A decade has gone by. Everyone must have been through one harrowing trip in their lifetime. Well, this is mine.
A trek to Yedakumeri by Seven of us. This trip is a tribute to whoever coined the term lucky 7. Of course, the only proof of luck is that we returned alive, without killing each other.
Jeeva, Aslam, Neil, Bobby, Guru, Bonda and myself. It could probably be the worst assembly of people to embark on this splendid trip that was designed to attract any fuck up including those that aren’t covered by wildest imaginations.
Firstly a brief introduction to the trekkers.
Jeeva: Probably the most heartless, insensitive, pigheaded person I’ve ever come across on this planet. He could probably give Lee Ermey a hard competition as the brutal sergeant in ‘Full Metal Jacket’. His idea of trekking was to trek. Keep walking was his motto. To him, beautiful sunsets, stunning locales, stopping to enjoy the weather were nothing but a sheer waste of time. If you collapsed mid-way, and were waiting for death to take you away, he’d simply cross over you, say a little prayer and walk away, leaving you to deal with your fate. He considered this no less than a mission to Mt. Everest or The Moon. He was there to place his flag in a place where few men had treaded before. And nothing could come in between him and that calling.
Aslam: He was the vernacular version of Jeeva. However, if Jeeva’s purpose was to ‘Keep walking’, his agenda was to ‘Keep mocking’. He minced no words. He spoke his mind. And just to make sure that it was not lost in translation, he was equipped with the richest vocabulary of abuses in every language possible. And he had just finished his worst engineering exams, and was here to release all the pent-up emotions of the semester that passed by.
Neil: The philosopher, dreamy eyed fashionista who knew how to cut a short story, long. His stories would start in the morning and end at dusk, where the listener would have promptly switched off after about 17 minutes into the conversation. To him, this trip was an opportunity to enhance his portfolio pictures, to include some against the backdrop of nature.. He didn’t trek. He ramp walked. Tossing his hair to the imaginary cameras flashing around him. He used to take periodic breaks just to brush his long hair, adjust his belt, flex his muscles, and everything else to ensure that he looked his best even in the middle of the jungle.
Bobby: How do I describe him? I didn’t know him exactly. Actually, noone knew him. He was accompanying us, ‘coz Jeeva had a love interest in his sister. He brought him along in the hope that he would be able to win him over by the end of this trip. Bobby brought his camera along. And Bobby’s camera brought along with itself, a paraphernalia that Prabudda Das Gupta could be envious of. He came prepared like he was covering a feature for Discovery Channel. His complicated camera took about 15 minutes to assemble and 25 minutes to dismantle. This trip got extended by 2 days, because of Bobby’s photographical expeditions. Bobby spoke only English. Not even slang. He never followed anything unless it was English, in the right grammar. Just to make things exciting, this scrawnily scrawny guy suffered from ‘hemophobia’, – the fear of blood. If he saw blood, he would freeze.
Guru: Here, noone knew him except me. No, I did not have any love interest in his sister. He tagged along just because he had nothing better to do. His parents would never approve of a trip like this. Even more so, if they knew the company he was going with. He told them that he was away to his lecturer’s house in Mangalore to seek further knowledge under a banyan tree, that was not possible within the confines of a classroom. His contribution to the trip was that he had ‘Ophidiophobia’ – the fear of snakes. And of course, a small bag that was filled with text books, which made its way all through the trip.
Bonda: No guesses for why he was called that. He was round, huge and walked around concentrating on his walk, so that he would not lose balance. He spoke at the speed of 300 words per minute, mixing 4 languages in it. And he sprayed spit liberally as he spoke. Nobody understood what he spoke. Either because they were too pre-occupied in dodging themselves from his salivating explosions, or because he just spoke crap. There would be exchange of glances every time he spoke, just to see if anyone grasped what he was trying to say. If this process took too long, Bonda would increase his speed of speech till you were drenched with his drool. And Bonda had totalophobia. He feared everything. Heights, water, snakes, blood, darkness, bats, shrubs, snails, earthworms, bushes, trees, birds, human beings and everything in general.
I guess I need no introduction.
The place we were venturing to, was this abandoned railway station in the middle of a jungle, called Yedakumeri, somewhere on the way to Ghati Subramanya. Once upon a time, Yedakumeri was a tribal village that was soon spotted by civilisation, and Railways immediately connected them to the rest of the world, by installing a railway station. However, the few inhabitants in this area, primarily hunters found no reason to stay connected with the developed world. And the world decided to give them a cold shoulder, and the station was soon abandoned. Once that happened, the few people who were running the station also vacated leaving behind the bushmen and their bushes. So all that is there now is a quaint railway station in the middle of nowhere. It still has its ticket counters, wash basins, boards and benches. But just no people.
Soon someone re-discovered this place, and the word soon spread among a few, and it became a haunt for trekkers who loved renouncing their lives, to spend a few days in blissful isolation.
The preparations for this trip started about a week in advance. After debating endlessly, we finally decided to make it a 4 day trip, a day to go, 2 days of camping and one to get back.
We made a long list of stuff needed for survival. Sleeping mats, trekking bags, little stoves, pots and pans, kerosene, groceries and other supplies. We made an elaborate plan of what we would eat for every meal. Since none of us had previous trekking experiences, we narrowed down on meals that were similar to what we ate back home. And soon we had our bags loaded with noodles, rice, vegetables, spices and some readymade mixes like puliyogare mix, lemon rice mix and other fast to cook, good to eat goodies. And then we stuffed every possible inch of space with the miscalculated last minute purchases like alcohol, ciggies, torches etc.
Once we made sure that the bags were at least twice our weights, we buckled them up, till the zippers gave way, and till each and every person’s bag had atleast one object that was strategically placed to jab you on the spinal chord. To give you that needed push on a trip like this. We did a quick cross-check if the torture was fairly distributed across the luggage. However, Bobby’s bag only had space for a few onions, since he was an esteemed crew member who only carried stuff that didn’t demean his persona. Guru landed at the bus stop in the last minute, with his bag of text-books. Since we could not throw them away or find any alternate location, we let it be as an academic burden that was difficult to get rid of.
So after a few modifications, we boarded the local bus that automatically redistributed the burden, forcing us to alter that walking posture we had practised all along.
I had dutifully played my part in adding to the luggage and the confusion.
I had this fascination of making omelettes in the middle of the jungle. Since, none of them displayed the same passion for this dish, I decided to carry the ingredients myself. The problem was eggs. How the hell do I carry them? So I decided to crack this problem myself through some experimentations. I bought an egg rack, placed the eggs in the them, locked them in by shutting the outer cover, and shook them with all my might. And they all cracked. Well, that was not the way I wanted to crack this. After breaking a dozen eggs in the process, I then wrapped each egg individually with paper napkins and bound them with cello tape, till they sat in the egg rack with no gap around. Finally, I managed to successfully pack in 24 eggs. By the end of this R&D, cooking omlettes in the middle of the jungle had became my new mission in life, something I desperately wanted to tick off in my bucket list.
To get there you start from this place called Donigal. And follow the abandoned rail track all the way to Yedakumeri. About 13 kms of walking on a rail track.
At about 5 am, the bus screeched to a halt, and the conductor screamed “Donigal banthu, hiliree…..bega’. He hurried us out, and the bus sped away leaving us in the middle of pitch darkness, deafened with the sound of a million crickets and frogs.
Bonda said something: ‘what is this machaan…bloody apkndpnapnen apkndnasd’
We knew he was around us somewhere close, as we felt the dampness of his spit on our faces.
And someone finally managed to locate a pocket torch in the bags lying down. Once the torch was lit, Bonda screamed again.
‘asdknanne bag apknadnpn bag aknkdnpand bag’
Aslam: Nin akkan, kya re tera problem chinaal ke?’
Bonda: ‘MY…%^&*……BAG…. …….BUS’
Bobby: “What’s he saying?’
Aslam: “Uski maa, usne uska bag bus me heech chodh ke aaya re gaandu ke baalan.”
Bobby: “Oh no! Where did the bus go?”
Aslam: “To Mars. How will I know? Jeeva, yaaro ivana karkond bandiddu? (who the hell brought this chap along)
Jeeva: “Calm down Bobby.
I instinctively knew that this was one of those trips, where my fucked up luck was itching to take over.
To be contd…