Monday, February 16, 2009

Rocking in cradle of death

If one asks me what have I taken back from my experiences in last 3 days.. the spontaneous answer is "Life". The experiences I have had last few days were enough to reinforce my vanishing faith in God. A self proclaimed agnostic as I am, I think the experiences that I am about to narrate are enough for me to not became an atheist as yet, or may be ever.

My New Royal Enfield
It all started on the way back from a dinner meet with old college friends. There were no cocktails so I wasn't drunk at all. On my way back, as I was driving my new bike, I heard a low noise near my back wheel as if two objects were constantly hitting each other. I usually carry a second helmet and this time there was no pillion rider. I reached out my left hand to feel if the helmet was were it usually should be (on the pillion back rest) but it wasn't. I promptly stopped by the side of the road to check the status and found that helmet was hanging beside the back wheel (causing the low noise). I placed it in proper position and started accelerating again. What I didn't realise was that I hadn't moved the side stand from its parking position.

Oblivious to the fact that the side stand was just about an inch or so above the road, I accelerated the bike to my usual cruising speed of about 65 kph. After a few minutes I was about to change lanes and tilted just a little bit. The lane had some muddy debris on it. Just then heard a screeching (the side stand rubbing against the road) noise as if something was skidding against the road and the next thing I know the bike was down and so was I skidding against the road. I somehow got off the bike as it skid a few more meters ahead before coming to a stop.

I got up walked up to the bike and picked it up, the engine then came to stop. There I was on the right most lane (fastest) of a "keep left" high way with my bike at a stand still and staring back thanking heavens that there wasn't any big speeding truck right behind me. In fact all this while there was no vehicle in sight. The first vehicle passed me only after I had mounted back on my bike and was attempting to bring it back to neutral gear to start off again.

I dragged my bike to the side of the road and then got off again to have a look at myself. A few scratches on the hand, a scratch on the left knee, a sore left thigh and shoulder, a torn left pant pocket, a scratch on the helmet was what I could see. Then of course was the site of me on the ground with the sparks flying off the leg guard of the bike as it skid away from me. A site firmly etched in my mind to remind me that I am lucky to be alive to tell the tale.

The leg guard that took the fall

It took me a few minutes to realise how lucky I was to escape with just a few scratches. I wiped myself up then drove back home another 15 kms or so and some how managed to hide the scratches from my family, who would have been shell shocked to hear this, needless to say that I wouldn't have gotten the permission to drive my bike again. I think eventually they will discover, but by then I would have regained my confidence and may be able to make a case for myself. After all one learns from mistakes and I am not in habit of repeating fatal mistakes.

As if the bike experience was not enough to scare the living day lights out of me, I went ahead the exact next day with my plan of doing the Harischandragad trek via the famous "Nali chi vaat". I somehow felt fit enough mentally and physically to try a testing route. Harishchandragad is host to remains of an ancient fort by the same name and a well known trekkers paradise near Mumbai and is well known for the scenic Konkan Kada, a semicircle shaped approx 1800 high feet vertical drop from the plateau of Harishchandragad.
The "Nali chi vaat" is literally a path via a narrow pass formed by erosion due to a seasonal river. Among the trekker community in Maharashtra, this route is considered one of the most challenging ones and I discovered exactly that over the next 2 days. Our return route was another challenging route - a narrow pass called SadhleGhat.

The famous Nali chi vaat

I went into the trek carrying my bike accident scratches. Apart from the scratches I didn't feel any problems with my body so I went on with the trek plan. However about a couple of hours into the trek I realised that I had a sore right knee. I didn't think much of the knee and continued on with the slight pain. The route was fun (and challenging) so I kept moving from strength to strength. But small accidents had to be there. In one section I was trying a rock climb on a brittle slate rock and I slipped. Luckily I landed on my feet and remained balanced and escaped that fall with just a long cut on my elbow. By the time we reached the top, we were out of gas ( I mean water) and my knee was hurting real bad. Every time I bent the leg, to climb I could feel the pain in the knee. When we reached the cave temple atop the fort I was hoping that I had seen the last of my pain.

I was so very wrong about my knee. The next day I woke up in pain and with the daunting thought of climbing down all the way with the pain announcing its presence every I time I bent my right leg to climb down. I had to try and avoid stress to that knee so I was walking as if I was handicapped on the right leg. That however meant that I had to sit down and drag my ass (literally) on some of the sections of the descent. I kept falling slipping, skidding, getting pricked by thorns all the way as we came down through the jungle and the mountain pass.

The rock that almost crushed my leg
At one point as I was descending, I sat on a rock about 1/3rd my size and was feeling my next step below, just when the so far steady rock moved right below my ass and dragged me with it. I hugged it with both my hands to prevent it from falling on my legs. Again as luck would have it, I was untouched by that rock. Thanks to my hands and a small stone that stopped the rock, which looked destined to trample my already injured right leg. Thankfully I did have the sense humour to pose for this snap while I was still figuring out, how to get up without moving the rock. A little help from our trekking guide and I was up and moving along again.
I made it back home all in one piece ready to write this tale. The last 3 days however have left me thinking as I literally been rocking in a cradle of death and survived it with nothing but a few scratches and a sore knee to show. The scratches will soon vanish and the sore muscles will heal. The memories will fade out as time passes by. However I think I'll still continue to remember these 3 days for a long time to come... may be even till my last breathe ...

This is a post from my other blog.
Original post can be found here

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