Day 22: Kowdahalli to MM Hills
There are certain places I prefer more than others - I draw energy from a vibe and feeling that surrounds me. Now I'm not Haley Joel Osment from Sixth Sense (hasn't he had a blowout) but this is how I like to enjoy myself when travelling - going purely on instinct.
Although I had a long walk ahead - I enjoyed being in Kowdahalli so took my time with breakfast with the others around me - Hindus, Muslims, Christians and one curious "White Boy" - fascinated as to how they live their lives together in peace and harmony and yet we struggle in our own. We often like to pretend we are a lot more tolerant than we truly are.
I was joined this morning by a group of 20 Indians who were also walking to MM Hills - a Pilgram walk. Their 50km walk was accompanied with a support vehicle - carrying a hilarious amount of clothes and food. That is one thing a lot of Indians can't grasp - that all my clothes fit in the one bag. You only have to get a domestic flight in India to realise how much luggage they like to carry...
We walked for 15mins together and then a breakaway formed as myself and 4 others surged ahead. I was invited for lunch, however, realistically they were only going to cover 15km in 5 hours. Whilst not rushing - that pace is incredibly slow so I politely declined their offer.
As I strode ahead I was suddenly confronted with an image of a flipped car. I quickly realised I was first on the scene of an accident. There was no one trapped in the car but there were three people who were in need of first aid - cuts and suspected fractured back and arms.
I felt hopeless as I attempted to treat them - a struggle due to the language difficulties and their unwillingness to cooperate. There was more concern for the insurance and getting to the nearest police station.
I tried to get the man with the fractured back to lie down whilst I called for help.
"Ambulance won't come here, sir. We will get on bus."
I realised at this point there was nothing I could do. It is just a different world over here. We are just so fortunate to have the health care system we have in place. Wouldn't it be tragic if we created a system that only favoured those that could afford it....
So I cleaned up their cuts and pulled over a bus. This involved me standing in front of it shouting for it to pull over. I was greeted by abusive passengers - which was returned in full force by me as I attempted to take control of the situation. The bus driver tried to take off as I helped the man with the fractured back onto the bus. I punched the bus -took a deep breath and managed to get the other two guys onto the bus.
I was rattled by this confronting situation. Although I did a first aid course before I left, I didn't think I would actually need it. I was certainly not in my element and was so appreciative that the situation wasn't any worsen than it was!
After this - the next section of the walk happened to be known as the "Critical Zone." How's the name!? It was like I was walking into the middle of Iraq. I was constantly reminded about this 5km zone - an area apparently known for tigers and elephants. 2 years prior a man had been taken by a tiger. Wish they hadn't told me - ignorance can be bliss. With that being said - I was respectful and took all the appropriate precautions.
Obviously survived the Critical Zone. Any bet it is probably an in joke with all the locals.
The final climb was about to begin - a 17km steep incline to the top of MM Hills that featured 27 hairpin turns. I was only praying it wasn't going to be a Blue Mountain - "good from far, but far from good."
The closer I made it to the top the more I tried to cash in on the lucrative Pilgram shortcuts that took out these hairpin turns. I had to lift Colin up a flight of stairs and pull up an even steeper rugged terrain. Although it required a significant amount more of effort - it was small little mental challenges that I won that brought me closer to my goal.
I started to wonder why this wasn't called a Mountain. If I was this Hill I would be feeling pretty ripped off to not get the prestigious Mountain title. We love climbing a mountain - I guess it's that hard work and the reward pay off when you get to the top!
The scenery was all new - more of a valley as I now decended into MM Hills - the temple the focal point of the town - a religious oasis - and my home for the next two days.
I was exhausted but felt high on being alive - being unsafe and then returning to a safe state of mind is a feeling like no other - one you don't regularly get to experience. This coinciding with being confronted with a car accident was a powerful reminder of how one's life can change in an unforeseeable instance. Life is the most valuable and treasured possession. It's unfortunate that tragedy often highlights to us how important life is and how lucky we are to be surrounded by the ones we love the most. Life is fragile, pursue your passions and dreams and cherish your loved ones and memories.