The trip to Jim Corbet was one of the most fun trips I have ever been to. Inspite of not really knowing the entire group we were going with, the schedule for the trip looked exciting right from when it was mailed to us.
The trip started on the 16th of March, when we had to travel from Hyderabad to Gurgaon, to continue the trip further to Nainital. After 3 updates from Jet Airways, that the flight was delayed, we ( me and my 2 flat-mates) finally took off in our 5: 30 PM scheduled flight, at 9: 30 PM. Not a very nice beginning, but I was glad it happened J
Since, we were amongst the last few people to check in, the three of us, got 3 middle seats flung across the length of the plane. And could not help but feel bored, as I was flanked by a Korean, and a phirang of I don’t know what origin on each side. I continued sleeping peacefully, till dinner was served, and the phirnag started having doubts about what he was consuming, and started asking me questions about it. I didn’t feel like losing face in front of him, and stating that I wasn’t sure either, and so I started naming things, the items seemed to ‘resemble’ most. And he was quite satisfied till he ended up eating the entire serving of pickle in one bite.
One of the stewards on the flight happened to believe in the concept of ‘personal attention’ with all his heart. Especially since he seemed to believe that he had known me before. And so kept shooting questions about whether it was me he had seen at CP last June, or in the DU campus this December. While I continued negating each of his queries, I mentioned my present place of work. That made Mr. Phirang regain interest (which he had lost after eating the pickle) in talking to me and he was like ‘ oh that’s where I am coming from too’. Well, that made the otherwise extremely boring flight much better, as I sat and discussed, with the client on visit to my company , about all possible related topics. Also, he happened to be working in the same office as my cousin in Netherlands, so it got all the more interesting!
Reached Gurgaon office pretty late after a convincing the cab driver, that there were three people he needed to pick up, as the board he held had only Nivedita and a ‘Ms. Parintta’ mentioned on it. Thankfully, the bus was still waiting for us with the other 20 highly impatient souls already on board. The 9-hour journey, which followed, was extremely quiet, as everyone decided to sleep away the day’s exhaustion, and get ready for the 2 exciting days that followed.
The first thing that struck us when we got down at the ‘Manu Maharani’ resort was that it was really cold. And everyone was shivering, and looking for sunny places to stand as the luggage was unloaded.
The place was beautiful. In fact, it was so beautiful, that it managed to break my belief that only beaches could be called ‘awesome’. We were to share cottages with one person, picked randomly of the lot, and so I had Ruchi, working out of Gurgaon as my room- mate for the two days there.
The cottages had the most beautiful view of the valley on one side, and the rest of the resort on the other. The dining hall had an open seating area, over-looking the Ram-Ganga stream, which becomes the Ram-Ganga River after a few miles. Also, the stuff served in here, was really commendable J
The day had been planned well in advance by our HR and the trainers hired from ‘Vyaktitva’ for the purpose. After an hour’s sleep, and a good breakfast, everyone was all set for the day. Starting with a few HR team building exercises, we finally got ourselves ready for the highlight of the day, the jungle trek. As three teams, each group was to reach a bridge 4 Kms away from the resort, after walking through the streams, crossing parts of the river, with and without bridges, and most funnily, after making ‘acceptable’ tea on the way for our trainer, and solving a small puzzle. All this thankfully, ended up being one of the most enjoyable experiences ever. Especially since we were the last to reach. As one of our team members, decided mid way, that she needed to stand on the stones in one of the deepest parts of the river, and contemplate for half an hour, if it was actually possible to cross the river from there (or probably watch the fishes, or admire nature, or well, whatever!)
The evening was the typical B-school Saturday night party, with a very decent DJ, and so turned out to be much more enjoyable than expected, and worth missing out on the post-trek sleep. When we finally went back to sleep post mid night, none of us was sure if anyone would be up on time for the early morning safari at 6 AM next morning.
But surprisingly, 18 of the 24-member group turned dot on time, and we set out in 3 gypsies to ‘see tigers’. It was the best ride ever, even more fun, with the extreme chill and wind. And very soon, the vehicle was added to my ‘must-own’ list. I don’t think I have ever mentioned that list, but it happens to be a not very recently populated, fast growing in length list, the contents of which I intend to own sometime in life. (Its not really my wish-list, that’s much longer, and much more unreasonable than this one, but anyways.)
So this was a 2 hour-long safari. Awesome weather, Time-pass Company on the jeep, and the unnecessary hype created around the probability of seeing a tiger, or at least an elephant, or more realistically a deer or two was enough to make the early morning trip worthwhile.
We started with a spotted deer, then another spotted deer, then a Sambhar, the biggest deer of the lot. Then we managed to see a number of very normal looking roosters, which the guide insisted were jungle fowls. This was followed by a number of ‘barking-deer’, and langoors, peacocks, and a custard eagle, called so because of its bald yellow head.
As we passed through the jungle, we ended seeing more of where all various scenes from ‘kaal’ were shot, than animals. Somehow, I didn’t mind this either. The trip through the silent jungle, punctured from time to time with calls of weird birds, or screeches from peacocks, was an experience on its own. The entire hour and a half I spent standing at the back of the gypsy, going up and down the uneven paths of the jungle was pure bliss, and I knew I would be coming here again.
The height of excitement was at the point when we ‘almost saw a tiger’. A point we highlighted even while making a presentation on the final takeaways of the trip. A Sambhar was seen running, and so we stopped the vehicle, as there was a possibility that it was being chased. That’s when; everything went quiet, and each of the animals around us, not visible till then, started giving out the so called ‘distress calls’, which are given out when a tiger is seen in the vicinity. And all of a sudden, the jungle, which was so quiet just a moment back, was in utter chaos. And considering how exciting I already found the trip, this was like an all time high point. We waited for 15 minutes, expecting the tiger to be seen anytime, but unfortunately, another gypsy came in, making an awful lot of noise, and the entire jungle went quiet once more. But I still maintain, we almost did see a tiger! And anyways, that was the closest anyone came to seeing a tiger that day J.
In spite of being tired and exhausted, we stuck to the earlier schedule of some more team building exercises (and won all of them this time), and once done, started back to Gurgaon, at around 3. This time however, the bus trip back was mush different, and much much better than the one to the place. After innumerable rounds of antakshari, 20 questions, and all possible weird, loud games in the world had been played for hours, everyone finally went back to rest, getting ready to get back to work a day later.
All in all, I am glad the trip happened, and even gladder that I was a part of it. We now have a common mailing group for the 2005 campus hires, and are supposed to have a city chapter meet every month. Whether that happens or not is of secondary importance, the main thing is that the trip got me to enjoy more than I have in quite some time.