Monday, December 31, 2007

Wild Weekend!

My Christmas weekend was just awesome. My friends and I had taken a short trip to Jim Corbett National Park, in Uttaranchal. Waking up at 4 am for the cab ride was a pain, but once we all were together, time just flew. Within 5 hours we were at our resort- the Corbett Nature Resort. I have to admit I had some inhibitions about the place when I’d first heard of it, but when I got there I felt as if I’ve drifted into a dream. With the jungle in our front yard, and River Kosi in our backyard, what more could we ask for! We’d booked 3 cottages between the six of us, and they were exactly like the cute little huts that we used to draw when we were kids; complete with the tiny window, door and hay roof. It was simply adorable!

My friends and I have a bad habit of being laidback. And so as usual we hadn’t booked a safari for ourselves. After taking a power nap, we went to the booking office only to know that all jeeps and elephants were booked. We moped around, feeling awfully dejected, when two of my friends decided to try again. They went back to the officer and ever so sweetly told him, “bachhe hain sir, kitni umeedon ke saath aye hain, please try to kijiye na”. I don’t know what came over that man, but the next minute he was signing the permit for a FULL DAY jeep safari! We were absolutely ecstatic!!

We spent the rest of the day exploring the riverside, behind our resort. The surroundings were breathtaking. Just across the river, was the forest and we could see the outline of mountain peaks over the horizon. The water was somewhat shallow and we decided we would definitely try and cross the river before leaving. Watching the sun set gave us a feeling I can’t even begin to describe. Complete and utter peace!

Next morning, me and my lazy friends somehow made it in time to the gate of the park and after renting a pair of binoculars and a seemingly good guide (or so it seemed) we set off to explore the jungle. We really wanted to see a tiger and kept mum for the initial hour, craning our necks in anticipation. We did get a few “leads”and "calls"- like paw prints, or the guy on the elephant “directing” us to the tiger, or deer shooting "warnings" to each other. But no luck. We managed to spot three types of deer and a couple of wild elephants, and of course lots of ‘langurs’ but that’s it. What irked us was that surprisingly every single tourist who’d gone inside that day saw a tiger. We sulked like anything when they showed us pictures and videos they’d taken of the tiger. Just our bad luck I guess. On our way out we told ourselves that the tiger obviously suffered from an inferiority complex compared to us! *Chuckle*

That night we lit a bonfire and soaked in the warmth while watching the surroundings bathed in moonlight. Afterwards, we slept like logs coz the bumpy forest road had given us a severe backache. Next morning we got up early to keep our word of crossing the river. We found a shallow spot to cross, and the minute we dipped our feet in we screamed. The water was freezing! Not giving in, we tread on, making a human chain against the fast current. Our feet hurt as we stepped over the slippery pebbles and became numb with cold. We made it halfway and then I couldn’t go on. Four of my friends were daring enough to continue while a friend and I sat on a large rock in the river. I envied their enthusiasm as they made it to the other side and back! But it surely was some experience!

We quickly changed into dry clothes and hurried towards the cab. We didn’t want to leave, as always, but had no choice but to jump in. Most of the road trip was spent in “trying to sleep” and listening to our favorite tracks. Though I’d been to Corbett before, this time was a lot more memorable. I guess a place has something new to offer every time you visit. Hope the new year brings more fun times with it.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Another end

A lot of things ended for me this year. In terms of studies, career, relationships and people. First I left Mumbai after college got over, and along with it some close friends. Then my relationship ended. My job followed suit. And along the way, a lot of my loved ones passed away too.

The most recent death was of my sister-in-law’s father. When mom broke the news to me, I did not believe it. He wasn’t old, he wasn’t unwell, he wasn’t an alcoholic or a smoker- he quietly went about doing his daily tasks… then how could he just…go? I didn’t believe the news until I saw him- lying lifeless. The man who was so full of life, was now, just lying on the floor. They say he had a massive heart attack- probably didn’t feel it. How the hell can he not feel it?? If only someone was there with him, if only he wasn’t alone, maybe he’d still be here with us, cheerful and happy

I remember the way he used to greet me- “Hello, my dear! How are you?”- not like some people who just say things and don’t mean it. He meant everything he said. This happy-go-lucky kind of guy, who lives- lived- for the moment is no longer here. I was afraid how my niece would take it, but even though she cried a bit for her grandpa, she was calm after a while. I guess that’s how he wanted us to be… to continue with our lives, without missing him too much.


Crematoriums, I thought, would be all the more depressing. But strangely, I found it peaceful. To see him go like that, I thought, he’s finally at peace. Maybe now he’s truly free. Although we all miss him terribly and it’s going to be long before we get used to living without him, we know life will go on. Just wish him well, wherever he is, watching over us.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Chapter Two

My first two weeks at my new workplace have been pretty decent. In fact, they were better than I expected. My first day, my colleagues- now my friends- went out of their way to make me feel at ease. They came to me and introduced themselves, showed a keen interest in me and my background…the works. It’s a small office, since they’ve just completed a quarter here in India and we are only about 16-17 employees in all.

Then I was told that we had an office outing planned that weekend. Our boss was going back to the States and we needed to sort of give him a farewell. My colleagues had planned to take him to Akshardham temple and then for dinner at TGIF. They also had prepared a li’l skit for him on “teamwork”. Now since it was too late to give me a part, I played the narrator.

Akshardham was fun. Hadn’t been there before so I was completely floored by it’s beauty. The intricate carving on the pink stone and marble walls was simply magnificent. And the place was huge. It didn’t feel like anywhere near Delhi, or India for that matter, coz it was spotlessly clean! And it looked even more gorgeous by night. And by the expression on my boss’s face, I could make out he was feeling pretty much the same way!

Around 6:30 pm we started back for Connaught Place, to TGIF. We were all starving and couldn’t wait to dig in. There was a 20 minute wait outside the restaurant, so we literally barged in when our turn came. We were about 11 of us, and trust me we all, including the biggies, stuffed ourselves till we couldn’t eat another bite. Drinks freely flowed and everyone was in a jovial mood. I felt as part of the group, not at all as a 5-day old employee.

Let’s hope the rest of the journey is as enjoyable. Keeping my fingers crossed!