Sunday, March 30, 2014

At Las Velas!

To read the first part, please go here.

OK. So where were we... Ah yes! The suspense! What is it that I can do? Can I get my talents out in the open?!

Out comes my friend to the rescue! Fortunately he happened to bring his dearest 600D camera (Not to be mistaken with the D600 camera. Apparently one's a Canon and the other a Nikon. Of course, I knew it all along, with my inherent photographer professional skills and all)

Me : My dearest buddy in the whole wide world!!! What's that you have in your bag?
Friend : It's called a camera dude.
Me : (Thinking fast before anyone could question my thorough professional skills in this area)... ummmm.. I KNEW THAT! HA! Can this camera take photographs at EXIF: f/5.3 | 1/40s | ISO-800 | 67mm??
Friend : ?!?!
Me : (Thank God for copy paste and Google I can still make myself look like a thorough professional in front of everyone!! I AM SAVED! YAAY!) Dude.. you know nothing. Give me that camera!

And thus I get my hands on a DSLR!!!

Now, it was time for the local team to go to the hatchery and check out the baskets where the eggs were carefully placed to see if any of them had hatched. We happened to get the prime seats to witness this event. All of us photographers sat right at the best locations, took our tripod stands and waited with bated breath!
The look on the faces of the people waiting to see the event.
Would there be turtles to see? Would we be first time lucky? Or would the worlds conspire against us and prevent us from witnessing this great event?

ALAS it was not to be this time. None of the eggs had hatched fully. "You will definitely see something this evening or next morning!!! DEFINITE!" Said the drama inducing, suspense generating organizers of the event.

What?! I was clean shaven when I came here! My beard has grown but the turtles haven't hatched! NOOOOOOO!
Having had failure in the first attempt, we moved on to the beach to see the sun rise, the calm ocean and experience the cool breeze. For me, however, being the professional photographer and all, I had the entire stage to myself. I could see a photo in everything, from the raging buffalo to the distant Supramax 50000 DWT ship, everything had a 1337 (elite in case you were wondering) photo waiting to be uncovered. And sold at the Jehangir Art Gallery. MASSIVE PROFIT MAKING OPPORTUNITY!

So I got started, and started clicking photos at every moment. People came to me saying "Hey! Looks like you are the thorough professional! Too many photos you have clicked man! Do show them to me! I would like to learn from you!" and I would go "All in due course my friend, it is an art not learnt by all!"

So what happens next? Do I get to see the turtles on Saturday itself? Is it second lucky? What do we do in the meanwhile? Please read it HERE.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Off to Las Velas!

It all started 2 weeks ago. A friend of mine and me were having a certain fermented grain mash drink and enjoying the best home made mutter paneer that the world could make, when suddenly my friend remembers something.

Friend : DUDE! There is this awesome trip organized by Treks and Trails to this place called Velas in Ratnagiri, where the annual Turtle fest would be happening! It's going to be so awesome! The Olive Ridley Turtles get to see land only during this time!! All the eggs laid on the beach are collected and placed in a common hatchery which is barricaded from all sides and is guarded throughout the day. Each morning at 0700 and evening at 1730-1800 the baskets covering the lid are open to check if any turtles have hatched, if they have they are counted and carefully laid in another basket and taken closer to the water. They are then gently placed on the sand and they slowly make their way to the water. Their first baby steps are not only endearing to watch but also important if it is a female, as she records in her memory the site of her birth only to return here after 15 years to lay her eggs!! There's going to be lots of people in the group! I'm going, are you game?

What I heard : DUDE!..... awesome trip.... Treks and Trails...............Lots of people! (The grain mash did have its effect of course)

Having worked in the corporate world and mastered the art of the ultimate survival kit, I realized that the last word was the strategic word I needed to make my move.


And thus started the trip to the Turtle festival!

We now go to Friday evening, when the bus would pick us up from selected places within Mumbai before going to the destination, about 4 hours away from Mumbai. The bus was scheduled to reach Dadar at 11 PM. I had packed up my bag and with full enthu walked the way from my home to the pickup point, where I met up with the Leader of the Group, his wife and their cutest, sweetest little daughter.

Others in the group started coming in a bit later. I took this opportunity to introduce myself to them, you know, to get to lighten up the mood, and to get to know a few of the chicks (yeah all us men are alike! :P)

Me : Hey! I'm Kartik.
She : Hi... I'm xyz... (and goes back to looking at her mobile phone frantically moving those opposable thumbs in a quick typing motion)
Me : ummmmm...... (looking around. Find another guy in the Group)
He : Hey.. I'm abc  (and goes back to looking at his mobile phone frantically moving those opposable thumbs in a quick typing motion)
Me : (Thinking the world has been taken over by smartphones. There is no need for aliens to come here to take over the world.. Smartphones have already done that!)

Meanwhile, I keep getting a whole lot of messages on my smartphone. I look it up to see what all the activity was going on, only to find that the Velas Whatsapp Group was full of activity!

An excerpt from the same is given below

Guy 1 : Reaching place in 2 minutes
(after 2 seconds)
Guy 1 : Reaching place in 1 minute
Gal 1 : Bus has reached Goregaon
(Picture of some mall posted)
Guy 2 : GUYS BUS GOING TOO FAST! IM JUST OUT OF MY HOUSE... please don't mind if I'm late..
xyz : I am here at Dadar now. (AHHA so THAT's what she was doing!)
Guy 1 : Reaching place in 2 seconds
Guy 1 : Reached
Guy 1 : In bus
Guy 1 : Bus started from Goregaon, reaching Bisleri in 5 mins

I now understood why everyone around me was so engrossed in their phones, and I went back to listening to the radio. Finally in sometime the bus came, and we were all in! Only 2 more stops and we were on our way! W00T!

Me, being the smart one, thought "I might as well sit in the back, so that when my friend comes we can sit together and then talk and what not!". So I ran in first into the bus and went directly to the back and took a seat. Oh, how I would regret having done that.

If you are taking the bus to the place, please take with you some padding for your bum. You would really need it during the bus ride to the place. The route was a rollercoaster of a ride! There were so many bumps and speed breakers that you could not shut your eye for even half a minute before you were thrown to orbit. Add to it the bus going at full speed, and my pathway to the moon was only blocked by the ceiling of the bus.

We reached Velas at 6.30 in the morning, next day. The plan was to go to the rooms given to us, freshen up and then go to the beach for the first attempt at seeing the hatchings. But, as you would know, nothing happens on time over here. If we say 6 AM, we actually mean 6.30-6.45 ish. This meant that we had to get out of the bus, all dreary eyed and walk past some mangroves to the beach to get to the enclosure where the turtles were being hatched.

And I was astounded by the scenery of the beach. The mountains to the north and south, and the rising sun from behind was a magnificient sight to see! The silence and calmness of the sea was a great break from the loudness and the cacaphony of Mumbai. I could have spend all day just lying down and gazing at the scenery ahead of me all day. If only the summers wern't so hot here!

I suddenly felt an intense need to capture the moment. Capture the essence of what was the Velas beach. Capture what would be a memory to cherish for the rest of my life! Yes, my dear friends, the photographer in me had come out! Only one problem though, I did not have any camera. CRISIS! What do I do?

To know more, you would have to read the next part in this series!(Wah! I loved the suspense created in this ending! :D)