Seizing The Day.

March 10, 2004

Well, I’m back from one of the most relaxing, and yet exciting trips of my life. Did tons of stuff, met lots of great people, saw new sights, new experiences and aches in places I didn’t even know existed.

The Location

The shooting meet took place up in the mountains just outside a town called Nuwara Eliya. We stayed in a bungalow in the town itself. I arrived just after 9AM on Thursday morning after a four hour drive. I made the trip up with Sam’s (my host’s) drivers, who were transporting stuff for the meet and the post-meet barbeque. Found myself a bed in a two-bed room in the adjoining annexe and napped till around 5pm as I had not slept the previous night. Woke up, showered, changed and emerged from my room to make some new friends.

The Two Buggers

Shiran and Suren, hereafter referred to collectively as The Two Buggers. Physically and psychologically interchangeble and together they are a comedy act beyond compare. My first impressions of them were of two young kids playing with guns. Thankfully they turned out to be two very responsible forty something young kids playing with guns and like everyone else there some of the nicest people I’ve met in a long time. They had a tendency to call just about everyone ‘bugger’ eventually, and I soon came to think of them as ‘What(?) Bugger’ and ‘You Bugger’ and then quickly forgot which was which, but this wasn’t a big inconvenience most of the time. Both of them were there to compete. Didn’t actually get to watch them shoot, but got to hear about their performances afterwards. Especially the bit where one of them got disqualified on a technicality and spent the rest of the evening blaming the other one about it. Hope to spend more time with these buggers in the future.

Uncle Sam

My host. A friend of my father’s, an extremely honest and generous person. Was quick to invite me along when I expressed an interest in the sport. As the vice-President of the shooting club organizing the event he was naturally quite busy but found the time to make sure that his guests were well taken care of. He’s also one of the fastest drivers I know and has the car to match his skills, a heavily modified Subaru Forester. I swear to god, there is nothing like the feeling of accelerating from 0 to 60 in 3.5 seconds, up a 30° incline!

The Joseph Brothers

Sam and Norman, long time shooters but not there to compete. Instead they were there to provide us with music all weekend long. Their repetoire, especially Sam’s was quite extraordinary. And getting him drunk is also good for a laugh. Sadly I do not think they were able to play at the post meet BBQ as there were technical problems. Still, they entertained us the rest of the weekend so no complaints here. Also Sam taught me a few basics on the guitar which made me stretch muscles in my hand in ways that they’ve never stretched before. It appears that you stretch in exactly the opposite way playing guitar than you would playing a keyboard. I’m going to have to get that under control if I ever want to play violin.

The English Teachers

Surprise additions to the ensemble were two British volunteer English teachers, Kate and Elena (I assume that’s how they spell their names, I forgot to ask). Apparently down from England after their A’ Levels for 3 months to teach English and looking for a weekend away and Sam, who knows the local organizer of the volunteer program, offered to bring them along. They were quite different from most of the eighteen year-olds I’ve met in a while. A lot less superficial, and much friendlier than most young un’s I meet these days which was quite refreshing. Sadly I was in one of my more introspective moods this weekend and have the feeling that this might have made them feel a little uncomfortable around me. Oh well, misunderstood as always. Not that I ever try to clarify.

The Planter

My friend S (or Sudarshan to those who can pronounce it) drove down on Saturday to meet up with me. I’d always promised to give him a shout should I ever find myself in his neighborhood. Quite amusing memories of us scrounging for food and attempting to cook undercooked meat in the communal bonfire. I don’t think we’d survive that long in the wilderness left to our own devices. Also find it quite troubling that even though the two of us were the youngest males in the group, we were deemed to be the safest ride home by the English Teachers. Sure, they did run into a little accident earlier in the day with Sam and the Two Buggers, but at least pretend that S and I weren’t safer than a bunch of guys twice our age!

Sheesh.

The Guns

STEYR SCOUT!

Yes, a real Steyr Scout! One of the Buggers had one and it was sweet. Can’t believe I saw one, even held one. Hope I get to shoot it sometime, hint hint. Also a Browning M1911 and I believe a Remington Pump. Didn’t get to shoot, but got to play with the guns a little (unloaded of course) and get a feel for things. Does the thought of me with a gun scare you?

Hehe.

My Ordeal

Um, did something really stupid on Sunday. Woke up not feeling too good. Had a cup of jasmine tea and then proceeded to throw it up, along with five more cups of jasmine tea which I never drank to begin with. Apparently I produce jasmine tea when I’m not feeling good. That should have been my first warning that I wasn’t up for anything too strenuous. Had breakfast and then headed out to Horton Plains for a 9km hike. Um…

I’m guessing my mind wasn’t working too well that morning and I somehow didn’t hear people telling me about the steep hills, rocky trails and the fact that a 9km hike actually involves some walking. Did okay for the first 3km, and then my right knee started stiffening up. No big deal, I just went a little slower and compensated with my left leg on some of the steeper climbs. Hung onto a branch for a particularly steep step down, caught my foot in a root and ended up swinging around and whacking my right knee into a tree. It cured the stiffness. Replaced it with pain. But at least my knee worked better. So kept on going and then found my left leg cramping up.

Then my right leg.

Then both legs together.

6km left to go.

Decided that it would be best if I turned back while I still could. The rest of the group went ahead, except for Pradeep, one of Sam’s drivers. The journey back took me almost twice as long and is a blur of pain, exhaustion and torture as my body kept cramping up and shutting down. I’ve lost track of the number of times my legs actually locked up and I couldn’t move. Just couldn’t do anything except keep going one half-step at a time. Not quite sure why my body did this. I’ve been on walks like this before and have never had problems. I’m pretty sure that an hour more out there and I would have gone into shock and organ failiure. I suspect that I suffered partial organ failure and severe dehydration as a result of this. Still, I made it out of there on my own steam with no physical help from anyone. Pradeep being their was a immense psychological boost, but it was my legs that carried me out. At the end of the day, regardless of all the pain and the long period of recovery I’d have to expect, I have no regrets.

If anyone needed proof that I was crazy, here it is.

Have mostly recovered now. My body still aches occasionally. My liver’s started functioning again and I’m no longer retaining water and hence, no longer look like the Michelin Man.

I went out on this trip because I wanted to get away. To get some thinking done. But most of all I went away to start living. I’ve lived most of my life in my head watching the world go by, and I’ve had enough.

I’m going to live. Even if it kills me.

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