section. I would like to know how you’d appraise my writing skill as well.

PS: On any of these trips GHACians follow one basic rule – No booze, No litter!

Wonderful fellows eh!

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