Sunday, 19 July 2009

Chinchoti Trek & Biker Movies

So I met up with the guys on Saturday morning at 7.00 A.M. RV and his friend HS came direct from work, while HG came from home.

We caught a 7.30 train to Naigaon, and a rick to Chinchoti. Both RV and I haven't been here in a while (it's been almost two years in my case) and we weren't too sure about the route to the falls, though we soon found it after asking around. HG and HS haven't been here ever.

The walk was quick. We did stop to take photos a few times, getting huge bites each time. Odomoss only seems to be effective against city mozzies, not these jungle ones. I've never encountered mosquitoes on my two previous treks here.

The sky was lovely and overcast throughout the day, and the recent rains had left everything cool & bright green, like what we saw in Rajmachi two weeks ago.

Apart from the mozzies, another new for me were the many streams we crossed on our way to the falls. Of my previous two trips here, the first in the summer and the second at the end of the monsoon in October, I didn't come across any mozzies and just saw one large stream.

In fact, my first trip here was also my first trek. It was May 2002, I had just finished my FY in college, and was whiling the time away at home during my summer break. The I.C parish organised a trek to the SGNP, and I quickly joined in, trekking being something I'd always wanted to experience but had never gotten the opportunity to in my two years in Mumbai and sixteen years in Muscat. So we gathered one fine Sunday morning in the second last week of May, only to be told by our group leader that our permissions hadn't come through yet, and so we'd be going to a place called Chinchoti.

We walked to Dahisar station, caught a train to Vasai, and a bus to Chinchoti, from where we started what could only be described as torture. The place was terrible - bone dry, extreme humidity, waterfalls with no water, little breeze & dry brown grass everywhere. My group and I even climbed halfway up the exposed boulders of the main waterfall. And the trek back seemed to take forever. That night in bed, I could see myself swaying over those boulders. But I was hooked. The next week, we went to the SGNP, walking all the way from the main gate to Kanheri caves, Tulsi lake and then back to the gate, and I accomplished my second trek. I tried not to go trekking in the summer after that.

My second trek to Chinchoti was in October of 2007, with MD and one of his friends. Hot, humid and no rain, but still green and it was nice to find a full waterfall at the end.

Anyway, back to Saturday, we arrived at the waterfall and sat on a boulder to rest, when a whole troupe of kids arrived and dived in. We decided to go back down the path and find a more private spot along the river created by the falls. The whole reason we came here on Saturday was to beat the Sunday crowds, which turns this place into Esselworld.

We did find a nice spot along the river where we sat, the water waist high and running around us, and rain on our heads. It was heavenly.

We left when an extended family decided to share our spot, and I was home by 3.30 P.M, where I ate a late lunch, showered, and checked my mail.

I left for the St. Andrews audi at Bandra at around 5.00 P.M. for Gaurav Jani's two-movie screening - One Crazy Ride & Riding Solo to the Top of the World.

The screening was presented by 60kph, a motorcycle travel club, and Dirt Track Productions, both of which were founded by Gaurav Jani, who also shot the two documentaries. Gaurav, along with his 60 kph travel mates and Dirt Track production crew, were on hand to talk about their experiences.

The first movie they played - One Crazy Ride (supposed to start at 7.00 but ended up being 7.30) - is actually Gaurav's second film and involved him and a group of four friends traveling on unchartered roads across Arunachal Pradesh with him filming their experiences. This isn't the most technically brilliant of films, and there are gaps present. You're not sure what part you're watching takes place at what point of time in the group's adventure. Weren't they on day 4 in that last scene? And now they're on day 35? We're not really given much of a sense of time lapse in the film.

But it's the message that comes through clearly. Gaurav has shown, successfully, the spirit of a motorbike traveler, the frustration he faces, and how he deals with it. He continues the trip solo when his four team mates drop out, and continues filming, a painstaking exercise when you realise he's not travelling with a camera crew.

His camera is handheld in many cases. In scenes where he records himself crossing a stream or a plain or looping round a mountain, he actually has to do it thrice - the first time, to set the camera up, the second, to go back, leaving the camera unprotected, and the third, to record himself riding back, and if the scene's not right, do it all again. In a cold uncomfortable, dangerous environment, it's all the more difficult. You've really got to be committed to do something like that.

Gaurav is a great storyteller, you feel his passion for travel and you share in the joy when he reaches his final destination. You're also on the edge of your seat when he crosses a particularly bad bridge.

Riding Solo to the Top of the World is Gaurav's first film, and one that won him many awards. In it, he travels alone, riding across the Changthang Plateau in Ladakh, living with nomads along the way.

While One Crazy Ride was a friends cum biker gang cum we're-in-this-together adventure, Riding Solo is more of a cultural exploration. Gaurav knows he's going to reach his destination and is in no hurry or under no pressure to get there quickly or worry about getting lost. He takes as much time out as he can to live with a talk to the people he meets, questioning why they do what they do.

A beautiful film, though my friend RV (who joined me a few minutes into the start of the fist movie) found the first one better. He even dozed off a bid during the second film, but that's understandable, seeing as how it was 11.00 P.M and he hadn't slept for over twenty-four hours and had been trekking this morning and afternoon.

We went to Janata later to meet TP, whom I've not seen since his wedding. Left a little before 12.00 to catch a train home. Wouldn't want to be stranded in Bandra for the night.


No comments:

Post a Comment