Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Falling off Goatfell - The Arran Trip, Part II

Falling off Goatfell

We landed in Arran in due time. A few lingering suspicions I had of whether I had actually docked in France by mistake were dismissed when I realized I could understand what the blokes on the shore were mouthing (unless of course the French had seen sense at long last and decided to switch to English).

Arran is a huge island, and does not have as many roads as a lazy city slicker like me would have liked. However, since it is huge, walking everywhere is not an option either. This leaves one with two options - of getting onto an overpriced bus, or selling your soul to raise the funds to rent a car.

Since I didn’t know if I had one of the latter, I decided to clamber onto a bus to travel to a place called Corrie. It was as I settled down on the bus that I realized that the buses were marginally less comfortable than the trusty 100 year old steeds they use in Chennai, and the roads were as good as the euphemistically named IT highway is after a storm.

I also realized that the bus driver suffered from the delusion that he was at the wheel of a Jaguar. He was convinced that the only way he could give his passengers their money’s worth was by giving their collective stomachs a good churn. He was aided and abetted by the twists and turns of the wonderfully surfaced road.

As we neared Corrie, any thoughts I had entertained of making terrible jokes about Poories in Corrie had all but vanished. All I wanted was a quiet corner where I could relieve myself of the contents of the stomach. The coffee was fighting with the ham and cheese sandwiches for an out, and all of them picked my esophagus as the staging point for breaking out of my body.

One of my friends tapped me on the shoulder.

‘Are you sick?’, she asked, rather unnecessarily.

‘No, I usually turn green on a whim. It amuses me to no end.’ Bitter words, no doubt. But there are times when a man is amenable to stupid questions, and times when he is not.

‘I just thought of a funny joke.’, she went on, unaffected by my remarks which were meant to bite like an adder and sting like a bee. ‘You’re a sick individual in the normal course of things. But now you’re a sick person who is incidentally feeling sick.’

I turned to her with an expression that had disgust, disdain and annoyance written on it. I was about to make another scathing remark which would have shut her up (for thirty seconds, at least), when the bus went up in the air after climbing up a steep incline a little too fast. Belying the driver’s expectations, the bus did not stay airborne but descended to terra firma with a resounding thud. And the lemonade that I had sipped the day before joined the party that the coffee and the sandwiches were organizing in my esophagus.

My friend looked at me with sudden concern. ‘You’re going to puke, aren’t you?’

I nodded weakly, in the hope of garnering some womanly sympathy.

‘Please turn away. Don’t puke on me.’, said she, brutally.

If I were an old man, I would have said, ‘They don’t make women the way they used to in 1950.’

But I wasn’t (and am not) an old man. So I turned away, thinking dark thoughts and hoping for the depredation of all womankind.

Cut to: Goatfell Mountain

It had been fifteen minutes since I had let the coffee, the sandwiches and the lemonade make their way back to the womb of the nature that created them. As the climb got harder and harder, my backpack seemed to get inexplicably heavier and heavier. In a few minutes, I was almost climbing on all fours.

I shouldn’t have carried those three cans of beer, goddammit!

In keeping with the spirit of the previous post, I summarize herein the lessons learnt during the climb to, descent from and fall on Goatfell.

  • If somebody asks you to carry three cans of beer, don’t listen to somebody. In fact, go a step further and tell somebody that he’s talking through his hat.

  • If the somebody happens to be yourself, kill somebody. The world doesn’t deserve somebodies of this kind. *searches frantically for a noose or a few capsules of cyanide*

  • Snow looks nice and feels nice to the touch. But that doesn’t make having snow stuffed down your shirt an enjoyable experience.

  • Snow is slippery. But do not avoid the snow to walk on the adjoining wet, icy rocks. Ice is slipperier (a message to the purists here – if Lewis Carroll could say curiouser, why can’t I say slipperier. So there!) than snow, and falling down on a rock hurts more than falling down on snow.

  • If you’re five feet and seven inches tall, weigh around 63 kilos, have black hair, Indian, and called Siddhu, don’t go mountain climbing. There are several other pursuits you will be significantly better at – like, for instance, being a roadside romeo and whistling at passing pulchritude, sleeping, or drawing Nazi Swastikas on bus stop windows.

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