Sometime last Thursday, I was once again faced by a Kakkar with a smile on his face, a smile that has often not boded well for me.
"We're going trekking this weekend. Rajmaachi."
Now the last time I went on a trek was well over three years ago. A fort called Torna. Horrible place. Horrible trek. There were at least four different locations en route where I wanted to lie down and die. I staggered up the hill, staggered around at the top with the view swimming in and out of focus, and tumbled back downhill, pausing only to slip and fall into a stream, an unfortunate accident that is still enacted by close freinds and colleagues at parties, get-togethers, and conferences, with more details being added each time.
That was my first trek, and - I had sworn to myself - would be my last.
You will appreciate, then, when I tell you that come Saturday and I was clambering up some hill again, the persuasive powers of the man who informed me of the trek. My emotions that day had ranged from ecstacy at getting my hands on The Half-Blood Prince; dismay, frustration, and anger at finding out at page 90 that the trek was going to happen, after all; alarm when I saw Anurag hauling a backpack that looked like we were going to the Himalayas; confusion when I found out that we were going to Rajgad and not Rajmaachi; and finally, resignation, when we finally got down to the act of climbing those godforsaken slopes.
Twenty-five hours later, back in my apartment, reading page 91 of The Half-Blood Prince, I felt a lot older, more thankful to be alive, and slightly wiser, for having realized the following things:
1. It takes all kinds of people to make the world. Some of these people like climbing up and down hills, for reasons not fully understood.
2. People who made those tracks on those hills had absolutely no idea of the term "as the crow flies", unless that crow was heavily drugged.
3. The Pearly Gates would probably be preceded by a stairway that looks somewhat like this:
4. Camping out-of-doors is an amazingly funny, eye-opening, and bizarre experience, if done with the right sort of people. This right sort, oddly, might even include the strange kind of people mentioned above.
4 (a). Wriggling out of a tent in the morning and stretching out to a view that makes you feel you have already brushed your teeth, washed behind your ears, and dunked your head in cold water, is something one needs to experience at least once in life, even if that means climbing up a godforsaken hill.
5. Flatness of the earth (all right, the slight curvature, if you're one of those purists) is a quality that is oft overlooked, and not appreciated enough.
6. Beer tastes a lot better on top of a hill.
6 (a). Ditto cheese sandwiches.
7. Mordor was grey and black till the movie added the red and spoiled it all.
8. A controlled descent is a hypothetical concept, existing only in theory, and in practice, performed only by those strange people who have been introduced elsewhere in this post.
9. When a girl demands to be mentioned in your blog, you had better comply. As they say, hell hath no fury...
10. I am not going on another trek for the rest of my life.