Thursday, June 9, 2011

'Into the wild'

Hi Guys,

The Fun Times are here!!!

This is for all those who have shown interest in the Adventure weekend of Para Sailing, Rappelling, Cave Exploration and Trekking.

We have finalised the date for this trip as January 14, 2012 (Saturday).

Some points to remember for this trip are as follows:
·   1) The pick-up point for the trip would be at Office, sharp at 06:30am. (please stick to this timing as the trip is being organised by an external agency and involves some traveling)
·    2) We would be back in Office by 07:00pm.
·    3) Everyone has to bring along Rs. 700/- (to be paid to the agency) and Rs. 99/- needs to be paid to Mr. Swarn (towards booking charges. If paid already please ignore)
·  4) Lunch would be organised by the external agency. Please bring along some extra snacks and water for personal consumption.
·   5) Consumption of liquor during the trip is prohibited as there would be lot of physical activities involved.
·    6)  Please come dressed in some light clothes and shoes with a decent grip.
·   7) All the people who have confirmed with either Swarn or me need to come as we have committed the numbers to the external agency. The list of people are:

o   Subbanna Kannur, VP
o   Swarn Kamal, Operations Manager
o   Prashant Prakash, Training Manager
o   Mahantesh Nagarwal, Procurement Asst. Manager
o   Jobin Thomas, Marketing Asst. Manager
o   Feroz, Projects Executive
o   Prasanna Chakravarthi, Operations Area Manager
o   Sridhar, Operations Area Manager
o   Dayanand MJ, Operations Area Manager
o   Rajesh Shetty, Projects Executive.
o   Ambareesh YMC, HR Executive
o   Ajendra Naik, Asst. Manager Production
o   Midhun Dileep, MT Production
o   Manohar, Maintenance Executive

Please revert for any concerns.
Prashant Prakash
Training Manager,
Au Bon Pain - RP  Sanjiv Goenka Group.

The aforesaid mail made me to think that, ‘oh, why they scheduled it on  Saturday instead of any Mondays or any working days !?’ Anyways, I postponed my 'interview' with my latest facebook bird which I had planned for Saturday afternoon. Trips always fascinated me. I recalled the excursions I had been a part of during my schooling. A faraway-trip for more than 3 days with a simple payment of Rs. 800 including food and bed! 

I asked Mr. Jobin Thomas that ‘what do you mean by Para Sailing, Rappelling and Cave Exploration? He told me ‘I know the meanings of cave and exploration but, I guess the rest are kind of adventurous play in vicious water stream. ’How can I wet my foot since I don’t know to swim?’ I thought. 

I, Jobin, Feroz and Midhun stay together in a rental room. Jobin joined Au bon pain as Executive marketing and he got promoted as Asst. Marketing Manager in the last performance review on grounds of his excellent marketing abilities; he proved in a short span of time that he is a Master in business Administration. This young man with a cherubic face is rich in business skills and hair is the only thing he lacks in. 

Feroz is an inevitable brick stone of the Projects Department. He is known for honesty, dedication and hard work. During his site work days, he won’t even spend more thatn 5 hours on sleep though he enjoys working even for graveyard-shifts. He would come to room late night after my sleep and will go back before i wake up.

Midhun is the one and only Management Trainee in Production Department. The Chef in him, born and brought up in the Christ College, Bangalore. He is a passionate youngster with a zeal to grow and he is ready to suffer up to any extend to achieve it. He works in night shift. After returning home in the morning, he will go for jogging and to gymnasium thereafter. He wanted to chisel his body as that of Silvestor Stallon in coming 6 months. Food and fashion are his weaknesses. He is the nutrition guide to all of us in room (especially of Feroz). On Sundays, he used to experiment interesting dishes and it would make the kitchen premises extremely filthy for me to clean alone.  

We got ready on Friday night for the Trekking. I washed and kept beneath fan, the black ‘Liverpool’ shorts and ‘crocodile’ T shirt with a design of zebra lines across. Jobin had a trial dressing session with his nike set of shorts, jersey and Black shoes. He looked like a nike store team member. Feroz asked us what we wear and based on our valuable guidance he made up his trekking attire ready. Midhun reached room at 22.00. He fell in bed with his apron and ‘fragmenting socks’. I had kept an alarm at 05.15 since we had to reach the office at 06.30. 

I woke up at 05.45 and kicked the buttocks of various Department representatives. It was bone splittingly chill outside. Feroz took bath in hot water as usual. Everyone got ready fast. But, Mithun was confused about his dressings and he took one of my T shirts and asked me, ‘how does it look?’ I thought, ‘I cannot wear it anymore and go to office anymore’. 
‘Where is your black Track suit?’ His second question made my finger to point out my shelves and he went over to the target innocently. 

‘I think, we better carry 2 'boxers' (U.W.) since we are going to play in water’. It was Jobin’s sincere advice. 

Just before leaving room, we squeezed the Amway sun screen lotion tube of Jobin and enriched the exposed part of everyone’s body. 

We reached the office by 5 minutes late. Everybody was waiting for us. A luxurious tourist van was seen at the entrance of the office. Every happy faces found relaxingly talking to each other in the front of bus. Mr. Peeps (Prashanth Prakash) was conducting a serious training session with Frisbee to the others. We went down and received warm hand shakes from all around. 

Subbanna sir asked Mithun, ‘Hi young man, so today you have got morning shift... eh?’
Mithun couldn’t listen (understand) the question properly; he thought he was asked about the ‘trip’. ‘Yes sir I woke up early in morning; sleeping is secondary and for me this is important sir!’ I found the glow of pride emitted from the both guiltless faces.

Being Human Resource Executive, I sent my eye across everyone’s dressing code. Everybody came in trekking attire. Subbanna sir also came in a different appearance in sporty costume with his ‘Ray ban crown’ on head. Swarn sir wore an American-made pull-over of Au bon pain and a sky blue cap of Nike, which looked pretty good. When I interview managerial candidates for Operations department, I have to assure that they should be inclined towards any Sports item and they should not smoke. ‘The healthiest company of America’ really deserves this Operations-head. He won some awards for marathon and sprints for the company in many reputed competitions. Once during a casual talk, he told me, ‘I run a distance of 50 km’s every week’ (which I do usually in 2 months). 

The tour organizer, Mr. Peeps is a wedded man with outlooks of a charming bachelor. I joined Au bon pain on his Birthday, the June 6th. He came in the exact trekking costume with a scarf tied across the top of his forehead and the rough woodlands shoes. His body language would often remind me that of the Hollywood actor, Mark Whelberg in the film ‘The departed’. His frequent flow of witty conversation has been a vital part in the office. Mahanthesh, the man with silky flying hair came in a military colored suit. He is a good listener with a genuine sense of humor.

Prasanna is one of the fastest growing individual in our team with a fat experience from Mc. Donalds for sound 4 years. He is famous among us for his strict dealings and quick decision making abilities. He is the most passionate manager in au bon pain, toward food. Prasanna was well dressed in trekking suit and he was carrying a trekking bag and a book in hand named ‘What would Google do?’ by Jeff Jarvis. He showcased the book till he got into bus. Sridhar is another Area manager and a good friend of mine. He has got entirely different style of work that of Prasanna. When I worked with the both, I felt it. People address him ‘foreigner’ due to his impossible looks. He made up his hair slightly reddish in color and he always keeps all around him laugh and happy. He wore a black UCB T shirt and shorts. The jet-black goggle looked appealing on his fair face. Rajesh Shetty, the man with Anglo-eastern accent. He is a fashionable guy. His body language and style of execution of each and every word has got stirring effects. When I met him for the first time, I though this buddy will be having N number of girl friends! He is a great friend of mine and had so many funny and pathetic moments over the time. I have never seen him cleanly shaved till time and this time also he looked funky and came in Spanish soccer jersey and uncombed hair. It was written as ‘Fabregas’ on his yellow jersey.

Dayanand, Ajendra Naik and Manohar also found practicing Frisbee under the guidance of Mr. Peeps. Dayanand is the new Area manager. He is the owner of huge expectations of the management.  He believes in action rather than hollow words; thus he is not so talkative. Ajendra Naik, the imminent Asst. Production Manager had been to gymnasium for consecutive 7 years. He is a great lover of fun and calm and soft spoken person. He came in White T shirt and a craggy jeans pant. Manohar is a bonny lad who maintains the smooth flow of au bon pain operations with his 24 hours roam service. He wore special trousers of export-quality, which is exclusively made for trekking or any other harsh physical activities.

Sridhar purchased a big bunch of sugar cane from the street trolley-seller. I was hungry and went over to break some canes and to chew the chunky sugary stick. Midhun broke it into some portable pieces and kept in the bag for instant usage in bus.

I got into the bus first. Apart from the driver, another two strangers found occupied the two important front seats and which I didn’t like personally. I thought they will ruin our privacy and which may cause some of my mates to lose the seat. ‘Who the hell are they!?’

Anyways, I rushed into a comfortable window-seat and everybody got in soon. Mr. Peeps sat adjacent to the driver. Subbanna sir came back and sat between Mahantesh and Jobin. Sridhar couldn’t find a place for his buts to fix.

Bus started at 06.40. I slid the window glass wide opened and tried to suffuse holiday-mood into my state of mind. Cold breeze and hot girls are the most attractive factors in Bangalore. The exquisite weather of Bangalore would pep up anyone’s dehydrated mind!

The van quickly took us away from the city into the forestry outskirts. It took an hour to reach ‘Chikbelapur’. We slowly entered into a vast meadow; I felt as if we are moving through a semi-desert in Africa. Subbanna sir pointed out a sullied pond and told Jobin that ‘Jobin, you can go swimming in there’.

The countryside reminded me about the film ‘No country for old men’. The van stopped near to a fashionable red-jeep surrounded by a handful of people. We got off with an excitement of ‘why here? And what’s next?’ I looked around and we were at the center of a huge dry landscape. On observing the men and materials, I surprisingly came to know that, we are there for parachuting (Para-sailing).

The two strangers in bus announced that break fast is ready. Now, ‘I ‘m lovin them’. Everybody enjoyed having Idly, Vada, Sambar and Chutney. Since, I was badly suffering from severe hunger; I couldn’t give up denying my intake. 

On having the lip-smacking break fast, I asked one among the caterers about the lunch-menu and I was answered that it will be a vegetarian spread. After food, we went aside to the Jeep. On the front glass of the Jeep, it was written as ‘defense’. The para-sailing authority included a group of about 7. The head of adventurous team, so called ex-Air force uncle in cap, overcoat and dust-mask started to elucidate about the procedures. ‘Obviously, it’s a dicey game; if you didn’t turn bloodcurdling then it will be due to any hormone deficiency in you. So, accept the fright and withstand a few moments. The Parascender will be having little control over the parachute and we will take care of everything”. He demonstrated the actions to be shown if we feel insecure during the fly. He told to urinate and be at ease before we start. Some of us searched for the nearest bushes and emptied the urinal bladder; whereas Swarn and Subbanna sir walked over afar and were seen as two moving colored mustards from the huge distance. 

They performed some trial rounds with their own dummies. The Air force uncle himself drove the anchor-Jeep and it would tow the rope-line attached to the parachute. With the support of wind, the parachute would take off into unimaginable heights with the man. I got thrilled about doing something entirely new in my life. It was Dayananda, the fresher in au bon pain who started off the sail first and Subbanna sir, the most experienced did at last. Many photo sessions happened in the middle of each take off. We jumped, attacked and acted crazy before Mr. Peeps’s camera flashes. Those who finished the sail returned in Jeep and opined that it was exciting.

My turn came and after a couple of quick running foot steps, I was being pulled in to the sky forcefully. There was not much excitement when I was up in the sky. But, I felt like flying which I used to sense in my dream often. I wished if I could get 2 wings and so that could fly whenever I wish to. When I looked about 100 meters beneath, I felt relaxed and ecstatic. The wind supported well and I could sail good. After my flight, when Subbanna sir asked my opinion, I told, ‘it’s extraordinary and a must-felt experience for every wingless creatures on earth’.  

Everyone in the team flew off one by one and I could hear gales of laughter coming from all around. Rajesh’s fly was hilarious. It had us all in hysterics. The wind direction and force had been biased and it shown brutal prejudice to Rajesh. The gentleman landed abruptly soon after the take off, like the aircraft crash land during emergency especially due to engine complaint. He fortunately missed a risky and razor-sharp bush-stump on the ground. If the fate had been malicious to him, the stump could have hurt him badly! He waited in scorching sunlight for a long while due to this set back. The Jeep engine also reported a problem and which made all of us waiting. Meanwhile, we played with the Frisbee the rest. Swarn and Subbanna sir couldn’t let us relax but to enjoy playing with a liberated mind with them. As soon as the holy Jeep got repaired Rajesh finished his round and it went on. We saw more families and campus groups coming in to the plot to enroll for the daring fly. Notably there were two girls around. Midhun told me by pointing out a girl with the edge of his eye brow that ‘that babe’s body structure is as like as of my Dhanya!’

Mr. Peeps paused for snaps with his natural smile in the sailing attire. Everyone kept on giving applause for the flight of the trip-organizer. He ran like a chubby football boy to fly off. But, all of a sudden something went off beam; he dangerously knocked down and found dragged on the bumpy surface for a few seconds. Everyone yelped helplessly and rushed toward the spot. The jeep stopped suddenly and the parachute loosened down. But, the smiling face of Mr. Peeps rose up and he got up as of from his bed at extreme ease and said aloud that ‘I ‘m okay guys’!

Prasanna, the weightiest sailor of all started off with inescapable round of applause and verbal thrust from us. He flew off with a belly-laugh and safely landed after his debut airy getaway.

After the mission, Swarn sir returned about 500 meters running instead of coming in Jeep. He was in a rush to cover his weekly target of 50 km’s.  We packed up with the fine final fly of the business head, Subbanna sir.

We were informed that it will take more than 2 hours to reach the next destination and everybody spoke about different topics and evolved juicy gossips; hard core listeners like I, Dayanand, Feroz and Manohar enjoyed the feast of both the sense and non-sense from the cannons around. The van stopped amid and Mr. Peeps, the Trip in charge purchased soft drinks and fuelled us. He also opened his travel bag and took out some packets of quick-digestive cookies and spicy snacks and handed it over to everyone. Since it’s of free of cost, I often grabbed a handful amount of the same even though I was not hungry. I took catnaps alternatively for a while and got up when I found everyone scurried out near to the Tender coconut hut at a Petrol bunk. I could find the spirit and competitive mentality in everyone under that hut. We enjoyed zipping up the best natural soft drink under the sun.

We resumed our journey to Kolar. A cordial atmosphere was being generated in the bus among the managers and executives. I began feeling more close to all. 

The rubberized express highway was smooth and some attractive mountains with undefined shape started to be seen at both the sides of the road. The van moved onto an enormous undulating area and it went up to the higher-range. The atmospheric temperature kept on attenuated.

The restless needle couple in my wrist watch said that it’s 14:30. The driver parked the van at a valley. We got off the van and the surroundings looked like my native village with the domination of green color. A place which is far away from the city and I could intake authentic oxygen without the blend of smoke or dust. There were some huts and an artesian well near to the mountain footsteps. Also a herd of regimented goats, couple of kinky cocks, a street gang of obstreperous dogs and clueless children. A few lazy housewives found busy at their own work.

Suddenly an aroma of Ghee rice spread and the catering team arranged the pre-prepared items for buffet service. As usual, Dayanand took initiative. The hunger was the best dish among all and so the veggie lunch got over hastily.

‘Hey Guys, the real day starts from right here…’ After lunch, Mr. Peeps announced as if we are about to go for something really amusing. The driver remained in the van asleep and the catering duo took up the control of the situation. They asked us to follow them the alleyway up to the hill. There were no appropriate route and we blindly followed their footsteps. We rambled through the tall grass and chaotically distributed rocks. Everyone found thrilled and appeared bouncy. Every sentence told by everyone maintained high degree of humorous standards and consequently the ‘organization transformed in to a team’. A constant flow of giggling boosted up the mood.

‘Just one sec guys, listen what I am saying…’ On the way up, Subbanna sir told looked aback and faced the followers and we remained silent. We could hear only the horrendous tone of the airstream through the hilly gaps. He resumed, ‘we are starting our Adventurous trip. It will be interesting though extremely risky! It’s our life and it’s in our hands. So, beware of the peril hidden in every next step. I know my team is famous for risk-taking deeds and the young blood may have a natural propensity to exhibit the guts and adventurism. But, don’t get jeopardized. Listen to the instructions given by the guides. Don’t be eager to reach first but try to protect yourself and the team. Probably the person who is in the front and the person at the last have to be more vigilant and responsible. Well, let’s start off…’  His wisdom of hindsight fell from his lips.

We took each and every step ahead at the mountain with paramount care. The guides helped us to move across the impossible blocks. The hilly way literally looked dangerous and the deep valley trench at both sides could propagate the echo of our progress noise. One wrong foot placement might put the life at risk. We got hold of bush stumps, tree branches and guide’s experienced hands to get the natural hurdles across. Mr. Peeps couldn’t make even a single click over the course of the decisive time.

On feeling the anxiety of the trekking, I recalled an old trekking experience I had with my friends before 6 years, and it was into the ‘Kudajadri’, a pilgrim hill situated in South Karnataka. It was a trekking though a wild fantasy.

We spent about half an hour to climb up the hill and reached in front of a colossal cave. Swarn sir appealed more aggressive and don’t wanted to obey the boring guide’s guidance; I and Dayananda followed the inspiring Trekker who was on cakewalk. We infiltrated into the dark. So much of weird gaps and narrow clefts towards all possible directions gave a feeling of an interesting Treasure hunt; scenes in the ‘National Treasure’ of Nicholas Cage, flashed in mind.

‘This is one of the most exciting experiences I ever had in life till time’. I slowly realized that the day I was having is unique. Every constricted path appeared more challenging and every next action stimulated the adrenal gland. We put on the light in cell phone and that was the only source of light. Sun rays could never have visited this place. Ones with flexible body surpassed the rocky knots without more perspiration. Subbanna sir was the eldest of us all. But, the person who heads the brand even headed this band as well; he moved young! Many snapshots happened with different poses from different plots. Mr. Peeps was the person who could pose the least since he remained behind the camera.

Dayanand was in the front and Mahantesh at the back. Mahanthesh took the most matured movements. He assured everyone’s get through out of harm's way. When I jumped from rock to rock, Prasanna told me, ‘Ambi, don’t show that your ancestors are monkeys’ and he darted a green look at me.

The cave-exploration continued for about an hour. The last step was the most demanding! It was the narrowest gap at the level of out foot. We had to lie down in the gap and to drag. We could not even think to roll over since the gap is infinitesimal. ‘Oh! It’s amazing!’ Subbanna sir told to himself and sprawled horizontally with Swarn sir and I followed them. My jostle skin got slightly hurt on rubbing the hard rock. But, I felt swollen with pride on seeing the bleed.

When Prasanna’s turn came, the guide told, ‘I this narrow way don’t ought to have you’. But, he amazed everyone and got through the stumbling block with most palpable exertion of his force, patience and effort. He moved at a snail’s pace and when he came out of the ‘impossible gap’, Swarn sir patted on his broad shoulders and appreciated with a grin that ‘you did it young man…! See, I have absorbed your impregnable efforts in this handy-cam and you can show this to your kids to motivate and to say ‘impossible is nothing’…’

‘Buddy, let’s upload it in Youtube…’ Sridhar was serious about it. Prasanna was busy gasping and he couldn’t listen to the tens of naughty comments from all around. Manohar illustrated his body flexibility to slouch horizontally faster than anyone else. He could crawl on floor easily because of the advantage of his export-qualified shorts. Mahanthesh also came out and then we got through another mighty hole which took us all the way exit from the cave. The cave exploration-mission finished and everyone closed the eye lids to welcome the sun rays. I felt as if I woke up from a sleep and had an impossible dream!

The adventurous cave-exploration took the best out of us and some of us couldn’t deny the sign of fatigue. We followed the guides and everybody was silent instead of sharing experience and laughing aloud due to the special excitement had just before. I walked cherishing the memories of the time we spent together in dark.

The final endeavor of the trekking was Rappelling. The guide led us near to a mammoth rock which faced downward. They went up to the top of the massive rock to assemble the rope-settings for the subsequent course of action.

It took around another 15 minutes for them to finish the preparatory procedures. Till then we spoke each other and sat relaxed beneath the space of fore heading rock. Subbanna sir, Mr. Peeps, Swarn sir and Mahanthesh played cards. We finished the remaining bottles of water and colored soda.

Before we start, guides explained about the Rappelling. ‘This is a most interesting deed wherein you have to rope down from the cape of the rock. You don’t have to worry about your safety but try to exhibit your confidence and courage. These settings will keep you absolutely safe because a descended device is a friction hitch that allows rope to be paid out in a controlled fashion, under your body load, with a minimal effort by us. We will control your pace. The speed at which you descend will be controlled by applying variant force on the rope or altering the angle at which the rope exist on the device. The climbing-harness will be tied around your waist and it will secure you at any context. So, let’s start… eh? Who is first?’

This time Dayananda didn’t stand up. Subbanna sir got up like an experienced rappelling star and walked over. One of the guides dressed him up with the rappelling suit and sent him to the top of rock. I have seen rappelling before on TV though not had a practical experience. Subbanna sir appeared at the top and he stood facing backward toward the depth. The guide at the top kept on giving him instructions and we all were so excited and some of us went and got ready to get a hold, if something goes wrong. He leaned backward as per the guide’s guidance and he came down perfectly. A long applause echoed in the hilly vicinity. Having inspired from the ‘head’, everybody enrolled and I too went for my take. It was scary. While roping down, a part of the big stone hit my head and the surrounding and people around reeled before my eyes! I landed safely and I couldn’t feel great about it. But, I could enjoy the taste of fright when I leaned backward from the rock cape and looked aback. Ajay came down with a frightening scene. He slipped off from the tip and the rope system proved that, it’s a safe game. Sridhar came down with heroic actions as of Tom cruise in the Mission Impossible. Rajesh and obviously Prasanna needed our unstoppable back support to proceed. Many F’s fell out of Rajesh’s mouth. He cursed Mr. Peeps for organizing Rappelling when he was hanging on rope in fright. Prasanna was about to drop the plan more than 2 times. But, ‘the managers’ made him work through incessant motivation and he successfully finished like a warrior. Many adventurous snaps were born. It was 18:30 by the time we packed up the Trekking; the memorable Trekking!

On the way back we had high-tea from a motel. We were all recharged from the successful completion of Trekking. Everybody appreciated Mr. Peeps for tailoring the day in such a wondrous manner. We resumed the drive with an infusion of music into the thoughts through head phone. Music enhanced the mood and made me feel great. The luxurious van’s tire got punctured amid and it took around 1 hour to get repaired up. We couldn’t find a mechanical shop and we did it by ourselves!

Midhun told, ‘I could speak more to Swarn sir due to this tire-puncture!’ Henceforth, Midhun got a new role-model in many outlooks. We reached back at the office at 20:00 and dispersed with many hand shakes and ‘good nights’! My mind was jam-packed.  

        You can have a Trekking through some the snapshots...!


  1. may god bless you, you dear girl....really dude..she must have taken you as a old man...

  2. thankUUU :P no.. i dont look old, although i look charming :)

  3. :P Awesomeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee... Ellaam kollaam.. but last dailogue Grandpa type aayi poyi ;) Good night,yetta

  4. actualy ente swabhavam vech nokumbol, last dialoginu theere reliability undaavilla.. :) bt, its a fact :)