Saturday, March 3

The Himalayan Expedition – Part 4

This is the final part of the series about The Journey, Visit to an Old Friend, The Climb, Temple of the Snakes, A Folk Song, the Fire, and the Ganges

“Baagh-er Baacha, Baagh-er Baacha” (Tiger's cub, tiger's cub)

I woke up to the cry of Mr. Brahma, followed by a sudden halt of the jeep, on our way from Pantwari to Mussoorie.

Arjun was quick to respond. “Usko le chale kya?” <“Shall we take him?”>, referring to the tiger’s cub. He opened the back door and was about to get down from the jeep.  

Mr. Brahma stopped him. “Ruk! Uski maa saath mein ho sakti hai. Jeep se hi dekhte hain.”

Apparently, Mr. Brahma saw a tiger’s cub trying to cross the road, and which he later claimed, ran away near the bushes, seeking the vehicle’s light.

I was still trying to get over my weariness and sleep and understand what was happening. Recollecting the conversation that just happened, I asked, “Kidhar?”

“Udhar, jaadiyon ke paas.” Mr. Brahma replied, pointing his finger near some bushes, in front of the vehicle. The headlights of the vehicle were kept on, but the engine was switched off.

I scanned the bushes with my eyes and tried hard to get a glimpse of the striped beast, our national animal, which is now on the brink of extinction; but could see nothing. The vision was blurry. Then I realised, I had put my spectacles on the neck of my jacket. After wearing my spectacles, I continued my scanning. This time, in the nearby bushes also. But soon gave up, with the thought that the dark night or the tiger mom might have hid the cub from my prying eyes; or that Mr. Brahma was bluffing, just to wake us all up from the sleep, as apart from Mr. Brahma, on the wheels, none of us saw the cub.

Anyways, I soon made up my mind that Mr. Brahma might have seen the cub, and the cub, after seeing the moving bright lights, got afraid and ran to the bushes.

And being an optimist, made up the mental calculation that; Ya, due to all my environmentalist friends, few politicians and movie stars, and lot of public awareness, a new cub was born (maybe few months ago); and also with the undeniable efforts of the mama & papa tiger, who despite the hardship and cruelty of few humans who kill them for their skin, are positive enough to bring up a child and continue doing their duty to keep the generation and the species alive.

After the baby tiger incident, there was a new found energy in all of us, and we chatted and discussed about the tiger, the climb to the summit and life at IIM in general with Mr. Brahma.

Mr. Brahma and Arjun shared their stories of all the adventures and hiking that they have done together and the joy and enjoyment they have received from Mother Nature in return.

We reached Mussoorie at around mid-night, went to our hotel, had our dinner and retired to bed.

Next day, with an aching body, I woke up for a session on “Suggestions for Improvement of Tourism in Mussoorie”. As management students, we have to give suggestions to the India Hikes team and the hotel administration on how they can work on improving tourism in Mussoorie.

The teams comprised of the climbing team to Nag-tibba. Our team gave the suggestions of waste segregation, rain water harvesting and recycling of water, creating eco-tourism hotspots and developing green buildings.

Post this; we went for another team-building exercise near some hill in Mussoorie, which has Tibetan flags .

Once we reached the place, we were assigned various tasks, where we have to use our common sense, presence of mind, survival skills, and help each other in completing the task. Here again, the team comprised of the climbers.

The first task was to prepare tea for the team.

Well although it may sound simple to those, who know how to prepare tea, but it is actually easier said than done, in the jungle.

Protocol we followed to prepare the tea:
  • Time allocated: 45 minutes
  • Teams are assigned different colours.
  • Once inside the jungle, search for the coloured ribbon in trees, branches, rocks, etc.
  • Direction for next location will be either above or below the ribbon. Identify the direction accurately (we got confused with Left and Straight, twice!). Fifth location is the destination.
  • Once in the spot, search for the tea preparation materials, hidden somewhere. This was the tricky part. We took about 20-25 minutes searching for it. I found it later, hidden under the stones, covered in dry grass. The grass gave the clue.
  • Once with the packet, light the fire, and prepare the tea. But with only 6 matchsticks, chances of mistakes are minimal.
  • But thanks to numerous hours of Discovery Channel and NatGeo at the Idiot Box, we could light the fire with minimal efforts, using the dried leaves and grasses first.
  • Another issue we faced was how much to prepare. So we poured almost the whole bottle of water (kept some to extinguish the fire) and negotiated within ourselves on the amount of milk, tea leaves and sugar we should put to make a decently tasty tea.
  • After much effort, we prepared the tea and presented it to the India Hikes team for inspection.

While creating the fire, I did a bit of introspection on how fire has changed the course of human history. From cave man to the modern man, fire or energy had always played an important part in shaping our future. Agriculture (sunlight), Industrialisation (coal), Transportation and Aviation (coal and oil) and electricity are few of the marvels possible only due to energy in its various forms. This introspection, further builds up my confidence on the use of renewable energy sources as a driving force for sustainable development of human society. Any energy which is sustainable and non-polluting will definitely stand the test of time and emerge as a winner. Best example would be wind and solar. From drying cloths, sailing ships, drawing waters from the wells, to generating electricity, wind and solar energy has come a long way. And I bet, will be go-on-and-on-and-on…

After doing few more team building activities, we came back to the hotel.

For our last night at Mussoorie, we (Alok, Divya, Inaka, Indu, Jaitun, Keerthi, Puspa, Syrop and me) did some shopping and went for dinner at Kalsang Friends Corner, for some hot momos and noodles. As a souvenir to the tasty food of Kalsang, Jaitun drew an ambigram.

The last day of the Himalayan Expedition was spent by going to Shivpuri from Mussoorie. It took us about over 2 hours to reach Shivpuri, from where started our white water rafting in the Ganges. The Ganges water was cold and soothing. From Shivpuri, our destination Rishikesh was 16 kms with about 5 rapids, including one Grade 4 rapid.

We formed our own group and boarded one raft.

Our raft guard was friendly and gave us few basic safety instructions and life jackets. After practicing paddling the raft, we started our journey. In our raft, we had Bijay, Harita, Indu, Jaipal, Montu, Puspa, Tony, one other guy and me. For most of us, except Jaipal and Tony, it was our first time, including our instructor.

River-rafting – After reaching Rishikesh (Oct. 21, 2011), with my batch mates from IIM Indore 

So it was necessary to pray “Jai Ganga Maiya” before starting our journey, which we hailed religiously. There were about 9 other rafts, all with IIM Indore participants, accompanied us. So we were bit optimistic about the ride as well.

In the Grade 4 rapid, few rafts toppled, tossing most of the crew members, while we rescued one batch-mate from one of the toppled rafts.

Our instructor informed us that now the water is smooth, and we can dive in the river. I was the first to jump in the laps of Ganga Maiya, as I was really excited and enjoying the whole rafting experience.

After few minutes, we reached the area where we can do a cliff jump. I took the opportunity to experience it but got bit nervous as I looked at the water below from the edge of the cliff… My heart was pounding and legs were shaky… I was in a state of mental blankness… Couldn’t decide on whether to move forward or give up the whole idea of jumping in the river water which was icy cold. Gaining bit of courage and lot of faith, I shouted “Jai Ganga Maiya” and took the plunge.

Note: This article appeared in the February 2012 issue of Expressions eZine, published online by iCare India.


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