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Brilliant trekking idea, but an Eco-tort-sure
Dec 04, 2015 11:49 AM 3924 Views
(Updated Dec 05, 2015 10:02 AM)


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This blog consists of exclusively, my personal opinions about this trek.  It is not my intention to hurt feelings of any individual or group or region.  While we continue to respect each other, we must also enjoy benefits of “Freedom of Speech & Freedom of Expression”.  I sincere hope that everyone who reads this review and whose names were mentioned would take the entire story in the right spirit with the lil humour added in.    I'm sure many us take plenty of photos and some even take videos to capture our memories. Penning it down is how I love to share my opinions/views.  This is an excruciatingly detailed write-up.  To reiterate, I love everyone and I only mean well.==*

Just when you thought a nice getaway from the humdrum of daily city life could make you feel better – choosing between a trek down south in the ghats or up north to the serene Mussorie hilltops, comes along an even better idea  -  a trek to the unexplored living root bridges of Pynursla, East Khasi Hills. A small block comprising of some of the cleanest villages in Asia, close to the Indo-Bangla border.

We arrived late and after groping around the venue for assistance(bibs etc) commenced on our trek at 9AM an hour after the official start  time for all trekkers. It didn't matter to us. We were there to have fun.

Given that the publicity for the trek appeared to be grand and well covered, with the added attraction of Hollywood celebrities, I was led to believe that this was indeed a trek not to be missed. It did not disappoint me as the trek indeed lived up to my expectations.except for one thing. It was a competition. What this meant was that there would be a whole lot of folks jostling for space through every cranny and pathway for the sheer joy of winning some trophy. Now that was a little troubling. Why? Read on.

Looking at the beautiful trail of chequered stone paths in variable sizes put me in deep awe of the builders' ability to shape them, much more the locals' agile maneuvering through these hundreds perhaps thousand meters long stone paths. Two kilos into the trek and my cud chew ended abruptly with some young un loosing his balance in his race for the much sought after prize. One unintentional shove from the young lad later and I was hopping my way down the Wahlyngkhat slope to regain balance, much to the relief that I did not inconvenience other trekkers with a chain reaction shove or fall. That would have been catastrophic now, wouldn't it? Recalling the FB posts about “No Running”, kind of explains it all. The organisers were right. With a stone path trail, sometimes as narrow as the derriere of some poor malnourished primate, to run would make a rollapede imminent or should we call that a trampede considering that everyone might just trample everyone down the slopes of Wahlyngkhat with their now wobbly legs like a pack of dominoes. But this was a competition, so it might seem inevitable – the human condition that the organisers(some of whom I'm told are academia) are probably much more aware than any of us, yet still willing to roll the dice, will quite naturally make gen next, scurry for their prize trophy(or money in this case), throwing caution to the wind, especially of the well being of the elderlies in this competition.umm I mean trek. And speaking of wind reminds me of the inviting gentle breeze at certain altitudes on the trek trail, which at this point was a much needed relief, given the cocktail of flatulences one would had to endure all along the way. A young man who passed me by the third root bridge, seemed to self-certify that he skipped breakfast for the trek with a string of tormenting gaseous bouts, so pungent as to possibly cause migrating Amurs flying overhead to pack up and fly back north.

With my two litre water bottles now all finished lack of forewarning, left me parched by the time I reached the bottom of the Ryngain.  Ah yes I forgot, it was suppose to be a challenge. I was dependent on the kindness of other fellow trekkers who helped me through with an often reluctant split of their water supply. A few local men near the orange orchard somewhere at the foot of the Ryngain were kind enough to offer me and other pretty ladies(including young pretty girls) fresh oranges while denying the men and boys who trekked the same trail much to the latter's chagrin. A tired middle aged man murmurred expletives of how he'd wished he was a woman for that orange moment.

Unknown to most of us, was of what was to come on the way up the Ryngain which I suppose was the remainder 20% of the trek by length and 75% of our effort by strength. With the area abundant in exotic flora, my urge to unravel the botany spread out before me eyes was eclipsed by what I thought was a burning polydipsia. The lack of water kiosks or any rudimentary water dispensing contraption, even of the local kind, on this part of the trek was a lot more agonizing than any other part of the entire trek. At this point, Serena Scott Thomas brisked past me with a smile, while I doddered along, envying her double trekking poles.

Supportive locals encouraged me to plod along with a “Don bok” not noticing the well concealed dehydrated look I wore and the heavy obesed legs which by now felt like they weighed in at twice my body weight. The remainder of the trek up the Ryngain ended up with the sight of a few middleaged men and other women pausing for a rest every now and then with young adults mouthing expletive laden “kiaps” that echoed all around the surrounding hills, perhaps to gain Shaolin strength for the remaining distance up the steep.

The remaining 200 meter distance up the Ryngain slope was the most trying and felt like hours. I almost lost balance and fell, thanks to a kind young man who helped me down to rest on a small flat rock, before I could plunge head first into the ravine below. From what other trekkers shared on the trek, our brains were deliriously imagining food courts at the ravine top, well laden with copious tanks of potable water and every scrumptious dish imaginable. Jadoh, Biryani, Momos, Taco, Steak, Barbecue, Pizza and what have we. It didn't bother us that we might have to pay. As we closed in onto the “finish line”, we were greeted with a huge applause and a hurray that culminated with “You've done it, Congratulations! But there is no food or water left”. My heart sank, my vision blurry  and I felt sick to the bone at that moment, made worse by the fact that I did not witness a single vendor of anything edible or drinkable around the finish point. But I thought I saw promise of a food sale at the venue in the facebook page. Oh, this was suppose to be a challenge right? I left the venue with the family in our waiting car, and proceeded home, vowing to spill my venom somewhere.

PS:-I was told a few days later that food was available around the starting point but were just loads of carbonated drinks and Lays potato chips that has a passing wind potential, and which even Vinnie might agree – loaded with Trans fats and sugar. The Eco-challenge facebook page appears a sham.

Oxymorons galore

First off, the trek organisers must indeed be congratulated for having it in them to organise a trek of this difficulty level. To organise something like this spanning kilometers of forest and unforgiving ravines, requires immense hard work and infrustructure, which they have been able to achieve even with the little that they could garner. It appears that although the villagers/volunteers involvement in everything from handing our bands, carry logistics to  search and rescue was put to good use, however, the lack of foresight/planning in dealing with medical emergencies has all the makings of a tort.  It was publicized in the media that only those who are consenting adults over 18 could register for the event. Given the narrow trail and steep incline of the ravines, the restriction was very well thought and logical. However, the sight of toddlers as young as 3 or 4 years, on the trek proves that age is not a barrier if you do not wish to register yet still trek “for fun”. Or does having fun mean reckless endangerment? Isn't it our culture to make rules and_ them?

Without so much as a warning on gear and apparel, the question arises as to  how far a disclaimer can protect organisers should the worse happen given the perceived risk to minors and even consenting adults who may not have been made aware of the risks that lie ahead - Dehydration, fall, etc. Safety nets, winch, hoists, ropes and other safety paraphernalia that could have been used including emergency vehicles such as the 108 service at the very least, appear un-integrated with this trek. The lack of which has potential of inviting disaster and infamy to an otherwise brilliant concept.

Eco- torture  then might seem like an understatement. ECO-TORT-SURE might be more apt.

Time keeping for the event was another story. Official time they say was 7AM but a few disgruntled trekkers vying for the moolah, were heard to be unhappy about the flexibility. Perhaps several gunshots at the start line were fired at intervals of half an hour till 9AM .who knows. Someone have mercy on the time keeper(if any). With variable start times how would he/she know who came first?

A trek and a race through  a narrow steep trail appears to be a formula for disaster. You can have one of them, but both appear to have a tort potential.

Organisers on the defense-

Like every other human, organisers are humans too and how exactly do you think they would react to all the “NEGATIVITY” in reviews/posts like this? Four ways, folks.

  1. On a positive note they could have decently acknowledged and promise to rectify by making the next trek an even better, enjoyable and safer one.

  2. Render a plausible explanation without the use of esoteric logic such as “having fun” to rationalise recklessly a flaw in their planning/ implementation that has inconvenienced “paying” trekkers.

  3. Just simply deny it all diplomatically yet tacitly in gentlemanly restraint through a Newspaper report, in nuance that bluntly sounds like “Its a challenge you suckers, you should have seen it coming” to wiggle out of this dilemma.

4.  Bloat the ego. Just turn cheap and switch on to high self preservation mode by banning posts, people and other negative gibberish on MY facebook page who have issues with the trek.  Forget logical ripostes, and reasoning. In other words, Freedom of speech and expression be damned if incongruent with my semantics of Freedom of Speech and expression. Eeeew!

Which of the above did the organisers choose. Considering that most University alumni I know of are open to ideas however offending, and use the scientific methods with sincerity not just in their research papers but in their day to day lives. Please walk the talk, practice what you preach.


Everyone is free to add views and comments to this review. Worry not, we will neither delete your valuable ripostes whether positive or negative nor get a team of gum chewing juveniles to riposte. The Iggy Bop team values every view, liberal, cons, neo-con. Its, we're talking here, Defender of India's freedom of speech. Because some mouths must never be shut.

A little puppy dribble

Reply to a fb post from this page

Dear Maegan,

GET OVER IT! might sound like a nice name for a song in some upcoming pop star's song list, but when you're the one paying for a trek even for a measily 300 and risking life and limb, its like getting shortchanged at the mall. GET OVER IT. Really? That must be very responsible of the organisers. Hunn did it ever occur to you that some of us are willing to pay more for a safer trek?

Negativity? What did you expect? Famished trekkers were looking forward to a food court at the end of the line, because a facebook page told them so. All they found there, was another group of very hungry folks. Some may have brought their own meals from home, others like my family were still scouring the ravines of Pynursla for a food hawker before leaving in a huff and a puff.

As for Iggy Bop.its Bop with a B here honey, unless you're entirely dyslexic. FYI  Iggy Pop the rockstar stands by and has always stood by Free Speech and Free Music, lib social values that do not go along with deleting facebook comments just because they are offensive to ME or because somebody's incisive arguments are putting one in a tight spot. Free Speech in the west usually means freedom to offend and to be offended. Since you appear to be a lot into names, Maegan sounds like a beautiful American name, yet we don't see true American values of free speech in the FB page. But India being India oh well. well. I hope that was educational.

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East Khasi Hills