Blessed was the former generation when there actually existed the concept of a 9-5 day, when going home from work didn't feel like you were entering a battlefield. Or that you were embarking upon a journey so long that you'd easily finish reading a couple of books on law by the time you got home.
Don't get me wrong, I do not mean to gripe, or get all “gone are the good ol’ days…” on you. I love Bombay. I don't know many cities that have so much to offer. But the average day takes a big chunk out of me. Thankfully there are the weekends, days when I do not have to work long hours and fight through traffic.
So what do I do on the weekends? Well, let’s just say it’s always nice to meet new people and of course the excessive sleep feels like it was quite necessary. But the truth is more than hating the Monday blues, there's regret over the fact that very little was actually done over the weekend.
Last weekend, however, I spontaneously decided to join a friend for rappelling from a cliff in Lonavala called the Duke’s Nose. Story goes; it was named after the Duke of Wellington who was known for his sharp, long nose. It stands about 2,000 feet high from the base, and there’s a 45 minute trek to the top of the cliff.
Rappelling essentially means descending down a rock face with the help of a rope. The only gear you are provided with is a helmet and a harness tied around the waist. You start with your legs against the wall, with a specialized knot tied at the harness around your waist acting as a lever, you lower your body down by letting go of the rope gradually. What I personally liked about this was that I was always looking ahead at where my feet were, so I didn’t have to look down. You see, I’m afraid of heights.
The beginning was a bit shaky but I managed to start descending without looking down at the ground which was about 2,000 feet away. I think I was doing pretty okay for a novice. As I was lowering myself, there came a point where there was a depression in the wall. There was no longer a surface in front of me - this is what is known as an overhang. When an object is suspended by a thread, it doesn’t stay in one place, it usually spins. And that’s exactly what happened with me. I was no longer staring at my feet against the wall but facing the other way. I was now staring at the vast, hollow Sahyadri valley below me.
My heart beat shot up. Being April, the mountains were hot and arid, but being there and looking at the Sahyadris from a completely different perspective was an exceptional spectacle. The only sound I could hear was my heartbeat, my heavy breathing and the sound of the wind gushing through my ears. The only thing I was able to do was stare away into the abyss of the anchored rocks emerging from the earth. I waited in the silence, which was interrupted by a man shouting at me to take control of the rope and lower myself.
When I lowered myself down, just about to touch the surface, I saw people below in a group sharing their experiences. I couldn’t talk to them immediately, I had to take a moment to process what had happened. I was overwhelmed. Not only had I seen something beautiful but I had also gotten over my fear of heights.
When I hit the bed that day, I was exhausted. I had the best, sleep possible; probably because I’d earned it.
I’ve read somewhere that ‘it’s healthier to chase meaning than to avoid discomfort’. Here’s what Neil Gaiman had to say about escapism. He said escape shouldn’t be looked at as something negative. Once you’ve escaped and once you’ve come back, the world is not the same as you left it. You come back to it with weapons, skills, and new-found knowledge you did not have before. You are better equipped to deal with your current reality. I read this a while ago, but I guess it took me that one weekend to actually understand what it meant.
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