Even though the figure of 13 followed us throughout the trip, it was anything but unlucky. The trip was great. Well, great does not exactly convey how we felt about the trip, a much better adjective would be awesome or stupendous or fantastic.
The trip was conceived when Amal, Chandu and Ranta were selected for the ACM at Kanpur. The ACM was on 15th, so Vidit too decided to join them, bunking two days of classes. They decided on visiting Ranta’s home at Daroti, 125 kms from Shimla. We decided on joining them for the trip and slowly the number of the people for the trip swelled up to 18. Courtesy PJN and Jawahar, we were cut down to 14. Abhinav and Bapu being the prime casualties, and others falling on the way.
So finally after many deliberations, we started on the 13th. Eight of us – Vidit, Parry, Rocky, Amal, Chandu, Manjeet, Ranta and me – started for Kanpur, with the other six to join us a day later. We had a whole block in the coach to ourselves in AP express, and had lots of fun. Slept and ate and played dumb-charades. Exhausted almost all the Hindi and English movies. Great acting on our part (barring Manjeet who relied only on our excellent guessing, he just moved his hands like he were setting some birds free, or as if he was flying. He had no other gestures!!) resulted in majority of the movies being guessed. Reached Jhansi at 2:00 in the night and got the connecting train to Kanpur immediately from the adjacent platform. Traveled thru the night and reached Kanpur early morning.
At Vidit’s home we enjoyed a lot and ate a lot. All of us grew fat!! We visited Imambara in Lucknow and Aditya (Vidit’s younger brother) gave us a tour of the bazaars of Kanpur. Vidit knew almost nothing about Kanpur. He was as lost as we were. He sure knows all the roads of H’bad, but the twists and turns of Kanpur seem to be beyond his reach.
Kanpur (Adi Jr, Me, Vidit, Paresh)
Imambara Lucknow (Vidit, Paresh, Me, Manjeet)
And to complicate matters for him, now his whole family knows about the incident in English Literature class. Rocky and I ensured that not even the smallest detail was left out. Vidit has been showing his gratitude in form of kicks and bumps etc. Well leaving Kanpur and all the Archie’s comics behind, we reached Delhi after an entertaining wait at the Kanpur railway station where we guessed each others weights, Parry and me being the extremes and the rest of the pack in between.
Vidit at me at Delhi raliway station
At Delhi station we waited for the other six guys, their train being 18 hrs late they had to ditch the plan of coming to Kanpur and instead came to Delhi directly. As soon as Adi, Khare, Pankaj, Parivesh, Ketan and Googs arrived we took off for Chandigarh. We reached there around 4:30 in the evening after stopping for an hour for lunch around Panipat. There we roamed only in Sector-17 market for hours. Sushil (Ranta’s younger brother) joined us there, Ranta being ignorant about all the routes and everything. Vidit and Ranta belong to same pack of cards, both being jokers!!
Well after a night’s halt at Chandigarh, the next morning we left for Shimla. We reached Shimla late in the evening courtesy lots of stop-over in between. The first was at Timber Trail. This 2km long ropeway led to a hotel on a mountain-top. The view from there was breath taking.
Timber Trail (Me, Aditya)
And what does one do on a mountain-top? Any guesses? I don’t think any one will get this..
We played tennis.. Yeah that’s right; of all the places to play tennis I think this would be the craziest. Well since all of us playing for the first time, we sucked. Anyways by the end Parivesh and I had got a bit of hang of how to return and I had also served up an ace!!
Moving on next we went to Nauni via Solan. Had lunch there with Ranta sporting an ear -to-ear grin.
Ranta at Nauni
The next stop was Shimla. Reached there around 5:00, looked for a hotel and found a nice one cheap. The view from the hotel was beautiful. A dry tree, and the sun setting behind it. It was desktop material and the photographs proved it right. The stuff was astounding.
Sunset from Shimla Hotel
Roamed on the Mall-Road for 2-3 hours and ended the day by seeing Swades. Shimla closes down by 9:00, so we went to see the show at 10:00. On the way around 8-10 of us had dinner in just 160 bucks!! :)) We got the tickets easily, and came back to hotel at 2:00 am. It was my first experience of watching a movie at a place where I have gone as a tourist.
Paresh on way to Swades at Shimla
Next morning we went to Jhaku temple, the monkeys running amuck there. One of them snatched Parry’s specs and gave them back only after it was given prasad. Saw snow-capped mountains for the first time from there. Then went to Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, and it surely was advanced studies. Post-doctorate in Humanities!!! And Rocky was thinking of enrolling there, he had ideas of having a 116 year old history behind him. He never even got to know the name of the girl, but I think he’ll go back there at the first opportunity. :))
IIAS (Rocky’s lost love)
Leaving Shimla behind we started for Ranta’s home at Daroti. But en-route we stopped at Kufri. The place was even more beautiful then Shimla!!
Sunset at Kufri
Again at lunch dumb-charades helped us endure the long wait for the food. Then Adi and I went for a yak-ride there. It was fun. Then Vidit took a photograph of a ghost.. :))
Reached Ranta’s home at 9:00 pm. His home was about 200 meters downhill from the road. So had a mini-trek in the dark!! That night just had dinner and went to sleep, having decided on going to trek the next morn. The morning came and with it an astounding views of the mountains. We were on a mountain slope, a small river flowing in the valley beneath and as far as the eye can see only lush-green mountains were visible. Some snow-capped peaks were also visible in the distance. It was nature at its best!!
View from Ranta’s home
Me and Adi on the roof of Ranta’s home
Parivesh Jet Li
That morning, after a hearty breakfast left for the trek at Giriganga. It was a small temple, surrounded by a frozen pond. And since it was a temple, we were bare-foot. The ice was… well ice-cold. We crossed that 10-foot long frozen pond bare-foot. Twas one of the greatest experiences.
Rocky crossing the frozen pond at Giriganga
And after Parivesh crossed it, as expected a crack developed on the route and others had to cross the pond by a longer route.
Me at Girganga, photographer – Me
And then the main trek started (I’m not considering the 2-3 kms long walk to the temple as a trek, coz it was just walking on a dirt road).
Had the first encounter with snow just ahead of the temple. And from there the trek started. Sushil and Nishchaya (Ranta’s cousin) ran ahead of us geeks and were on the mountain top ages before us. One-by-one the people kept falling out of the trek. the first to go were Parry and Amal. 10-15 minutes later Khare, Bothra and Chandu gave up. Resting every 10 minutes, slowly but steadily we made our way up… Adi wanted to give up, but since he was alone and did not know the way down, he continued with me. Just ahead we caught up with Ranta and others, so Adi got company to go down. He, Rocky and Ketan were the next to go. That left Vidit, Maddy, Parivesh, Google, Ranta and me. Vidit, Maddy and Googs were much ahead of us. And at last even we three reached the peak. If it can be believed, the scenic beauty seemed to be increasing as the trip progressed. That time, we were Desktop Material had someone taken our photograph from some other peak. Surrounded by snow everywhere, on the peak of a mountain with the sun setting on one side and the moon rising on the other, simply put it was beautiful!! I have always dreamt of climbing the Mt.Everest. So what if this was not it, we called it the Mt.IIIT!!
Me and the snow
Parivesh and Me at the peak
The people who made it to the top
Sun sets as the trek ends
Since darkness was descending fast, we started making our way down. Finally we reached where our Qualis were parked and a blazing fire greeted us. It was the perfect way to end the trek. Made our way back to Ranta’s home, with us playing Antakshari. Parivesh at his comical best (he is always at his comical best), the all-excited Adi (as he always is), Amal trying to sing Tamil song (got interrupted by the driver, but he sings well), and yours truly at his peak of besurapan the Antakshari was fun. Tired but happy, finally we reached Ranta’s home looking forward to the next day’s trek (at least I was, but I don’t believe anyone else was). Had a grand dinner and then to bed!!
The next morning gave us a wet greeting. It had rained the night before and there had been snowfall just some kms from there.
Snow on the adjacent mountain
So leaving all the plans of treks etc behind, we packed as another snowfall could have meant, walking 18 kms to the nearest bus-stop. So half-heartedly we had to leave.
Rocky, Rocky and Poosha
Khare, Me, Parivesh and Pankaj
The whole group except Ranta
On the way back, the one thing we had been looking for confronted us. A snowfall!! Stopping for about an hour, we enjoyed in the snowfall, made proper snow-balls and all pelted their favourite target – Khare – for his infamous dialogue, “Are we going to Shimla?”.
Snowfall on the return trip
Made our way back to Shimla that evening, Parivesh having made arrangemts for us at some Guest-House. It was less of a Guest-House, and more of a 4 or a 5 star hotel. That night got the CAT scores. Abhinav called us up with the scores. Vidit rocked with his 99.91 percentile in English and overall a great score. I was also very much surprised by my good score. Next morning we left for Chandigarh. And since Bothra and Googs wanted to go by train, Parivesh, Amal, Chandu, Adi, Vidit and I accompanied them. The trip was a tad long, but we endured it courtesy Dumb-Charades again. Google was at his worst best. He even defeated Bothra in terms of the acting. But the surprise element was Amal, he acted quite well and I think he was even able to act out a Hindi movie too.
The trip ends. Pinjaur Gardens at Chandigarh
From here on, the trip was just about saying Good-Bye to all. Ketan had left before we even reached Kalka. Vidit, Khare and Bothra also had their trains from Kalka that night. Then we traveled through the night, sleeping en-route for some 3-4 hrs and reached Delhi early in the morning. Dropped off Parivesh and Aditya at New Delhi Railway Station. Amal, Rocky and Maddy went ahead with Chandu as their trains were later, and Googs, Parry and I were dropped at the Nizamuddin station. The wait was horrendeous as the train kept getting late. The only silver lining in the cloud being Abhinav’s call telling me about my call from IIM-A and Vidit’s call from A & B.
And so the trip ends…