Sometimes you get bored of a routine life and want to shake it up a bit. A lot of my friends go out on jungle treks and do adventure stuff and generally break up their routine. But all these activities require time and planning. What can you do suddenly if the whim strikes you to do something different? Unplanned? Off-the-cuff?
This was what I had to recently think over this Sunday morning when I woke up and was absolutely in the mood to do something crazy. I decided to go on a trek- an urban trek, in the urban jungle. Now, the fact is when you are walking in urban areas, you can slack off and not complete your intended full route. To prevent that kind of half-assed effort, you must make sure of certain precautions. Firstly, don’t carry any more money than strictly necessary. This is a trek; you have got to WALK it. If you have excess money in your hand you would be tempted to take an auto back to wherever you parked your vehicle or direct to home if you feel the least bit tired. You will not be able to go through your exhaustion barrier to complete the end of the trek- to stretch the limits of your possibilities.
Next, as far as possible, use public transport, because it adds to the thrill of going somewhere off the beaten track, rather than going to any specific destination you might have in mind. And finally, as far as possible, that is if you are brave enough- lose the GPS. You don’t need a map to tell you how to go, where to go, learn to navigate by dead reckoning- something which is worthwhile to learn and will serve you lifelong. And if you can go a bit farther, like me, leave your mobile phone behind. When you know, that you cannot call anyone in an emergency and you have to survive on your own, it adds to the thrill. I know, that you are probably giggling at that previous statement and asking what can go wrong in the middle of a city, don’t be so sure, I say. Try it before you knock it. Leave the safety of your cell phone, of always being connected, once behind you and let me know what you really experienced.
So, to come back to my experience, I got up this morning, looking to do something different and so I pulled on a track pants and t-shirt and talking with me a rolled up rs.100 note (for absolute emergencies) and some small change, leaving behind my cell phone, I walked out to the bus stand and got onto the first bus which came by without even looking at the destination of the bus. I asked the conductor for a ticket to the depot, you can get on any bus anywhere and ask for a ticket to the depot and you can get one, because all buses have a home depot from where they start/end up in- self explanatory.
The bus I was in ended up at its depot after nearly three quarters of an hour or so (45mins) and I got down to see where I had ended up. I discovered I was in a area called Ayanavaram, nearabouts my home, so this wouldn’t be a long walk back for me. It was around 8:30 in the morning, when I started my trek back home. I decided to forego the straight route back via the main roads and decided to head into the interiors/side streets to enjoy my walk..And keep out of the sun. After all, what can you see of a place by walking on the broad highway? You have to get in there to really see it all.
And it was fun, walking through Aynavaram, in a leisurely stroll, exploring it on a lazy Sunday stroll. There are soo many churches with early morning worshippers, pretty Christian girls in their Sunday best, with bibles in one hand and a smile for early morning joggers on their (otherwise devoted) faces. I happened to walk past quite a few churches of all denominations in that area, but only one Christian cemetery- so does that mean that at least in death all the different denominations lie together forgetting their differences?
I also happened to pass by an authentic agraharam type of area with lots of early morning kolams adorning the streets. Who knew ayanavaram had such a diverse residential makeup in just a few streets up. There was one particular place I really enjoyed- and inner ring road and an outer ring road. The roads true to their names (and I walked into them out of sheer curiosity) ran in a circle and end up where they started with- just one inlet and outlet- from the outer to the inner- there was no other street or by lane connecting them to anything else. Of all the quirky things.
I walked past a dirty, stinking stream, which may have been a nameless canal or the cooum river or even a part of the otteri nullah- I am not sure even now what it was. But though it gave up an almighty stink, the road beside it was lined with posh bungalows with names like hacienda, hyacinth, canal view house etc. People do have a sense of humour don’t they? And that’s when I really regretted not having atleast a cell phone camera with me. But maybe I would go back there again to click a few pics- someday.
I had all this time been steering in a east/southeasterly direction, always with the sun on my face, as that was the approximate direction I had to walk to get back to my home. Every time a turn or a cross roads came I always took the eastern branch, because I knew I would eventually end up the way I needed to go. And so it was no surprise when I came out of a street suddenly to find myself on New Avadi Tank road in Kilpauk Garden, from where the way back to my home was in a pretty straight line.
It was striking eleven in the morning when I reached home after a long and satisfying urban trek. I had enjoyed being alone on the road, navigating by the sun, with no money even (forgetting what I had rolled up tightly in my secret pocket) and I had had a thoroughly satisfying Sunday morning. What else are you looking for?
P.S. Next week it’s going to be a Parry’s Corner trek. Care to join me?