Monday, November 02, 2009

Weekend Getaway: Galibore is anything but a bore

On Gandhi Jayanti, our team decided to celebrate the end of recession with a team outing. In keeping with Gandhiji's focus on simplicity, we opted to camp under the stars in the jungles around Bangalore. Also to save money, just in case the recession was not over. After weeks of market research (ah! home ground for we are, after all, the marketing team), we zeroed in on Galibore fishing camp on the banks of river Cauvery.

The camp itself is a beautiful array of 12 cottages nestled among huge, green trees. There is nothing for miles around—no plastic, no vehicles, no food, not even roads. There’s no better venue for a reunion with Mother Nature.

We hired an outfit called Outback adventurers to help us in the wilderness. These guys were quite good although for some reason or other, 50% of the planned activities were scrapped. We did get our money back, so I'll try them again. They were ready for us with the first activity of the day—rafting—as soon as we hopped off the bus.

Getting into the life-jackets we felt adventurous already. After a brief safety speech by Sanjeev, our expert navigator, the real thrills began. A couple of rapids tested our synchronization and strength. No one fell overboard, which was kind of disappointing! A good memory was the 30 minutes we spent dunked (Swimming is too sporty a word for it) in the river, just relaxing. It was also useful practice in case we did go overboard. Drenched and happy, we completed the trip in about 90 minutes.

Back at the camp, the aroma of delicious chicken curry, spicy chhole and piping hot rasam beckoned us. Still in our wet clothes, we attacked the yummiest food we have had in a long time. Stuffed to the gills, we hung ourselves out on the hammocks to dry. After a brief rest, we took off on a short hike into the woods. Unfortunately, they couldn’t fix the mountain bikes so that activity was canceled. Went on a coracle ride instead, during which we scared a crocodile (yeah, right!). The crooner in our group filled the evening air with John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane” while the rest of us croaked “Row row row your boat, gently down the stream…”

The rest of the evening we lolled on the banks of the river, enjoying some barbequed chicken and salads, sat around a bonfire playing juvenile games from college. A round of “Truth and Dare” and “Two Truths and a Lie” revealed some dark and disturbing secrets. A blood oath prevents me from revealing the juicy bits here. Soon the frivolous banter turned into heated discussions about love, life and everything in between, which went on late into the night. We gained a lot of new perspectives and probably examined a few beliefs we had never questioned before. Basically, we were drunk.

By midnight, we crawled into our small tent and were off to Snoreville in 5 minutes. The weather was cool but not cold, cloudy but not rainy. They said generally the heat at the camp is sweltering, so I guess we were just lucky. After a peaceful sleep in the tents, woke up only at 6 to the sound of “Trekking at 7, saar. Please have tea and be ready!”.

This time we went up a short hill. We struggled in our Nikes and Reeboks while our guide leapt like a mountain goat in Hawai chappals. The top gave a breathtaking view of the meandering river. It was so calm and peaceful, we felt like staying up forever (also to avoid ambling down those slippery rocks again!). The official lens-men took this time to capture some artistic shots on their digital SLRs, especially one of us being led down the hill by none other than MG him-(err.. her) self. See the pic.

After all this exertion (especially for someone, uh… healthier, like me), breakfast never tasted better.They had the freshest bread and monster omelletes and to-die-for chutneys and... you get the picture, yeah!

Then it was time to leave. We bid a sad goodbye to the river, promising to return with our families soon. We thanked the staff (in cash AND kind) for the excellent service. The return journey was noisier, now that we were better friends than before. Singing and chatting, Bangalore came sooner than expected. Except for the final no-road stretch (about 10KM), the other 90KM has good road. Just the mad truckers and village-routes on Kanakapura Road keep you from relaxing.

We put ourselves back into managing release deadlines and top-lines, bottom-lines, knowing that the only "water-droplet on a leaf" we'd see for a long time now would be the Windows 7 desktop wallpaper. We said a silent prayer for the good people who dedicate their lives to maintaining such oasis of sanity and nature, away from barren information super-highways where Robotomized IT-wallahs like us journey without a destination.

As with every escape to nature, it's the getting back that feels like being 'recaptured' by prison guards.