Taking up an outdoor activity for the first time?

I know from experience what a shock it is when you first decide to take up a new outdoor activity.

And the shock is nothing to do with the activity itself…it’s the price of the equipment!

It just doesn’t make sense to spend hundreds of dollars on equipment when you may just change your mind on the first trial.

But never fear, help is here….in the form of a superb rental scheme set up by MEC, suppliers of outdoor equipment.

Rather than spend hours listing it all, just click here to see what is on offer for you.





Take a look at that photo below…..it has a message for us..

See this old-school type vacuum tube display?

It’s ticking away the seconds…vital seconds of our lives…when we should be doing stuff that we always wanted to…and not caring about the consequences…because as you can see on this clock….time doesn’t want to…doesn’t know how to…wait for anyone or anything…..Time is our enemy….we cannot subdue it as long as we live….but….we can thwart it in a way…by enjoying ourselves…climbing a mountain, a hill, or walking through those valleys, or finding an isolated spot in those fields…and sitting still…all on our own….relishing the stillness….but…oblivious of  Time…..


Why we need Nature, solitude…..


If we think of Nature and the world we live in as just a few butterflies and moths, some mammals, plants and trees, we will never ever see how we are supposed to fit in with it.

Of course, that begs the question, are we SUPPOSED to fit? Aren’t we, as humans, the pinnacle of existence? So why then, do we even need to fit in with Nature? Shouldn’t it fit in with us?

It all depends what kind of a view we want to inculcate about this…consider for example, that our bodies contain more than 10 times bacterial cells than blood cells, and bacteria being part of Nature, makes us all, bacteria, viruses et al, part of it, whether we like it or not!

On the other hand, taking this example on board, if Nature is infinitesimally small, then it also has to be infinitely huge…..I am talking about the cosmos….galaxies, stars, solar systems, perhaps even the universe itself….all are part of Nature.

The Indians have a fine all-encompassing word for it all….they call it kudrat….which includes everything we see, hear or feel once we are born into the world…and they go further, by saying that this kudrat is a tiny part of a bigger force, a shakti, or creator. That I find is a very good escape-valve for people like me who question a creator….if you don’t want to believe in one, then by all means believe his creation..kudrat!

So what I am saying is, how can we say we are separate from Nature, when we are all “naturally-evolved” creatures ourselves?

Let’s get away from the diverging path of this discussion for a moment, as it seems to be heading towards a religious viewpoint, one that I tire of discussing!

The other point I would like to discuss with you is this….if Nature was not present, what would man consider as a retreat…a retreat from the so-called civility, which we have made essential to our daily living, but too much of which can have a devastating effect on the human ( or animal) mind.

When we are in Nature, or better still, with Nature, we can freely forget the all-pervasive clutter of civilisation…..being with Nature brings about a natural cleansing of our minds and bodies, at the same time annihilating the self-consciousness created by too much civility.

When we are with Nature, and that doesn’t have to be walking in the mountains or by the sea…you can be “with” Nature just sitting down in a quiet, leafy corner of your very own garden, it provides us with a sustaining solitude, something that takes us way back to a time when we ourselves were living amongst the animals we now have grown up to fear…..the very animals we evolved from.

Isn’t that weird….having come from those animals, we now go around arming ourselves to the teeth against them….and where we can, we go killing them for fun, or hunting them down into  extinction….

During such quiet periods when we feel at peace with Nature, we are led by the hand, into a contemplative sate of mind, which funnily enough through thousands of years of civilisation, we have come to call laziness!

And laziness, as we all know, is taboo in a civilised society…so if we do ever get to this state of mind, we very quickly shake our heads and try to “come out of it” as fast as possible, afraid of what people might say if they saw us contemplating, thinking, or day-dreaming.

But I say man is born to day-dream, born to contemplate…take that away from him and what is left? Nothing. An automaton…a mechanical robot…bereft of all thought or personality….

Solitude gives us contemplation, contemplation gives us freedom.

And freedom gives us power over time itself….even though another man may possess the power to dominate space, he is still powerless compared to the man who has control over time…his own time….if not over other people’s time!

My adventure in a tent in India!

This is a true story that I witnessed myself when on a trip to India, that fabled land of mystery and paradigm some years ago.

We were staying in a friend’s house in Rajasthan, having attached ourselves to an organised trip by a great travel company called Royal Rajasthan Tours, whose Director was travelling with us as well…very cool gesture!

Anyways, we were at a dinner party there and at some time during the celebrations, a guy mentioned that as we were foreigners, we might be interested in looking at something rather unusual in the next few days. Of course, soon as I heard that, I couldn’t wait to see what it was…. call it curiosity killed the cat!

The guy explained that a very powerful tantric yogi was visiting the town and will be having a few shows there before moving onto another town. Ticket prices to his show were very low by western standards…just $5…so we asked him to buy two tickets for us.

A couple of days later, we had our tickets in hand for the show…it was to be at 12 noon the next day.

The following day, we had a light breakfast with our friends, who were also coming to the show with us, passed the time for a while and then it was time to leave for the show. We arrived at the venue in plenty of time and decided to go inside the large tent that was pitched in a large school playing field, and get the best seats in the house!

When we got inside, the place was almost full, but as we were tourists, the organisers managed to get us 4 seats right at the front next to the wooden stage. The time was 1145am.

We sat around, waiting for a few minutes, just like the rest of the audience, for the tantric guy to appear. Time ticked away and soon it was 12 noon.

Again we all waited…waited..and waited some more, but nothing was happening on the stage. So we waited a little more but by now, the crowd was getting a little annoyed, as the time was 1215 now.

I had already written of my 5 buck ticket as a rip-off and so just sat there waiting for the next move by our friends who had taken us there. The time moved on to 1230pm, with the crowd ready to riot unless their money was refunded and the 2 of us rather angry as well, a man dressed in ragged, but clean clothes suddenly appeared from behind a curtain and onto the stage. The time was 1230pm.

Our tantric man at last! But even so, the crowd was not amused at all, as we had all been waiting for the act for over 30 minutes by now and wanted an explanation.

As the protests reached fever pitch, and we were busy working out which exit we should rush to, should there be a riot inside the tent, the man raised his arm, asking everyone to allow him to speak.

Slowly, the shouting and jeering died down. The man spoke in Hindi, which I am glad I understood, having been to India many times before. He asked the crowd what time the show had been set for, to which everyone replied 12 noon, but they had been waiting for more than 30 mins now.

But what are you all complaining about, he said….look at your watches now and tell me what the time is? We all did as he asked….and …well…blow me down…my watch showed the time as 12 noon! I frantically looked again and again at my watch…12 noon. I asked those with me to confirm what time it was…they all looked at their watches and were speechless too, just like us! Their watches showed 12 noon, too! In fact, everyone who had a watch on in that tent, checked their watches and confirmed they all showed 12 noon!

The crowd fell silent…you culd hear a pin drop in there. So you see, my friends….it is YOU who are late, not me! And with that statement, the tantric guy bowed to us all with his hands clasped in the usual Indian namaste manner, and calmly walked off the stage! The time was 1205pm.

We all joined the crowd in leaving the tent slowly, but once outside, we were hit with another unexplained phenomenon…all our watches showed the time as 1205pm, but when we asked passers-by the right time, they all told us it was 1245pm!!

So we had entered the tent at 1145am, waited for the tantric guy who appeared at 1230pm, he enthralled us for around 15mins, and now we were outside the tent at 1245pm, but our watches showed 1205pm!

That was more than enough for that day, and we went back home trying to figure out what had happened. Had the guy hypnotised us all and made us think the time was wrong…or right? Or had he twisted our minds instead. making us believe the time on our watches was wrong? None of these explanations fitted. And anyways, how did our watches show the time as around 12pm, when the people walking by outside had watches showing 1245pm?

Some days later, we mentioned this to another friend of a friend, and he looked at us very solemnly for a few minutes and then smiled. He said he himself had been at shows held by many tanrics, not just the one we saw…and he has never, ever been able to explain how these people manage to pull off their acts. It has been said that tantrism is a method of advanced mind control, which, once the devotee has reached the highest levels, can indeed manipulate physical, spiritual and time realms at will.

All I can say is that I saw it with my own eyes and have never been able to explain it. And I’m as rational and full of scepticism as any westerner can be!