I couldn’t wait till the bus drew to a stop. The motion sickness was getting a bit too much to handle and to make it worse I really wanted to pee. The effects of my motion sickness tablet were wearing off. If the bus hadn’t stopped, I would have vomited! The winding road with the fog settling down in the trees lining the road lost its charm on me. It was a very pretty sight for sure. I had never been to the hills before. My first time incidents with the roads winding through mountains and tiny picturesque settlements was a delight to the eyes. But I really just wished the bus came to a stop!”
And eventually it did!
To my shock and dismay it had stopped in front of a worn down bus stop with algae on its walls and two dogs relaxing on the benches. It was one of those places where time stood still! However to a 12 year old me; it was just the worst place to stop.
I waited for instructions from our guide about where to go; they were just testing my patience! All 30 of us kids waited in silence trying to get a grasp on what was happening and what we were supposed to do next. A girl next to me nudged me and asked, “Do you know where we are going next?”
No! I just shook my head having no idea what was going on. At this moment, I was regretting arguing with my mother about this but I was the one who demanded for it. There were the first time incidents of my life and when I would go back I would surely appreciate that my mother was right about a lot of things!
We picked up our backpacks and were told to start walking up the road. It wound around the hill but thankfully it wasn’t too steep. The weather was also quite pleasant though in the horizon we could hear thunder and the sound of peacocks. Someone mentioned that it would rain soon. The thought of rain made me think of pee again!
As we trudged along the path, I observed that it was a rough dirty track. The path had tyre marks on it giving me some hope that a civilization existed nearby. Most part of the forest around me was made of tall teak trees with broad leaves. They let very little sunlight inside.I could hear crickets chirping all around me but as walked our guide told us it wasn’t crickets but another insect called Cicada. As we were walking, something completely unexpected and wonderful happened! Out there in the distance something moved! Our guide asked us to hush up and move to the side of the road and be really calm. He then whispered, “Guys, be silent, there is a group of elephants in front of us!! Don’t worry they won’t harm you, they are really nice and will not do anything to you!”
We had been told earlier that something like this could happen but nothing prepared me for this. As we stood there waiting, the group emerged from the foliage and we could see it was a herd of 5 elephants with two adorable calves. The baby elephants swinging their tiny trunks were eager to make a dash through the forest. They told us later that the road we were walking on goes down to the Moyar River where the elephants go everyday to drink water.
I was in the middle of the Mudumalai jungle and these were my first time incidents away from home on a nature camp. That pristine jungle in the Nilgiris was my first tryst with nature. It remains with me till date.
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