Unwinding in Nature's lap

TAKING IN THE VIEW Trekking brings them close to Nature Photo: K. MURALI KUMAR

TAKING IN THE VIEW Trekking brings them close to Nature Photo: K. MURALI KUMAR  

It's not their fat pay cheques, but the pleasure of discovering remote places that keeps youngsters happy, writes ANIMA BALAKRISHNAN

Think young professionals or entrepreneurs who have made it big and you are already conjuring up images of nerds rooted before their computers, the "I, me, myself" types running around to win over new clients, chasing unholy business dreams or living in alternate reality. You probably thought unwinding for them would mean dancing till they dropped dead in a pub, taking off on a fancy cruise to exotic locales ... or may be `relaxation' just does not exist in their lexicon. But there are those among them for whom taking a break from impossible deadlines, an unreasonable boss or spending half their lifetime commuting means "just taking off" to places near and afar.

Perfect getaway

"Whenever I am bored or tired of the city, I just take off," says Santhanakrishnan, a businessman from Coimbatore. "It's a powerful urge to get away, often without logic or planning," he explains.For 28-year-old Sindhu Rao, a software professional based in Bangalore, such trips complete with treks and camps happen at least once a month. "On weekdays, my activities revolve around the office. When I get back home, I just rest. These treks rejuvenate me and take me away from the responsibilities of work," she says.But Prabhakar Venkataraman, research manager at a software firm in Bangalore, refuses to see his weekend trips as an escape. "These trips are no escape into the wild," he says. Travelling for him means indulging in all his hobbies - photography, rock-climbing and bird watching. All these experiences, he feels, make life complete. Trips for these people are never about splurging thousands of rupees, travelling in luxury buses or staying at resorts tucked away in the depths of a jungle."I have been travelling with a small group of friends for the past six years and all of us are in different professions. We usually take the bus to places that are easily accessible. To visit places which have limited transport facilities, we take the jeep or sometimes just hike," says Sindhu. "We believe in keeping everything simple and economical; so there is no stay in comfortable hotels," she adds. Sindhu and her friends have roughed it out in the forests, cooked their own food and carried their own baggage. For Santhanakrishnan, most trips are on his bike, which never "lets me down." Prabhakar sees travelling as a learning experience and firmly believes no journey in India is complete without a trip on the train. "I spend absolute peanuts on travel and any corridor in a village will do for me," he declares. These trips to forests, lakes, mountains and tea gardens are for some an escape, for others a chance to meet new people and for a few more a way to strengthen bonds. "There is a congeniality that exists among us. We sometimes make new friends on treks. Though I am the only girl in the group, I am comfortable in their company," says Sindhu, who strongly feels travelling is also a lesson in living in harmony with Nature. "There are quite a few unwritten rules. We always take care not to litter the place and believe we have a responsibility towards Nature," she says. Trekking to remote places also brings with it its share of adventure.

Rare experience

Santhanakrishnan remembers being hedged in by a herd of elephants on his way to Chinnar. It was on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border and the sight of elephants on either side of the road was scary. "After this, I saw the most beautiful peacocks. It is a rare experience to see animals in their natural habitat," says Santhanakrishnan."Some times a trek may take two or three days, like the one to the Mullayyanagiri range near Chikmagalur. The trek involved a climb of more than 50 km and we took our tents, food items like vermicelli, rice and even a small gas cylinder. But at the end of it all, the spectacular view at the top made it worth the difficult climb," says Sindhu.Prabhakar, on his part, incorporates the insights he gains during his travels into the classes he takes for his colleagues.Then there those like 20-year-old Soundharya Jayaraman, singer and compere, who is waiting for her student days to get over so that she can pursue her passion for travel seriously.For these people, travelling is never a singular experience and as Santhanakrishnan puts it simply, "I find myself" during these journeys.

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