Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Climbing up Tirupathi

Avi & I went for a real quick trip to Tirupathi last weekend, did a quick climb, and got back. That has got me thinking about my favourite climbs.

• My first “non-climb”. I was of the opinion that people who climbed up the hill would walk along the road...and for some reason wasn’t really keen on doing that. So I took the bus, and mid-way I saw my grandmother coming up using the steps. I was hooked...and since then, I have almost always avoided the bus, and climbed on foot.

• A very special one. Maybe 6 years or so back, my mom, my sis and I were doing the climb...when my sis’ wheezing problem became unbearable. She would have to stop every few yards. After a certain point, the need to stop became more psychological, rather than just due to physical fatigue. So I put my arms around her shoulder, and walked her all the way. I blabbered my usual nonsense all the way...and she forgot about her wheezing. I even tried to teach her Kannada during a particular stretch, and her “yennada idhu...anyaayam...tamizhle ‘maram’, kannadathle ‘mara’...romba easy-a irukke!...” still makes me smile. It was very nice...definitely the best climb.

• Contest...kind of. Three years back, my mom, the baby she is, got this idea in her head to see who could climb the fastest. Apparently, on all the previous occasions, she was being held up by the slower ones. :P
So it was just me and my mom; to each his own. And the result was the same.
The first thing she tells me after reaching 45 minutes after I had was, “Chey...I was stupid in not wearing slippers. That’s why I was so slow...it was my mistake”. I just said “ya ya” and hugged her. She really is a baby. :)

• Lives up to the pre-climb hype. Four months or so back, we were all subjected to an exhibition of Avi’s fabled stamina. A stamina that had Puneeth Rajkumar as one of its admirers. :)
He climbed up the entire hill without a break, with a cut toe...in 2 hours! Absolutely stunning! To put that in perspective, a lot of people take 2 hours to just complete the Gali Gopuram part (undoubtedly the toughest leg of the climb).

• The Guys! Two weeks after the previous climb. This time it was with Bandhar, Chakku, Paddu, Vikram. It was a slow climb. We lost Bandhar midway (obviously!), we made enquiries, we were planning on announcing through the temple loudspeakers...but thankfully he had already reached the top.
The climb, the waiting in the queue...the whole thing was a nice experience. A lot of hopes, a lot of aspirations then...some of them dashed now.
Chakku & Vikram had a good time ragging me...though I am happy in a weird way that they can’t do it anymore. Or I don’t know...am I really happy about that?

• Finally...last Saturday. Avi & I left Bangalore at 12:30 in the night, drove fast, overtook all vehicles, before sleep overtook us. Slept by the road, and then back on track. Avi reached the top in 2 hours (without a break...duh!), and me, 10 minutes later.
Had a lot of profound conversations to ward off sleep. And obviously did the usual lamenting.

So these have been some of the more memorable ones.
It’s not only about the god. It’s not only about the temple.
It’s about the experience...and you don’t have to be necessarily a theist to enjoy it.