Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A fool on the hill..........

The view from where we parked the car was exquisite. But this was just the beginning. Radu told me that further up we would explore nature at its best.

“The best thing I like is the silence” said he.

“Yeah but it is too silent” replied I, still not completely divorced from the urban surrendering.

He stopped unpacking and looked at me quizzically “There is nothing called too silent” His reply was almost vehement.

I was getting impatient and was ready to start. After a long time I was in possession of a fairly decent camera and months of taking photographs within the limitations of my phone were about to evaporate. But Radu is a perfectionist. He pocketed two packs of dog biscuits. (Just in case) He took out two telescopic sticks; the type used by Everest climbers, and gave me one. “This will be useful on the rough terrain”. In went two bottles of water, few bars of chocolates and countless other items. Years of taking photographs in strange locations left him prepared him for all eventualities.

We started the trek, punctuated by frequent stopping to make pictures.

“Why are you whistling so often, you might attract some dogs” I joked, or so I thought.

“On the contrary, if you make enough noise the wild animals stay away. This I learnt from part time hunters and campers who frequent these areas.”

The term “wild animals” stopped me in my tracks. “Don’t scare me” I said expecting that he would say that he was just joking. But Radu is one of those rare specimens who is incapable of lying.

“This place is meant for the shepherds to come with their goats and sheep so that they, the goats and sheep, can graze on the fresh mountain grass. When the goats arrive the wild animals can not be far behind. But it is not yet summer. Also the bigger problem is in winter. That is when they migrate collectively and are known to attack.”

Minor mercy. So the summer has not started and winter is far away. So I am safe.

“But if a lone animal comes face to face it can be very dangerous. Do you see these areas where the earth looks ploughed? These are the unmistakable signs of wild boars”

My encounter with wild boars began and ended within the pages of Asterix’s adventures. I relapsed into my panic mode. No photograph could be worth it if I were to die in the process of making it. And all the while Radu was making casual strides and those frequent noises. The burning fire of a budding photographer died long ago. To request that we turn back would be a great ego issue. I am scared but how can I let him know that I am scared.

Adding further ignominy was the climb, though not steep still arduous. Physical exercises stopped long ago and the body had accumulated layers of fat and the sedentary work style did not help either.

“Do not rush! This is the mantra for climbers. Take it easy and once the body is acclimatized you can go on for a long time.”

Whatever gave him the idea that I was rushing. The labouring breath was a result of agonized lungs.

The long walk through a dense growth that bordered on being labeled a jungle went on.

I gasped for my breath.

Not due to exhaustion but when we entered the first clearing. The view was from a fantasy land. The sloping land, the mighty mountains, the fragile shepherd’s hut and setting sun transformed the landscape to an indescribable beauty.

Another walk. Another clearing.

And by the time I reached the third clearing the tiredness was gone. And wild animals vanished completely from my mind.

I understood what Radu meant when he said there is nothing called too silent!




  1. my dear friend, your mixed feeling coming from this short trip and the wonderful description of that day make me happy. I'm convinced you'll not forget very soon that moments. I'm also convinced you were not bored.
    However, I felt a shadow of sadness that comes from your story: in deep of your heart, you regret as we have not meeting with a bear !!! :-) :-) :-)

  2. not just the bear
    the dogs
    and the wild boars ;)