Date : 3rd and 4th October 2015
(Im)Perfect Pursuit of Perfection
The following experiences are entirely non-fictional in nature, and all mentioned instances of stupidity exhibited by the 3 culprits are accurate, intentional and to be ridiculed upon. Any inadvertent connection with these incidences, if felt by anyone living or dead, will be a remarkable discovery; the concerned person is, hereby, cordially invited to accompany us on our future escapades!!
The 3 culprits feature – Sharad Kamal, Richa Kukshal and I.
Absolute perfection is a myth.
Looking up at the night sky, lying on my back on an idle Saturday night – that was the usual thing to do back in those days when my dad used to take me to our ancestral home on every weekend. I used to love that perfect symmetry in the night sky, those majestic constellations and an occasional shooting star; or wait…that was probably a dumb NASA satellite!! At least that’s what my dad used to tell me!! Everything seemed so synchronized, so perfect. And as I grew old and read more about it, the farther I went away from the notion of perfection. I understood nature was not perfect, was not meant to be perfect and will probably never be one. Nor will those that constitute it – you, me, your sorrows, my shortcomings, your happiness, my efforts to be the reason for that, your experiences, my elaborate plans….nothing even comes remotely close to attaining the perfection we aspire for.
Nevertheless, every now and then, we plunge into the depth of our spirits and make those occasional efforts to shape everything imperfect around us just a tad perfectly – to enable us experience the perfect joy within our souls. It was in one of those pursuits of perfect happiness that we discovered the joys of imperfection around us. Important lessons were learnt, interesting choices were made and what emerged on the canvas were memories to be cherished for a long time – and it all started with a simple mistake on our part.
Imperfection breeds strength:
“Guys….there is a state-wide strike called for today. All the local modes of transport will stay grounded!!!”
At 5:30 a.m., trying to beat the chilly early morning Coorg air, it could not have been any worse a start to the day. What ensued was a moment taken straight out of Inception – “Dude…it should have come up in the research!!! Why was it not found out?” Contrary to the popular modes of travel adopted by travelers coming to Coorg – which is a road trip on personal vehicles or opting for a rental cab service, we had somehow decided that we will explore Coorg like the locals do – on its public transport system. It was supposed to be fun within a tight budget, and perfect; only if we had taken all the variables correctly in our equation, that is. Thus, a run-time rescheduling of the options was done on our short walk towards Raja’s Seat – a suggested must-see place, as we would not want to miss the first lights of the day reveal the majestic landscape observable from the vantage point over there. But how could we blame the drowsy mist and the blanket of thick clouds which completely obscured the “supposedly” majestic view. They were just playing their small part in the big picture – a disappointing start to what looked like a potentially disappointing day!!
A Leap of faith, spontaneous brain-freeze or absurd stupidity….I still don’t know which phrase captures the essence of our action at that point of time. But inhibitions were shed, and in split seconds the decision was made.
We would walk around Coorg, and see how it goes!!
Now when I look back at that time, which probably was the turning point of our entire excursion, it bore the sweetest of fruits at the end of it all. What ensued was a trail of 3 backpackers walking through the winding lanes originating from Madikeri, on the lookout for an experience worth cherishing!! Hardly a moment passed by without an odd joke being cracked. Not a mile went without having to turn back and finding The Lady take her own sweet time walking along the mountain weeds, the green pastures reflecting on the sunglasses she so vehemently sported throughout. What started as an 8 km walk towards Abby Falls soon turned out to be a futile attempt at keeping up with those seemingly endless paths!! Being Google-guided on through remote villages where, at one point of time, our Brianne of Tarth very nearly picked up a run-for-life competition with an angry village bull. Walking alongside a crystal clear stream of water, even the skinny village dog foxed us into following him, only to lead us deeper into the woods.
A makeshift bridge, gurgling of the stream raging underneath it and not a soul in sight to shout out to….such was the thrill and creepiness surrounding every step we took. By the time we made our way through head-high wild grass fields towards the main road near the falls, the bewilderment surrounding the confused onlookers was a sight to cherish!!
Back at Madikeri after the visit to the falls, we still had a big problem at hand – how do we get to our home-stay at Kakkabe!!! One small step for man and one giant leap which would have killed him instead – the latter part of the day was such an incident waiting to happen. Insanity prevailed and driven by the ecstasy of our earlier stroll we marched further on…..
….on a 36km long stretch to reach Kakkabe!!!
Such distances had never been walked upon by any of us in our lifetimes, but such was the eagerness to add a flavor to an already dismantled plan that we took off from Madikeri towards Kakkabe, with a renewed hope. And what ensued on the journey was a lesson we would never forget for a long time –
Give someone a chance to disappoint you. Give yourself a chance to be surprised, in the process!!
Imperfection fosters perfect acquaintances :
“Uncle Kakkabe k liye yahi raasta jaata hai kya?” (Uncle, is this the road to Kakkabe? )
Taking extra caution to avoid any unwarranted excursions, we approached a fright truck standing at the side of the road.
“Haan, hai to!! Gaadi se ja rahe ho na? Buses band hain aaj” (Yes, it is. You guys are going by car, right? Buses aren’t running today)
While we sheepishly searched for a response which could hide our seemingly stupid idea, one of us had altogether different ideas!!! A brief conversation and exchanges of a few apprehensive glances later – there were the Three Musketeers, sitting on top of the trailer filled with gravel, while the driver and his 3 colleagues merrily made the truck dance through those curvy mountain roads!! Having rejected the notion of hitch-hiking through unknown landscapes as potential exaggerations, I happily stand corrected. Somewhere in between the fear and ecstasy, we found the merry and cheerful spirits which defines an inhabitant of Coorg. He could only drop us till Vijay nagar, but that was more than what we had even imagined at the start of the journey.
It was a joy ride, indeed. Ignoring the curious glances of by-standers along the beautiful road meandering through the lush green hills and paddy fields, the trip had definitely taken a turn towards the unexpected. By the end of it, we had already covered some 20-odd kilometers. And the journey had just begun!! The Big Blue Truck ride had given us the “shamelessness” to hitch a ride in a cool Yellow Jeep, followed by another in a Grim Grey one – taking us to almost the footsteps of our home stay. Flipping through those pages of memory, I cannot help but deeply appreciate the companionship and helpfulness embedded in the lifestyle of inhabitants of Coorg. Entrepreneurship and engineering topics were discussed from the back seats; which made us realize the fact that Mechanical Engineering is still a sought after course amidst all the IT and software chaos prevailing around us. Interesting moments were encountered upon at the backseat of a vintage Jeep, driven by 3 free Bangalorean souls on a vacation – one of which turned out to be the HR of the organization I had recently parted ways with!!
“OK tell me, frankly, was it a planned resignation, or were there some other factors which forced your hand!! Sorry, can’t help asking these questions….part of my routine as an HR, you see.”
She inquired with a smile on her face.
Damn, not again. One exit interview was sugarcoating enough!!
Imperfection enhances appreciation for perfection, trickling across the canvas:
With legs outstretched upon the empty chairs, and the sound-and-light show of nature at its peak just behind the mountain ranges in front of us – we had the best “balcony” seats for the spectacle. Surrounded by coffee plantations, with paddy fields adding contrast to the landscape around us, our home stay was far away from the glitter of the city lights. Lots of catching up was done, school days and gossips were revisited and by the time beds were laid it was almost morning!! Sunrise has always remained elusive to me (…yes yes I am a night owl and its serving me fine till now!!). But laziness could wait for tomorrow. One of the inadvertent benefits of hasty booking of our home stay was that we were very close to Tadiandamol hiking trail. And I, for one, did not want to miss out on the opportunity to scale the peak and witness the landscape Coorg was cozily nestled in.
It’s hard not to “Run to the Hills” when one gets to witness such breath taking views of the sun rising above the landscape still sleeping under the blanket of mist. (Iron Maiden would so like to kill me for “corrupting” the context of the epic song!!) All through the ascent, the fatigue slowly subsided, adrenaline rushed to the sinews and the enthusiasm peaked all over again. It is not considered one of the most picturesque trekking trails for nothing – for the trail passes through some of the most beautiful forests and viewpoints of the Western Ghats, stretching across 3 state boundaries of the country. The camera did not want to sit quietly either – all the lenses completely occupied trying to capture everything for those awaited moments of retrospection and remembrance. I do need pictures with a memory like mine.
Sitting today, at Buddha’s Paradise café at Kushalnagar, such culminates our perfectly imperfect getaway to Coorg. Faults with schedulingwas ours – admitted. But the experiences they brought with them were ours as well. And that is all that matters, right? Alas, as fate would have it, there was no happy ending to this tale as well – I still need time to get over the pathetic Steamed Wontons and Chicken Chowmine I had from a surprisingly-crowded Tibetan restaurant……or maybe I have been exposed to extraordinary high standards of Tibetan cuisine from my childhood spent in the Dehradun valley!!
Still looking for a “moral of the story”? Of course, we all look for one at the end, to add to our bouquet of experiences through life. But as it turns out,
Situations are seldom perfect. It is how we choose to experience them which add that perception of perfection.
Isn’t it the case every single time?