Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Trip to Damdama

So I've been asked to join up a group of fellow colleagues for a 2 day 'teamwork building and corporate bonding' exercise,
at a private resort called Waterbanks at Damdama lake, near Sohna. Got picked up near home, and traveling in 2 Toyota Qualises, the dozen or so of us reached the venue after a 45 minute ride (for me).
The resort itself was an island in the middle of the lake, reachable by motor boat. It was fun gliding over the water to the place. It was designed with a village style ambience, with small 2 bedroom huts, kept away from each other and having great views of the whole area.
Scenic beauty was not what we were there for, however. After being served lemonade in traditional kulhars (earthern cups,which surprisingly, were glazed, since usually they aren't), we had to get down to brass tacks, literally. The guy in charge of the trip, our office admin head, turned out to be the outdoorsy type, with a background in adventure sports. We started off on a commando style obstacle course, beginning with training nets. Being tall has its advantages, so I made like a spider ambling across the web towards its helpless prey, and reached the other side in no time.
Next up was having to play python and squeeze through a bunch of drums.
There is a repressed lunatic in each of us. He or she comes to the fore at odd times. I swear it was him that made me volunteer to go first across the 'Burma bridge'-a rickety affair of planks and rope strung across a make believe gorge (that was just 8 feet deep, by the way). Once I'd figured out that the edges of the planks were the safest places to step on, it was easy.
Breakfast was served under a huge open air hall, surmounted by a thatched roof. Tea, as all other beverages, was again served in their special glazed kulhars. After loading up on heavily buttered parathas and toast, we were all set for the next phase.
This was-swinging across a 'valley' on a rope, wearing a harness with a pulley attached to your middle. Before I realized it, I was the one to go first. The guy in charge, a short stocky man in his forties, who looked like he scrambled up mountain peaks to amuse himself, brought out a harness for me to get into.
Heroes are those who plunge headfirst into the unknown, or known dangers. They might also be called lunatics. What do you say to those who do the same, only ass first?
Hanging from a pulley, with the G forces squeezing the harness, one has to pull oneself along the rope, wearing gloves whose texture is like sandpaper. Slowly the cheering of the other people faded away, as I reached dead center, then finally fetched up on the other side. Others didn't fare too badly either.
Someone dropped her shoe into the valley, and it looked kinda sad, sitting there at the bottom, till one of the staff went down to fetch it for her.
Next up was, scaling an artificial wall, to simulate rock climbing. This was something I couldn't do-the grips and handholds were way too small to support me.
The evening brought on more surprises. Jackals howled in the distance, attracted no doubt by the good smells emanating from the kitchen.
Post dinner, was a simulated(!) commando operation. I'd hoped it would be like a Quake 3/UT style 'capture the flag' or 'assault'-but turned out quite tame. A bit of sneaking around, and the game was over before it had begun.
Sleeping at night was an adventure in itself...a room that doesn't lock itself, for starters. The chicks were spooked at the prospect of becoming hors d'oeuvres of the vulpine kind, and we had to show them how to secure the doors. Best of all...toilets that haven't seen running water in ages!
Lying down at night-that was when the pain began. One's arm feels like it's on fire-hurting like hell at the slightest movement. This is what comes when mouse potato tries to become commando beefcake overnight.
The morrow brought on 'combat tactics', which yours truly had to be excused from on account of cramps. Next up was the rock climbing adventure.

We had to again go by boat, this time round the island to another rocky area. The way up was littered with loose rocks, and finally, we were there-a large rock face with our instructor and his assistant, a cheerful North-eastern boy (who later said he was from Manipur). Apparently we were to climb up the rock from the side, and rappel our way down. Despite the blazing sun, a strong wind blowing constantly kept us all cool. Turn by turn, everyone had a go at the rock.
Except moi. I climbed to the top, admired the view, and then the groan in my joints told me I was in no shape to try out further stunts. Unless I wanted to prove that acceleration due to gravity is 9.8 ms-2. And leave a gaping crater besides.
Lying in the shade, in the big common hut, with the birds chirping and a lovely breeze-is a divine experience. Any hopes of mobile blogging were dashed, cos though network was available, GPRS was not. So I whiled away the time playing Tetris and enjoying the peace and quiet.
It's great to get away from the noise and bustle of the city, with just the breeze and chirping birds for background music.
A final photosession overlooking the lake would capture the trip for posterity.
Another motorboat ride across the lake-watching other tourists gliding by in two paddleboats that were shaped like a giant swan and a Viking longboat.
I'm yet to recover from the body aches from the trip, but on the whole it was quite enjoyable.