Kalchikki Trek, Kudremukh

Details of the homestay could be found in my previous post -  Here 

As indicated in my previous post, I had planned this trip such that I could take a break from all that was happening in my life and prepare myself for an uncertain future. I badly needed this respite. On Friday, the 27th of April 2018, I met Gautam, Ashirwad, Mir and Ramin at KSRTC bus stand and we set off on our journey to Kalasa. I always enjoy forming groups that has a mix of people who don't necessarily know each other. Gautam and I had met at an art workshop that I conducted in Badeladku village. Ashirwad is my ex-collegue and Mir and I met at a vineyard tour arranged by Alliance Fran├žaise de Bangalore. Ramin, Mir's friend is from Kabul, Afghanistan and has recently graduated from an university in Bangalore. 

At around 5:30AM next morning, the sleepy little town of Kalasa was covered in mist. Manju, our jeep driver was there to pick us up. Having already met him during my previous visit, I was delighted to see him again. Mir and I had hoped to view the coffee blossom like the year before but unfortunately we were late by two weeks. The rains had arrived early this year and within a week from the first rains, the flowers would bloom. 

In an hour or so, we reached Rajjapa’s house at Mullodi village. I was glad to see Rajjapa again, a very kind and soft-spoken man. I had carried a painting kit for his kids and thus conducted a quick painting session for them before I was ready to leave for the trek. 

When we were ready and had had our breakfast, Prakash, our trek guide directed us to the trail that would lead us to Kalchikki hill. The trek was great! This was the second time that Mir and I were scaling this peak but I enjoyed it as much as I did during the first time. However, I must admit that I was preoccupied with all the thoughts that were bothering me. I had to analyse things and let go some of them. It was essential. And thus, immersed in retrospection, I remained mostly silent during the entire trek.

After relaxing for a while at the summit, we returned back to homestay and headed directly to the waterfall. It is under those gushing water that I felt cleansed; of all my worries. I realised that a new life awaits me and I had to design it myself this time without repeating the mistakes that I have committed before. Yet, there are some emotions that I fall prey to; that could be an hindrance. But my past experiences should help me move on very quickly. 

Something that occurred to me while I was at the waterfall was that I have already experienced a lot of emotions and everything that I feel now is just a repeat of something already felt or known. Hence, I guess its time to find something more exciting! and do things that I have not attempted before.

Back at the homestay, I helped the kids finish the painting we had begun in the morning. Later, all of us assembled at the front yard and sat there absorbing the serenity in the surroundings. The spectacular view from there motivated me to begin a sketch. 

Around that time, my friend Charan and his family arrived. Charan, Mir and I had been to Mullodi together last year and it was only a happy coincidence that we had planned to be there on the same day this year as well. Sitting around the camp fire, we chatted among ourselves and with other trekkers staying at the homestay. After dinner, we called it a day. Lots of snores followed!

Next morning, as always, I woke up early. I decided to sit outside and continue with my sketch. Ramin joined me. We had some discussion about the situation in Afghanistan and he shared some of his experiences. It is disheartening to hear some of those stories and it is hard to imagine how all that would effect someone. I was curious to know if Ramin grew up with a sense of constant fear in him. His reply to that query took me by surprise.  "No. I did not fear anything while I was there. But, on the contrary, today, I do. I fear returning." He replied. He elaborated on it by recounting a disturbing incident that I choose not to retell. In few words, he had told so much that there was no need to enquire any further. We turned back at the beautiful view in front of us and succumbed to its beauty and silence. Though, I continued to sketch, my thoughts remained with what we had discussed.

When everyone was ready, we had our breakfast and drove to Kyatanmakki. Manju was kind enough to give me a discount of Rs 1000 on the jeep ride. The jeep can take you all the way to the summit. The road is bumpy but fun. The views from the peak is spectacular. We took a stroll to reach a neighbouring peak and relaxed there for a while before deciding to head back.

Manju dropped us at Kalasa from where we took a direct bus to Bangalore. On the way back, I had a long discussion with Ashirwad related to work, future plans and other random topics driven by the effect of stream of consciousness that we both are constantly in. Listening to someone else's plans gets me excited. Because many have dreams, but only a few have plans. I find it necessary to share some of my experiences with them so that they could perhaps gather something out of my learnings or mistakes and stay committed to their dreams. 

I also had a candid conversation with Mir who had lots to share. In the last few months, I see a lot of changes in him too. At this age that we are in, I think we begin to see life differently and we notice the change in relationships. Life indeed gets complicated as we grow older. I guess we realise almost intuitively, which relationships matter to us and which do not. Mir mentioned something profound. He told me that he is no more eager about making new friends. He would rather work on the friendships that matter. Though, I don’t mind making new friends, somewhere down the line, I know that, the search is almost over. I have to strengthen those that exist. These are the people who know me so well and have accepted me the way I am. Gosh! I love the late thirties and the thoughts this phase of life is bringing. 

We reached Bangalore at around 9:30PM. On my way back home, Gautam, who had observed my silence all through the trip told me something that though I knew, I was refusing to admit until then. He told me that I had changed a lot and become extremely silent while on the contrary, before, I took pleasure in the smallest of smallest things; I would be excited about everything. I totally agree with him and I realise how that eventful trek that I did earlier this year has changed me completely. Slowly but surely, that incident and the experiences that followed has moulded me into a different person. 

I have never denied change, as long as it is for good, but I think, I should try to retain some of those qualities that define me. I have been through so much in the last four months that it feels like almost an year. I feel ready for another backpacking trip to rediscover myself; perhaps to reform myself! And I know very well that things would never be the same again and I don’t want it to be either. Because I do not wish to remain stagnant. I have always preferred to evolve. 

Trek Video-