The Ringside View

My attempts at writing have always been stacked up in old diaries and scraps of yellowing paper.Time,neglect and phylum insecta however, always ensured that the gibberish i scrawled, never would see the prying gaze of an alien eye.Years later, i still scribble once in a while - this time in word documents stored in some obscure folder somewhere in the innards of my C drive.I am unearthing some of them and opening them up for the interested.To get what i call - The Ringside view.

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Location: Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

More Walking Tales

A queer mix of habit and self reliance propelled me to greater distances on foot in the years to come. And when I joined college for my engineering degree, I finally found a few guys who had the same classification of distances as I had – ‘walkable’; ‘not walkable’.

I remember it was somewhere around Jan-Feb and we had hit Ootacamund to seek solace from the rut of daily life and electronic circuits (ok probably you can ignore the circuits bit. I was just getting a little carried away I presume). Hopping off the rickety red and yellow bus, I stroked its metallic sides like a mahout strokes his elephant and quipped ‘He’s done well eh? Never thought he’ll survive all those frekin’ hair pin curves’. No one replied. They all stood mute, soaking in the splendor of Shangri-la.

Undulating green hills stretched as far as I could see. I stood there like I was on stage enveloped in a smoky haze that was meant to mimic a fairyland scene. The air was crisp, clean, clear; with enough oxygen in it to make you go hyper. Meadows, grassy green and beckoning with grazing cows like in an ad for a Swiss diary product. ‘Holy cow! Isn’t it a sight to behold’, someone smart alec mumbled. It was.

Two bucks and a glass of tea from the road side vendor. We stood exhaling hot air like Clint Eastwood without a cigar, waiting for KB to pay up, use his PR and get directions. “It’s far, he says”, KB proclaimed. “This way though it is. Whatdya guys reckon?”

“I think it’s walkable”, Papps replied without thinking. Like an oracle who knew the answer before hand. But that was the answer we were waiting for. We picked up our back packs and walked east. In the direction of the rising sun.

“He also laughed hysterically when I mentioned we wanted to walk up”, KB continued with a smirk. Now that’s interesting. Very interesting.

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Now when the road is acutely angled at close to a 30 and you are lugging a bag heavy with what now seems unnecessities, walking is not all that a joy. But the enthralling scenery kept us going in the direction which the tea seller pointed. Somewhere along the way, we suddenly felt the need to do a direction check; Papps pounced on an innocent passer by heading the opposite way with a ‘He’ll know it’ confidence. The poor man raised his eyebrows in disbelief and kept suggesting the bus station that we left 15 minutes behind us for every question that we asked. “That fucker was a let down”, Papps grimaced. But the signs were definitely not ominous. A root cause analysis was imminent. There could be two potential reasons for his bizarre reaction we concluded. One. Where we were headed is ‘not walkable’. Or two, Papps’ pot-pouri vernacular exhibition (with his limited vocabulary of 100 words both languages included) unsettled the poor man. Considering the water feud between the two neighboring states (the one we came from and the one we were in), blabbering the wrong language could well be the difference between a black eye and none. After much deliberation and to the angst of one, we unanimously decided it was the language and that we were lucky and Papps would never ask directions again.

A mile or so later, when rationality and fatigue got the better of us, we found two security guards warming themselves in front of the glowing embers of what must have been a bright and burning bon fire. We thrust our arms out like fire flies to the flame and the men made room with generous smiles. A few pleasantries later we asked the inevitable question and waited to measure the ‘are you crazy’ index in their reaction. “It’s a bit far off”, one of them replied. “There’s a bus stop round that corner. You’re bound to get one in another half an hour”. “We’d like to walk”, I intercepted gingerly. “How long do you think it’s gonna take us”.

“eh…. 25 minutes”, the faster of the two replied, as though it was a pre calculated answer to a math problem. ‘Minutes?’, I confirmed, just in case. Leaving the guards to their cozy corner, we labored ahead in what seemed the road to neverland. Conversations thinned, shoulders drooped. And the ascent mockingly turned steeper and more spirit crushing by the minute.

But the odd abuse not withstanding we trudged on like rudderless ships. And like all long journeys which end in broad smiles and confetti, we had our much awaited moment of bliss. Papps sighed. Suri sweared. CG raised his long arms in accomplishment. Djang screamed. I read aloud the writing on the big brown board: Love dale, 0 km. Many of us swore that day not to walk great distances anymore. But after breakfast when we got out of our hotel rooms, someone looked into a pamphlet the receptionist had thrust upon us and quipped: “Botanical Gardens: 5 km. I think it’s walkable’.

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3 Comments:

Blogger as good as it gets said...

Iam visiting Lovedale for a project. Will be there on and off this whole month. Lovely place! Have some pics will upload it soon. How was Spain? Haven't heard from you in a while...

April 14, 2007 5:38 AM  
Blogger chiranth said...

visiting your blog after a long time and I'm betting KB was the person who made the last statement. BTW, are you in touch with him?

April 19, 2007 12:10 PM  
Blogger Piscean Angel said...

Oh yeah ... I can so understand "walkable". Have sufferred it so many times, thanks to my hubby who thinks that all distances are "walkable" !!!

November 27, 2007 4:50 AM  

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