adventure, College, description, travel

Footwear, Kitchen and Ropes 

Somewhere in the middle of the 30 feet descent, I walked backwards, araam se, like I do every once in a while. Only I was hanging on a rope. My legs stood firm like they had never been – for once they decided to listen to me. But only a few minutes ago, they had been quite an oxymoron – on vibrate mode.

Outbound Training Programme it was called, and true to its name, it was outside bounds. From rock climbing and rappelling, to crawling under rocks, it was as exciting as it was scary – one slip of the foot, and you could end up in an AC room for a decided amount of time – in a hospital.

The climb left me quite breathless – I don’t even bother to climb stairs. Sheeet, how it made me wish I had climbed all those floors in my apartment. The beauty of the place — right in the lap of nature – was that if you stayed still, everything around you came alive. Everything that you had assumed to be still, is not so anymore.

But at the top, everything around me was still, except for my own body, with my heart gasping for breath. So loudly that I could hear it everywhere– including my arms and legs. Here, one of the instructors divided the eight teams into two large ones: Spartans and Warriors. After a few breathing exercises, and a few games out there, we decided to return.

Games ©NM

Now if anybody ever thought that climbing down was easier, I urge you to think again. The hill, combined with the Earth’ gravitational force, has only and only one aim in their lives – to pull you down; literally. At one point, we had to slide down a bit. How I wish they had actually made a semi cylindrical depression, with bars to hold on to. But this was more of strategic sliding. You had to slowly almost sit and crawl, sitting in the tiny craters so as to not slip. But unfortunately, my body weight easily pulled me down, and if those two guys had not been standing at the end of it, I am sure I would have effortlessly made it to my destination in lightning speed.

This was followed by walking on a slope — through it. The only thing around were bundles of lemon grass; comfortably rooted, sitting like fountains, laughing at us while we struggled to get a grip. And right after this, was a big rock – and we were to go under it. I began contemplating whether I will fit in there at all. Finally I did manage to fit in — barely. I crawled out of it as fast as I could, during which I wondered if anybody would know if something or somebody had died in there. Once out, one of my teammates apologised for having scrapped my bag a little – the only two girls in our seven member team decided they wanted to carry their bags; and we all took turns carrying them (only two bags were allowed per team). That poor guy did not realise I was too happy that we all had managed to get out of that tiny cave in one piece.

In spite of having such co-operative and supportive classmates, as well instructors, I had been carrying all this while the one most uncooperative thing with me — or rather I should say wearing them: my shoes. The soulless creature’s soles were coming off. Sadly, irrespective of whether the footwear I am wearing belongs to me or not, they are most rebellious – this definitely was not the first time this had happened.

Three years ago, in the last year of schooling, I was on a study tour with my class. A hosteller at that time, for some reason that I don’t remember now, I ended up borrowing somebody’s chappal. We had stopped somewhere near a beach, in the nattucha veil (burning hot afternoon). The chappal decided to die on me; and since the only support in it had fallen apart, I had no option but to walk barefoot. On the sand. Till the bus.

At a point in the descent, he asked us to stand with fellow Spartans and Warriors. He then asked us to find our way back to the kitchen. A beta version of human GPS managed to find another stone underpass. Thankfully, it was more spacious than the previous one. It did not really matter to me, as long as it took me to the kitchen.

The kitchen. (http://gurufreddyacademy.org)

After a satisfying meal, we all chatted for a while. None of us really had any idea what they had planned for us. All I wanted was a nice spot under a tree and a good nap. An instrumental version of the All India Radio whistled away, while we relaxed. And then two instructors, went into a room for equipment. Equipment??

I dragged myself, following others to another part of the campus, where military and police recruits trained. While others ran and jumped through the first obstacle, which looked like stepping stones on land, I preferred walking through it. Then there was one where slabs of stone projected off a wall: you had to climb through a side and get down the other. I don’t really recall how, but I managed to climb up, after which I was stuck. The instructor suggested I watch somebody else do it, and I agreed. I called out to a girl and warned her that I was already up there — hence it was not a good idea to climb up. I did manage to turn around and keep my foot on one of the projections, but after that I could not see anything except for the huge slab I was holding on to. I climbed down a little, and then jumped. The instructor said I was lucky to not have been hurt by a pointy slab.

It seemed wiser for me to simply stare at the rest of the obstacle course, while a few others tried some out. From there, we were taken to the cliff, or rather a 30 feet rock, where the Spartans were climbing down, with ropes and harnesses. Warriors had barely begun, when it started raining, and we were asked to return. I walked around in my Sherlock Holmes raincoat, even though the rain stopped the moment I had put it on. I had to consider the effort I had taken to put it on. Five minutes later, we were called back, as the weather seemed to have improved.

Heights of cracking jokes. ©NM

I sat down, looking at others climb down, and another who stood at the bottom to help them. Though, I was extremely tempted to try it, I did not trust my shoes at all. My classmates encouraged me to try it out nevertheless, and one of the instructors (who was sitting with us) reassured me the shoes were not a problem. Since the shoe was still in one piece – somewhat, I decided to go ahead anyways. One of my other classmates, also changed her decision: she decided to give it a try.

I knew that walking down backwards was not the challenge, it was to begin smoothly from the edge of the cliff. And that was the only thing that worried me. I collected the harness and gloves, and climbed up. Here, I almost lost my way— which I had suspected I would — but managed to climb up. It was then that I realised that it was less spacious than it seemed from down there. Three of us were waiting for our turn, two instructors were giving a fourth instructions, and there was another who clicked pictures.

I tried to stand still, so I would not tumble down. Looking around, or looking down was not a good idea, because this cliff was on top of a highly elevated landmass. As I waited for my turn, one of my classmates started thinking out loud, “What if I leave this hand?” I begged him to shut up. As he climbed two steps down, he paused to ask, “Are you not clicking pictures?” The other girl decided to go back, but nevertheless she did not move. And then, one of the instructors told her, “There is only one way down from here.”

I was initially standing so still, that I could barely move. I walked towards the edge, and one of the instructors spoke to me in Malayalam, while the other tightened the straps of the harness. For the first time, my knees were dancing — even though I didn’t ask them to. As if to show one last sign of rebellion, my shoelace came apart. I thought it could go die, I was not going to tie it.

Just hanging in there. ©NM

I managed to begin smoothly, holding on to the ropes real tight. As I climbed down, I felt as if I were riding my office chair in reverse, back home – which I do when I am too lazy to get up and open my door.

 

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poem

Hold My Hand


Where the sky is so magnificently blue

Where nothing is untrue

The earth is looking so green

Here, I have never been

Beautiful flowers that decorate

I promise I will not be late

Because I know you are waiting for me

Under the shade of the largest tree

Come, hold my hand

As we walk across this land

Feeling the earth on our feet

Smelling the flowers so sweet

Watching the golden sphere in the air

The wind blowing our hair

We sit near the sparkling lake

And you say,”for God’s sake”

When I spill water on you

Bt then yo do the same too

We spend our day talking and laughing

Immersed in our past, remembering

But all of this will have to wait

As time stands between us, a huge gate

The day it’ll open is yet to arrive

And till then, without you, I’ll have to survive

We bonded as time passed by

Now you are bidding me goodbye

Life has made us apart

But it cannot stop you from residing in my heart

My love for you shall never flicker

Even if my life from now on turns bitter

No matter how many years away

I’ll keep waiting for that day 

©NM

Art, short story

Parallels 

The exchange had always been flawless, for ages. One leaves and the other enters to rule, simultaneously. The first time there occured a slight friction, was the first time he had noticed her. 

Her warm smile immediately caressed his frozen heart. He was barren, and only took; she was evergreen and always gave. She entered, in full bloom, ready to replenish what he had taken away.

Her twinkling gaze initially did not notice the familiar stranger observing her with admiration. She gave him a surprised smile, slightly raising her left eyebrow. 

“You must be Winter?” She said in a breeze.

“Yes, I am… ” He hesitated, coarse.

“I thought you’d​ left.” 

He merely smiled at her. 

ILLUSTRATION BY  SITARA VS

short story

Amaya #7 : Best Friend?

There is only one way to end this.

The separation. The confusion. The many questions in her head.

She let out a big sigh, and opened the terrace door. She could hear it on the other side of the door. It was time, she decided, to meet her best friend. Again.

As she walked over to the edge that held the view, it softened. There was an awkward silence amidst it’s rhythm. It was sad.

Had she ignored her best friend? Had she simply watched as her best friend was being poisoned; corroded? A little each day. Had she failed to be a true friend; or even a good one? Had she chosen not to be bothered when her best friend helplessly became something it was not? Forced and imposed on it?  Had she forgotten all those times her best friend was there for her? By her side? 

Every time?

A drop rolled down her cheek, parallel to her tear. With great effort, she finally managed to speak.

“I’m Sorry.” 

short story

Amaya #3 : The Child

Her mother pulled her hair into a ponytail, on the top of head. She called it the ‘Umbrella Style‘. She was restless.

“Sit still Amu. What are you so happy about?”, her mother scolded her.

“I want to go out and play.” she replied.

She ran to the playground, and looked up. A few minutes later, rain drops danced down the roofs, the swing and the trees. She stuck her tongue out and ate one of them. She giggled as it tickled her tongue. As she danced, another landed on the left side of her forehead, and slid into her ear. 

It whispered that a child was born, to a couple who was sad for a long time. They had lost their daughter when she was 7 years old. This was their second child, a baby boy.

They named him Anant.

*Illustration by NM.  

short story

Amaya

She stood there, sky high, a mere window pane separating her from the grey horizon. Lightening shot through it, while she watched drops lashing against the glass. The drops ran all over, blurring the burning city lights. She watched, she observed – confused.

Her cousin sister, jumping and dancing in the rain, called out to her,” Come on Amaya, why aren’t you dancing?”

Amaya loved to dance in the rain. But she would not budge, because she knew that the rain was sad. It was crying for somebody, somebody who could bear no more. Her grandpa often tried cheer her up with paper boats, but they would all sink – every time the rain was sad. She would also fall sick at times.

She was born in the month of the rain, and named after it. She grew up watching the rain, and it never let her down. She danced with it when it was happy, and it showered on her when she was sad. She missed it dearly during summer, eagerly expecting the sudden unexpected showers.

Her first day in a new city, she was lost in the rain. The rain that went on beating against the pane, continuously with a consistent force. For the first time, her best friend had caught her by surprise. It was unhappy, but not exactly sad. For the first time, she could feel its anger.

 

poem

Fire and Ice

War (www.wallpapersafari.com)

Millenniums ago, existed ice and fire

Always at war, never did they tire

What all were at stake, they did not care

Nor the means, unfair or fair

Work together, kept saying Mother

But niether bothered to bother

One war, came they on each other’s way

The world later called it their final day

Unleashed the cold revenge did ice

And fire gave, of its wrath, a huge slice

Ran chills down the spine of Mother

For she knew, one could never defeat the other

Died fire, when ice melted, but not alone

Took along ice into air, till both were gone.