A blog about movies. It's my take and my thoughts of some of the movies that I have watched and I think deserves a mention.
Even though it is primarily a blog about movies, i have now decided to digress. The digression sticks to life as I see and feel it.
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Thursday, September 25, 2014
Now Shall I Walk or Shall I Ride?
“There is a pleasure in the pathless
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more”
Lord Byron has been able to
translate my emotions impeccably. There is sheer pleasure in the pathless
woods, there is a place where none
intrudes. I re-lived all these sentiments during my recent Dudhsagar trek. The
wanderlust residing within me was becoming impatient and I had to give in to
its cravings. So I went for a trek to the magical and mystical Dudhsagar Falls,
located at the border of Goa-Karnataka. There are stories associated with the
trip, in its every nook and cranny. And let me tell you, this is what good
stories are made off –the thrill of the unknown, the stimulation of an
The trek was with a group called
Trek Mates India, with whom I had done the Tikona trek previously. My friend,
my partner in crime, my traveling mate and I had been excited about the trek
for the longest time. A prologue to the trip is me suffering from a viral,
three days prior to the trek. I panicked, I became dejected thinking that I
would not be able to make it. But when you have set your mind on something strongly,
as strongly as I had on the trip, nothing can stop you. The fever didn’t or
couldn’t stop me. I pumped myself with antibiotics, anti-allergic, paracetamol,
vitamins and drew on my fortitude and determination and got ready for the
The trek was a two day affair,
over the weekend. We gathered as a group of 55 at Dadar station and made our
way to Pune in the morning, where we were joined by another 20. This made us a
lump sum group of 75. It might seem chaotic, but trust me it was anything but.
It couldn’t have been better organized than the way it was. We had five group
leaders leading us; now these are your everyday people, who treks because it is
their passion. They hold a normal nine to five job like you and me, and
sacrifices their weekends in the pursuit of their passion – of trekking and
traveling and exploring new places.
The train journey from Pune to
Dudhsagar was particularly alluring for me as we were travelling down the
Konkan railway. It is considered to be one of the most picturesque travel
routes in the world. Our humungous group was spread somewhat unevenly
throughout the train; my friend and I were grouped with two girls and a guy.
They were locals, and were extremely nice and friendly; they would be the kind
of traveling and trekking mates you would want, someone who you could rely on.
Sadly, it was a night train we were traveling in and the sun set very soon
after we started our journey. At nine pm, our team leader came and told us to
get an early night since it was going to be eventful next day. And here the
story comes: there is no station per se at Dudhsagar. Yes there is cement
platform, barely lifted off the ground with a signboard reading Dudhsagar, but
trains don’t halt there. So how in the world is a group of 75 people going to
get down?! Our leader had a grin on his face and said, the secret is that all
trains, stop for a minute at the platform; it is a part of their technical halt
because from then onwards it is a descend, so trains stop there and check their
brakes to see if they are in tip-top shape or not. So we were going to make
full use of that one minute, make every second count literally!! And the best
part? We would do all of the jumping on the platform with our rucksacks at four
thirty in the morning in pitch darkness. The only light we would have would
come from the headlamps on our leaders’ heads and from inside of the train’s
compartments. You think this is exciting? Wait till you hear about the rest of
The ‘landing’ was achieved with
precision; no man was left behind that is onboard. We had two hours to go
before day broke in respectably, so quite a few of us spread newspapers on the
dewy cement platform and laid down for a quick nap. Including myself; my agenda
was to conserve as much as energy possible because I didn’t want to lag behind
or get sick or not finish the trek under any circumstance.
On the platform at 4:30 in the morning
With the arrival of
dawn, we found ourselves perched on top of a mountain, amidst fog covered
mountain peaks! It was a beautiful sight. We started the two km walk to the
falls at six thirty. Now comes the next story. I am not clear as to why, but my
friend and I were lagging behind the group. Probably we were too enamoured by
our surrounding to take any progressive strides. And then we hear the whistle
of a train behind us.
We had to make way...
The few people who were loitering with us at the very
back end of group, made way and got off the tracks; the rest had already made
their into the tunnel. Just imagine what an experience that would have been!
Stuck in a tunnel with a train rushing past! Missed that one sadly. We waved
and cheered wildly as the goods train passed by; the driver and the guard also
waved back and smiled at us. I am sure they thought, poor souls, they have no
idea what they have got themselves into. The route that we took, even though is
not a popular one, is popular for being an unconventional one and is a thrill
Perched on top of Misty Mountain
Once the train passed away, we
heard a commotion behind us. What had happened is that, behind our group, was a
very miniscule group of 7, a family who were just as crazy as us and who wanted
to go to the falls, using an unconventional route. The father had slipped down
the slope, trying to probably take some really amazing pictures. Something like this maybe.
He was literally holding on for his dear
life, hanging on to grasses and roots. The few of us who had hung back, along
with our leaders, rushed to help the family out. Rahul, one of our leaders put
on his harness and swiftly went down the slope and got to the father. Coming
back up again was a slow process and we watched with bated breath. Luckily he
had no broken bones or sprains, except for a bruise on his head. We were
carrying first aid, we helped him clean up the wound, wrapped it up, and
advised them not to continue with the trek. Would you believe it, he happened
to be a doctor?! Well he was and had such poor judgment! Which idiot goes near
the edge of a cliff, with slippers on where the grass is slippery and wet?!
Thank God that he isn’t my doctor!
Leaving the group to fend for
themselves, yes we were selfish that way because we had to stick to the
schedule, we made our way, through two tunnels to the falls. The monsoon is the
time when there are seasonal waterfalls, big and small running down the slopes
everywhere. All the tunnels we went through, had a small waterfall running over
them; this meant we had to go through them, which we did. It was a surreal
It was a two km walk along the railway tracks to the falls. It was
aptly named – Dudhsagar. Sea of Milk. See for yourself!
At Dudhsagar Falls
It had rained quite
heavily in the nearby Karnataka, which is why the falls was at its full glory! We
donned our mackintoshes, because the water was flowing with such force that if
you didn’t then you would get wet. And trekking fourteen km in wet clothes is
My rucksack and I at the Dudhsagar Falls
The falls is now famous for being in the movie Chennai Express and below is an iconic image. It is almost as same as the movie, except it is not the real life Chennai Express; Chennai Express does not traverse by this route.
The falls and the bridge
Spending a leisure hour, we bucked up for the trek through the leech
infested jungles. Yes, that is right people I said LEECH!
In retrospect, the trek was the
best and the most challenging and crazy thing that I have ever done, and trust
me coming from me, I have done quite a few crazy things in my life. While
walking down the railway tracks, we took a sudden deviation from it and entered
the jungle. The path was muddy, it was wet and slippery, and it wasn’t a path
at all. I hung on to the hanging shoots of trees and swayed like Tarzan so as
not to fall face down with my heavy ruck sack.
Maneuvering through the jutting
roots, hanging shoots, collapsed trees blocking your way, along muddy pathless
trails was the most difficult part.
Man versus Wild
Or it could also be where we had to cross
six streams, in knee deep water, which had ample amount of currant to drag us
downstream if we weren’t careful enough.
Down by the river
And to add to all of it, there were
leeches and other bugs and other creepy crawlies, who were just waiting to
climb into our clothes. Laugh if you want to, but I wore double layers of
socks, double layers of shirts, topped with my mackintosh, and a cap so avoid
getting bitten from those leeches who hang from branches. Are you laughing
yet?! Well, you shouldn’t because they protected me and I was one of those
lucky ones who did NOT get attacked by leeches.
I wouldn’t lie; it was hard and
on more than one occasion I had thoughts of giving up. But there was no option
of giving up because I was in the middle of the jungle, and even though I had
74 people spread in front and behind me, none of them could carry me home, it
simply wasn’t on the cards. I muttered under my breath that this experience was
worth my entire life time and that I was done playing the crazy and seeking out
crazy. I just wanted to settle down and be ‘normal’. Finally when we hauled
ourselves up the slope to reach the train tracks once more I was ready to crash
and lie down forever. But then came within me, this fluttering of perseverance,
which poked at me and I got up completed the last three km of the trek, once
again along the railway tracks in a record breaking time, I am sure. My friend
and I were the first girls to have completed the trek; we were accompanied by a
group of four guys whom we befriended and the company and the chatter made the
last leg of the trek not so strenuous.
Steady feet don't fail me now...
By the time we reached the
shelter in Kulem, where we were supposed to clean up and eat, my legs were
ready to give up. I experienced some very anxious moments, when it was both
physically and mentally difficult for me to put one foot after the other. I was
almost close to tears, when we began our return journey; my legs were
complaining desperately and it was a real challenge for me to make it to the
platform. Once inside the train, I gave in to my stress and fatigue completely.
Using my rucksack as a pillow, I laid out straight on an empty seat throughout
our journey to Madgaon. Once in Madgaon, we had a stopover of one and a half
hours. Most of us grabbed a super early dinner because the only thing that all
of us could foresee in our future once we got up on the train – sleeping. Which
is exactly what we did.
The trip had been memorable for
so many reasons. I turn to Christopher McCandless aka Alexander Supertramp: “I
know how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel
strong. To measure yourself at least once. To find yourself at least once in
the most ancient of human conditions. Facing the blind deaf stone alone, with
nothing to help you but your hands and your own head.” I might not look strong, in fact I am a frail
little creature, but I felt strong, stronger than I had ever felt in my life. I
felt exhilaration, because I broke through the chains that I was put into; I
proved all my cynics wrong. Yes, I am an outdoors person. What is my
fascination with that, you ask? There is where I feel the most alive, in that
moment, in that special time and place. The crux of a person’s essence comes
from experience. I feel comforted to have known that I have been allowed to
walk here, which is to heaven on earth.