It was 6 am …after a sleepless night of banter with my mates it was finally time to sleep. On the way to the toilet, I met Mudit dressed up and backpack slung on his shoulder, and asked the first question that would make the rest of my day “Are you going somewhere?” Mudit, as always his smiling and excited self said that they were a group of 11 riding to a place called ‘Ghatarani’ known for its waterfall. He was looking for people who would come along and started pestering me to join. One of those moments where the mind says yes and the heart says no. I wanted to go …but with having wasted the entire night before and the one before that, the ghost of pending projects and studies haunted me. I came back to the room seeing others on their way to join Mudit. I sighed; maybe some other time. When I entered the room Alok (my roomie) asked what was up. I told him about the ride these people were going on and how I wanted to go too. I had not even finished my sentence when his bike keys hit me in the chest, “Go on bro!” he said. Those three words were the stimulus that made me get ready in 2 minutes and on the bike with the others.
The pack (if I may call it) started from our residence at IIM Raipur, heading northwards towards NH-30 after fuel and air checks. On NH-30 and outside city limits, we stopped at a ramshackle tea-stall for tea and cigarettes. After tea, it was time to twist the throttle and burn some rubber as we zoomed away through the green paddy fields of Chhattisgarh towards the small town of Abhanpur. With the wind in my hair and Metallica pounding away “I disappear” in my ears I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else, that moment. To top it all, Partha zoomed in from behind me throwing up a challenge. I quickly responded with a change of gears and twist of the accelerator to get ahead of him; our little race went on for a while before I left him in the lurch and put distance between myself and the rest of the group. I finally reached Rajim and waited for the others to come; meanwhile I bought cigarettes and had tea. Seeing that it was taking them too long and fearing something wrong I turned back, to look for them. After going back a considerable distance without a sign of the rest of the group, I asked the second question that would make my day this time directed towards me.”Should I go back or continue towards Ghatarani?” Still don’t understand why I chose the latter but would be thankful to god later.
What followed were few very anxious moments with all sorts of things bouncing inside my head. Despite everything, I went on… The road had by now become a narrow track with paddy fields on both sides and cattle in the middle (yes, on the road!). As I weaved through oncoming obstacles, I brushed on more than one occasion by their tails…. Not a good experience. But despite the thoughts going on in my head and the trouble I was having in maintaining speed, I could not stop myself from soaking in the serene beauty all around me, from lush green paddy fields, fresh air laced with incense from a nearby temple to the sights and sounds of a quaint village waking up. Not really the romantic.... I tried concentrating on the road ahead but couldn’t help my eyes from wandering towards the simple yet touching beauty. Stopping at a place to ask for directions, I was told that the remainder of the group had passed before me. It was the moment of relief that I was looking for, flipping gears and opening the throttle my bike reflected my emotions.
Coming down a slope I suddenly saw a blur of colors mainly yellow with some pink and bit of others. The next thing I knew was that I was on the ground my clothes dirty and some blood on my left leg below the knee. It was nothing serious actually, I had taken a skid and a fall in the process of avoiding a collision with a “family travelling on a bicycle” (man, wife and child on one cycle ….can you believe it!). The bruises were minor and to avoid any further embarrassment in front of a group of giggling schoolgirls, I picked up the bike and whatever was left of my pride and rode on.
“Is that them?” Yes, the third question which made my day came after about 15km later …on a road with curves which could put Jennifer Lopez to shame, I had arrived within seconds of the group and the anxious faces returned to being their usual grinning selves. We went up to the waterfall and posed for photographs trying to look the best we could while being semi-naked (Special mention to Sumit Ranjan for this). Partha was in his element while under the falls and surrounding forest, from making gorilla mating calls to dancing in ways considered offensive in many civilized societies. The temple of Jamtaimata at the head of the falls must have been at least many hundred years old, it made me realize that no matter what changes, but man’s faith in god is perpetual.
As we sat for lunch in a sleepy dhaba in Rajim, the fatigue showed but what showed more was joy. Everyone was happy about the trip and then past incidents were narrated. The laxity in service at the dhaba only gave us more time to chatter about, but suddenly it turned very formal more like a group discussion on topics ranging from Clubs in college to the CR’s. Time seemed to have slowed down (especially for me and Partha; the most uncouth in the group) ….and then the food finally came…spicing things up a bit (quite literally actually).
On the way back, I tried to reminisce all that I had seen on the trip and all that I had done (The stinging bruise on my leg a mute reminder)…. I guess most of all, I remembered faces…smiling faces, be it the bearded ‘Babaji’ at the first tea-stall we stopped at, the giggling schoolgirls, the smile of relief on the faces of my mates when they saw me come over the hill and many others; it showed more than just happiness and contentment …what I saw in them was resilience, for which I arrived at a new definition. It’s not really what people say it is …. It is actually the ability of a person to curl his lips upwards and display his dentures in times of adversity (so much …for an MBA).
I can’t really describe the feelings my posterior had while riding into the campus. Finally it was going to be relieved of all the weight it had been carrying for so long …Now the 80 kg of man would be transferred on to the back on a Godrej mattress, until we ride again!
This article is written by Aniruddh Mukerji, PGP 2013-15. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .