Travel Guide – Episode 3 – Hamish Snores in Uttaranchal
Too long has the Hamish pen been sleeping. And much to the surprise of critics the world over, some people actually noticed! Time had been a severe constraint in this regard. By and large, it has been work which has been eating it away. But when the office itself decides to give its employees some coveted time off, I run out of excuses not to smear another page on my long neglected blog.
My company, Hansa Research, takes it upon itself to let its 90+ willing employees unshackle at nature’s feet on an annual basis. This year, the destination was Infinity Resort, Uttaranchal. A beautiful resort with picturesque landscapes surrounding all four sides, a truly divine location for anyone suffering from shutter-fever, owing to, say, a brand new digital camera. Through my time there, I had my Nikon D50 strapped around my neck as I walked around mesmerized by the options available. I never ventured outside my room without it. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn there were rumors that it was surgically attached to my neck. My camera was so new that I hadn’t even gotten used to the settings properly, and was constantly fiddling with the controls in vain experiments… mostly unsuccessful ones at that.
God was in his usual playful mood, going “Ooh, hey, Hamish… Look over there, that’s a beautiful sight, ain’t it? You wanna take a snap? Go on… Go ahead. Come on, I’ll even hold it still for you. There you go… ”… and then he would laugh like Mogambo on steroids when I’d turn out with a severely underexposed shot. He’s quite a character.
The trip was riddled with setbacks. The main attraction, or the icing on the pudding, was supposed to be a jeep safari into the depths of Jim Corbett National Park, where the tigers reputedly roam free and unrestrained, wild and dangerous, radiating the thrill of the ride. This potential apex of the trip was deftly shattered when the park staff decided to roam free and unrestrained, wild and dangerous, radiating the thrill of a strike. The workers’ strike closed down the park to tourists (a la us) for the duration of our stay, and we were more or less confined to our resort.
But quite frankly, this didn’t bother me much. I was there for the sceneries. Why should I cry over not having a chance to see tigers through binoculars, when I have this exquisite place to fall back on, where the weather is such that, if you are strong willed enough to wake up early in the morning, go out to the terrace, drink in the sunrise, and take a really really deep breath, your nose might just freeze up and break off from your face…
The place was cold, but I refused to put on any sort of winter-wear, stubbornness disguised by the weird wired logic “Hey, I’m here to enjoy what is different. I’m not gonna be deprived of this cold. I’m entitled to it. Aahchoooo!!”….
If one had walked into the place, one would have been excused for thinking “Hey, is that a small cloud in here?” The low flying cloud of dense grayish fog, however, far from being a natural formation, would, in fact, have been the combined effort of my smoking colleagues. Between that and a rapidly depleted reservoir of cocktails, I doubt if many people missed the closed Park as much. The nights were a testament to solid determination; a determination to get higher than Mount Everest while our feet were still firmly rooted in Uttaranchal. While most called it a night after a couple of swigs, I have heard rumors of a few who DID manage this gargantuan task.
Despite the tiring gruel of this human fuel, most of my colleagues were active enough in the morning to embark on an adventure trip, where we did some trekking, traversing, and rappelling. Other than that, we spent time exploring the lavish spaces of our resort.
I’m proud to say I was part of the team that left its mark. One of the stone staircases from the resort leads directly to the cold shallow river flowing nearby. This stone structure, I am sure, has withstood thousands of tourists over the years, but this was its first introduction to three Hansa Researchers, Arti “the spectator” Sinha, Bipasha “the boss” Datta, and myself. The stone staircase had no way of knowing this introduction would be fatal. What happened wasn’t pre-meditated. In fact, we had no intention other than to sit on the lowest rung and swing our feet through the flowing icy river, further demonstrating unfaltering adherence to the Legion of Laze. However, the ‘rung’ in question was not tailor made to support the combined weights of Arti Sinha and Hamish Joy. (Those who have met us would agree that we can safely neglect the weight of the third party involved.) The step broke off into the river, and almost crippled us, but thankfully, collateral damage was limited to wet clothes, scraped calves, and momentarily flustered faces.
Despite a handful of irritating setbacks and delays, the event was skillfully choreographed by the efficient team of coordinators. All things considered, I am quite confident that everyone enjoyed it. The place was indeed memorable. In fact, once I learn what I can about photography, I’ll go there again… For now, I have my 300 photos to scrutinize. Hopefully, I’ll be able to salvage ten or twelve acceptable snaps from those…