The Naukuchia Tal in all its splendour
The four day retreat to Naukuchia Tal was an eagerly awaited event for my colleagues a and me. We boarded the Shatabdi for Kath Godam at 6:30 a.m. from the Anand Vihar railway station in Delhi on the 12th. of June. We reached Kath-Godam at 12:45 p.m. and boarded taxis for Naukuchia taal which we reached at 1:15. When we reached the Lake side Resort, we were met by our Senior Programme leader Vishnu and Akshay. We were given a briefing by our Senior Programme leader and then proceeded to our assigned rooms. The atmosphere was nice and pleasant with intermittent showers, no wonder we had been told to done raincoats for the day’s activity. After we had lunch, we gathered for the briefing at 3:30 p.m.
A Bee sipping nectar from an exotic flower
We were finally told that the activity for the day would be a four kilometre trek. After a strenuous hike for about two and a half kilometres, we stopped for the next part of the trek. It came as a great as great surprise when some of us were blindfolded and then guided for the next part of the trek by our colleagues. We thought that we would be lead for only for a little distance. I was in the lead of the three blindfolded staff members (Kaye Ma’am, and Ruchika Ma’am who linked hands to shoulders) and we were guided by Alankrita and Frederick. Clear instructions were given to guide us through the torturous route and told about obstructions on the way. It was a difficult and frightening exercise and required a strong faith in those who were leading us. It was really difficult to let go voluntary control to others about where we were going. While leading the others who were blindfolded, we realised that we would have to follow instructions precisely more so because the safety of those following us. It was initially scary, but then gradually the pace was set, and to make the blindfolded trek more interesting, Alankrita kept describing the scene like the mountain, people clapping for us, the appearance of a vehicle and so on. After what seemed some time, our blindfolds were removed and then we were told that we had covered a distance of 1500 metres and that through a track that at times was narrow and steep. We were flooded with a heady mixture of achievement, elation, and dizziness as the sunlight flooded our senses. Throughout the exercise our sense of hearing, smell, and touch had become so intense.
A moment for introspection
The Team leader
Lighting the lamp by the new inductees
On the second day, I got up early and went to the lake-side. The clouds could be seen smothering the mountains and then clearing up to allow the sun light to bathe the whole scene with a warm glow. The lake which was still and calm as a mirror reflected the mountain side so clearly. It was bisected by a family of ducks making a crossing. One moment it was overcast, the next moment it was clear.
Sliding down the rope bridge
After breakfast, we assembled for silence time and morning prayer and a workshop on team-building and self discovery. The workshop was conducted by Manit Sir, our Manager and Vishnu our SPL. After the workshop we set off for the activity of the day which was based on building a rope bridge across two trees about fifty feet apart with one of them being at an elevated height from the other. The activity included building the rope bridge and the safety line down which we were to slide down, and sliding down the rope to the other tree which was at a lower height. Initially we made a few blunders like starting with tying the rope to the wrong tree. All the instructions were included in three separate instruction sheets. The groups were divided into three, one looked after the equipment, the second looked after the tying of the knots the carabiners and the jumar and the ropes. The third team, my team supervised the construction of the rope bridge. This was a very interesting activity that promoted team-building and stressed the need to follow instructions carefully.
Manit Sir was part of the activity!
Preparing for the trekking activity
On the third day we had what I believe was the most exciting and frightening activity. It was called Target jumping. Needless to say, it was an amazing activity. We were hauled on to the branch of a tree which was about forty-five feet from the ground suspended from a harness attached to a rope pulled by a group of fifteen staff members. When it was my turn, and I was hauled up, it was as if I was flying in the air. I spread my hands as if I was flying. When I reached the branch of the tree, I was steadied by one of the instructors, Shoaib. And then standing on the branch it was scary. I avoided looking down at my friends. My task as for all the others was to jump from the branch and strike one of the bottles suspended just out of reach. The closest one if touched would earn me five points, the other a little further would earn me ten points, while the farthest would earn me fifteen points. I chose the farthest and made the jump. It resulted in a free fall of about ten feet after which my fall was arrested and then I was then lowered to the ground in a controlled descent. What was most frightening was to take the leap! The thought of plummeting to the ground fifty feet odd feet below was daunting enough for all of us. The drop to the ground seemed to take ages as time seemed to come to a stand still.
Please don’t blame me for the snaps of this monkey! He seemed so interested in posing before me, so I decided to give him his due!
The fourth day was based on a workshop based on the activities we had done. The activity for the day took place at night before dinner. This was an activity in which all of us had to walk on embers of coal. This was in itself another daunting task in which we had to conquer our fears. The day concluded with the Bollywood night in which we guessed the names of bollywood songs based on muted film sequences, antakshari and other guessing games.
But then how could I forget the awards for the Bollywood Night!
Letting your hair fly in the spirit of the moment!
The fifth day was the last day of our retreat and it passed away quite quickly as we had to leave the resort by 1:30 p.m. so that we could catch the Shatabdi train at 3:40 back to Delhi.
That is me, with the beautiful landscape in the background!
The Last day of our retreat
Kaye Ma’am this is a smile that is priceless, thank you for the smile!
Neelima Ma’am how could we forget you for being the heart and soul of the moment?
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