Quad-Biking: Highs and Lows

I’ve gone quad-biking in Bali and in Cape Town, with two completely different experiences to look back on!

The one in CT (Dec 2010) was fabulous! The quad-bikes were shiny and well maintained, the trail was beautiful and our guide was an interesting old gentleman, who was spending his retirement exploring the national park on his dirt bike and taking groups of tourists like us on some of the more tamer (for him) trails.

There were points in the trails with long stretches of road ahead and behind me before a turn, and I was quite alone at some of these stretches. Though I was part of the group, it sometimes felt like I was on my own out there, surrounded sometimes by trees so tall and all-encompassing that it I felt a bit lost and almost scared. Everything that was beautiful would suddenly take on a cold, forbidding note. But of course, I was following a trail and our guide was excellent. He’d come back sometimes to check if I was ok,  to make sure no one got lost in the wilderness.

We stopped midway for coffee and South African grain-filled biscuits (which were more like biscotti really, and deelicious with black coffee!)  and chatted about the different trails and the supposed sighting of  a mountain-lion that everyone swore they saw! :P  The air was clean and crisp and the sun warm on our faces.

It was not very easy as we had to pass through small pools of water and different kinds of terrains, and maneuvering through it all was no mean task, my shoulders were tired and aching by the end of it all. But it was  fun, though it was all very well controlled and we were not in any danger at any point.

The one in Bali though, was my first time quad-biking on a dirt track (Dec 2008). We unfortunately went to a place that wasn’t managed very well. The equipment was old, the helmets yucky and in hindsight, the terrain quite wild and more dangerous. The trail ran round a mountain with a bamboo plantations (or was it sugarcane?  oh… never mind!) to our left, and a drop down to the bottom through a rough thicket of trees and rocks to our right. (So my game plan was to never turn right!  ;P )

There were 12 of us, and 6 bikes in all. It’s funny how these things turn out, cos I was supposed to buddy up with Sharath (he would drive) and Anu was to go with someone else. At the last minute, Anu asked if I would switch with her. I agreed as that vehicle was not a stick shift, so I could drive it easily(which meant I could drive! Yay!).

We started out and Sharath and Anu were just ahead of us, when about 15 mins into the ride, we had our first incident. I saw it happening in front of me, as if in slow-motion.

They lost control of the quad and crashed into the plantation. Anu fell back from the impact and was thrown out of the bike while Sharath fell with it. Sharath got badly bruised and was bleeding, though the wounds were not deep; while Anu, though fine, was in shock and would not stop crying!  That’s when I learned another thing about my vehicle… the hand-brakes didn’t work (and we were at an incline)! So I had to stay put with my feet firmly on the brakes while they helped Anu up and sat her beside me. She continued crying while we looked at each other helplessly, not sure what to do. The guides finally came round with another vehicle, Nitin (Anu’s hubby who was in another quad) came to pacify her (she only cried louder at the sight of him though!) and they got us different quads for the remainder of our journey.

This time round, I sat with Sharath.  And again, 5 mins into the ride, this quad too had a problem with the brakes, and the next thing I knew, we were stuck at an angle, three wheels holding on to uneven ground while the fourth dangled in mid-air over the edge! I didn’t quite realize the gravity (pun unintended) of the situation and was jokingly complaining about his driving skills until I heard the urgency in Sharath’s voice asking me to get out quickly. We climbed out of the vehicle and when I realized what a precarious position the bike was in, I quickly tried to get my camera out to take pictures (what?! I’m a journalist at heart!) while the men pushed the quad back on to the trail.

We got back without further incident, but  it was quite a harrowing  experience, one that none of us would forget anytime soon!

I still wonder sometimes how it would have been if Anu hadn’t asked to switch bikes with me. What if I was the one thrown off the quad? How would I have reacted?

You can never tell unless you’re actually in that situation I suppose. And thankfully, I never had to find out  cos ever since, we did more research before we undertook such activities. I’m clumsy enough as it is without having to ride off cliffs on faulty quad bikes!

Tolled Out!

After reading my previous post, a friend of mine pinged me on BB saying ” It seems like being single has taken a toll on you”.

He was referring to the line in my post where I’d mentioned that I’m tired of men behaving unprofessionally in a business environment cos I’m single.

I’m not sure if sick-of-being-single is the impression I gave to anyone else who read the post, I’m not and that is not what I meant to convey when I wrote it.

Maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with my being single, cos I meet jerks who don’t know if I’m single or not and they still try and hit on me, or talk inappropriately just after a single conversation on the phone. But I remember my boss telling me that she used to face the same kinda crap before she got married, but now that people know she’s married and has a 4 yr old, they don’t try anything funny. I guess what she said stayed in my mind, leading me to believe that my single status is the reason these jerks behave the way they do.

Of course, if you think about it, that’s not true at all. Men who are jerks will behave the same way with single or married women. Their main concern would be whether they can get away with it.

A few weeks ago, I had talked on the phone to a prospective client about doing business together. He seemed fine when we were chatting on the phone. But then, in the evening, he sent me a text saying ” It was nicee (sic) talking to you this morning! I would love to work with you! You voice is so sweet!”

I wasn’t very sure how to respond to that, so I didn’t. So then he calls me, asks me if I was offended by the text. And when I  didn’t respond in the negative, he interrupted me before I could say anything beyond “well..”, apologized and said to forget it ever happened.

I let it go. And then, on the day I wrote the previous post,  I receive a text from him again – ” thinking of you. :)”

WTefffffff is that?!

And this, my friends, is just the tip of the twisted and creepy iceberg! When traveling, sometimes I’ve been asked by people to “check out the view from my room” and  all sorts of crap.  None of these have been by my colleagues thankfully, I work with a bunch of extremely decent men! But the ones I have to work with, the clients and the vendors…. while a lot of them are nice, quite a few are absolute creeps.

And when I face such blatantly inappropriate behaviour, I’m not really sure how to respond to it. I usually try and ignore or laugh it off as a joke, though I’m seething inside. I’m not sure if that’s the right response anymore. But I don’t know what to do! 

So you see, it’s not that being single has taken a toll on me. Dealing with men such as these, who disrespect  and objectify women, who try and get something on the side if possible though they are “happily” married men … that’s what’s taken its toll!

Heels from Hell!

I’m off to Qatar tomorrow for work.

This in itself is nothing new, but what will be different this time is that it will be a day trip. I will go in the morning, and come back in the night.

So basically, I’ll be out for meetings for the day… to another country, with a different time zone and everything! (ok, so it’s only 1 hour, but still!)

I know a lot of people do this quite regularly and think nothing of it, but this is the first time I’m going to be leaving the country without carrying at least an overnight bag, and I find the whole idea slightly daunting.

My main issue is with my shoes! I need to wear comfortable shoes, cos I’ll have to wear them all day long! But I have no comfortable work shoes! This is the kinda footwear I usually wear to work.

I remove them as soon as I get to office and it stays under my desk unless I have meetings or something.  I wear a pair of dainty looking flip-floppy sandals that I got from Africa to walk around the office. (Yes! It does look ridiculous with the rest of my outfit, but I don’t care! I don’t work for Vogue! :P)

I work in a male-dominated industry and I’m quite short compared to the men around me, so if I’m in flats, I’m usually the smallest person around and they all need to bend down when talking to me, as if talking to a child!  As it is, it’s difficult to be taken seriously cos I’m a single girl! Dunno what it is with men who treat women so crudely, professional environment or not! So many people with such sucky parenting! Tch!

Anyway… so I need the height, the psychological edge. I also need comfortable shoes when traveling, especially if I’m gonna be out and about! But I guess I can’t have both. *sigh*

Tomorrow is gonna be one helluva day! *bracing myself*

Hope your Tuesday is better than mine, and hope my Tuesday is better than what I expect it to be!

“Tripping… Stumbling..Clumsy cos I’m”… well… Born this Way!

Last night, I read this post and suddenly just needed to have wine! I didn’t have any sauvignon blanc or chocolate on me, but I settled for pinotage, except… as I was opening the bottle… I somehow spilled the wine… all over me! And also a bleached-wood chopping board that was in the way. It now has purple splotches on it. I think I’ll just call it Art! :P

Unfortunately, none of my friends will be surprised by this little incident. In fact, it’s tame compared to the kind of skirmishes I’ve gotten into! I’m one of those people for whom “tumble spec rating” is actually an important factor when buying electronic hardware.

I don’t want to list out all of the little accidents that have happened to me (or around me, or because of me), cos of course, that would be tiresome! But here are two from the top of the list:

1. The One with the Amrutanjan bottle

Now this is NOT as bad as it sounds! I sweaaaar! We were all in our hostel room in college, and one of my friends, Gowri (not Gauri) was lying on my lap … and someone said something funny… and we all laughed and she did too and very unfortunately, the tiny lil bottle  I was tossing from one hand to the other slipped off my hand and fell right on her tooth, and it chipped juuuuuust a little bit. It wasn’t even noticeable ! And it didn’t even hurt that much … I think. :-\

I was very sorry. Still am. But no one will let me forget it! *sigh*

2. The Phone Incident:

So the Nokia… is an amaaaazing phone! Those Finnish guys know what they’re doing! I now have bowed down to peer pressure and have a BB,  but I miss those simple days of Nokia when all I needed to do was text or call.

So anyway… my friend and I walked out of a movie hall on that cold winter’s night in Delhi. We were walking through the parking lot with cars parked in a line against the wall. We walked past several of them, and suddenly, I stopped for a beat and did a double take.  I turned back to make sure I was seeing right.

Was that an elephant  in the car-park?!

Yes, yes it was an elephant.  In the car-park! I grabbed my friend’s arm and pointed wordlessly. We went back and stared back in awe at the creature, nonchalantly waving his trunk and standing quite still otherwise, unaware of how incongruous he looked amongst all the other modes of transport parked there. We talked to the mahout about a stroll around the block sitting astride ol Jumbo, negotiated a price, and went on a grand tour of the car-park and the surrounding neighbourhood on the elephant. It was bumpy and quite uncomfortable, but loads of fun nonetheless!

But, after the ride, as I was clambering down… my trusty lil Nokia 1100 (with a torch and all! Yessiree!) slipped out of my pocket and fell right beneath the great beast’s foot. As he gently stepped on my phone, the backlight on the phone lit up, I screamed bloody murder and the mahout urgently gave instructions to poor confused Jumbo to retract his foot. He obeyed, but casually, and as he stepped away, my friend kicked the phone from under his foot and I ran to get it.

You will not believe this, but the phone still worked! It would no longer ring though, the sound was damaged and it was like my phone was permanently on silent mode, but it would still light up when I got a call and I could still use it! I just had to keep an eye on it to make sure I didn’t miss calls.

This is the stuff Nokia ads should be made of don’t you think? :D

Now, is this just me, or does everyone have their share of incidents such as these? (Please let it not just be me!)