Monday, May 26, 2014

Inside Out

23 year old Swapna was strolling at the man-made walk area of her corporate office campus. She was the lone support for the day in the midnight shift. There was one more hour to go for her 3.00 a.m. log out and then an hour of journey on unknown lone roads, way back home. The roads she never knew directions of – inspite of having travelled them for months now.

The walk-area was a circular route connecting all the other innumerable glass-buildings inside the campus. Innumerable – was purely her notion, she often felt lost and dazed inside simplest of the glass buildings; this campus was comparatively huge!

‘join us for chai?’ called out Arim , a regular graveyarder from another team on the floor, out of courtesy.
‘aaj nahi, thanks’ – this brand new glamorous world had taught this to her rather faster, of what a ‘chai’ meant in the midnight!

She stood near the compound that faced the main roads and stared at the building that stood in-progess right in front of her, across the road. The world waited for the construction to get over, this was going to be a brand new shopping mall tentatively called the glitz mall – a place to hang out during breaks and time-offs – just a road cross away. To her, it was just a road cross to and from - yet another dim, vague world.

With point-blank mind, she continued walking, looking at the stars. That world felt much familiar than the world she was physically in – she was amused - still looking up the sky.

Just when she was sky-gazing with a slight cheer on her face, a 28’ish year old woman bumped into her. Swapna instantly felt some warmth with the woman’s presence.

‘heyaaaaa’ – cried out the woman, in a tone too loud and confident for a midnight. Swapna noticed a beautiful tattoo in her left arm, a design she could not identify, nevertheless it was an impressive one.

‘hellooo’ – Swapna in a humble tone.

‘I see you often with your teamies, you walking alone today?’

‘low staffing. I am the only one till 3?’

‘ah..i see..i week’ – there was energy in every word the lady spoke.

by the way, whats your name’ – the lady continued.


‘oww…I too am Swapna!’ – both were startled. The 23-year old was rather, happy. She seldom felt so, ever since she had entered this world that never failed to suffocate her.

‘Well, I had always felt like telling you this, never got the right chance, now it is’ – the 28 year old woman was bubbling like a kid.

The 23-year old was surprised. What would a stranger have to tell her at this point of time?! Nevertheless, she agreed – someone to pass some time with. Moreover, she admired every aspect of the woman, for some unknown reasons

well this world might seem little weird and totally glitzy n glammy, but it aint that bad either’ – blabbered the woman.


the glass buildings?! ..the sky-rising stuff...the make-ups..and the glam? Everything that ain’t seem natural, rather..real?’

aaah..i get it’ – the 23 year old was rather uncomfortable with the candid talks of the stranger. But she was more blown out by the woman’s charisma, she let her continue.

‘I know you don’t feel a belonging here…many feel so.’ – the woman’s voice had depth now.

Swapna could hardly believe, the woman was speaking out Swapna’s mind! She looked into the woman’s eyes.

then why does it exist!’ – Swapna blurted out like a child. If this woman was a deity or a statue, she would have knelt down, yelled and poured out to her hearts content.

well..i don’t have an answer! But thank it does – to fill some of your needs atleast!’– replied the woman with a curt smile. That was Swapna’s truth indeed!

‘I don’t feel like myself anymore.. this is someone else’s life that I’m living! Where is my world? Where are they?’ – cried Swapna again, not knowing herself as to who were ‘they’, not even realizing what was she blabbering.

The woman cool-headedly took the girl’s cries. She seemed to know what was running in her mind.

You know. Sometimes you just need to do what feels just the right thing to do. You may not like it always’ – asserted the woman. She sounded rather strong, although light, in her words.

Swapna’s half-matured mind failed to comprehend the woman’s words. Nevertheless, she hung on, just because the woman’s presence felt warm – the warmth that somehow made her feel good. She looked much more happier than Swapna was! The woman's tattoo seemed to attract her more!

‘as if I have a choice’ – Swapna softened down

Responsibilities are not burdens. Your time will come’ - the woman smiled again.

‘its just a part of your journey, a process. Not the end at all! You do need to tread rough roads to reach a beautiful end. An all-smooth journey brings no fun, no adventure, you see’ – the woman spoke in a pop-philosophical way, raising her brows. She seemed to mean what she was talking, all the more quite shrewd in her tone.

The 23-year old felt pleased. The  woman’s words were doing some change into her brain – was it her words, or was it the way she had expressed them – she did not know. All she felt was – an admiration – a lighter feeling – on hearing the woman’s words.

'why am i Never able to figure a way out?'

‘Dude! Find your way within, and then see the world outside will find wil find your home’ – the woman assured, as she pressed Swapna’s shoulder. The words mystified Swapna, although they seemed apt at that moment! Swapna blinked.

Find your way within’ – the woman repeated with a shrewd tone, this time poking the girl on her arm.

Find your way within’ – the woman’s voice seemed to echo, her poke felt endless.

‘Find your way within’ – the woman seemed stuck with her mantra, that now confused Swapna..her arm started to hurt..

Dude! Its 2: 50 am already! you need to go home!’ – it was Arim again, poking Swapna for the last 5 minutes trying to wake her up.

Swapna breathed a deep breath out. ‘Thanks, buddy’ – she thanked, pressing her forehead. It was time to leave.

A trail of tasks in the day – running around for her brother’s admissions, a list of bill payments, a long travel to her work, a half-broken sleep, some desires unaccomplished  – had taken a toll on her – throughout the day she longed for someone who could take away all the burden off her, make her feel free.

Thanks for the wake-up call…I wanna go home!  -  half-sleepy, half-awake, repeating the woman’s words. Arim was already gone!

Before she set out towards the glass building’s basement, she took out her phone and clicked a picture of her name-board that read ‘Swapna K. Thomas’. She packed her bag, boarded her cab, and started yet another journey on the roads she could still not identify with.

 ‘you will find them.’ - the words still mystified her as much as the unknown roads did! who are those 'they'

‘Find your way within..’ – the woman’s words kept ringing in her mind…who was that woman, by the way? – she wondered, but the thought of her still amused Swapna. the woman was all that she was not at that moment, yet so admirable, sso familiar!


…and here comes the DA bridge – you said take the 3rd left from under the DA bridge,  2nd right from the Minar’s grocery store, 5th building from the Golden Villa under construction – and here’s the Club!! How many times have you been here – lady? All the way from a 35 kms drive!

just once, Matty’ – Swapna looked with an attituted at her beau. The couple was heading for a party, just a month before their wedding.

‘..and you were like Bingo at it! Someone said you are pathetic at glass buildings and routes! Who the eff said that..’– Mat made fun of Swapna’s own words, as he winked.

I don’t know – honestly’ – the 28 year old Architect kidded.

She grinned as she browsed through an old album in her phone, that of the name-board that bore the name of the girl she was, 5 years ago - Swapna K. Thomas

Mat held her hand, and gazed at the enchanting tattoo on Swapna's left arm.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cloud 9: the Skandagiri night - trek

Cloud 9: the Skandagiri night - trek:

How is it to feel on Cloud 9 – literally?

Its peak midnight. You are on the top of a hill. All you can see is just passing clouds around you. Chillest winds of the nights are blowing, yet you feel a strange sense of peace. You are in a group, yet its just ‘you’, living ‘the moment’. There is utter silence! And it all feels like heaven…

…and we felt that slice of heaven –  in the midnight, at the peak of Skandagiri!

Slice of heaven - aint it :) - View in dawn


Well..that was one of the highlighting experiences of the Skandagiri night-trek, something that is not captured in pics…hence I chose to start this post from that particular moment.

Rewinding back to the start of trek now…:P

We 22 shortlisted BTCians [including 2 organizers – Abhi and Hiren] boarded the Chikballapur bus at 6pm. After a hilarious attendance session (where every guy in the troupe was recognized as ‘that guy’ by Abhi – we never understood why :P), we started the ragging session. This time, for a change it was a ragging session for the organizers :P Abhishek was the first scapegoat. Starting from his recognition of ‘that guy’, to making everybody his ‘personal friends’, to appreciating his art of identifying all non-BTC people – the participants had an amazing time ragging Abhi that finally he got fed up and shouted out ‘Everybody rags me’ :D phir sabko daya aa gayi, and we decided to give him a break, and moved onto some chit-chat and munching session till we reached Chikballapur.

Reached Chikballapur at around 8.00pm and started walking to find an ‘Isolated place’ (Abhi’s choice for introduction session). Post the introduction round at the isolated place, we started walking towards the trek base.

Trek karo – break lagao – phir trek karo:

The ascend was a full utilization of the dialog – ‘take 100 breaks’ :D. Considering the first-timers (first-time organizer Hiren too!:P) and the ‘moderate-level’ of the trek, Abhi kept the pace of the climb a little chillaxed. Also, since it looked like it had rained recently, we wanted to play it safe and cautious. His fettish for finding an ‘isolated-place’ now turned into a look out for every other ‘open-space’ for having a break! Everytime someone would call out ‘open space aa gaya’, it would follow by Abhi’s ‘chalo break lete hain’ :D – and that followed by narrations of previous trek experiences and some people stories…and then again climbing, till we finally reached the peak.

All about sharing, caring dinner :P :
It was already 12.30 am when we reached the peak, and the last meal most of us had was lunch [and some snacks in between here and there], and so naturally our hunger pangs got the better off us. With no shame, we un-civilizedly (if there is such a word) attacked every lunch box that was opened in the group – first the Roti-walas, second the bread-cheese walas; followed by distribution of veg fried rice prepared by Prathyusha in ‘prasadam’ style – all very instantly!! Well…with this experience, I can say that BTC folks bond very well over foooood – that for sure:D Post this, we settled to a lesser windy location on the peak, and had a proper maggie-break. And the ragging session during the Maggie break now turned towards our co-organizer Hiren, who had escaped the brunt all the while ;)

Camp-fire and the insane fun!

After dinner, few trekkers chose to take rest (smart Abhi also slept off to avoid further ragging:P), while the rest of us (despite sleepy) chose to stay awake and have fun over a camp-fire.

Now, Hiren was the next bakra for getting ragged. After a lott of pleading and shouting, we finally managed to get Hiren and Purvik do some garba steps, on a gujju dandiya song. This followed bhangra by Kanvar and club-dance by Gaurav. The dance session easily broke the ice among us, and it made way for Dumb charades (BvG :P). Did I just mention, dumb charades?! Well..yes..with Gaurav – the man! :D

Must say that dumb charades is one game that has truly no bar for that matter! Every time you play it, you come up with something funny to cherish. And the same happened to us when we 6+7 awake people, started to play. Gaurav’s pose to attempt ‘Albert Pinto ko gussa kyun aata hai’ and the hilarious guesses on Hiren’s attempt to jump on camp-fire, for ‘Ghulam-e-mustafa’ got our tummies hurting outta laughter:D

Camp - fire!!

We wanted to continue the game further, however since there was derth of sticks for the camp-fire, we stopped the game at two movies each side (that was hilarious enough) and then the scene’s background dimmed.

In the dim midnight (with no torches or campfire light on), we half-sleepy zombies formed a straight circle to chit-chat about grave encounters! Kanvar, Sreemoyee and Gaurav’s stories convinced us that ghosts can be funny too! [well..yes..if you don’t believe ask Kanvar and Sreemoyee about the ‘chakrasan’ story and ‘the feel’ of it ; and Gaurav about the ‘fish-fry’ with mirch and nimboo :D]. The grave encounters turned into such a boisterous session that almost 2 hours we continued laughing and commenting :P. {later in the day, we got complains that roars of laughter were heard every 5 seconds, and people were not able to sleep properly :P}

The view, on the other hand, turned spectacular – with the clouds passing by us every now and then giving us an ‘out-of-the-world’ feeling.

It was close to 4.00 am in the morning, when we decided to get up and explore the surrounding, and here’s is when we experienced the ‘heavenly’ feeling [described at the start of my post ;)] – an experience truly unspeakable!

Returned after this breathtaking experience, to our original camp-fire spot. There was 1.5 hours to go for the sunrise. We Btcians – still fighting our sleepiness, for no particular reason – continued our chitchat session. And all the gossips felt like we were some hostelites, talking utter nonsense in the middle of the night. Gaurav’s ‘tippaNi on Bruhaspati’ was the ultimate topic of discussion throughout the dawn:D

A Special moment captured in just hearts – The WOW Surpriiiiiiiseeeeeee!!
As with all the night treks, the Sun-rise was a magical feeling this time too. And an icing to the cake, was the surprise that actually cannot be described in words. Anyways, with the least that I can…

It was close to 6.00 am. By now it was only Hiren, Monu, Shilpa, Sreemoyee and myself awake. We were just staring at the rising sun and clouds, when we heard the screeching sound of the dry bushes behind us. Monu and I turned back to look above, and we spotted 3 girls trekking down towards us. We were confused! I blurted out ‘Only girls?’ to Monu [BTC-WOW is the only girl trekker gang I know of], my mind dazed for a couple of seconds, when suddenly I happened to recognize a familiar face. It was KIRUBAAAAAAAAA [BTC WOW organizer] waving at us. And just when we started jumping and howling out of joy we could see Jyothi (WOW trekker) and then Captain Ajju announcing ‘Girls, do you like Surprises’ in her characteristic way. Having them with us so unexpectedly, swept us off our feet...and the rest was all howls, screams, shouts, emotions and hugs :D. Our howls were literally like an alarm clock that woke up the rest of the folks (and scared a few too!), and there was a wave of energy in the group! [ BTC organizers do love giving their folks a surprise :D]. This experience truly added the ‘WOW’ element to the entire trek – another moment that only our hearts could capture J - ah! watta day!

Pack up and Descend:
Post all the morning hungama, we had a short photo session and then we headed towards the base. The path was little slippery due to mist, and we had to be cautious while descending too. Took our time, made fun and aaram se reached the base, thus completing the trek successfully.

The group - in the Middle of no-where (Monu's words)

Packing up for the Descend!

With the sun rising further, we zombies who were  blabbering the whole night - suddenly turned into some ‘civilized gentlemen and women’ wondering what and how did we come up with so much of crap to spend the whole night :D another ‘woh kya tha’ wala moment :P :D

Start of descend - in the misty morning

Morning view - after some Sun!

A big thanks to Captain Ajju and Sayeesha for having helped us with finding autos till the bus stop [the 4km walk while return was spared].

Stopped over at a restaurant for breakfast, caught a bus to Bangalore, and reached safe with a truly ‘Cloud 9’ feeling!

Coincidentally – this was my 9th trek with BTC too! No wonder the cloud 9 ;P :D

Thanks to Abhi and Hiren – you were the coolest dudes throughout the trek bearing all our ragging cool-headedly; and yet managing things with diligence :D. And as usual, it was a team effort, so thanks to the entire group for having taken care of each other.

P.C: Shilpa, Prathibha, Monisha,  Gaurav