Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Trek Polama experience

I have been a member of CTC for quite more than a year. But the hardest fact is that, I have not participated even in any single trek so far. Being a member of the online group of CTC, I get the email updates of the treks posted by people who have finished their forest trips. This has made me contended of empowerment of knowledge of the forests and the eco system existing in South India. Myself being farther from Chennai (Cuddalore is 200kms  away) its a challenge to join in the treks organized by the Chennai Trekking Club given my 6 day work week.
But, I am sure to make to one of the treks in the near future.
The symposium "Trek Polama" happened on Sunday, the 27th of March'11 at the IIT –Madras campus. Being a Sunday, I am lucky to make to the event.
After my office on Saturday, caught the bus from Pondy to Chennai. Got to reach my Chennai home in the night, have dinner and then go check the internet and update my travel plans for the next day.
The bird walk is the first gala opener in this event and it was scheduled at 5.30 a.m. Spoke on mobile with Kartik Kannan who is living at Madipakkam to know on how to go about the next day. He is coming by Nanganallur and myself wanted to join him & bike pooled to IIT campus.
As planned, in the morning, we were to catch up at the Roja Medicals at Nanganallur. Alas Kartik missed the path and came to the spot after some hard efforts. Thanks Kartik for all the help at that odd hour.

Then we went to Kartik’s house and his wife Janani joined us for Trek Polama. From Madikpakkam we three got in two bikes and went into the IIT Campus through the Velachery side entrance. Man!! it was very near. I earlier thought that Nanganallur was en-route for Kartik and he will be going to GST road and then reach IIT-M.

If not for Kartik, I would have travelled to IIT-M through the GST road and might have travelled double the distance at that odd hour. He took arduous task of coming down from Madipakkam to Nanganallur, getting confused with the roads, driving some extra kilometers and finally catching me at the Roja medicals and then conveying me back to his house and we finally reached IIT through Velachery.
The Bird Walk is at 5.30 a.m. and we were amply on time.

Deepak my friend and the coordinator (an ornithologist) of this bird walk were there. Got to the see Deepak after so long a time.

And that's Janani and Kartik...

There were some 40 people ready for the walk and it exactly started at 5.30 a.m. with Deepak segregating the people into two groups and giving directions for us to go ahead. We joined with the first  group and Ponniah was the knowledge person who explained about the different names of the birds. Whooa, these many birds!!

That's Ponniah, explaining about the birds... 

I never imagined of so such large forest area inside the IIT-M campus. I was pretty dumb struck with the vastness of the woods and the existence of large ponds and greenery inside the IIT campus.
There was one bird which Ponniah told of the rarity kinda. I happened to click this pic on my cam. But, since it was too far away, it was not too clear. I am sure you are able to see that bird in the above pic. Just then the bird flew away. Ponniah asked if anybody have clicked it and he direly need the picture of this rare bird. Though it was too blurred picture, it was just a memorable click. The name of the bird is orange brested green pigeon.
It was observed that few of the bird walkers were clicking their cameras with “FLASH ON”. This resulted in the birds flying off due to frightening. I realized this after half way  into the event and prompted them  to swith off their flashes. My kind advise to newbie photographers is not to use the flash while you click in the wild. The forest or the woods is for the birds and the animals and we are actually guests there. So keep in mind not to disturb them. Also, your effort to capture them in your camera is defeated if your flash is ON.
Then the time ticked past 7.00 a.m. and it was a time to cling on to “Basic Photography” session scheduled at the CLT auditorium which is around 1 km away from these woods. So we bid adieu to the bird walkers. Kartik, his wife Janani and myself walked past to the audi.

It was nearing 7.30 and Kartik and his wife went for breakfast. I skipped breakfast and went on to catch the Photography session at the audi. Lucky me, Bhagat of Makka Sudios who is giving this session is yet to come and start. 

When I got into the audi, Rajnikanth, the coordinator for the session was introducing the participants.
Finally Bhagat arrived and started the session. He continued with telling about the intrinsic details involved in photography. He started the introduction session with querying the participants on how they started into photography. It was an interesting session. It would have been a more interesting one, if he shared his works with us and explained on how to get a better photograph.

It was around 9.30 a.m. when the event kick started with Peter and a senior  professor from IIT-M giving the intro talk. 

Then Peter gave the session on Maps, GPS and Navigation session. Surprised to know of the vast of information available for anyone to learn. The way the trails are discovered using different kinda maps are mesmerizing. It was an awesome session with Peter throwing us knowledge on the various maps available.

The treasure hunt is in progress. Seems someone has succeeded hunting the treasure.

Then there was a session by Mr.Rass's on the restoration of Adyar poonga. The spot which once was a place full of mounds of filth have been turned into a nice eco park in about 5 years. Half a decade back the same spot was with rubbish which were shown through photos and the tireless effort by him did bear fruit with now the park in Chennai inviting people to enjoy, as well as the species which work in balancing the eco system of the estuary to live. He showed the photos of Auroville taken during the 1968 and the present scenario. Awestruck to know that Auroville was once a barren place and now the vegetation has developed a green canopy with continuous efforts of the people. Ross has played a vital role in that too. He himself pats down that these works are only a drop in a bucket of water; there are still mountains of work that need to be done in the current scenario to restore our environment.

Then came Sujai’s talk on mountaineering. This guy has completed mountaineering course and have successfully done mountaineering upto 17,000 feet. Whoooaaah. He gave a presentation which had the pics of the mountaineering tools that were needed if you wanna trek the higher altitudes. Such a crisp and clear details and a simple and powerful presentation made the audience decide to go for a mountaineering. 4 institutes run by the government are there in our country which makes the people get trained to climb the mountains. The fact is that, the fees for a full month course is Rs.4,000 and it comprises of food, accommodation and the training. The actual expense towards this mountaineering course is 5 fold which is taken care by the government of India.
Had a tasty lunch...
Post lunch session was a talk on “The Snakes of India” by Sujan Bernard. We were spell bound on seeing the nice photographs of those magnificent species. He gave a demo on how to handle a snake bite. He gave some of the interesting facts about the snakes. If an agriculture field has many snakes, it means that the field is fertile. Ohhhh! So far, I only thought that snakes in the fields are bad for the human visitors. Got to know of the actual fact behind the existence of the snakes.
Then there was a session by noted noted wild life activist Mr.Shekar Dattatri . He elucidated on the efforts against mining taken by him to restore the eco system on Kudremukh. He pepped us on how we the nature conscious trekkers can do their bit in safeguarding the wild, as well as create awareness through the internet. 
Then came the talk on how to build your own cost effective houses by yourself. The trend to build yourself an house will definitely cut costs. This system of using the unburnt bricks and the non dependence of the cement goes a long way in making an environment friendly method. She is to start constructing houses made of bamboo and wet bricks in different places around Chennai. I am interested to make a visit to the bamboo house while it being built. Let’s see.
Then came the session “Photography paadhi, post processing paadhi” by Ashok Saravanan. We were given an astonishing act. A portrait photograph which had a dark face and a bright background was processed and the face was brightened. But I understand that this could be done by people who own a DSLR and not me as I have only a P&S camera.
Its now past dusk. A panel discussion on eco conservation called “TrekX” came up. 

Eminent people were present in the discussion. Noted environmentalist Mr.Sekar Dattatri made for a thought provoking discussion. The things that I minuted out of this discussion were... 
1.)The forest is home for the wild animals, we the trekkers are actually the guests. Keep in mind that you are peeping into the privacy of the wild. Be a responsible trekker. Do not disturb them.
2.) Its not a tour that you go into the forests. It is actually a home to a variety of species. Even if you are sure that you are not disturbing the forest eco system, your foot steps are actually killing a small number of speicies that are living on the soil. Mind it.
3.)Do not make unnecessary noise while in the forests. You are actually disturbing the animals there. Actually you are a guest, obey accordingly.
4.) Make sure that your attire is not of alluring colour. Animals are not comfortable.
5.) Keep your group size to the minimum.
Actually the one day Trek Polama event had given me a lot of knowledge on the forests and the wild life. Had I been not there, I would be poorer of the empowerment of the knowledge on the forest eco system, birds, photography, eco conservation, cost-effective housing, mapping, snakes, mountains, mountaineering, etc, etc..,
I bet that, it’s a very rare kinda to get empowered of a vast and diverse knowledge in a single day. My kudos to Chennai Trekking Club.
Come on Chennai, Come on CTC. May the treks go on for ever. May the people like me learn more on forests.

More of the photos are available at my FaceBook. Don't miss them

Last but not the least; My big thanks to the team which has missed their sleep for days & nights together; put in their effort to make this a successful event.


Shrinidhi Hande said...

Looks like the event was better this time compared to last year