The Experience of A Lifetime: It was the 28th of May. There was the mighty sun, a glowing medallion in the sky which was blazing like the Titan’s fiery wheel on the group of 50 teens present there. It was not the only thing bothering the group. In fact, the scorching heat was the last thing bothering them. They had just been chided and slandered by the teacher-in-charge. This group of teens were from the Army Public School, Dhuala Kuan in Delhi, India and flown all the way to Mumbai and were on our way to Pune to experience the breathtaking passing-out parade of the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla.
I feel proud to say that I was one of the teens in this group.
THE EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME (PART 1)
Since the parade was on the 30th, we had some time on our hands. We took a bus to Khadakwasla and decided to go trekking on one of the nearby mountains. So, on our way to the hills, the less enthusiastic guys decided to go and plead the teacher to cancel the trek as they felt it was too humid for trekking and could make them physically weak for the passing-out parade.
Needless to say, the teacher was bat-sh*t pissed after hearing this which led to a good one hour of getting physically abused. Now, I and some of my highly charged adrenaline friends decided to climb the mountain straight up instead of using the usual path.
To be honest, Robert Frost was our motivation,
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
The catch was that we had decided to keep it a secret from the teacher till we were done with the climb. It was nothing but an impulsive decision. I mean our egos had taken a hit. Now our worthiness had to be proven and that meant we had to something out of the box. And I guess for a bunch of 16-year-olds, climbing mountains was as dare-devilish as it could get.
Anyway, we started to ascend and it took us about 10 metres of climbing to make us realise how crappy the idea of climbing was. The terrain was really challenging. The mud was slushy. The mountainside was as steep as a wall. So, in about 20 minutes I and six of my peers were the only ones crazy enough to continue climbing. I and my best bud were the only ones who knew the basics of climbing mountains we decided to lead the pack and decide the route we would follow whereas I was supposed to be the rear guard.
Basically, it means that I had to make sure no one gets left behind the whole lot. The climb was pretty eventful until we reached a nearly vertical slope. We were two rocks parallel to each other forming a small valley. The gap between the two rocks was wide enough for anyone with an athletic build to pass through easily. So everyone before the guy in front of me crossed the rocks someway or the other. But the guy in front of me freaked out. He was not able to climb up. In fact, he was so scared for his life that he started calling for help. Since I was right below him, I felt it was my responsibility to help him out.
So, I placed my right arm horizontally below his feet while my left arm gripping a rock face and my feet taking up most of my body weight giving me a better chance of helping it. I asked him to try and climb up now. He somehow mustered up his courage and succeeded in climbing the damn thing but in the process, he had dislodged a few pieces of rocks struck me in the chest. I almost lost my balance as the rocks hit hard in my chest. I somehow held on to the burning and the stingy pain. After a few seconds of recovery, I crossed the barrier.
EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME (PART 2)
After seeing what had just happened with the guy in front of me, we got worried as this was the first time we realised that the climb could possibly end with some of us not making through. I mean there was the possibility that we might encounter something more dangerous than the rocks we had just crossed. So we decided that we should possibly head back down and use the more commonly used route. But as luck would have it, ascending was more dangerous than descending. So having no options left we continued to ascend for the better part of an hour and fortunately reached the summit. That should have made us jump with joy.
But it didn’t.
We had summited the mountain just fine. We realised that our endpoint was on the neighbouring mountain. The widely used trekking route started on the base of the mountain we had climbed but then diverted to the one on our right. Crappy moment.
But for some weird reason, we found it funny. We were trapped on top of a mountain with no signals in our mobiles. But we were laughing. We just sat down. Rested for a while. Took off our shirts as it was freakishly hot and started looking for some other route. It took us about half an hour to find a safe route down. Luckily it was towards the right mountain. We got down. And climbed the final spot.
We had done it. We had submitted the right mountain. In a great mood, we went down. When we reached the meeting spot, everyone was there except a group of 10 girls who had still not returned. Big deal. It never occurred to me that these guys must have gotten lost. So we waited but no one came back. Now, the officer-in-charge got worried. I and my bestie decided to go back and find the missing group.
Experience of a lifetime (Part 3)
The teacher refused but we were determined to find them. We both were Army aspirants. More specifically, Special Forces aspirants. Moreover, we could not stay away from this situation knowing that we both were more than capable of taking care of ourselves.
So, we armed ourselves with torchlights and set out to climb back up. We took the same route up as we had taken before. Since it was us alone and we both are capable climber we could climb up with an ease. We went through the same path like before. But could not find anyone. We thought we would never find them. We were terrified at the prospect of losing our friends.
But we could not give up.
I guess army upbringing does that to you. You just cannot give up and yes, we did not. It took us quite some time of searching before hearing the cries of help from the group. The group had lost its way and had wandered in the wrong direction. So, we took them back to the meeting point. Maybe it was an experience of a lifetime for the girl’s squad as well as they had to continuously face hurdles and sheer struggle.
This experience of a lifetime was the most amazing and enthralling experience in my life. I was bruised, I was bleeding. But, most importantly, I was happy. Moreover, I was proud. I had saved a friend’s life, rescued a group of trekkers while managing to stay alive myself. It felt amazing. I may not have got any recognition (I had done nothing to deserve any. There are people who do braver things for a living) but I earned self-respect, felt powerful, robust and confident under my own skin.
It is rightfully said that we feel alive and conscious when we are on the verge of dying. Somewhere on a mountain, climbing, I found my true self, the things that I am capable of and the trust that I can earn from people. It made me learn a very important lesson. Life isn’t a bed of roses and never will be. It would require immense hard-work and passion to build a personal bed of roses. You never know what obstacle you have to face. From this enthralling experience, all I can say is that we must have patience, courage and will. If we can master ourselves in these traits I am sure we could overcome any obstacle we face. This was truly “The Experience of a Lifetime”. Just let life happen!
You may also like to check out Shillong travel experience. 🙂