As we tucked into the biryani, we could see a couple of dark animal shapes sauntering by less than fifty yards from us.
"Rather late for the cattle to be coming home", Franklyn remarked.
Srinivasan looked up from his dinner, glanced in the direction of the phantom shadows, jumped up like a jack in the box and leapt up to the flat roof of the one storey building in what rock climbers call a dynamic move.
"They are bears!" he yelled, "come on up here!"
Clutching our precious biryani, we followed suit. Fortunately for us the wind must have been blowing in the direction away from the bears and they continued on their nocturnal jaunt.
The really great thing about climbing is not the climbing itself, but the stories that one accumulates while pursuing this hobby.
The Bangalore affair was a case in point.
It had started off innocuosly enough. Harshavardhan Subbarao, whom I had accidentally met (see http://taccidental.blogspot.ca/2012/06/mayhem-at-mumbra.html ) while climbing at the Dudha slabs in Mumbra on the outskirts of Mumbai, had convinced his friends in The Climbers Club to host Faruk, Franklyn and I while we explored some of the rock climbing delights that Bangalore had to offer. Harsha's father preferred to call this pursuit "Climbing Stones" and I couldn't think of a better title for this blog post! The year was 1989 and rock climbing in India was still considered an esoteric indulgence pursued only by those who had been possessed by strange demons. Equipment and proper footwear were hard to come by and disposable incomes were meagre. These minor inconveniences were forgotten when one succeeded in making some improbable moves on tiny protuberances on some steep cliff and stood on a narrow ledge like an eagle, the sun warm on fingers frayed with the friction of granite, the wind drying off the sweat of nervousness and replacing it with a sense of euphoria appreciated only by the faithful.
We had arrived in Bangalore after a trying 24 hour bus journey from Mumbai, dozing upright throughout the night while the screeching soundtrack from B grade movies being shown on a monitor at the head of the cabin assaulted our senses.
After that journey, Ibrahim's Farm was a rural haven, with or without bears.
Faruk and I soon discovered that the holds here were rock solid as opposed to what we were used to in and around Mumbai. Franklyn, who had come along for the ride and to indulge in his hobby of bird watching, couldn't have cared less.
Bouldering at Turalli was a nice introduction to this superior quality medium that we were to find in our little excursions.
|Faruk bouldering at Turalli|
|A perfect crack!|
|L to R : Guruprasad, Faruk and Franklyn walk towards Kabbal Durga for another day of climbing.|
The start of DIM was directly above the alphabet "a" in "Durga"
|Faruk leading DIM|
|The hill of SavanDurga (photo courtesy mouthshut.com)|
|Faruk on Deepavali variation, Savan Durga|
In the mid nineteen nineties, on a brief visit to Bangalore, my dear friend Ajay Tambe (who was then based there) drove my wife Margaret, my son Sanal, his son Akshay and his wife Jayanti to some crag whose name I now forget and we managed to climb some line where surmounting the crux move gave me a heady, if brief sense of triumph; soon brought down to earth by the blistering hot sand on the trail we walked back barefoot in - it was the merry month of May and summer was in full swing!
|A beautiful cliff with enormous hollows, near KabbalDurga|
|Guruprasad getting over the hump!|
|Guruprasad in a pensive mood as he belays Faruk on DIM|
These guys were so into climbing that the normal way to enter Dinesh's upper floor suite was to climb on to the fence, grab a hold and vault into the open verandah of his house! On the one occasion that I visited him, I landed gasping for breath - I knew then that as far as this Stone Climbing business was concerned, I was a rank amateur!