Friday, November 30, 2007

Rinjani - the trek Day 3

Day 3 -

Woke up to find it quite bright outside.obviously had
missed the sunrise. Me and Ila got out to take a look
at the scene outside. After a couple of snaps, Ila
(Yes, It is Ilavazhagan of "Thondan" fame) read
out his poem which he had composed probably last night.
Once he finds some time from his writing assignments,
I'll get hold of the poem.

After breakfast each of us set about finding a secluded
place to squat and u know do it.After a while of searching,
i managed to find a spot only to look up and find ravi
smiling down at me from about a hundred feet above me.
Oops!got to find another place. Finally everyone managed
to relieve themselves in privacy. We then set out for the
hot springs which was nearby. It was in fact a small
waterfall cascading in to a rather large puddle before
continuing downwards.The water was warm and we had
a hugely welcome bath after a couple of days.After the
refreshing dip, we headed back to the lake.And after lunch
we again started on the way up.

We found another party camped near us.We also found a few
more people on the way up.This stretch was characterised by
a lot more greenery,tall grass at first and then short shrubs.

It was quite tiring.There seemed to be two ways to overcome
the tiredness and increase the tempo.One way was to take a
deep breath and start walking really fast and keep pace with
the guide.This way would ensure a good lead ahead of the
others and so when you wait for the others to catch up and
then wait along with them, you have had an extended rest.
The other way was to detach oneself from the trek mentally,
either by chatting with a co-trekker (on any damn topic
under the sun) or just daydreaming.I did both at various
points in the trek. Other tactics were indulging in quizzing.
After a lot of climbing, we reached a spot where there was
a sign in the local language which said that the path ahead
was dangerous. Well it was definitely was a bit dangerous
as the trail narrowed down further and there was just about
enough space for a person to walk through. Lord of the rings
revisited. We could picture ourselves as frodo baggins
scaling the mountains to dispatch the ring. A few false
steps could lead to someone tumbling down a few hundred
feet.And with the load on our back, it was even tougher.
Still donno how those porters managed it.That's a lot
of skill involved apart from the obvious strength required.

Finally we reached the campsite at the other side of
the crater rim. We had trekked up to the crater rim,
went down to the lake in the crater and then trekked
up to the other side of the crater rim.The soil was very
dark and one could sense the volcanic nature of the
surroundings. Everyone got down to taking snaps of
themselves overlooking the lake. It became more misty
soon and the entire scene beame a bit spooky. We could
see gunung agung which is in Bali, the adjacent island
in the distance.

The porters were already there and had set up tents.
Some of them had gone to fetch firewood and soon
we had a small fire going. We drank some very watery
hot tea. Then made some soup using ready to make soup
powder. All these seemed like a gift from God for the
parched throats and tired bodies.

We were resting in the tents when someone called.
Went out to witness a captivating sunset. This was
one of the highlights of this eventful trek.
After dinner, we rested our tired asses as we had to
haul them up by 2 in the morning if we wanted to
catch sunrise at the summit.

Coming soon....The Grand finale...The Summit...

Rinjani - the trek Day 2

After nearly one year since we finished the trek, i have gathered whatever i can remember of day 2.Days 3 and 4 will follow soon.(Mind you...soon here is subject to the blogger's discretion).
Day 2-
I was welcomed out of the tent by droplets of rain. It was quite nippy. Slowly other heads emerged out of the tents. Breakfast was sandwich and fruits, biscuits and tea. Almost everyone polished off the sandwiches and biscuits in no time.
With the support party at POS II (pic:Leo)

I was struggling to finish off the fruits and
saw that the others also weren't making great progress. Except our man shyam. No evidence of anything that was once there on the plate.Ila gave up. For food appreciation,clinical precision in consumption, he was no match for the master.He said something similar.Can't rememer the exact words.
Well, breakfast over.what next.Fertilising the flora of course. It was still drizzling. The portable toilets that were promised were also not available. Each of us found a spot and squatted with our ponchos covering us.

Ila - On the way up to the crater rim (pic:me)

The trek resumed.Day 1 was characterized by thick vegetation and trails. day 2 brought out more of the volcano in rinjani. Dark grey soil reeking of volcanic debris interspersed with short bushes made for a picturesque landscape.The ascent was much steeper.For most of the trek, me and Ila were lagging behind.I especially found it tough at the start of day 2, more so because of the tripod in my bag which in the end was useless since i forgot the connector.I was really struggling and appreciated the company of an equally struggling ila.The occassional photo breaks also helped.We tried to ease the hard work by talking on just about anything under the sun from sivapurana to biotechnology.The terrain gradually changed to more rocky.A fairly long section of the trail was characterized by almost imaginary paths amidst the rocks.We were met on the way by an old lady who was coming down along with her daughter and son. She must have been atleast 60 years old.I was left wondering what on earth is she doing here rather than cooking for her grandchildren.Hope i would be as fit when i am as old.
After some hard work, we reached the crater rim.
The view of the lake from the rim was obscured by clouds.After the mandatory snaps, we headed dowhill towards the lake.The first few steps towards the lake was probably the most dangerous part of the trek.It was a near vertical drop.It was like getting down a rickety step ladder missing every alternate step.No frigging clue as to how the porters made it down with all that load.We saw them smoking their stuff and resting underneath. After

On the way up to the crater rim (pic: Ila)

walking downhill with a few ascents in between, we came to a point where we could catch a clear view of the lake and the volcano gunung baru at the centre of the lake.

Overlooking Gunung baru and Segara Anak Segara Anak - almost there

From there on we walked downhill without taking any major breaks along the way till we reached the lake. Finally...Segara Anak.It was huge. Shyam decided to go for a little swim.Had ila a bit worried as he couldn't get a sighter of his face.

Finally dinner arrived in front of a warm campfire. I had a bit of a headache and had lost appetite for food. Slowly revived by the warmth of the fire and by the encouragement of my companions, i had some food and some vodka. Dinner was rice and vegetable gravy which tasted like "aviyal".The non veg portion consisted of a piece of chicken. After dinner, decided to make use of the tripod (albeit without the connector),since i had taken all the trouble to bring it up here. We did manage to get some interesting shots.

Me, Ravi and Ila in front of the lake (pic:Leo)

Time to hit the sack.Made plans to get up early next day to catch the sunrise.As we eased into the sleeping bags, we could hear howling sounds which sounded more like wolves rather than dogs.Too tired to be afraid of anything,we knocked off.

The surreal threesome (pic:Ravi) The camp fire (pic:Ravi)

The panoramic view at the lake (pic:Leo)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Rinjani - the trek Day 1

Finally after a long time, my first post on our momentous Rinjani trek. My thanks and apologies to everyone whose photos i have added here without permission.

After the sucessful conquest of Mount Ophir in Malaysia, the next expedition had to be a much more challenging affair. After a great deal of research, Leo and Ravi had zeroed in on Gunung Rinjani in Lombok in Indonesia."Gunung" means mountain in bahasa. Rinjani is a whopping 3726 m high,about thrice as high as Ophir. What's more it is a transactive volcano.The crater of the volcano houses a lake 6km by 8.5 km. It is called Segara Anak -"child of the sea". A small volcano gunung baru on one side of the lake had erupted as recently as 1996.There was a lot to look forward to.Out of the five of us about to venture on the trek,four had been on the earlier trek to Ophir. The fifth one, Ela was making his trekking debut.

The trek offered a chance for the two gastronomes, to put it more simply "foodies", shyam and ela to face-off.The clash of the titans was about to unfold into what would eventually be a disappointing end. More about that later.

Shyam Vs Ila- Who will win? (Pic: Leo)

Finally we were off on christmas eve with a bottle of vodka and a few beer cans which would be consumed on the course of the trek to consecrate the trip. We were on the last row of seats (not retractable) on the flight to bali. Beside me was a very tall american who wondered what he had done to deserve this. Two and a half hours later we landed in Bali.

On board the last row (pic:Ravi)

All of us were feeling the need to empty our bladders and it seems i was the most desperate one cos i went inside the ladies toilet.After relieving myself, as i came out i saw a lady preening herself in front of the mirror. For a couple of seconds i was actually wondering that it was a unisex toilet,if ever there was one. Thankfully i managed to escape unscathed.

After meeting up with the trek organizers, we stopped for dinner at a restaurant where the waiters were dressed like reindeers with antlers on their heads. They looked unbelievably ridiculous.After dinner (the ubiquitous egg fried rice for me,what else!) and a couple of hours drive later, we reached padang bay to board a ferry to Lombok. Almost everyone on the ferry looked shady to me.It was pitch dark outside.I could see nothing apart from the stars.It was a bit scary. Reached Mataram in lombok around 5am.A 2 hour drive brought us to Senaru. After a sumptuous breakfast of banana pancakes, the trek started.After the first half an hour (actually might have been only 15 minutes), already some of us were showing signs of tiredness. Our guide,Anom informed us that this was just a straight stretch and the real trek hasn't really started. We resumed after a short break. We would go on to have a lot more of such short breaks.

All set to start

The first mini break (Pic:me)

We were joined soon by an experienced trekker, one on four legs. A dog tagged along. It seems it has been on many treks before. There seemed a striking parallel of us with the pandavas from the Mahabharata. The five pandava brothers walked ,rather trekked their way to Mount Meru, the gateway to heaven. A dog (Lord Yama, the god of death in disguise) followed them all the way to the summit. I was the eldest of the five trekkers and i have a reputation for fairness akin to yudishtira. Next in line Ela could be equated with bheema on account of girth and body fat. The multi-talented Shyam easily slipped in to the role of Arjuna. Leo was our Sahadeva with his pearls of wisdom and a knack for predicting things. Ravi was the handsome Nakula. Only draupadi was missing and the only other member of the trek party was our guide Anom. In the original story, only Yudhishtira makes it to the top. We hoped all five of us could make it.

Our Nakula & Sahadeva alongwith lord yama! (Pic:me)

We reached POS I,our first main halt and halted for lunch. Till now the terrain was full of vegetation and we had to be wary of undergrowth ever ready to trip us. Leo and Ravi had lost some blood to leeches. Ravi turned on them with a vengeance. The rage in his eyes as he burned them was a sight to behold. Lunch was divine. We were accompanied by 4 porters who carried our food and water and cooked for us. They started behind us and finished ahead of us throughout the course of the trek. Each of them carried between 40-50 Kgs and did it with such a nonchalance that bordered on the condescending. A regular dose of marijuana or whatever it was they were taking definitely seemed to help. We were doing it for fun, it was their source of livelihood which put everything in perspective.

Our guide Anom (Pic:Leo)
Ravi's revenge (Pic:Leo)

The trek from POS I to POS II, which was to be our camp for the night,was characterised by a bout of heavy rain. We looked quite a sight with the ponchos on.Ravi was cursing the trek organizer, Pardi, for being ambivalent about rain
being a problem. It was a bit amusing to see him curse Pardi but i was more worried about my SLR getting wet. Finally we reached POS II. POS I and POS II were both basically small wooden shacks.After some hot tea to revive our spirits, we indulged ourselves in some card games.Our footwear dried near the cooking fire.

Drying our shoes (Pic:Leo)
Our tents had been made for us nearby. Couldn't see them as it was so damn dark outside. We were also told that the sleeping mattresses that were promised were not there. It was quite cold outside and i was apprehensive of having a good night's sleep. Fortunately they had sleeping bags and those were quite comfortable.I was quite tired and dozed off. Day 1 of the trek was coming to a successful conclusion. The next day would have us scaling new heights.

To be continued

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


I once heard someone say "Opportunities are like receding hair. You have to clutch on to it when you have enough of it. Once it passes by there is nothing left to hold on to". I missed one such opportunity when i was in my eighth grade. There was this tall, cute gujju girl with luscious lips in my class. I too looked quite cute then.It's not that i am bad now, if only i can find the inclination to shave regularly. Coming back to the story, one fine day when the teacher was absent and everyone was generally lazing around, this girl comes and sits next to me and puts her arm around me. Imagine! Her face next to mine. I can feel her breath. She asks me for a "pappi". Imagine the incredible good fortune! But you see I wasn't as smart then as i am now.
U wouldn't believe what i said to her.
I asked her :"what breed?"
I can't quite remember the look on her face.

[P.S. For those who don't quite understand what pappi means, it is slang in hindi for kiss.]

Monday, February 12, 2007

Vocab building can be fun

Preparing for GRE and other competitive exams requires a mastery of english words, some of which we may never use in our lifetime. Cramming down entire wordlists doesn't come naturally to everyone.Learning words through etymology is a very interesting way to go about it . Anyone who has used Norman Lewis' "Word power made easy" will agree. It is even better if the words themselves are interesting. The one word from Norman Lewis that immediately comes to mind is callipygous or callipygian. The word means having a beautiful, shapely posterior or in layman terms, having a nice ass. The word comes from two greek roots Kallos meaning beautiful and pyge meaning buttocks. Now anyone who comes across this word will not forget it for obvious reasons. Immediately the mind wanders to the next obvious question,which could be what is the equivalent term for an ugly ass (for pessimists) or what is the term for a beautiful pair of well u know what(for optimists...or perverts). This got me thinking and i coined a few words from my knowledge of etymology


Apart from the first word, i couldn't find any of the others listed in any online lexicon.
I leave it to my readers to figure out the meanings of these words. I strongly ask everyone to contribute more such words to the queen's language and in the process building up your own vocabulary.