July 19, 2017

I was coming to Ooty in a sleeper bus for the first time. In the early morning I was tossed and turned around because the bus was climbing up these hair-pin bends. It was seriously uncomfortable. It broke my sleep. Somewhere in the back of the bus, someone was "barfing", a humorous slang that means "vomiting". Someone rushed to get a plastic bag.

I lifted the curtain of the window in the bus. I saw in the early dawn; the thick luscious greenery around, the black tarmac of the road. The bus, however, was struggling. Grating along. The driver flung the bus to the furthest right corner of the left turning hairpin bend; just so that the entire length of the bus could get accommodated. Momentarily, the bus cut across to the oncoming lane and the driver painfully turned the bus all around 180 degrees and moved it farther up a slope. You could hear the engine straining as it pulled the entire load of the now sleeping, now awake, now barfing people in it.

After all that effort, when I looked out of the window I realized we have probably moved farther along by only around four metres. I can see the lower part of the hairpin bend just out there below.

If you were to take that slice of delta time, and just get affected by that - you may wonder; can't this be a little bit more easier? Why do we have to go through this?

Endure the hairpin bends to reach this view. Credit: Vinoth Chandar, Wikimedia Commons

Then the inevitability of discomfort dawned on me. If you have to climb, you have to be uncomfortable. Can I cut one way out, a nice clean road right up the mountain and just haul myself up or get hauled up very gracefully? Would there be someone standing in reception, with a bouquet of roses - with all the thorns removed - inviting me to step out saying "Here you are. Now enjoy the scenery"?

It's not going to happen.

I started thinking about climbing up that day. Slowly it dawned to me that climbing up is never going to be easy. So what's wrong with that? Do we have a predefinition of what is climbing up? You are going to reach an unknown place. A place that is deeply beautiful. A place that has lots of serendipities - viewpoints that apply calming balms on your soul. At least that was the hope that this is what the journey could lead to.

But then, it may not lead to that. That's the risk we need to take. Yet, it could be worth the while. After all; at the very least, I was quite sure the weather up there will surely be much more cooler than the clammy, hot-humid weather I was earlier immersed in.

Sabu Francis
Text & Images by Sabu Francis


Sabu Francis is an architect and a tech innovator.

Featured Image source: The Timeliners