Night Camping – 13th and 14th February 2016

Break Free from your Office Desk – Night Camping and Photo walk

It was a Saturday almost 3 PM and I am office prototyping a small model of a product that we have been working on past few weeks. I was excited and anxious to know the results which were about to arrive in an hour or so. But, I can’t wait.  I have something more exciting waiting for me.  Yes, it’s the CTC’s Night Camping and Photo walk happening the same day starting in an hour.
I reached the assembling point at around 3:45 PM and met the organizers Pramod and Vijay and couple of others.  Although, the mail mentioned 4:00 PM for meeting at the assembling point, few of us are used to IEST (Indian Extended Standard time) and came in late.  When everyone assembled, we quickly made travel arrangements with available cars and bikes and headed towards our destination Thamaraipakkam which is around 20 km off Red hills.
The road was good and it’s the route that MTC buses use.   We reached Thamaraipakkam around 6 PM and there was little day light almost going down. We quickly made a tent for our night camping before we could lose the little remaining day light. Once the tent was ready, our next task was to get firewood for our campfire. Since Thamaraipakkam was a village and we had farms and trees all around, we could gather enough firewood with the help of a few local villagers.  There was a branch of a neem tree which was lying cut down.  It was so huge that it required, 4 of us to drag it to the place where we planned to lit campfire.
Since it was neem leaves – a natural mosquito and insect repellent, we initially burnt few small branches along with its neem leaves near our tent to ward off the mosquitoes and other insects. We setup firewood for campfire and lit the campfire and we were chatting around it. We had to keep the campfire low, so that the villagers don’t get any false alerts of their farm.
I dropped a small plastic cup into the campfire and I was immediately given a quick and friendly instruction on how harmful burning plastic can be for the environment and was even warned of being black listed from future CTC trips. 
For those of you who don’t know, CTC has strict no plastic policy and at the end of this trip everyone was asked to pick up the left over plastic water bottles, plastic carry bags, plastic food packets and throw in a safe bin wherever we can find one. CTC even conducts plastic awareness campaigns to educate the public on harmful effects of plastic on the environment.
Once the campfire went down, we went to a nearby motel that we located on our way to the camping point to buy our dinner. We all had dinner together in the tent with our non-stop chit chatting and slowly everyone drifted off to sleep sometime pastmidnight.
Next day morning everyone woke up to nice mist that was there all over the place wetting our cars and bikes. We went to a nearby tea shop and freshened ourselves up. We got to take nice shots of the green landscape, nearby flower garden of Jasmine, Chrysanthemum and Crossandra (kanakambaram). Thanks to Arvind spotting a few beautiful birds.
After our photoshoot, we winded off the tent, picked up the left over plastics wrapped up in a bag so that we can dispose it off on our way home in a bin. Few of us had to go and buy fish and other groceries so that we can cook the fish ourselves.
We were helped by nearby farmers for the place to get fish and they also gave us some utensils and a small mud stove for us to make fish fry.  They also turned on their farm irrigation pump so that we can dip ourselves into the water and play with it. We had much fun there.

We had breakfast along with the fish fry that we had bought and cooked.  We also fed the farmers with the food we prepared. They have been feeding us all along and it was a token of thanks from our side even though it’s very tiny in comparison.  Instead of drinking water, every one of us had tender coconut offered by the farmers. 
After a nice bathing and a wonderful breakfast, we were relaxing a bit and about around 11 AM, we thanked the farmers and started back to our dens (read home).
It was a nice trip all in all and I am looking forward to more. 

WRITE UP: Vijayram Kulasekaran
PHOTO CONTRIBUTION: Arvind, Vasanth, Vijayram, Vijaykumar, and Pramod
ORGANIZERS: Pramod Chakravarthy & Vijaykumar Duraiarasan

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