The Modern tale of Ant & Grasshopper: Global Inequality -Lessons for India

When I was in the engineering college I came across with a modern version of the ‘The Ant and the Grasshopper’ from the Aesop fables. In short the story goes like this:

The Old Version: The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and Laying up supplies for the winter. The Grasshopper thinks the Ant is a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away. Come winter, the Ant is warm and well fed. The Grasshopper has no food or Shelter so he dies out in the cold.

Indian Version: The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and Laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the Ant’s a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away. Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed. While others are cold and starving. NDTV, BBC, CNN show up to provide pictures of the shivering Grasshopper Next to a video of the Ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. The World is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be that this poor Grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Arvind Kejriwal stages a demonstration in front of the Ant’s house. Anna Hazzare goes on a fast along with other Grasshoppers demanding that Grasshoppers be relocated to warmer climates during winter. Amnesty International and UN criticize the Indian Government for not upholding the fundamental rights of the Grasshopper. The Internet is flooded with online petitions seeking support to the grasshopper (many promising Heaven and Everlasting Peace for prompt Support as against the wrath of God for non-compliance). Opposition MPs stage a walkout. Left parties call for ‘Bengal Bandh’ in West Bengal and Kerala demanding a Judicial Enquiry. CPM in Kerala immediately passes a law preventing Ants from working hard in the heat so as to bring about equality of poverty among Ants and Grasshoppers.

The Ant is unable to cope its retroactive taxes, its home is confiscated by the Government and handed over to the Grasshopper in a ceremony covered by NDTV. Arvind Kejriwal calls it ‘ A Triumph of Justice’. CPM calls it the ‘Revolutionary Resurgence of the Downtrodden’. UN invites the Grasshopper to address the UN General Assembly. The PM takes the credit for always caring about the ‘aam’ Grasshopper.

Many years later, The Ant has since migrated to the US and set up a multi-billion dollar Company in Silicon Valley, hundreds of Grasshoppers still die of starvation despite reservation somewhere In India, and as a result of losing lot of hard working Ants and feeding the Grasshoppers, India is still a developing country.’

At that time it made so much sense to me as why there is inequality in the world. I wondered why just people can’t be just like ants, work hard for themselves, save, invest and be wealthy. I didn’t realize the story of the world isn’t as simple as the above story. But now, after acquiring some basic knowledge of the world, I think there are few assumptions in the story which doesn’t hold true in the real world. First, Ants and grasshoppers don’t have the equal access to the resources in the real world. Secondly, they are not equally equipped to use those resources. Third the world doesn’t work in isolation. The ants are dependent on grasshoppers and vice versa. There is a certain kind of hierarchy in place which make this relation and the whole context a bit complex. Over that there are so many sociopolitical realities which can’t be ignored. Keeping all these flawed assumptions in mind, this story doesn’t capture the core problem of chronic inequality of India and the world. As Thomas Piketty said, “Intellectual and political debate about the distribution of wealth has long been based on an abundance of prejudice and a paucity of fact.” Thus, this phenomenon should be analyzed by more than mere stories, opinions and fantasies.

Thomas Piketty’s recent book ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’ tries to that. His approach was simple. He collected the data on income and wealth and then defined the two basic categories, wealth and income, broadly and assertively but in a way nobody had really bothered to before. The book’s terms and explanations are utterly simple; with a myriad of historical data, Piketty reduces the story of capitalism to a clear narrative. Piketty’s argument is that, in an economy where the rate of return on capital (r) outstrips the rate of growth (g), inherited wealth will always grow faster than earned wealth (r>g). (Thomas Piketty, 2014)

Now, this huge wealth inequality where world top ten percentile controls the 90 percent of the world wealth, shows that there is something wrong with the way current world is operating. If we see most of today’s global system of production are capitalistic. And in Capitalism, there are two major players firms and the workers. Now the firms represent the demand and the workers as supply data. By way of combining different variables, which broadly cover the household, personal, labor market characteristics, the results of our paper tend to suggest that wage function in India is bound up with conventional variables predicted by human capital theory, personal and social dualistic identities, and human development. (Bino Paul, D & Krishna, 2012). But there is one important distinction here i.e. firms have capital with them and capital itself can earn generate income which cause the wage gap to grow exponentially. Whereas the workers’ only source of income is through jobs which are again dictated by the firms most of the time, and amidst the risk of the markets and without the proper social security nets, things become even worse for workers.

In India the inequality gap is as stark as US and the reasons are not that different. There is a huge disparity among the wages of the workers, supervisors, managers and top executives. And not only that the real wages of the workers didn’t increase much with respect to the inflation whereas the supervisors, managers and top executives earned huge premiums in formal manufacturing sector in India (Krishna et al., 2017). The wages of the workers has been defined as functions of different variables, which broadly cover the household, personal, labor market characteristics. The study conducted by Bino Paul and Krishna concluded that the wage function in India is bound up with conventional variables predicted by human capital theory, personal and social dualistic identities, and human development (Muralidharan, D, & Murti, 2014)

The lessons which can be drawn from Piketty’s book can be used be India. According to Piketty, there are forces of convergence and there are forces of divergence which acts on the inequality gap. Now India has a huge labour supply and as per Piketty there are two major forces of convergence for the huge inequality gap: The law of supply and demand and the diffusion of knowledge and skill. As the supply is already in abundance, it will be prudent to focus on diffusion of knowledge and skill. The education system from the grassroots level needs to be inclusive of people from the all different strata of the society. Education and opportunity to education is the biggest equalizer of all. Scandinavian countries have understood it well and we can see the difference not only in their wealth equality but also Human development index and other indicators. Thus, focus on inclusive public education system which helps in diffusing the knowledge and skills is one of the most essential step towards reducing the harrowing wealth gap.

Acting against the forces of convergence are the forces of divergence which are the inequality r > g, combined with the inequality of returns on capital as a function of initial wealth, and these can lead to excessive and lasting concentration of capital: no matter how justified inequalities of wealth may be initially, fortunes can grow and perpetuate themselves beyond all reasonable limits and beyond any possible rational justification in terms of social utility (Thomas Piketty, 2014).

To curb these forces of divergence, Piketty recommends progressive tax and as much as 80% to the top and present it as a utopian idea. He says,

“If democracy is to regain control over the globalized financial capitalism of this century, it must also invent new tools, adapted to today’s challenges. The ideal tool would be a progressive global tax on capital, coupled with a very high level of international financial transparency.”

IMG_3504Thomas Piketty is right about Progressive tax: It will be able to take away the undue advantage of the rich people compounding their wealth. Now progressive tax is a regulatory mechanism that can in some way reduce the gap but it comes with its own set of caution. It certainly allows to put a check on wealth accumulation but on the other hand, it start punishing some people for their work ethics and risk taking abilities. It takes away the motivation to work hard, to go that extra mile to acquire the skills which takes months or years. Thus, there has to be a fine balance in using progressive taxes because regulations curb freedom and as Milton Friedman has rightly said,

 

“A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.”

To conclude, ants and grasshoppers of today need freedom and equality of opportunities. Then the story of ant and the grasshopper will hold somewhat true in actual world. Because in the world there will always be some ants and there always be some grasshoppers and there should be something for everyone. Let us not punish ants for working hard and let’s not condone the laziness of the grasshoppers but before that we have a long way to go. First we need to achieve the equality of opportunity for all.

References:

Piketty, T., & Goldhammer, A. (2014). Capital in the twenty-first century.

D, B. P. G., & Krishna, M. (2012). Labour Market in Urban Agglomerations : A Case from an Indian Global City, 3, 453–478. https://doi.org/10.1177/097172181201700306

https://www.ft.com/content/202ed286-6832-11df-a52f-00144feab49a

Krishna, A. M., Bino, P. G. D., Indian, S., Relations, I., Issue, S., Krishna, M., & D, B. P. G. (2017). What Explains Wage in India ? Published by : Shri Ram Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources Stable URL : http://www.jstor.org/stable/23510794 What Explains Wage in India ?, 48(3), 487–499.

Muralidharan, T., D, B. P. G., & Murti, A. B. (2014). Should Real Wages of Workers Go Up in Indian Manufacturing ?, xlix(30), 153–162.

To wear or not to wear !

About three years back, When I was just into my first project in TCS,
I made one big blunder. In that youthful indiscretion, I did something that was so wrong!

I had asked myself so many times… To wear or not to wear … but I did eventually… I wore a round neck T-shirt to office…..
Trust me I didn’t know how big a mistake this was, until I was told that I had to go back and come in collared T-shirt. I mean really … Ask me to jump from this building I would do it …but trekking through traffic is worst in Bangalore ! This is even worst than listening to Tahir Shah’s Angel song.
All I wanted to do was to impress the female colleague in my team with my funky T-shirt. That T-shirt has all the words written on it which I wouldn’t have dared to say otherwise. And here, I wasn’t even allowed inside. Who the hell made that rule ?

Thanks to the Bangalore traffic … It was already the time for the lunch when I got back, and that pretty girl has already left for the lunch… with someone else. That day, She didn’t get impressed but I really got depressed. That day I really felt reverse gender discrimination and since then I have been meaning to vent out my frustration and I guess today is the right day… Why ?
You will get to know in a while.

First let’s talk about clothes !
I think there are two parameters in which women’s clothing range beats men’s clothing range hands down
Variety and Range of Colors ! Lets talk about variety …
I mean girls can wear any type, in many colors and whatever they want, be it salwar kurta, chudidaar-kurta, sleevless, leggings, jeggings, tops, skirts, saree, lehnga and trust five minutes will fall short for it. And the amazing part is they can label it so well, These are formals, these are party wears, these are for marriages, these for birthdays, these for anniversaries , these for toastmasters and what not !!
For us men it is pretty much one pair of dual purpose formals … Yeah ! We don’t mind wearing the same set of dresses to the parties even. (As if we have a choice)

Next is Range of colors – We men anyway know pretty less colors. Over that, bright colors are taken away leaving blue, black, white and their shades. How couldn’t we look monotonous. For Girls, life is so colorful. They carry rainbow colors to the office on their whims and fancies. I don’t think there is a color or shade which girls can’t wear to the office. The other day I saw a teammate wearing a multi-colored dress which we men can only wear in Goa and look cool but If we wear it to our workplace we would certainly be considered as fools.

As a matter of fact … Even in the most fashionable and expensive shirt, we would look as if we haven’t taken bath since the last winters.
Of course there are some exceptions such as Salman Khan .. but wait coz usually he doesn’t wear one.

And I don’t even want to start with accessories …
Women know how much is there to choose from and how different they can look by wearing all these clothes and accessories.
May be that’s why shopping is a therapy for women and a tragedy for men. Men are not even allowed to keep long hair or funky hair styles or not even experiment with their beards. All these differences and discrimination become even more stark at the workplace. What is the reason for such idiotic segregation? There should be some explanation for that. I am still waiting for those ‘Pajama Leaks‘ which will lift the viel from this mystery. I hope soon we will have our ‘Azaadi‘ … Azaadi of wearing whatever we want… Azaadi of keeping whatever hair style or beard style we want.
But at the same time let the differences be, coz Isn’t men are from Mars and women are from Venus !

Oh ! By the way …
Just few days back, after so many years !
I am asking myself that question again …To wear or not to wear my fav. round neck Tshirt which can say things which I can’t from my voice box.
And yes you are right. A new girl has joined my team !!

PS : Never let the truth come in between a good story :p

She dances in my mind

She dances in my mind,

Damn it,

It has kept her on rewind !

The poor fellow is smitten,

The moment it saw,

her cute movements like a kitten !

She dances over meadows,

In the lights,

She danced with the shadows !

Without wings, she flies,

To the blue sky,

She rise and rise and rise !

One day she will meet me,

Not only in dreams,

An eternity of wait, but let it be !!

~ Ace

You know my name, not my story !!

This post is the script of my ‘Ice-Breaker’ speech in Toastmasters Club. Here is my whole life in 10 minutes :

You know my name, not my story,
In the darkest failures, my shining glory,
You know what I’ve done, not what I’ve been through,
What was the lie and what all true,

You judge me from the scoreboard,
but you don’t know my game,
Maybe what I am doing make no sense,
but you hardly know my aim,

You are laughing at my efforts,
screaming all of them are in vain,
Listen, I’m not giving up,
I’m like a beast,very hard to tame,

You know my name, not my story,
In the darkest failures, my shining glory !!

~ Amit Chaudhary


Today, I am going to tell you that story of my life which you still don’t know. My life has five main chapters :

Chapter 1 – Hills to mills :

I was born in the lap of Himalayas, a village named Tharu in Kangra Dist of HP. It was a joint family and major occupation of the family was farming till my father got job in Indian Railways.

Himachali by birth

Son of Mountains

In around two years my younger brother was born and I was sent to my maternal abode which was a remote village in the hills of Himalayas.
It didn’t have a pakka road connecting to the nearby town and we used to get drinking water, supplied by trucks. I still have a fading memory of my great-grandmother with whom I used to go fetch water and used to spill almost all while reaching back home. My maternal grandfather was in army from whom I used to listen War stories. The life was simple and serene.

But then around 4 years of age my parents took me from a village in hills into the town of mills where my father worked. It was a place called RCF(Rail caoch factory) Kapurthala. Raliway coaches were manufactured there.This was my journey from Hills to mills.

From Hills to Mills

From Hills to Mills

Chapter 2 – The transformation :

Inspired from my maternal grandfather, I had a dream of being an Air force fighter pilot…
In class fifth I took the entrance exam to join Sainik School Kapurthala. It was a military boarding school. I cleared the written test, interview and medical and
joined it. Little did I realize the kind of trouble I was putting myself and my family into. Unknowingly I had put my family through financially hard times as it was an expensive school. I can’t forget their sacrifice and what they have done for me.
Not only that I had put myself in that ‘hell’. The school was ruthless, there was ragging, physical torture, a morning to midnight strict routine and then there was pain of separation from the family. I cried and cried till my tears ran dry. I still remember how I used to communicate through letters and postcards to home.
Slowly things got bearable and I adapted and learnt to live in that hell. I washed and stiched my own clothes, gave myself medication when needed, did almost
everything on my own and transformed into a self-dependent individual.

Journey in Sainik School Kapurthala

Journey in Sainik School Kapurthala

Another kind of transformation was brought in by my school teachers.
My school Principal inspired me to read good books and watch good movies, my art teacher brought out the artist in me. I didn’t want to join school band but my music teacher beat the hell out of me and made me join it. Serendipitously, our school band was selected to march on Republic day in New Delhi. Marching on Rajapth is one of the memorable moment of my life. I love music now.

Artist, Musician and Thinker

Artist, Musician and Thinker

Then, In the Xth board I was amongst the toppers of my class and my school registrar’s lecture on the day of result struck me. He said one should not only be good in studies but should be an allrounder.It had a great impression on me and in 11th class I started playing every sports be it basketball, swimming, squash, volleyball, football etc. I won Gold medals in my first 3000 mts and 1500 mts athletics races. I made a place in school Basketball team. I never believed if I could be a sportsperson.

Molded into an All-rounder

Molded into an All-rounder

It was then I realized I can do anything or anybody can do anything.
In hindsight all of this experience have made me stronger, not only physically but mentally as well and now I call it Heaven not Hell.

Saikapian Abode

Saikapian Abode

Once upon a time, I lived in heaven,
When I was a boy of age eleven,
I put my little steps into the heaven,
there was a glitter in eyes,
the excitement and frenzy of a new life,
the stage was set to transform,
a puppy into a lion n live the life of king size,
the golden years of my life were seven,
Once upon a time, I lived in heaven !!

Chapter 3 – Dream to Dust :
After seven years of transformation I was ready to realize my dream. I cleared NDA written exam and SSB interview but unfortunately I was rejected in medical. I had calcification which means, I had a mole of calcium on my liver. Although AIIMS, Dellhi cleared me but they didn’t take me in. It was a shock… I was broke and I was shattered. From cloud nine, I crashed to the ground. The pain was unbearable as I was rendered helpless by fate. Moreover I didn’t have a clue what to do with my life. I was lost.

Dawn became dusk and dreams became dust

Dawn became dusk and dreams became dust

Chapter 4 – Sweat and Shine :

I refused to lose in the hands of fate. I took admission in BSc NM in DAV college Jalandhar. There I got opportunity to be in college quiz team and we won Inter- college physics quiz there. That’s how I met a physics lecturer who suggested to me to do engineering. So along with my Bsc exams I took AIEEE and managed to get admission in Civil Engineering, GNDEC Ludhiana, One of the best colleges in Punjab.
As I had no particular interest in engineering, I did everything but studies. I was in my college Athletics, Basketball, Cycling, Cross-country, Quizzing and Cultural team. I won innumerable medals and trophies during college. I became national player in cross-country and cycling.

Just do it

Just do it

I had joined various clubs in college such as ISTE, NCC etc. I started writing poems, photography and video making. Surprisingly I was among toppers in my civil branch and became Student of the year in the final year of my college.

Student of the Year

Student of the Year

Chapter 5 – In search of the destiny :

By final year I had watched many true story movies such as October sky and Glory Road, watched many inspiring videos such as stanford speech of Steve Jobs and Harvard speech of JK Rowling, many inspiring books such as Stay hungry and stay foolish and connect the dots. All these in culmination gave me wings again to dream high and touch the sky. I dared to dream again. This time I dreamed of being someone who can make difference in the world. I decided to do an MBA.

In the final year I had offers from construction companies but I decided to join TCS thinking it would provide me learning and it indeed has.

Before joining TCS I taught in PT Education as a quant teacher for about six months.

Teacher @ PT Education

Teacher @ PT Education

Since joining TCS I have participated in events such as CSR initiatives, TCS 10K, TATA Crucibles, TBLA ( Tata business leadership awards) in which we were regional finalists and various other events. Besides that I have joined many clubs such as photography club, dance club, trekking club,quiz club and now the TM club.

Let's do everything

Let’s do everything

This April I appeared for TAS( Tata Administrative Services) and went till presentation rounds. It was then I realized that I need to improve my speaking skills and it is one of the major reason to join TM club. I have developed new interests such as singing, gyming, cooking, learning Spanish and playing chess.

Let's do everything - Part 2

Let’s do everything – Part 2

I like to be jack of all trades. I believe there is just one life to live and lets do everything one can do.

In search of destiny ...

Before winding up I want say few lines of my poem …

Jal jaane de khud ko, iss aag se kyu darna hai,
yeh aag aur davaab hi tuhje badalenge,
Abhi koyla hai tu, Heera tujhe banana hai,
Iss andhere ko cheer kar,
kirano se apni, jag roshan abhi karna hai,
Jal jaane de khud ko, iss aag kyu darna hai,
Abhi koyla hai tu, Heera tujhe banana hai !!

PS : I became the best speaker of the day 🙂


Edit : Due to shortage of time I couldn’t write about the support and motivation I have got from friends at every stage of my life. Whatever I am today is because of you all. The list is long and you know, you are in my special list. Kyunki …

Har ek Friend Zaroori hota hai … Love u all 🙂

Trekking to Kanoor Kote and Dabbe Falls

Caveat : It is a long way to the end, but so is the trekking. If you are a trekker I am sure you can reach its end :p

Climb every mountain, Search high and low,
Follow every byway, Every path you know.
Climb every mountain, Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow, ‘Till you find your dream !!

These words always keep echoing in me…
Prologue :

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The son of the mountains

Being born in the lap of Himalayas, the love for trekking and mountains was innate in me. I was always in awe of the heights and beauty of the Himalayas and no other terrain in India excited me as much as Himalayas. But geography lessons in school and shows in Discovery channel fostered a desire to experience western ghats too along with other places. Western ghats is known for its beautiful dense rainy forests and its rich flaura and fauna. But life got entagled in school, college, and subsequently in the race of career, it got busy in array of things and innate desire of adventure and thrill was lost somewhere inside.
It is amazing how a single message or mail can produce a change in your life just like a single spark can produce a violent fire so strong that it can burn even a forest. For me it was a mail from Bangalore TCS Maitree about one day trip to Ranganathittu for bird photography. Though I was not a photographer and still I am not, I got excited by the mail just for the love of nature. This trip rekindled the lost desire and it was as if I had tasted the blood.

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Ranganathittu : A click by Amit Chaudhary

A week after that, I trekked to Kudremukh peak with a bunch of enthusiasts, strangers who became good friends by the end of the trek. I fell in love with the beauty of the of western ghats and monsoon rains. ( I had decided to trek without a rain coat )

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KudreMukh

The trek to Kudrekmukh

Without much ado, let me start with trek of Dabbe falls and Kanoor Kote of which this post is about.

14-June :

The Kudremukh hangover was not even over yet and Voila ! A mail from Bangalore Maitree. This time it was from Adventure club about a trek to Dabbe Falls and Kanoor Kote. Felt like Western ghats were calling me again. I decided to get it registered no matter what. I had office that weekend. Somehow managed that. My first hurdle was over. The next biggest hurdle is to get registered as the number of seats were around 50 and I was sure the kind of employee TCS has its gonna be tougher than Tatkal reservation of Indian Railways. The next day the link opened five minutes late which has already caused panic among the enthusiasts and as expected the seats just got filled in a blink of an eye. Thanks to the backup plan I finally got the registration. ( At least IT has taught me to have a sound Business Continuity Plan if nothing else :p)

16th- June to 18th June :

In this period all the confirmed TCSers received regular mails from Adventure club with all the details which helped us in preparing for upcoming trek. Thanks to Maitree team for all the minute details. The bags were packed and the excitement was on the surge, eagerly waiting for the day to come.

19th June :

Left the office a bit early, did some shopping and bought some arsenal( common salt) to fight the blood -sucking leeches. The time of journey had arrived and the excitement was already on the peak. After the ritual and group pic, we embarked upon a journey to reach our base camp. Most of the faces were new and a cool introductory session broke the ice. We decided to get some sleep before the trek and called it a day.

TCS Maitree Adventure club

TCS Maitree Adventure club

20th June : ( DAY 1 – Kanoor Kote)

In the morning we were joined by Aventura India members who were our official guides and facilitators. We arrived at a place from where our bus can’t go further and we have to travel 2 kms to the base camp which was at Hosagadde Village Forest IB quarters, Sagara Taluk. We were welcomed by rain the moment we boarded out of the bus. The noise of traffic and honking of vehicles had turned to chirping of birds and beat boxing of cicada. We had left all the clutter of city life behind in Bangalore.

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Boulevard to Base camp

The location of base camp was mesmerizing. In our front were Sharavathi Back waters filled with muddy water, the brown soil filled with gravels n pebbles and the green horizon behind was creating a beautiful landscape which we started capturing in our cameras the moment we reached there.

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How can I let it go without clicks :p

The world was beautiful as far as we can see. The showers of rain were adding to the beauty of it and our photography team was struggling n running around to save their cameras from drenching. I somehow suppressed my urge to swim in the backwaters coz it was muddy and we were not allowed to do so.

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Sharavathi Back waters

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After freshening up and sumptuous breakfast we were briefed about the day activities i.e. the trek Kanoor Kote. After taking our packed lunch which was tamarind rice and raita, and filling our water bottles we headed for the trek. I guess I was the only one without a rain coat and in some time I was about to know the consequences of it. Again after walking for about 2 kms we reached our bus. We went playing antakshri which was fun in itself.

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Antakshri : Hindi songs vs Telegu songs :p

It has become more of hindi vs telugu songs competition in which, both teams didn’t accept defeat. Our journey was interrupted in the misty forest where a tree had fell on the road. Some of us got down and moved the tree out of the way. While we were removing tree out of the way, our photography team was busy in capturing the moments. It is good to have some photographers in the group to capture these unforgettable moments.

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Branches of trees and wires blocking the way

The Downpour welcomed us on the start and I felt cold and thought I made a mistake not to carry a rain coat. Chuck it … I came to enjoy the rain, I am gonna do it no matter what and I started humming Rain over me song :p. The much awaited trek had started and we had been made wary of leech infested path. Leeches were going to be biggest spoiler in the trek. The energy was high and people were out of sight in no time. I deliberately started slow to have company of my photographer friends. I wanted as many pics as I could get :p.

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Trek to Kunoor Kote

The moment we entered leech infested area we were on our toes, but all in vain. Leeches are very stubborn creatures and we finally started donating blood. By the time we were removing one other would have already found a way to climb upon us. Even salt was of little help as we were not able to see where all the leeches were. We carried on fighting with them and donating them blood. The shoes got drenched in rain and started feeling slushy. Wearing slippers or sandals would have been a better idea as the trek wasn’t so steep and slippery.

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We stopped at a place which was grassy, more importantly it was free of leeches. The vegetable pulav had never tasted that good and water never that sweet as it tasted at that moment. It made us realize to value food and water as every bit and every drop mattered when you are in scarcity of resources. We gathered all the waste in trash bags as we didn’t want to spoil the beauty of the land. After refeulling we started our ascent to Kunoor kote fort and temple. The clouds were providing shade, the cool wind was refreshing us at every moment, the rain was cleansing us and the scenic beauty gave the tonic to the eyes.

About after 5 hours we reached the desolated fort and temple. We came across a Mallabar pit viper and I was delighted to see it and so was the photography team. Photo session followed without caring for leeches stuck to our feet and legs.

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Kunoor Kote fort and temple & Malabar pit viper

Within minutes we started the return journey as we wanted to descend back before sun set. We didn’t want to travel in leech infested path in night. (Night and leech : A lethal combination).
Personally I was fit and felt only the joy and bliss. I could see fellow trekkers’ steps became slower, the bags became heavier and gravity became stronger. Still all carried on challenging and pushing their limits. We can do anything if set our mind to. We started singing songs thinking it would bring some respite. The DJ of the jungle Cicada joined in with its the background music.

The sun set and it was dark. Thankfully we had crossed the leech infested area. Beaming Bus lights at far end marked the end of a 18 km adventurous trek. Many of the trekkers were already waiting in bus which now looked like warzone with leeches and blood all around. In a hurry we had a head count and sarted back to base camp. Refuelling session started in the bus with the leftovers of the day. Most of us just want to hit the bed and didn’t want to get up till eternity.
We had missed the timeliness and organizers were doing their best to keep everything as planned. We reached the point from where we had to start 2 km trek again to base camp of which most of us hadn’t had the energy to do so.
Thanks to the friends of Aventura India who were ready to hitch us till our base camp on their truck. But the adventure hadn’t ended for the day yet. While the journey back we encountered a massive tree blocking the road. I took almost all our remaining energy to lift it out of the way. Kudos to all for the team-effort which reminded us that unity is indeed a strength. Surprises such as these add to the adventure.

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A road block adventure

We were famished by the time we reached and gulped down every edible thing we could get our hands onto. We were behind our schedule which had pushed the plans by few hours. Some of the folks couldn’t agree to the new plan and decided to return to Bangalore the next day.

We heard from the organizers that we have to wake up at 6 if we want to reach dabbe falls on time. That part of information regarding waking up was something which our mind decided not to process. We all slept in a hall in our sleeping bags. In few moments we were in so deep slumber that even if an explosion had occurred near us we wouldn’t have heard it.

21- June ( DAY 2 – Dabbe Falls)

Just in a minute ( it felt like a minute) we were woke up by the orgainzers as the clock struck 6 am. Sadly, time travels fast in the night. The bodies were in pain and the smell of violini and pain remover gels was still in the air, but surprisingly everyone woke up with new zeal.

It had rained cats and dogs in the night. Due to heavy rain our breakfast service got delayed. Aventura India members indulged us in various games and fun activities which gave a jolly start to a new day. After having breakfast, hot tea/coffee and taking our packed lunches we were ready to hit the trek again.

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Filling the energy tanks

It was going to be the longest day, not only for us … technically 21st June is the longest day in northern hemisphere of the earth. We packed all our stuff and hit the 2km stretch for the last time. We reached the dabbe falls trek point in an hour.

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Trekking point to Dabbe falls

Some of us stayed back in the bus. This trek was supposed to be short but steep and slippery. In some time we were about to know how much ! The way went through dense forest, through the fallen trees and little brooks. On the way we crossed a home whose owner gave us the luscious mangoes from the mango tree.

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Aamsutra

It was something everyone cherished. The mangoes were really delicious. After the juicy break we entered a narrow path with water running through it. I had decided to wear slippers this time which turned out to be a good decision. Our old enemy, leeches had arrived again though in less numbers.

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Before the steep slope

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We reached the cliff like point from where we had to descend on an almost 70 to 80 degree slope. From there, we cloud hear the roar of the waterfall. My heart had started to throb after listening to it. My wish to take a shower under it was pulling me towards it. We started the descent which turned out to be a unique challenge. The trees’ roots provided natural web of ropes which gave us some ease and personally allowed me to act like the Tarzan.

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The vertical fall

We took one and half hour to descend about 400 mts. We stopped at a point from where we had a first glimpse of Dabbe falls. The moment I saw the falls, I fell in love with it. It was disheartening to know that we couldn’t go down further as the path was too dangerous in the monsoon season. We had to content from a bird eye view. Taking shower in it remained a wishful thinking. Nevertheless that view made me forget everything else. We all had our photo-session there.

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Photo session @ Dabbe Falls

After drinking all the beauty of the falls and the woods we took an U-turn to ascend back. Climbing is much easier than descending a terrain like this, just it needs a little more energy and I had it in abundance. Surprisingly we ascended back the steep stretch in half an hour.

We stopped at a picturesque village house for lunch, the owner  was hospitable and gave us shelter from the downpour. After another round of tasty food we headed back. I wanted to reach faster than all others so that I can take bath in fresh water. After wandering and losing way for a few times, ( I shouldn’t be alive came to my mind) I made it back first and took a bath in running & chilling water. It was blissful. All the dirt, fatigue and pain washed away. Then others reached and everyone took their turn to get fresh.

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With style

It was a cozy feeling to be in dried clothes after two days. We were served with snacks and hot tea/coffee which took us to cloud nine. After giving feedback to Aventura India members and thanking them and other friends, we parted our ways to begin the return journey to Bangalore.

After that, the feedback session of TCS Maitree Bangalore Adventure club began. Everyone thanked them for their efforts to make this trek successful and I would also personally thank all the team for giving us such a nice experience. The time and effort you all gave to this even is commendable.

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After dinner smiles

We had dinner at a fine place and felt we were back in civilization. In the morning we were back in the noise of traffic leaving all the serenity behind. A force was still pulling me back there and I realized to get over this hangover will take some time. Again like the previous trek, we went as strangers and returned as friends.

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The strangers became friends

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Trekking bless us with friends and memories. It teaches to push our limits and never say never. It teaches us that it is not always about the destination but about the journey too… not about oneself but others too. It teaches us to value nature and life.

The brooks, woods and mountains will always beat in my heart …

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Carpe Diem

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, but I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep !!

Thanks for stopping by. It was my first attempt to write a trek blog. Please leave your comments and feedback 🙂

PS : My special Thanks to Saajan, Ishita,Vinit and Amrita for the beautiful pictures, and Anusha, Nagarjuna and Vinay for organizing such a beautiful event.