Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A kiss of death.

Ok, so it was more like a peck. So shoot me. A peck more than you've had, I'm betting.

It was such a long time ago that now I am almost nostalgic about it. You know what, go ahead and remove the 'almost' from there. Yes dammit, I want to reminisce about the time when I nearly croaked. There.

It reminds that there was this one time when I was really out there, living life on the edge. Quite literally, as it so happened.

Now, my good Constant Readers (All hail Stephen King!), a few of you were there... and you know what happened. You will be able to tell that I'm not indulging in poetic excesses or exaggerations of any kind. Mild distortion thanks to one heavily adrenaline-influenced memory is quite acceptable though.

This was... 2 summers ago. June some time. We were all itching to go on our near-ritualistic annual trek and waiting for them juniors to finish their numerous exams so that we could get the numbers to go trapessing some new patch of wilderness. So much so that there were only three from my batch and more than double from theirs. Anyhou.

Pramod was our guide then, and Srinidhi his erm... assistant, though he was one of them juniors. He's one of the reasons I'm typing this today, so I'll shut up.

And we wanted to scale Kumara Parvat. The peak which had the top few hundred feet of sheer rock, sloping, wet and slippery. The peak that was always veiled by the mists, that we never got a close look at. The peak that we paid in sweat and blood to climb (for there were leeches, yes preciousss). The peak that looked so ridiculously miniscule when viewed in a pic taken from the village below.

I was bringing up the rear then. (Stop sniggering, you pervs.) So there was this one stretch. We were already some 10 feet up a rock face. Another 15 something before one could really stop. Lots of tiny footholds and handholds, and little else. Wet. The kind of stretch where if you got your first couple of steps right, the sheer momentum could propel you to the top. All the others had gone up, and it was my turn. I began.

My second step slips.

To counter that, I tried stepping onto another spot.

Slips again.

I was wearing the crappiest shoes ever. Reebok, yes, but over three years old then and smooth as a surfboard. And probably affording me just as much grip. Three years of playing football on mud and stones can do that to a shoe. And being a many time veteran of treks may be a good thing for someone, but not for their shoe. My school leather shoes would have done a better job. Heck, those Safari shoes they forced us to wear in school would have served better. To think that Arnie and I used to bicker every time one of us wore a pair of those shoes. Over who bought his pair first and the other copied. 'Nuff said about the shoes. I'm still stuck on that rock face, in case you'd forgotten.

I grabbed hold of some grass sticking up above me. They came loose.


There I am, stuck in a Spidey-like pose (think more on the lines of an insect on a wall, to remove any illusions of grandeur from that previous statement,) with a hideously large backpack on me as well, holding on with the tips of my fingers and toes. Below me was a drop that vanished into the fog, so I have no idea how far I could have fallen that day. I'm stuck there, with no real purchase for my hands or my legs, unable to move up and unwilling to move down.

Hyelp. Please.

I'm so freakin' petrified that I don't curse even once. (And that was something I was quite proficient in back then.) My squiggling had not gone unnoticed though. Srinidhi got someone to lower him, and he stuck his leg out from above for me to catch. A foot too far. He extended himself lower, and I managed to grab on to the edge of his boot.

He almost comes free.

Meanwhile, Pramod who was much further ahead, scuttled back. Came up to the ledge above, and lowered Srinidhi even further down. I grabbed on, and nearly clawed my way to the ledge above.

All this must've lasted some thirty seconds. It felt like eternity.

So that was that trek.

Almost slipping and falling into the infinite abyss. Leeches. Nilgiris' sugar coated jellybeans. Getting a sugar rush thanks to just a couple of eclairs, and running reckless through Rohan country as if we were going orc hunting. Wingfoots we were. Hiding from rogue bulls. Sweating like horses. More leeches. One which found it's way into our tent and on to Jay's cheek. Swapping crazy school stories on the way back, all inhibition lost. Throwing away blood stained socks and shoes in the 4th block bus stand. Feeling giddy that I was alive. Stinking up the house like crazy on return and being ordered into the bathroom. Telling others (including parents, mind) this story and watching some jaws drop. And have some eyebrows disappear into hairlines. Bliss.

Friday, August 3, 2007

The Flower Duet

I have this tune stuck in my head. It's the British Airways theme song. The one they play when they show their silly-looking air safety video.

It's the refrain from the song Viens, Mallika... (or The Flower Duet) from the opera Lakmé by Léo Delibes.

As songs stuck in heads go, this one is not bad at all. I still remember when The Call of the Ktulu used to get stuck in there for weeks. *shudder*