A Unique Trek-mate


'Is he really gonna come with us ? Will he be able to do this ?'

Thoughts kept spinning in my head.

It was my first trek with Shraddha. Although had I read about her through the blog written by Savita ma'am, I was going to meet her in person, for the first time-the occasion was Kamalgad Trek. We all were asked to meet at Matoshri old-age-home, near Rajaram bridge. Accordingly, everyone arrived at the venue on time. By the time I could park my scooty at a safe place, the bus had arrived. While rest of the trek-mates boarded the bus, Shraddha was yet to come, so I preferred to stay down and started my favourite thing, to watch the surrounding and capture the frames.

The otherwise crowded the Rajaram bridge was breathing freely, reminding me of a pro Yogi doing Pranayam. Another married couple going double-seat on a bicycle, an old lady religiously worshiping Shivalinga near the old-age-home gate and such many small things were adding to the beauty and livelihood of that morning and I was literally enjoying every bit of it. The morning walk of the elderly people had a tinge of praising words about the son who recently bought a new flat, the grand-daughter who had given a surprise gift and many such happy moments. There was another young girl walking on the sidewalk, along with her Indie Stray dog...Wow...there was something catchy about it...that dog wearing a deep pink sleeveless t-shirt, confidently walking with the lady...I could not take my eyes off that dog.....

"Should I click his pic ? Nah, what if the lady takes an objection and passes some Puneri taunt ? Why spoil the day because of her rude reply ?"

A small friendly leap of the same dog onto me broke that thought-chain, followed by the lady's comment-

"Are you comfortable with him ? Hope you don't have any problem"

"Well, if someone, whose looks are so attractive that I was about to click his pic, comes to me and start playing like a kid, what problem would I really have ? Rather that was a lottery for me !"

Of course, that was all going in my mind, I didn't utter anything of this, but just as a formality I started telling her that I was comfortable with him, rather I love pets. But before I could start a word about clicking his pic, that lady came with the next comment

"Come on Toby, get inside, we are already late. You too get inside, Rohini, Lets go..."

'What ! How come she knows me ? Oh, is she Shraddha Mehta ? And this doggy, Toby, is gonna accompany us ?'

I seriously needed some time to absorb all this, but since we were already late, without any further question, I just got into the bus.... Happy for a reason that this cute doggy is coming with us, giving me a chance to click as many of his pics as I could, I was still stuck in the thoughts...

'Is he really gonna come with us ? Will he be able to do this ?'

The bus got a good pace on the highway. Me trying to capture that golden-orange sun, playing hide-n-seek across the mountains, was still thinking about Toby.

Day 1
Photo of Shirval, Maharashtra, India by Rohini Kitture
Photo of Khambatki Ghat, Maharashtra, India by Rohini Kitture

Before taking a turn for Wai, on the highway, Girish uncle insisted to stop the vehicle at his favourite restaurant, to collect some Thalipith. Everybody, including Toby, got down the bus. It was a good chance to get to know more about Toby. But again, before I could say anything, Shraddha asked me to get hold of Toby. Free from the limited space in the bus, Toby started running here and there. OMG, I could spot his disabled left eye. Poor Toby! I felt sorry for him, but I didn't start the topic that time. Here, the Thalipith parcel was ready. We all got into the bus to resume the journey. Girish uncle was eager to open the parcel and receive the comments about the taste and his choice. He really has a good taste, by the way! Thalipith was awesome!!!Well, this was an extra, complimentary breakfast. Sharddha was already carrying sufficient Idali and chutney with her, which we opened at an open space at the Dhom dam- backwater. We could realize the free-bird feeling, Toby had, to see such a big open lake-view space and a partner to play with. Yet, Shraddha was little concerned about Toby due to his disabled eye. Followed by Idali, we were enjoying a cup of hot tea, when Toby, chasing the other dog, hit me, littering the tea I was having on my trousers and ran away. Naughty and nasty! I was surprised to see Shraddha offering him tea and he readily slurping it  ... Slowly we started getting aquatinted with this young Chulbul Toby.

Photo of Dhom Dam, Maharashtra by Rohini Kitture

Stopping by few more descent places for several photos and selfies, we finally reached the base village- Tupewadi, and we, the team of seven-including Shraddha, and Toby started the trek.

Photo of Dhom, Maharashtra, India by Rohini Kitture
Photo of Dhom, Maharashtra, India by Rohini Kitture

The moment, when all my doubts were about to get cleared. I started my keen observations, whether he really continues the trek or gives up somewhere in the middle. Enjoying the variety of veg-delights, from the trees and bushes around, Toby was crossing us, overtaking us and again going back to the last person in the queue to start back his crossing/overtaking drama. Usha was little uncomfortable with Toby, as it was the first time she had to adjust with a pet.

During the ascend, me, Girish uncle, Mukul and Varsha were waiting for the remaining trek-mates, in a shade. A cowboy, with his 3-4 buffaloes crossed us, and the Tapori Toby started to play with the buffaloes, conveniently ignoring the size of the next animals, trying to tease them... Height of overconfidence! Ultimately, we had to move on, controlling Toby's enthusiasm. But his overtaking the foremost person, getting back to the last person and again overtaking the foremost, went on throughout the trek. The last patch of the trek had a staircase, where Toby stumbled for a while, but hats off to Shraddha who did not give up, and took Toby with all the determination to the top. The upper plateau, covered with the blossom of vibrant flowers was enchanting, and Toby was happily covering every part of the plateau like a flopping butterfly. I envied Shraddha and Toby, for that moment.

A different flopping butterfly .. :D

Photo of Kamalgad, Maharashtra, India by Rohini Kitture
Photo of Kamalgad, Maharashtra, India by Rohini Kitture

After covering the top part of the fort, we got down in the green area of the fort for lunch. Shraddha had prepared delicious food for all trek-mates and a special lunch with special cutlery arrangements for Toby. Who else than a mother, can do all such things with so much dedication, care for someone !

During descend, me, Girish uncle, Mukul and Varsha went ahead, with extra confidence, to a very wrong mountain, which we could realize after covering unnecessary extra 1.5 km distance. Toby was with us. Savita ma'am and Usha lagged behind and Shraddha was far behind somewhere. The moment we realized that we were on the wrong track, we turned back, and suddenly Toby started running fast. None of us could catch him. Another tension, as Shraddha was still not reachable over phone. We could locate Usha and Savita ma'am, but Shraddha was still missing. Usha told us that Toby came to them. These people were also searching for the right way to descend. Toby, like a smart trekker, was going to some direction, getting back to us and again trying another new path. We could notice his restlessness; but we were helpless and could not really understand how to take this and react. Six of us then decided to stay together, as Shraddha was still not found. It was getting dark and, in any case, we had to reach the base village in time. Finally, we could get to the right descending path. The tired fellow, Toby, was still reaching to the last member of the group, overtaking the rest, to reach the foremost member, like a responsible trek-lead. Finally, at the base, we could locate Shraddha, who was misled by the lady, who met us during descend from the fort. Shraddha had already triggered the panic alert as she could not find any of us and the rescue team was about to start from Pune, considering that we all six members are lost somewhere in the woods of Kamalgad. (Will share this experience in detail in some other blog.)

But at the end of the day all my doubts I had, about Toby & his abilities to trek, vanished somewhere deep into the woods of Kamalagad. All I could see is a chulbul, tapori, yet a sensible, responsible trek-mate, a true Mountain Pirate. This fellow had covered almost double the trek-distance while taking care of every trek member. This was indeed an unforgettable experience for me and Usha.

This was indeed an unforgettable experience for me and Usha.

Photo of Khed-Shivapur Toll Plaza, Maharashtra, India by Rohini Kitture

During our journey back to Pune, to know more about this new enthusiastic trek-mate, Toby, I went to talk with Shraddha. She was sitting with Toby, on the last seat of the bus. I was totally involved in the experiences that Shraddha was sharing and this happy soul was sleeping comfortably in my lap. What else can be the definition of happiness! Few moments are beyond the words...!

Few moments are beyond the words...!

Photo of A Unique Trek-mate by Rohini Kitture