Among the fondest and most nostalgic memories of growing up in the late 70's and 80's was the amount of 'physical' activities we kids used to enjoy , in rain or shine!TV was an option only for cricket matches or weekend films. Every sunlit moment of our days was filled with playing cricket,hidenseek,ghost games,treasure hunts,tree climbing,kite flying or enormously long and serene walks on undiscovered trails.Let me take you along two such fun rides from my flashback!
One of the fondest memories of growing up in hot,hot Madras, was the cool,cool summer visits to our house in Kodai. And we used to stay there for 2 months!The first half of our days were filled with rowing.I used to be a sparring partner for many who used to compete in the kodai boat race.Now before you think I was champion material at that age, that people used to practice against me,it was nothing of that sort!It made them feel good to win every time and it excited me that I could give them a fright once in a while. I was and have remained a king maker and never a king! This was an early lesson. On non 'race'days, I used to take the boat with my cousin and row for about an half hour and park the boat under one of the many trees around the lake and snooze for about an hour! Champions needed rest you see! Ah, isnt a snooze in the prime time of the day one of the most cherished and warm moments? I have carried this habit on to my work and without fail , take a nice snooze at around 11 am ,dreaming of boat races and winning them , while my bosses thought I was intently listening to their spiel about bottom and top lines! Of, course, now I know the art of doing it with eyes open , like most of you! The other tree-side escapes were to catch up on Hardy Boys or Tintin!, I wish we had such wonderful lakes in Madras, I may have even got great grades at school if I had taken my school books to such pristine locations! Even to this day I remember the names of every character from the Hardy boys and Tintin!
The second half of the day in Kodai was our great trekking expeditions! Our motley crew of myself, my cook, our driver and our household help, used to take walks into the unknown territories of Kodai. Though I grew up in the upper middle class mileu, my early moorings into socialism and equality were formed during these walks I guess. This was more fun and real, walking with this strata of society, drinking local chai and grabbing roadside khana and bush nuts rather than the stiff upper lip hoity toities of the upper echelons.I used to be indoctrinated into the lives of my fellow 'trekkers' and what joy it gave them to walk among bounteous nature with their master's son! And one such trek led us to 'Vellagavi', a village smaller than small, about 5000 feet below kodai and the route to this was behind the TVS guest house, a long sheer drop filled with rocks and bushes and caves and a waterfall(well actually a simple stream!) running all along the way. We discovered caves which leads one down to the plains itself at a speed which is faster than going in a car from Kodai to the foothills! The only sounds accompanying us were the gurgle of water, the occasional bird chirp and the threatening sounds of thunder and sudden burst of sunshine or mist.Dangerous rock edges with nothing to hold us if we fall(Don't look at the cliffs and don't look down,we were warned!). We reached the target in 2 hours and discovered this village of about 30 huts where everyone was equal except the postman! The reason, he was the only one who could read and write, he was the local doctor and the panchayat chief and he was their only link to civilization! We were greeted like we were visitors from Mars and every house competed with each other to feed us and take pix with us! They hardly get visitors from 'town' especially wearing shorts and trousers and they do not have TV or milk! What a wonderful life! I hate milk! Apparently if we walk another half hour we will reach the foothills and the plains!
So after singing songs, eating local food and a dip in their 'lake' we started climbing back and wow , was it tough! Fatigue and slippery rocks and the fact that we are going back to reality . slowed us down I guess, and we managed to reach back in about 2 1/2 hours and life entered the normal zone.Oh! to go back to those days! After a million years, I managed to get the same cousin sister , now in SFO, to go for a trek in NZ just to relive those childhood memories!But that is for another blog, another time :-)