Last day of January – it was an early morning ride to Borivli & after parking my bike outside Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), I saw a hand waiving at me from the dark glasses of this swanky Honda City – I cautiously looked back to confirm if indeed someone was waiving at me or was I walking in my sleep (you literally sleep at 7:25 AM on a chilly winter morning in Mumbai, don’t you?).
I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw familiar faces – Couple of colleagues chilling out in the car. I tagged along with them as we waited for the main gates of SGNP to open for vehicles. Once the main gates opened, we saw more team members coming in (the flood gates had literally opened as people started pouring in from all directions). The most hilarious entry was of this colleague running in cutely (like a school boy running in a Sack Race 🙂 ) – we were rolling on the floor!
Hey wait, where is our Captain? Should we check with him? As the team anxiously waited for him, there were discussions going around about cycle ride at SGNP, what we were going to do that day, how did someone manage to travel so far so early…et al. Finally, the moment arrived when we saw the first signs of our Captain & the team geared-up to welcome him – greeting with the loudest applause ever in a National Park, the team was quick to quip – “We are fractured!” – (the Joke was that anyone who doesn’t show-up would be fracturing the team & we didn’t expect the Captain to do so 🙂 ).
Looking to put a “Cast” onto the fracture, our Captain quickly led the Convoy to our base camp – a quick 5 minutes drive inside SGNP.
Our 3rd edition of Rewards & Recognition (with the added dimension of ‘Outdoor Learning’) had begun!!
We started with the first planned activity for the day – a 500m trek upto Gandhi Tekri. Upon conquering this small milestone, we were in for a surprise as we were introduced to our ‘Outdoor Trainer’ – dynamic & goal oriented – with many emotions hidden behind his ‘Shades’. We took a pause as we waited for the last of the late comers to join us – a real test of patience!
Delivering the opening punch, our Captain emphatically said “those of you who feel you would not want to do the next activity – you DO NOT have a choice – you HAVE to do it. Period.” It ran a shiver down our spines….& in came the first words from our Trainer – “Chill, Chill, Chill guys – this is not as scary as it sounds”. Our Spines were up on its feet again 🙂 . Those words by both our Captain & the Trainer stayed with us throughout this activity. One helped us identify the challenge & another gave us the courage to beat the challenge.
So what’s this activity all about – well it was ‘Rappelling’ (a technique to rope down a mountain or a cliff). Most of us like me had only heard about the term but had never done it before. Someone asked me – “Rappelling is climbing the mountain, right?” – Not knowing a sweet shit about it, I just nodded my head in the affirmative hoping that it indeed was to climb the mountain!
As we reached the starting point of this activity, we were greeted by a group of professional ‘Rappelling experts’ with the requisite equipments & accessories. Speculations around the depth of the cliff were ON as we were given a quick crash course on Rappelling by the Trainer & couple of other instructors. Excited as ever, each one of us had just one thought – hell yeah…we can do this too!
We were divided in 2 groups of 11 each – with one group to start Rappelling & the other one to learn how to tie knots effectively (as if being knotted for seven years wasn’t enough!). I was in the 2nd group, learning various tricks/ways to tie the knot (and stay knotted). With one eye on the Knotting tricks, we were keener to find out what the first group was doing in Rappelling.
All the best…come on you can do it…go for it…the entire team had come together to support Imran – one of our specially abled colleague to complete his Rappelling round. And boy, he did it in style..hats off to him!
The wait just got longer for me as we took a quick ‘Chai’ break once the first group was done with its Rappelling activity – enjoying the Poha & Chai, the excitement & anxiety was building up every minute… Our Trainer announced, ‘okay the second group can now come forward’…I took the 3rd turn in the group (albeit reluctantly)…the Harness & Helmet was ON. Armed with so many gears, this was no less than a battle ground with brave soldiers all around. I started walking towards the blind spot – the starting point of Rappelling.
A quick smile for our shutterbug Captain, tummy tucked in, knees straight, a glance to the heaven – it was like looking UP while going DOWN! Go MoLo…and I was in the game…started the slide down the cliff…took a 10 seconds pause, mid air, with a 90 degree pose swinging in the air…jumped on the rocks – one, two, three & I was at the BOTTOM touching a new HIGH…woohoo…Kya baat, kya baat, kya baat!!
The Captain was there on the ground to capture each moment – YEAH!! Quite a feeling when you look up & say, ‘Oh man… I just climbed down from this height’. Certainly a moment to cherish all my life…the New Year had begun on an adventurous note…and it surely looks like the year of ‘Adventures’ for me.
The day did not end with Rappelling…Part 2 of this story later…Keep watching this space 🙂