“Spider”, Gowri cried.
“Did you say tiger”, I had to ask.
“No. Spider. S-P-I-D-E-R, spider”
“Oh, whats so exciting about that”.
Well, true. I mean, when you have walked a good 4 miles, through dense forests and mountains, the least that you would have expected to find is a cute tiger cub. They don’t even have tigers around. What kind of forests do they make nowadays? And Aanamalai mountains in Pollachi was supposed to be the perfect animal-spotting place
Further reading: I’ve never been huge on treks or walks. But I did walk between Bondi and Coogee beaches in Sydney, Australia. Ha!
Hello Top Slip!
The officer at the welcome centre of Top Slip had rambled on and on about lions, tigers, etc. The elephants came to piss behind the reception office. The lions went to school in front of the reception. And bisons, come licking people, (well, its got really a really rough tongue, that it does not need to eat you. It just licks your leg and all you have left there is a neat little bone). All this and more of superfluous description, yet the only thing we have seen so far are wild pigs, and now this teeny weeny spider.
The guide kind of provided a confessional. Well, it was summer, blah-blah, and there was no water around, blah-blah, and the animals were gone to distant watering holes, blah-blah, and the watering holes were too far away to trek, and too dangerous to go. Well, for some reason everyone argued the first points, and instantly agreed to the last one. Human tendency is to differentiate safety from bravery where ever it can.
“Eagle”, someone shouted.
Damn, I have been walking some 5 or 6 miles, and the only thing I can look at are my stinging toes. Who the hell is walking with their neck craned up towards the sky? I put all my effort in doing the same, and in the process almost heard a sound similar to opening a coke can.
Was that an eagle? God forbid, I could not even make out. Well, it had wings. White wings. That’s it. It should be an eagle. Sometimes, in peril, it is better to come to easy conclusions.
And Gowri, already had his Pentax camera out. Interesting, he never got a hang of the manual zoom. It was evident as the front part of the camera – the zoom lens – kept going in and out. The eagle was no longer in the near vicinity, and his camera kept doing the same thing. Finally, we had to tap him to let him know that the eagle was actually gone.
We kept walking, when another problem surmised. There was no water!!!
The super-intelligent me (Its my blog. Take a hike if you don’t agree) had just 3 bottles of water packed in my backpack. And before I knew it, there was just 1 bottle left. OMG. I heard Sathya tell someone in the group. “Guys, think of communism in such situations. You are drinking into someone Else’s water”.
I didn’t drink for the rest of the trek.
But Sai needed the water. Pathetic figure he cut in the middle of the forest. With a twig he picked up from somewhere, he kept clambering on the slopes. If Rajat Kapoor had seen him a few years ago, he would have given him the lead role in Gandhi Vs Gandhi.
(I have to admit it. The closest I came to seeing a bison the entire trip was when he came out of the bathroom in just a towel)
All of a sudden, Ketty stopped in his tracks and zoomed his camera down towards the ground.
“They grow fruits in the forest?“
“Not lychees. I said Leeches. The kind that suck blood.”
Weird. I had seen leeches in Kerala too. They were all black. But the ones that Ketty was showing here were all brown in color and extremely small. I was not willing to agree to him. But before I could break out into an argument, I noticed one of them sitting right on his leg, and bloating itself by the minute.
All I had to do was point this out to the gang, and what ensued was pure mayhem.
Ketty kept running. I followed. I had imagined this scene before the trek began. But then, I was thinking of us running from elephants or bisons. Not tiny leeches. Gowri and Anand stopped somewhere in the middle, convinced that there was a leech somewhere in their pants, near their groin. (Its interesting, how did they get all the way up there?)
Soon we had people stopping here and there in their tracks and getting themselves half-nude, just to check for a 3mm creature somewhere on their body. I just kept running till I was out of damp space.
I will remember, forever and ever, the last 2 miles of the 14 mile trek. That was the closest I came to finding out how our forefathers lived. No fans, and sweat pouring out of even my nose. No water. No wheels. Nothing. Just walk. And I kept walking with one word ringing in my head. Water. water. water. And our trip ended when we finally saw the black substance that we had dreamed about for nearly 7 hours. A black, tarred road. We were finally back to civilisation.
P.S: Would you believe that we were so tired that almost no one even touched the 6 full bottles of liquor that we had bought all the way from Pondicherry? I could actually hear snores at 10.