28 July 2009

The Story of How I Trekked in a Pair of Converse Shoes

Photo by Aniruddha Das (Pictured above from left : Jay, Vishwa, Bala and Naveen)
In this post, I do not attempt to provide a wholesome guide to the dos-and-don't s of trekking. Nor do i attempt to layout the route map of the trek we made. For these, please visit the official site of the tour guide. Here, i plan to simply give a first hand account (mostly through pictures) of my very first trekking experience with the AOL Adventure Club. Bear with me.
Photo by Aniruddha Das
My idea of a trek (I realized later) was somewhat contorted. Being a photographer, spending long hours in the woods trying to get this shot or that somehow amounted to a 'trekking experience' in my mind. I was, of course, in for a surprise.
Photo by Sandeep S K
Photo by Aniruddha Das
At 4am in the morning, on July 18, i set out on an adventure with 12 faces i had hardly known before. We drove for almost 6hours (I was told) through some scenic locations - most of which i missed because i was happily snoring in the car :0/
Photo by Jyothy Karat At the Malle Mahadeshwara village. It was fun meeting the villagers while we shopped for vegetables to ccok for dinner.
Photo by Jyothy Karat
This cow seemed to be a permanent installation in front of the ancient temple of Malle Mahadeshwara
Photo by Sandeep S K
Vishwa and our guide. When the journey began.
Photo by Aniruddha Das
(Where the tarred road ends. From left : Jay, Mischial, Gayatri, Bala, Naveen)
I remember feeling mildly surprised when i first saw the tiny-almost-empty bags that everybody was carrying. At the time, i was oblivious to the look of concern i had seen on their faces. Some of them very politely stared at the great hound of a bag that i was carrying and inquired about how on earth do i expect to trek wearing that pair of converse shoe. I shrugged.
Photo by Sandeep S K
The starting point was Male Mahadeshwara Hills (MM Hills) in the outskirts of Karnataka and we were expected to trek 24 Km (15 miles) to reach the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border at Palar. Well, we ended up trekking 29Km (18miles) in two days. I barely survived.
Photo by I don't know who!
(Pictured : Nidhi, Vishal, Sandy and Sunil)
By Sandy
Apart from a few bugs, beetles and some ants that started to crawl all over me when my 'breaks' extended for too long, I must say that i did not catch sight of a single living creature anywhere around me. I was somewhat surprised and incredibly happy that someone managed to get a shot like that with his point and shoot camera. By far, the best from the trip. Sandy, you definitely have a bright future in photography!
Photo by Jyothy Karat (The jaunters takes a break for lunch)
Photo by Jyothy Karat
Photo by Aniruddha Das
Photo by Naveen Kumar (After the 12Km trek on the first day, AOL Jaunters chill out at our guest house in Nagamale)
Photo by Jyothy Karat (The young girl who came begging for alms)
Photo by Naveen Kumar (Hogging jackfruit. From left : Nidhi, Jyothy, Gayatri, Mischial)
Photo by Jyothy Karat (When some other guests at the place attempted to make biriyani)
Photo by Jyothy Karat (Saravanan devours a hearty meal of rice and rasam)
Photo by Jyothy Karat (Bala says good night)
Photo by Sandeep S K (Ganja Sadhu : Sandeep's discovery at the foot of Nagamale)
Photo by Jyothy Karat (The royalty of the village. Everyone makes way for them)
Photo by Jyothy Karat (This feet belongs to Gayatri : When we climbed barefoot to visit the temple on top of Nagamale)
Photo by Jay (View from Nagamale)
Photo by I don't know who! (When three becomes a crowd)
Photo by Jay (Disclaimer : This image has been manipulated to suite viewership under PG. For those interested in viewing the exclusive, explicit picture, please contact its proud owner, Jay ;0D )
Photo by Jyothy Karat Photo by don't know who!
When we met some security guards in the forest on Day 2
Photo by Sandeep S K
Photo by Naveen Kumar On our way back to Bangalore. Milestone NewYork! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- PS :
Photo by Jay
(From left : Jyothy, Mischial, Gayatri, Naveen, Saravanan, Viswa, Ani, Bala)
On Day 1, predictably, I did not get quite far before my face bloomed into a red hot tomato, panting like a mad mongrel and announcing to anybody who would listen that I'm going to die this very minute. I would just flop down on the ground and refuse to budge. Blessed are the souls of Bala, Jay, Saravan, Sandy, Maadesh (our young guide) and most specifically Sunil. They lunged me forward.
Photo by Jay (Bala)
Photo by Jyothy Karat
Photo by Sandeep S K
Photo by Saravanan
Photo by Jyothy Karat (Maadesh)
Photo by Sandeep S K
(Sunil) Despite all odds, I'm glad i went on the trip. I'm glad i met these wonderful people. Am glad I'm part of AOL Jaunters.
Photo by Jyothy Karat
AOL Jaunters (Clockwise from left : Vishwa, Sunil, Sandeep, Saravanan, Vishal, Nidhi, Gayatri, Mischial, Ani, Bala, Jay and Naveen
Photo by Sandeep S K We will be back. With another story, another adventure.

22 July 2009

The Story of Snake Shyam : The Final Episode

I first met Snake Shyam in 2007. At the time, he had already rescued more than sixteen thousand snakes, had made it to the Guiness Book of Records and had already been featured on the National Geography channel. But the irony of it was that the hero of the city of palaces, of Mysore, earned his bread and butter as a driver. Snake Shyam took school children back and forth in his mini van for a living. It was fascinating nevertheless to watch him at work; untiring, unyielding , always there for the rescue, always ready to go wherever his mission took him at his own expense, with his limited means. The snake population of India seemed to have slithered into the city were Snake Shyam lives; for his mobile rings perpetually throughout the day with pleas to rescue snakes that strayed into houses, shops, garages etc. He would simply get into his van, drive to the spot, rescue the snake and keep it in his house until the weekend when he releases all the snakes in the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary.
B. S Balasubramanya aka Snake Shyam at work
He never missed a chance to educate the people around him about the species he is so fascinated with. In his words, he is more concerned about what people might do to the snakes that strays into their spaces than what the snakes might do to the people. He religiously marks every visit he makes in his register and gets the signature, address and contact details of the concerned person. Rarely he is paid a token amount for his expenses for fuel for his mini van. I couldn't help feel terrified as i watched him scour through the pile of cardboxes searching for a king cobra that was hiding somewhere in the depths of the pile of junk without any protection whatsoever. But he seemed confident and knew what he was doing. People always gather around to watch the spectacle of a mortal human being trying to catch menacing serpents whose single bite could prove to be lethal. He uses a simple homemade device (made out of an old racket and cotton pillow covers) to catch the snakes. Snake Shyam has had two serious snake bites so far and the doctors have warned him that a third snake bite would prove to be fatal. When he is not on thr un rescuing snakes and when he is not transporting children to school and back home, Snake Shyam spends his time in schools getting children to understand the creatures he has dedicated his life to. He says his first encounter with a snake happened when he was a kid and has nurtured an affection for the majestic creatures ever since. His words of wisdom about nature and its sustenance seem to carry more weight in the minds of the crowds that gather than any environmentalist could ever hope for. In Mysore, Snake Shyam is a household name, a hero. See the full story here and an interesting article i found on the web about Snake Shyam here.

10 July 2009

The Story of Snake Shyam : Part III

"If you find the food. You wouldn't have to search far. They are closer than you think."
-Snake Shyam
Story to be continued...