Whomever made this is absolutely right 😉 😀 Because, group travels will be always like this! This time, I thought of exploring the east coast and asusual had put-forth the plan infront of my friends. My goodness, everyone was ready – Maithreyee, Bhojnadh, Meghna, Eshwar, Sharat, Naveen, Praveen, Divya, Shruti and ofcourse I was already there! Just 10 days before the trip, Praveen informed us that he won’t be able to make it as he had to attend some official work in Pune, Naveen can’t because his exams were around, Divya can’t coz she can’t skip her classes of Big Data, Shruti is going to Delhi to join her Civils Mains classes and Meghna is going on another trip with her other group of friends. There we go, the Toyota Innova became a Maruti Suzuki Swift D’zire!! 😀 😀
5 days before the trip, Sharat called me only to say that his Section Officer didn’t sanction him leave and so he can’t join us on the trip. Still, we stuck to the Maruti Suzuki Swift D’zire! 4th day while I was in the office, my phone beeped and when I unlocked it, the next obvious thing happened – A photograph of Maithreyee with a huge Plaster of Paris bandage around her left leg popped up on my WhatsApp. 😦 Therefore, the Maruti Suzuki Swift D’zire became a Maruti Alto!! 😀 😀
Finally, it was Eshwar, Bhojnadh and I who were left to go on this trip if we are not to cancel it. I made up my mind and told them that we are going to Odisha anyways, no matter who else joins! There is no proper plan as such, but we made a point that we all will meet in Vizag (Visakhapatnam) and then decide what we gonna do.
All set and ready to go. We headed to our major base camp to gain a set of instructions with some food packages to carry along. We received nice gift packs filled with toffees, peanuts and sesame bars. Post waving to the next batch, we boarded the vehicle to Maane Bhanjayang, the place where our trek starts. I came to know from Neetha that Ruthwik was suffering with back aches owing to bad spine and that he was not going to join us with the trek. Hence a trek with just me and Neetha where we could spend more time to understand each other better and strengthen our friendship. It’s a three hour travel from Darjeeling which took us through the beautiful valleys and mountains. Apart from the serene that I was relishing, I was listening through the talks that Neetha was engaged into.
We reached Maane Bhanjayang and procured a food pack to keep ourselves energized on our way to Tumling. Tumling was our base camp. It was an 11 km trek from Maane Bhanjayang to Tumling. The first day was spent with the gang of friends that I already knew from the time we started when Neetha was getting new acquaintances. I was silent watching Neetha as she indulged well in group discussions when it came to exchanging views and socializing. A chord struck hard – even though I was with my batch and Neetha with hers – I was constantly, unconsciously, watching and noticing her! It might seem silly, but a healthy watch!
It was dusk when we stepped Tumling. Through the uphill I started feeling cramps and sprain on my left knee and consulted the camp leader who suggested a pain killer and stated it should be fine. We had a camp fire that night and kick started with our favorite Antakshari (music game) and slipped into the mime game of Dumb Charades. Neetha knew a vast majority of the old songs and would sing at least a line of it which I owe her credits for.
Back in the tent I let her know of my knee sprain and was uncertain of the next day trek when she pitched in with an inspiring note of “everything would be fine and that I would certainly be able to trek” the trek was from Tumlong to Kalapokhri which is roughly about 10 kms. I started the journey the next day on a positive note and throughout the trek she kept checking on me if everything was alright with my knee. That was one of the first experiences for me, not with the trek, but with someone interested in my well being on a constant note.
My pain started to overtake me than the destination and somehow I managed to push Neetha to go with others since I knew I could be the reason for her delay if she hangs out with me owing to my pain. It got darker and my eyes felt the pinch of the knee. I managed to reach the base camp at Kalapokhri and the camp leader was kind enough to wait for me outside of our accommodation. When the camp leader was asking me of my injury, walked in Neetha to console and comfort me. Every other camp member gathered for the night’s campfire. We headed for dinner and the camp leader asked me to join him in order to learn massage for the knee with an ointment and wrap with a cloth around. Neetha took it as her responsibility that helped me realize – a friend in need is a friend indeed! I did fall asleep in comfort.
Neetha had constantly done the massaging when I fell asleep and I have no clue of how long that continued for which am really thankful, as I am to my own MOM for all the love and affection. Compassion and Empathy filled in Neetha…