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The Pious Arunachal Virginity

The word Adventure is enough to get me all excited! Hand me an adventurous trip even over a shopping spree in NYC. Unlike other girly girls, I am outgoing, extrovert and adrenaline rush loving person.

Last summer I made up my mind to try my hand at least one adventure sport the Adventure Camp (organized by Govt of India) in Arunachal Pradesh was a godsend. And I decided to skip my final semester exams for this. Best. Decision. Ever.

It began with a train ride. As most good things do. The Jaisalmer – Guwahati Express was home for next 3 days. Meeting new people, seeing different places, antakshari with strangers and perhaps stumble onto some old acquaintances. And so the 15 of us sang, danced and ate our way to Assam, traversing U.P., Bihar, West Bengal on the way. The landscape changed from the arid lands to lush green hills.

The bus journey from Guwahati to Tinsukhiya (transit camp) was phenomenal and a light drizzle hummed with us along the way. We luckily spotted Rhinos on our way through Kaziranga National Park. A night halt at Tinsukhiya and the next day we were all set to storm our base camp in Roing. A bus breakdown gave the chance to explore a quaint village, see traditional bamboo houses and chat up with the locals. The people were surprisingly self-sufficient had their own poultry, fisheries, farms and productions.

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The first rush was on the ferry ride across the Brahmaputra. This magnificent stretch of water was breathtaking. More so to a Rajasthani! A mini lorry carried us uphill to the camp sight. Chai is a savior at high altitude and brings much-desired warmth. And so the chill made a tea drinker out of me. Sleeping for the first time in sleeping bags it felt a constricted but then everybody snuggled in and seeing as we were all dead tired, it hardly made a difference.

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The early morning jog downhill was accompanied with a cool rejuvenating breeze blowing across our faces. I led our course in the jog and a long line of students trailed behind me. The sounds of birds twittering, leaves rustling, stream gushing and most importantly the heavy panting of my comrades egged me on. After slowing down to walking we were now able to concentrate on the nature’s beauty rather than our ragged breathing. I had only heard the phrase ‘in mother natures lap’ before but this was when I really understood what it meant, what it felt. It was surreal and calming. This place was so different from bustling cities.

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After the dinner, we went for a night walk in the wilderness of Roing. It was hard to contain my excitement once this was announced. I managed to earn a few glares from the trainers while chirping about it to my friends. Everyone was instructed to carry torches but use them only in absolute necessity so that we could enjoy nature in its own course. The hushed walk in the woods was something I will possibly not forget. Light wind ruffling through my hair, the sweet smell of ferns – Bliss! Walking, stumbling, falling on our way we made it to the base camp once again. All well except a few minor bruises. I went from being in a dream to living it for real!

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Chirping of the birds woke me up next and it was so refreshing compared to an alarm. But this happiness was short lived when I could not feel or move a single body part and my entire body was sore. But we had some serious adventure in store for us – Tyroline traverse in which we were supposed to glide down a rope from a higher level while moving parallel to the ground. Sports and my NCC background ensured that I was at ease while others were having some troubles. Though it lasted for just a few seconds but the experience was remarkable. When I cut the thin air I actually felt like I was flying. The trainers who witnessed my turn appreciated my confidence. Made my day.

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The next day brought with it an abominable feeling in the pit of my stomach but the magical air of Roing did it again and brought me back to life. Rappelling and Jumering were lined up for the day. Elated with anticipation of fun and adventure, I forgot the severity of these activities. In the itching heat of afternoon we marched on our way to the slaughter point – the Dam where we were supposed to show our mountaineering knack. On reaching the slaughter place Jumering aka climbing was the torturous activity I chose first. Climbing a flat 150 m surface is no cake walk and definitely not as easy as it seemed while our instructors did it. It was a bitter realization of how heavy I was. And those dreams of a prince charming turning me around in his arms came crashing down like a house of cards. On top of that, our trainer (Wallambok Sir) informed me and those all within a range of a kilometer that I was too heavy for my own good (and he was not subtle). I was engulfed in the feeling of shame. Until then I had considered myself athletic enough but not anymore. Rappelling was lined up next, we had to move down the dam in a gliding fashion facing towards the wall and feet in constant contact with it. In one swift motion I cut through air to reach the bottom. The view, the panorama and a feeling that was simply exhilarating. Felt good even after the torture earlier that day. 

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