Myself and Shree Kumar went on the search for a trail a few weeks back in the Western Ghats. The idea was to find out a trail which connects Kukke to Madikeri(also called Mercara, in the Coorg district) - a straight line distance of around 35Kms through some mountains, jungles and villages .Buses do a round trip of 100kms instead. Our idea was to cut across these and reach Madikeri. Though i can go on and on about what happened, and how we abandoned this trail and went on in search of a 97m waterfall and the gory details of the leech attack etc etc, but i will reserve that for latter.
Instead ...read on.
Chapter - 1
We were cutting across a dense jungle, with some thorny bushes and creepers. We were lost and were trying to get back to a trail that we had used before so that we could get back on track and pursue things from thereon. It was then that something screeched my arm and caused an intense pain. I thought that it was some thorny bush that managed to scrape through my skin and hence the pain. I removed the creeper from my skin and also removed the small fern like thorns that were stuck on my jacket. 2 mins later, backside of my palm started itching intensely. The skin had turned pink; i tried not to itch it but it was so intense that i could not stop rubbing it. Shree was a few steps in front of me. I told him that something was itching and he better be careful with the bushes. He suspected a 'kamblipoochi' (millipede with the carpet cover which causes itch - it is found on drumstick trees).
It was then that i saw something really wierd happen. The miniscule hair on my fingers froze and stood erect, as if, it was inserted in liquid nitrogen; i also saw it increase in length.Am not sure whether it actually increased in length or was it an optical illusion caused due to the hair being erect. Well,how many times have we taken cognizance of the hair on the fingers. When i rubbed them, they just fell off. It was exactly like a banana breaking after it was inserted in Liquid Nitrogen! I just kept looking at it; am not sure whether i was looking at another optical illusion but i saw the hair grow from those areas again quickly. It was like those small samplings grow in a fast forwarded film which captures the birth and growth of a plant from a seed. I got terrified (and excited) and was yelling at Shree about this. I connected this with 'My Uncle Oswald' and the correlation with the dried Sudanese blister beetle ; and how ESI erectile dysfunction syndrome and baldness were two multi billion markets. In a matter of seconds, i had pictured myself sitting on top of a mountain of currency notes and be the empire in a market that was driven by hoax pills and unwanted surgeries. A fresh piece of life to all those bald heads and how they could now be irrigated and made into lush new fields. All those women who were bored with bald heads could not get a respite (not to mention that some women 'still' preferred bald heads :P ).
All excited, I screamed, called Shree to show him what was happening and offered him a proverbial 'partner' position in my new-yet-to-launch business empire. Shree came over and inspected. He didnt believe me first. I did not want to give him a demo for i was afraid that i might not follow the 'right procedures'. But i took my chances and decided that I will do a demo and lure him into this business proposition.
A standing ground amongst the bushes was chosen and i showed the backside of my palm to him. I asked him to look at those fingers and concentrate on the hair there. The skin was pale red. I told him that the redness was probably some side effect of the 'growth'. The hair was erect. As a deft demo'er i told him the sequence of steps that i would be doing and what he can expect out of it. I brushed my right arm quickly against my jeans to remove any unsolicted germs which could effect the 'area'; brought it over and reiterated the steps to him. I was all excited and so was he, though he did not still believe it.
I rubbed my right arm over the hair so that they could fall. They didnt. It stoood steadfast. Probably i did not apply the requisite pressure. I again rubbed it hard. The hairs were all standing as if they were the last survivig poles in an armageddon movie. Shree mocked and kept on walking. I stood there. I could not believe it. I took a few steps and again stopped. I again called Shree and told him that i would pluck the hair. I did. Now they came off. I asked him to wait and watch. We waitied for 15seconds. Nothing happened. I waited. I was counting one to ten at the back of my head. The thoughts of being the next Reliance or the next IBM was still hanging around. Shree kept on walking. I told him that probably we could wait for a few minutes more and see what happens. I again inspected the fingers at five minute regular intervals. Nothing was happening. And thus it all got over. All my thoughts/ideas of a new business empire lasted only for a few minutes. It all got washed down the toilet with a gentle press of the flush. And i soon forgot about all this hair raising incident.
Shree and me were trekking together for the first time. We had known each other for a few years now and used to chat a lot online, but this was the second time that we met.Treks and travels are the best times when one discovers a person's true identity/character. Also, one gets to hear many stories and incidents which are nice to hear. Experiences are shared and some forgotten memories retold.
I have never been fascinated by love stories. The only love story that truly inspires me is the Story of the Taj Mahal. I think most teens get into this 'love' mode not exactly understanding the nuances of it. I would not generalize it by calling 'all love stories are farce'. But from what i understand, i think it takes some level of maturity to understand the larger aspects of life and how the spouse is important in the journey; infatuation is transitory. Without getting into rhetoric, i would summarize it by saying that 'One needs a reason to live and if the spouse is that reason, then there is no greater joy'.
Shree's pal was in the Indian Army and was in the Kargil War. His truck exploded due to an IED(Improvised Explosive Device) ; he flew into the air 200mts away and his truck blown into pieces. Luckily he survived, but he was immobile and lost sensation in the lower half of the body. His spine was badly injured. He was treated in the hospital for a few years wherein he was in coma. When Shree went to visit him , he saw that his pal's arm was badly atrophied. What used to be the arm of a armyman was now meek, slender and barely a few centimeters thick. Shree could not believe his eyes.
I asked him whether his pal was married. Shree replied that 'now he is'. I did not understand it. He was not married before the war, but apparently he is now. He married a nurse in the hospital wherein he was treated.
If a lady decides to 'commit' her life for someone who is not-functional for the rest of his life, and is not repentant about it, is a lady of true virtue and wisdom.
My eyes were wet. My mind numbed.
Shree was snoring next to me in the bus back to Bangalore. I was thinking about these two incidents, looked at the backside of my palm and smiling at the sequence of events.
Simple things in life are the most joyful, always. Life is beautiful.