My first Cleaning Trek in Nagalapuram with the Chennai Trekking Club.
Write up by:Aurélie
Photos courtesy: Jaweed, Muthu , Ben
It’s Saturday evening and the only thing I want to do is to go to bed to make sure I’ll be able to wake up next morning and be ready to go for the Cleanup Trek in Nagalapuram with the Chennai Trekking Club!
As I try to go to sleep (unsuccessfully, due to unusual excitement for the event coming up the next day), I think once more how grateful I am to be in such an amazing city like Chennai and how grateful I am to all the people who helped me to settle here and made me feel home in such a short time. I receive everyday so much help and attention here from colleagues but also perfect strangers in the streets who take the time to stop and help me to find my direction, translate my English to Tamil to another person, help me carry some bags or simply have a nice chat with me. From the beginning I feel home and I keep on asking myself how I can give back to the place and the people who keep on giving me so much, and how I can become really part of this place. I think the initiatives led by the Trekking Club are perfect for this, giving the opportunity to have a positive impact in and around our city while meeting new people and discovering new areas. This is exactly what I was looking for!
Finally the alarm clock goes on and I jump out of my bed to get ready. Like usual for the important things that I don’t want to miss, I arrive half an hour too early at the meeting point. 15 minutes before the actual meeting time, I already get a call from Dhiviya to inform me the cab will be a bit late and ask if I am ok. Later I am called again twice to be kept informed of the imminent arrival of other people in the cab, I see the organization is really under control and feel I am very well taken care of even before anything has started! Kudos to the organizers and car leaders!!
After a short ride in the cab I get sent in Karthik’s car for the trip where I meet Gowtham, Harish and Anant. No one knows each other but the conversation and laughs start very quickly! We talk about bikes, about Osho, about Guy Ritchie’s movies, about anything, really! Like if we had known each other for a long time already… and Harish delights us with the very good and eclectic selection of his music playlist. We stop for breakfast and it feels like a big party starting, banana leaves are passing before my eyes, bringing all sort of dishes I have never seen before. Harish gives me the name of every dish and makes sure I try a bit of everything while Rhagu is making a one man show on the other side of the table, showingus the art of eating Pongal properly. I try to not laugh too hard while eating, it always end in disaster when I do, but it’s hard to keep serious when Rhagu’saround !
The breakfast is the opportunity to connect and get to know more people, like Vinod for example, who explains me he is working for an NGO helping kids with difficulties to get access to education and also bringing yoga to them. I listen and feel happy. How great and inspiring it is to meet special people with big hearts!
We go back to the car to reach the start of the trek and again once we go out there’s a joyful happy atmosphere all around. Everyone has a smile on their face and get active to collect their trash bags and gloves. I look at the place around and feel completely amazed by the beauty of the place! It looks even better than all the pictures I had seen before!
We start the walk with a good pace and it is again an opportunity to meet and get to know more people from the group. The sun is strong and it is nice to enter the forest where it is a bit fresher.
The group is big, people’s paces are different and the path is not always obvious. Often I get the feeling we have spent too much time talking or taking pictures and lost the rest of the group. In those moments, there is always the face of Muthu, Abi or Raja popping up and showing the right way to take, or their voice calling us and leading us in the right direction. I am amazed how they always keep the people together in some way and manage to bring the whole group to the different stop points without imposing any rhythm to anybody but also without losing anyone. It feels like we have guardian angels to keep us anytime on the track!
The arrival at the first pool is such a bliss! We all jump in the refreshing water and Rhagu starts another one man show with his hands and the water, propelling drops really high with only small quick hand
pressures (please contact Ragu for demo I cannot explain but I promise it’s worth a look !).
One of the pool offers great platforms to jump from, some people start to go jumping. I envy them to be so brave and I imagine the thrill it must be to jump from so high. I think again about that promise that I have done to myself, that I should do every day one thing that scares me and I think it is time to go and jump from the high platform! I arrive at the top and at the first glance, I just want to step back and forget about that idea. But I hear everyone down in the water cheering and starting to make some sort of loud monkey noises. Their cheering help me to find back my courage in a second. I look again and just jump under the happy screams of the rest of the group. Awesome!
Everyone goes one by one for the big jump and every time the whole team encourages them and cheers. I am so impressed how the people of this group are nice and caring for each other when they didn’t know each other a couple of hours before for a lot of them. I have a smile on my face for being here with such great company and it will not go away for a long time!
During the whole day, I keep on seeing people taking care of each other… Like on the way down, when everything is slippery and Manisha and I are struggling to get down on our tired legs. Ben slows down, stays next to us, holds the annoying branches, keep encouraging us and keep an eye on us to make sure we are ok. But the big Medal of Honorof course comes back to Karthik who just jumped without thinking twice in a gully in order to stop Abi from falling down a waterfall … Ok in the end they both fell and were completely wet… but man, the intention of Karthik and his big heart were totally there !!! What a man!!
And then of course I have to talk about the second part of the day: THE CLEANING. On the way back, everyone get on their gloves, open their bags and the cleaning battle begins! On every field, the warriors arrive and swipe the trash in a blink, leaving every place behind neat and clean again. What a great feeling, after enjoying the place to bring it back to its original beauty!
We come back with heavy bags full of trash and big smiles on our face, happy to have made new friends and rich of the feeling we accomplished something good.
What a day! I cannot wait for the next adventure !
13.039125 N,80.212376 E