White Out

The day has finally come, after 20 years. There won't be any need to peer over the telescope to look at it anymore.

He still remembered the day they identified that one dot, brighter than the rest in the deep dark void.

For a few months every space research centre across the globe jumped on it and started sending out instruments to get a closer look, to pick the weakest radiation, to feel the mildest temperature or anything that they could read and comprehend.

He figured before the rest of the world that today will come, what path chosen for the future of this world and he hoped against all hopes that his observations and conclusions are somehow wrong. But, they weren't.

He looked up at the sky, and saw with naked eyes, the universally known secret, shared in silence only among the research organisations across the globe holding no information back from one another.

It would be only 10 more years when it will finally be the END.

He wished he didn't have to see the day the bright light is just over their head and the lives on this blessed planet becomes darkened.

Had he chosen to work in a coal mine, miles away from the surface from where he now saw the brightest demon smiling down at them, he'd have lived a few more years peacefully, completely ignorant of the shiny blade hanging overhead and he'd have only felt the pain of the tons and tons of earth that would have squeezed the life out him in the blink of an eye.

Alas, he is an astronomer and being the best one at it he had to suffer the weight of the crushing truth that the world is coming to an end.

Unlike the natural process that the human mind derived, the sun fading out, world becoming colder and eventually freezing out inn the cruel cold coal black space, though it still is a natural process, but against the imagining of men, the world was about to end by a star that followed all the physical laws men knew and so, exactly so, will crush world.

It didn't need an astronomer with excellence in the field to tell that the course of our planet could not be altered by setting sails or rowing in the reverse direction to avoid the hit. Like a murderous stone released from a catapult, hitting a bird right on the head, sitting unaware of the danger, the bright dot will wipe the lives out, but the only difference and the worst part is that we'd know it before hand and await it without hope.

All he wished now is that, may be, if it hit the brighter side of the planet at noon, at least the people on the darker side would have gone into a deep sleep not to wake up forever.

மண்ணுன்னும் உடல்

 மண்ணுன்னும் உடல் இங்கு
 மணிக்கொரு சுகம் வேண்டும்

 மக்கிடும் உடல் இங்கு
 மாதம் புது வகை தேடும்

 சாம்பலாகும் உடல் இங்கு
 தன் சூட்டால் மனம் கருக்கும்

 அழுகிடும் உடல் இங்கு
 அருந்திடும் உறவு நாடும்

 நழுவிடும் உயிர் இங்கு
 இன்று ஒரு நாள் உடல் தங்கும்.

A mother in despair

[Based on a true incident*]

In the darkness, while the sea screamed warning and pushed everyone who stepped in out, I sat and watched her, a mother of two, daring the waves with her caring husband.

Having thoughtfully folded her jeans to knee level she stepped into the water, kicking and splashing all around, carefree. With both eyes fixed on her, her husband ran beside her, keeping her safe and jumping back when she playfully kicked the water, the water which is salty as though the tears of all creatures is mixed in it, towards him.

An hour went by, as she unwound herself, forgetting all about her day's hardship and the next day's challenges.

All around her people were happy, not just fake smiling like they do in their offices but laughing their heart out, grown-ups becoming kids, kids just being as kids ought to be, falling and rising to fall again in the wet sand with no injuries.

That's when she remembered.

She remembered she was not looking behind her. She had forgotten them totally and regretted being one of those careless people in the world whom she had very less regards about.

She lost them, those which she'd always loved dearly, which now she thinks she USED TO LOVE dearly.

But how? She left them there. Just beyond the reach of the cunning waves. How could the waves have crossed her, and took them away.

All the unwinding is undone. Tension kicks in as she runs around, looking at people's faces, pleading without saying a word for a clue that would help her.

But, everyone was busy having a good time. Nobody had time to look at what is happening to other's life, nobody cared about anybody's lives being torn apart.

In the darkness, she lit her phone's torch and continues her hunt, madly, not caring for anyone. People were distubed, her mind programs her eyes to see only what she lost, what she loved dearly. But, would people know what a mother's feelings are?

She carried the other one carefully, not willing to lose the only one that remains and goes running around searching.

She, accusingly, looked into the deep dark sea, hoping that the sea would be guilty and give her back what she took away. Lo! the sea is heartless, it may throw out the people, things, treasures and live creatures but only when it wills to and nobody can bend her to their own will.

People just sat there, only irritated by her continued search and were secretly, and some were openly yet quietly suggesting her to give up. It was a futile effort and they knew it, but the mother didn't.

Another thirty minutes went by when she saw it.

Oh, she was a strong one, she did't cry, she wouldn't cry. She picked up her courage and stopped looking, she knew what was lost will remain lost.

She stopped suddenly, she didn't answer her husband's questioning looks, who was worried if it was his fault all the time. Could he have been a little more careful?

She took a deep breath and the stepped away from the sea.

One step back, then two, three.... six steps back and the she started to run forward, wildly.

Running towards the sea, with all her might, anger and fury she threw the other one into the sea, hoping the sea would be just satisfied with that too, and walked barefoot to her car, caring no more for anyone or anything, wiping the sand off her hand on her red T-shirt.


Two hundred feet away a little girl finds a shoe, spat by the sea that she tosses back to where it came from to hear a mild splash and continues playing happily with her family.

[* and a pinch of imagination]

Jinxed 55

It’s been over 5 years and still…

Vegetarian and non-vegetarian, wheat and meat, cooked and raw, hot and fresh, cold and creamy, dried and cheesy, never missed any in the list and wouldn’t hesitate to eat anything edible which is not in the list or never would ever be in any list, and yet…

Jinxed 55…

I run, I pedal, I swim and I roam around till I drain and drop, and yet…

Not the same machine, not the same day, not the same city, not even the same state, and yet…

Every time before stepping on the machine, I somehow know what the machine would say, and always, to my disappointment, I’m right. 

I’ve hoped someday I would be wrong, but still…

Until the spell is broken I may keep running around this number, no matter what all I go through. 

Some say being sad increases your weight. I’ve tried that too, and yet…

That leaves me wondering,

In a hundred years when I’m buried or burnt or digested by the sharks or hyenas, will I still be this damned 55kg?

When the mighty mountains call! - Nagalapuram, 28th & 29th January, 2017

What could you do but answer when the mighty mountains call and that’s exactly what we did.

Despite all the last minute changes in plan, unavailability of vans/carpooling, delay in public transportation, overwhelming tiredness of waiting and walking on the never-ending road, we, at last, took shelter in the shadows of our healer of minds, Nagalapuram.

A comfortably compact crew of 15 entered through the West of Nagala seeking not just solace but to have some crazy adventure they could relish for years.

Crossing a few pools filled with ‘tourists’ we reached the deeper pools which refused to change but remained pristine even after two hours of diving and splashing. Never knew even experienced swimmers would be confounded when they try on goggles suddenly and reach out to grab the rocks which are not within their arm’s reach.

While the non-swimmers or not-sure swimmers (my category until this point) get dipped on the other side of the pool.

Summoning all the courage (and pleading the expert swimmers to be ready to rescue a poor soul) I did the first diving (yes, with the chest hitting the water flat) and came out the other side saving the trouble for rescuers. Jumping in pools whose depth is not known has a strange effect on you that you’ll want to repeat it to make sure the first time wasn’t just luck.

After a couple of hours of fish therapy and meditative floating we dried ourselves only to get wet again by the pouring rain. Taking cover under a makeshift shelter we waited for the rain to stop which seems to have no mind to do so. Finally, deciding to take our chances against the slippery rocks we venture into the wild, sliding, slipping and still moving on.

All the slips and burning bruises were forgotten when we halted under the snow-white falls that washed all the pain away. A million firm kisses all over the injured body and soul by them, the maiden drops. Sitting under the might of the crushing falls, sealing off the reality of the world, we meditate in peace amidst the turmoil.

In fear of rain and our night sleep’s ultimate ruin, we started the fire even before sun down though it took a good 30 minutes and the magical touch of Jack for the wet wood to catch fire and burn steadily.

The next day started off with a good, really good long walk for hours along dry streams, up the slopes with lose rocks and through the thorn bushes.

A good noon nap relaxed the tired feet before we started off again.

Reading the adventures of Frodo and the company of hobbits in the old forest while sitting in the middle of the forest makes you wish that the rest of your company keeps napping until you finish the whole of the first book of the Fellowship of the ring.

One by one they woke up and with a few more short halts and resting in between, we tramped on into the unknown, following trials and dry streams.

Happily, we finally halted near the ’Sliding Pool’.

Watching the expert swimmers sliding in the small falls and the hearing the sound of the splashes arouses a desire in you to try it too come what may.

And thus I overcame the fear of jumping from heights into the pools on unknown depth.
Overcoming the fear of heights and depth, I slid down the sliding pool and suddenly found myself surrounded by water from all sides. Unlike all other times, calmly I came to the top and slowly swam to the shore.

Would I, for life, forget the joy this simple feat gave me!

And to the ‘Magic pool’ we went to do a few more jumps from 10ft - 15ft.

Though Raj recommended a life jacket, wearing which I’d never have gotten over the fear of heights, I did a few (only two more, because we quickly packed up) jumps while others have already done more than 10.

Out, we came, after thoroughly enjoying all the craziness and walking quietly, relishing the new achievements unlocked.

Another wonderful trek came to an end with happy hearts and calm minds.

Thanks to Raj, Jack and the team for coming up with amazing options in a short time.

Nagala - The most generous host

If you don't lose and gain something, you've not lived the day even of an idle rock sitting at the bottom of a lake quietly gaining moss.

Only when you step outside your comfort zone will these changes be noticed.

A trek is where,

  • you lose your fear to step outside your comfort zone
  • you lose the mindset that your body could only take so much of pain
  • you lose faith in the popular propaganda that your bed is only comfy zone
  • you lose your shyness towards new people
  • you lose your timidity towards unknown routes where you can't find 'auto-drivers' to guide you
  • you lose your favourite track-pants and, um! also your dirty socks.

A trek is where,

  • your body surprises you by staying strong even after being torn by the guiltless wild thorns
  • you won't stop even when your knees scream in pain and heels are as squishy as bread
  • you don't know why you chose to wander in the wild while you could have finished another season of 'Sherlock'
  • you're one with your self and nature and roam around without worrying about how soiled your dress has got
  • you don't have to pretend to be happy but really be at ease with your own personality
  • you keep running and climbing for two days with a couple of apples and bits and pieces of burfee that gets passed around (the owner gets the first piece and the empty cover)
  • and as a bonus, you earn your medals of valour marked by your own pure blood (not you, muggle-born!) and ruptured skin.

Attempting to enter the jungle through one route or the other, we've tried about five entrances where we climbed a bit and climbed down to climb a different way only to get down again and Peter pretended to not know the one entrance he'd have already decided. I believe(d) he was only getting the first-timers warmed up.

And then the trek began officially with a slow and steady climb for a pretty view of the lake, dam and fields.

In search of the waterfalls we started walking, well, not walking per se but a good mix of hopping, jumping, sliding, falling and crawling.

This time, we were shown mercy as we were led along the stream where we could stop anywhere any time to fill our biological pot and not carry much water in bottles adding more load to the shoulders.

Searching for the falls we ventured, to find exactly that. A small, steady waterfall that washed away all our sweat and stains.

Emptying a few packets of bread, pickles (bread with pickles, yes, seriously), apples, oranges, dates. We(Sundhar) don't bother washing them even if they fall on the ground but just pick 'em, lick 'em and snuck 'em into our hungry mouth.

Off we went again towards the campsite.

Following a champion(Arun) who was lost twice(and found his way even in the dark) on this very route on our previous treks, we went ahead of the group, a little sure that third time is a charm and so was it. We (16 out of 33) reached the campsite just a little late after the sun went down and darkness started to blanket the path ahead.

Reaching the 'Picnic pool' we settled down along the flat surfaces beside the stream listening quietly to the not-so-complex symphony of nature, the gentle swoooshing and mild lapping of water throughout the night.

With no source of fire, a group set to put to test all that 'Bear Grylls' taught. From using stones, rubbing wooden sticks, igniting the dry leaves with a spark from a torch battery (yes, after sacrificing a torch light) but to no avail.

While others who were not so optimistic chose to have a few fruits and lie down to rest, though secretly wishing somehow the others succeed and we get to have some hot maggi before calling it a day.

Lying down in the dark and witness the magical fireflies blinking a little closer and little farther is one good therapy to make you forget the hardships of the day.

And as it got darker, slowly they gathered overhead, the shiny little stars, going over their daily duty of forming the constellations. One cannot but swoon at the pretty sight.

We woke up to find, at last, the lighter has come and we could get to cook our food before the rest of the team arrive, with whom we were not ready to share our Maggi then, as they'd have had (and only they did have) their portion the previous night.

Finishing off the 'Knor-soupy-top-ramen-Maggi-noodles' and having a few dips in the magic pool to unwind ourselves, we started off again to find our way out.

Failing to realize that Peter is noticing, we went up and down all smiling and still walking briskly because of the energy regained over the night.

Saying, "Everyone is still smiling? Well, CTC's reputation is at stake now!", he decided to show us what a 'MODERATE' trek really could and should be.

Down we started to climb. Only that, there wasn't aan actual trial here and we hear only Peter's voice from below, urging us to proceed down the same route.

More punctures and scratches whenever we fail to duck while crossing thorn climbers.

After an hour of halting and donating a drops after drops of blood to the thirsty thorns we reached the stream when he suggested (luckily, not seriously) if we would like to do one more trip up and down the same route.

Following the dry stream we found the water point where filled our bottles, had lunch and onwards we went.

Reaching the final waterfall we(mostly non-swimmers) formed a human chain to pass our bags to the other end of the hip-level-pool and the swimmers did their last dives before bidding a good bye to the most generous host, the NAGALA.