Walk-a-Ton!

“A journey of a 100 kilometers begins with a single step and to some, a big jump!”

Fear is what makes us decide, true in most of the cases but otherwise it is just plain foolishness or stubbornness. So, what made me decide? While many argue on the fact that there shouldn’t be limits, I decided otherwise. I really wanted to check my tolerance level specifically of my permanently injured tibia. Despite every effort, no one lives forever, not that they are supposed to, so, why not now and hence my spontaneous decision like my recent random “just get up & go” escapades.

The next question is how do you prepare for such an energy sapping event? Well, I didn’t prepare a wee bit at all. I even didn’t have my luggage packed until I was leaving for work. The only thing I had tuned my mind to was to not discuss about office or work which would especially be more difficult when you are with a whole bunch of them. I pretty much turned off my cell phone and my work part of the brain (which is practically my entire head as of now) and just be in a constant flux of serenity. If only my eyes could speak the words, well, that’s what is being attempted here.

Ok, I just realised that I haven’t given a brief on the event to the readers outside the organisation, so, here it goes. “Walkathon” as it’s being called is an event where participants walk a distance of about 100 km in a span of 3 days. Yep, the question in your head right now, “why?”. Well, no specific reason as such apart from just having some good “self time” and probably understanding that there are much more things right in front of you other than responding to emails and implementing project plans..

The journey was through villages and forests. We were wearing really bright t-shirts and I guess the intention was to identify us even if we were a mile away or catching a bus (by not walking of course) or probably dehydrated and lying flat somewhere! There was no way one could camouflage anywhere in the course of the trial with yellow, orange and blue t-shirts.

There were about 150+ folks who started their walk as one big group and within a few hours you could see smaller groups being formed. One reason was the pace at which some could manage (fast or slow) and other reasons being friends, romantic interests, so on and so forth. Seeing us walk, most of the people living there had questions like…

where are we from?

why are we walking?

are we a new political party starting to campaign?

One answer would lead to another and they would be like “why don’t you take the bus instead of walking”. We would smile and say “simply, to break our monotonous office work”. While we saw this as a humongous task, some of them living along this trail do this without any effort barefooted.

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One of my objectives was to take photographs during the walk. The first hour with 3 lenses and DSLR body was like a walk in the park. As the hours went by, the bag just got heavier by the minute. Very soon I had to start looking to outsource the bag for short intervals.

Lunch times were reserved for a nap and rejuvenation. Motivation is what kept most of them going while some of them required a push and a good one too. People had different ways to keep themselves motivated, some started singing, some listening to music, some of them by taking selfies at each and every location they could pick. Chatting also helped as long as you had someone by your side, otherwise you look around hoping to catch a glimpse of some wild animal, nature or snakes considering the fact that there were a lot of bamboo trees all around. Yep, I did see a small snake flattened out on the road by some vehicle that ran over it, too bad it wasn’t slithering! (a word that some of us were struggling to figure during the first lunch)

My leg was ripped by the end of day one and I was part of the crew for the second day. What goes on behind the scene is equally tiresome as well. To have things ready with constant coordination is not a joke. Food needed to be prepared and transported on time and tents had to be in place before the team finished the course. Every delay had a cascading effect on the rest of the plan and I must say that the crew was really amazing to have done what they did.

Evenings at the campsite after the days walk was fun filled. Many could just not relax after a tiresome day! Some kept meddling continuously on their phones, some started playing games and some talking about their experiences during the day. Some were worried about their tan, some about their looks and what not. During the conversations you get stuck at some awkward situations and such situations calls for even more awkward laughter with the mean-spirited ones. At the end of the day rumors fly by and settle down like the dewdrops you see in the morning.

A chill first night, oops! that came out really wrong. Let me try that again, a chill night on the first day, a warm second and a blood freezing third were all in store. For a heavy sleeper like me it was quite difficult I must say, to get accustomed to such varied changes.

An unusual early start for most of us would have made the sun wonder if it had woken up on the wrong side. Our ears that recognized the click of keyboards better were greeted by the chirping of birds, and strangely, it felt different, it felt relaxing.

Mornings were a frenzy and the queue of people trying their best to act patient in front of the toilets and bathrooms was a sight not to be missed. People were giving polite smiles even as their eyes were firmly focused on the bathroom doors whose slightest movement would get everyone jerk up in anticipation.

Oh! the shower, it’s that shock of the cold water on my back that made me realize and miss the luxury that I took so much for granted – ah how I would have loved some hot water!!!! It took all the courage to take a mug full of cold water and pour it over my head. A note of caution – a sharp shiver would immediately follow and the only solution to it is to dunk another mug of water and there you go …. Voila, you are used to it now! Unlike some of them who had mirrors and we’re getting make up done before the walk, the others just didn’t bother how they looked. For me, I wanted to look in the mirror and when I do, I hoped that the mirror cracked in fright. That’s when I thought to myself, why take the effort, and, if you are in the forest, why not be a little dirty & wild, like the trees, dusty, dry and high.

I decided to hit the road on the final day. I was out to test my limits.. remember? and so this moon walker started his march again. I walked on the path twisting between the tree trunks, stones and bamboo leaves. The road which had begun to incline at this point of time, tiring me sooner than I had wished for. It was long since I had rested and so I sat for a bit. The hissing sound from the bamboo trees around played a soothing lullaby in my ears as I was trying hard not to fall asleep. I had to fight it off to start my journey again. Strange things happen when you walk for hours alone on a never ending road. You feel even a sip of water rushing down with such delirious ferocity, a feeling reserved for the purest alcohol when it hits your throat.

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The searing pain in my tibia reminded me of the price I was paying. I looked through the trail searching for a way out, only to find a never ending winding road… I had to push my limits further and so I carried on….

Things that I discovered from this episode:

This is your adventure and no one else

Question your beliefs, but don’t think while sitting on the sidewalk gazing at the your phone

You are who you are and no one can change that

Don’t believe the hype, carry on with your life and choose to do what you love to do.

Life and it’s small aspects become much more dearer and you wonder how you have been blind for a brief period of time. So many moments and not enough time, just living it and watching it pass… In times like these you get to really observe. You meet interesting people, interesting thoughts and you get to know people a lot better than you used to. I am not a person of the past, I am here and I live for now the way I choose to, and, the best part about now is that there is another one tomorrow. Let’s make it count!

Cheers to all my fellow mates, the crew and the ones who made it happen!

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