Growing up on a near continuous feed of books and literary characters, nature walks are nothing more than an occasional disruption in my perfect life tucked away in a corner of my house, reading a book. While reading, I fantasies about sitting in front of a fire, apple in hand and lost in the world of Darcys and courtesies. This would have been my ideal life if it wasn’t for my army man of a father, who it seemed, had taken upon himself to get my butt off the couch! And the days of grueling physical labor began.
Dads was posted in Pune at the College of Military Engineering and curse all army people, they decided to hold frequent treks in the nearby hills. Rain and sun be gone, all the damn army men thought it would be an ideal recreation and the whole of CME joined in, much to my utter disappointment. Routes were fixed, buses were arranged, tents set up and a large picnic area pulled in and then there was the trek. How much I dreaded it.
The first time, dad woke me up at an ungodly hour at 5 in the morning to gear up for the trek that started at 6.All I remember from that time is me, grumbling as I pushed myself into my sweatpants and equipped myself with munchies and water for what was going to be a long and hard day. It was the monsoon season and rains were merciless, but to the military men, it seemed all the more welcoming as we were pushed out of the bus on to the starting line of some hill, don’t ask me the name, I don’t really care to remember. Some orderlies were making Maggie at the foot of the hill and I wanted to eat but no, my dad wanted to torture me more and off we started walking. Dad is tall and I am short and stout, so I had to take two steps for his one, huffing and panting and it was only the beginning. The terrain got wet and muddy, more leaves and wilderness started sprouting around us as my new hiking shoes became brown(yes, I had to get new ones because you don’t need shoes while reading!!!).We came to a paddy field and after much discussion with the farmer; we were allowed to trample across a small path in the icky muddy field. Mostly, I had my head down, counting my breath and watching out for the those dreaded creatures of monsoon, those icky slimy reptiles and insects, I didn’t want to encounter any and till date I don’t remember if I saw any, most probably I blocked the revolting things out. The green was too green and the rains lashed harder, my hair, my skin, my clothes were ruined and as I spotted the tents in the distance, I could only yelp for joy if I had the energy. After what seemed like hours and after my father pushed me a lot, we reached the tents and I would have reveled in joy at the task I had undertaken if it weren’t for my disgusting friends, those tall mean boys who had reached before me and were happily eating a chicken and mocking me. I mean, seriously, can’t a short fat girl sit and read in peace?
The next trek, I was prepared. It wasn’t raining; my dad was in full gear once again, I was fatter than before and smarter as well. So, after about twenty minutes if walking around some other god forsaken hill around Pune, I started complaining of headache and nausea. Now thing with fathers is that when they have a daughter, they really get paranoid if something happens when the mother is not around and that came to my rescue as Dad rushed me through the shortcut to the tents (I always knew there were shortcuts, army people are smart.) and this time, it was me, sitting in the tents, eating a chicken as I mocked my friends.
So much for my nature treks and for all it beauty and green-ness, I would still sit in front of a fire and read.