Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fly - Flu - Flown!

Wierd title? May be, yes. But thats the truth I have been seeing over the past 2 weeks or so. The swine flu has got so much attention that I won't be surprised if the past tense of fly is henceforth spelt as 'flu'. But is all this hype justified? Absolutely not. For the sake of convinience, let us look at the case in the eyes of a solitary individual, holed up in a corner room, in an obscure location, in one of the buzzling metropolis - myself!

Some day 3 weeks ago, swine flu broke out. And what followed was pure mayhem. Nobody understood what was happening. Nobody knew what to do. Nobody did what was suppossed to be done. Now, the virus has dissappeared. Just like that! But the point to be pondered is how we responded to the issue. One person got into a hospital and the N95 masks became ubiquitous. Seriously, from when did we start respecting a stupid virus? Did anybody look at its side effects? Some guy stole buscuits from my neighbour. We couldn't even find out who it was as he was 'masked'! ;) One banner in some website read, "20 people get swine flu, everybody puts on a mask. Millions die of AIDS every year. Nobody puts on a condom." Agreed!

I have heard that we are living in 'information age'. Thanks to swine flu, I understood the full meaning of it. Every two minutes some mail relating to H1N1 virus popped in my mailbox. Even people who have not sent me a 'hi, how are you' in years started sending me H1N1 awareness mails! For the sheer lack of a much larger term, I have to call this an information overload! The spreading of these mails actually challenged the spreading of the virus! I heard someone saying the virus lost to the mails! :P So much unnecessary information on dos and donts that I forgot which was which and happily committed a few donts! If only, the virus had known this... :) But seriously, one thing that apalled me is nobody ever forwarded so many mails when there was a blood requirement or some charity happening for some orphanage. God save our generation.

Talk about the media. These guys exploit the one marketing strategy not taught in any B school. If it is controversial, it sells. If it is novel, it sells. If it is both controversial and novel, it sells big time! Every other news channel ran and reran news items about H1N1. I hope there was no saas-bahu serial episodes revolving around swine flu! ;) The only thing these media houses could have done extra is to interview the H1N1 virus itself. This could not be done as the virus was 'busy travelling'. :) Discounting this, the virus got more publicity that it would have ever imagined in its wildest dreams! I am still waiting for the day when our media 'grows up' and starts acting maturely.

What did I do? Nothing! Seriously! I did not go home. I did not waste money on a mask. I had cold but did not take any medicines. I roamed all around campus, ate out, had cold drinks, ice cream and what not. This is my way giving the 'F' word to the virus. :D "Catch me if you can" ;) But the worst part is, the two week break given has made me so darn lazy. I got used to all the nothingness. I want no class, no attendance, no tests, no work. I want to jus keep on sleeping on my (un)comfortable bed :P

Last thurday things started turning around in campus and from yesterday it is almost back to normal. It read some report stating WHO has predicted a second outbreak of H1N1 and the second innings can be worse than the first. I can't confirm whether its a genuine report or some news channel trying to sell the controversy. But if at all there is a second outbreak, only god know what will happen...


P.S: I wrote the first para of this post a week ago. H1N1 has made me so lazy that it took a week to write the next few paras!  :)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A long walk in the woods

Amidst the extraordinarily boring repetitive life, a few days do stand out. Days that make you do something that you usually don't venture into. Days that satisfy your eclectic desires. Days that refuse to fade into oblivion. Those are the days in which you actually live, not just pretend to do so. Such days have to be etched in memory and savoured forever. What other way could be better than blogging to do that. Photographs capture only the cosmetic appearance of your personality. Words convey the essence of your soul. Here I have tried my level best not to lose out on any dope from the scintillating Matheran in monsoons. But it is never complete without a visit to that place.

Matheran is a miniscule hill station on the outerskirts of modern day Mumbai. Motor vehicles are banned on the top citing pollution. So the only transport options available on top are horseback and foot. Vehicles are allowed to ply upto a ceratin point close to the peak though. There are 22 odd view points for us to feast upon the unintoxiated platter of beauty nature has to offer. But as majority of the populace chooses foot over horseback, the number of points that can be covered in a day is limited to 4 or 5. But we, the brave and curious explorers, decided to go one step ahead and cover as much as possible. I am proud to say, we did cover a total of 8 points, some of them mind blowing!

We got up at 3.30 am reached Matheran by 8.30 am. And the journey started! The best description I can give to what followed is enchanting woods, enticing nature, sizzling rains, walk through the clouds, peek into the heavens, a crazy trip accounting for an awesome sunday! It was the first time in my life where I spent a whole day getting drenched in rain again and again. The first point we reached was named Monkey point. It offered an amazing view of the valley and plains below. There was something magical about the view. Or so I thought only to be disproved later on the same day! After the ususal frenzy about photographs was over, we proceeded next to Echo point. To say the views were breathtaking is an understatement. Lush green valleys, deep gorges, clouds floating at one hand's distance and a waterfall. "The act of waking up at 3.30am is gratified", I told myself. But the Echo point never echoed.

Next in line was Charlotte lake. It is a huge lake on top of a hill fed by rain waters, which in turn feeds a giant waterfall. Tourists are permitted to bathe in the overflowing waters and when did we ever miss a chance to have fun! This experience was the icing on the cake. It was just mind blowing. We spent an odd 20 minutes in the water which felt like hours for us. Next in line were 2 important things - Lord's point, suppossed to be one of the best view points in Matheran and Lunch! We were disappointed at Lord's point as cloud cover refused to budge and all we could see was glittering silvery grey. So we headed straight to have lunch.

Post lunch, we decided to pay a visit to the One Tree Hill point. This a funny place where you get to see a huge hill with only one tree on top of it! This was the best place on Matheran and it is situated in the southern end of it. If at all, you go to Matheran, don't miss it. This is a place where clouds play hide and seek with you! Yes. One minute you see silvery grey clouds, next minute you see incredibly deep valleys, next minute it is the picturesque town miles away and next minute you can't even see your fellow mates! Man, you have to be there. "The act of waking up at 3.30am is completely gratified", I told myself again. 

On our way back, we stumbled on a path that would lead us to what was Belvedre point. As our batteries were nearing red zone by then, some of us were diffident to explore it. But the sign that read "Belvedre point. 2 minits" motivated us to go there and witness something that is simply not possible. As we started nearing the Belvedre point, it started to rain heavily. But something caught our eye, the rain was coming horizontally as if someone was shooting water bullets at us. We went further to investigate it and... abracadabra! There was a waterfall in which water never fell! Winds were blowing at such high speeds that entire water was sent backwards to where it came from! I know it is hard to believe this. For the skeptics and the admirers, I captured a video of this incredible natural phenomenon. Contact me for the video and see it for yourself!

After this the agenda was to go home. But reliable sources gave us the information that there was one more place, Lucia point, worth visiting. Some of backed out saying it could become dark and we don't want to be late. But a group of 7 nature enthusiasts headed straight to Lucia point. Believe it or not, it always pays to go that extra mile, in this case, literally! Lucia point is situated on the highest elevation on Matheran. You can see the tops of smaller hills from here and the winds are so strong that if you jump, you will land a few centimeters back. This is a narow cliff with nothing on 3 sides, not even railings! The most dangerous venture limit is decided by your confidence and courage. And yeah, there is no hide and seek with the clouds, you just walk through them. Clouds are all around you and visibility at times reduces to near zero! It was getting both dark and late by that time and our batteries were almost exhausted. So we had to start the return journey. It was a long, painful walk back to the taxi stand, aggravated by the wet jeans and wind cheater. Somehow we managed to reach the taxi stand and subquently NITIE.

It was a day of sorts. I got up at an hour I usually go to sleep, did a lifetime of walking in a single day, took bath in ice cold water with jeans on,  pushed myself to my physical maximum, walked through scary forest pathways, interacted with mother nature face to face, had lots and lots of fun and returned with a rejuvenated mind. Not to mention my jeans that were completely drenched every half and hour! The day will never get over without special mention to two people - 'Akash'pedia, for taking the responsibility of guiding us although he knew nothing in Matheran and Mr. Pandey, for never failing to take the wrong route in every possible juncture! Next day, I slept completely and when I woke up I just had could, cough, fever, body pain and killer ache in the legs.  All in all, it was a day that deserved to be remembered and it will be!