Tickets for a train journey
Raj of course organized the event and in his usual disorganized way, the train journey was a slight fiasco when the tickets were booked for the wrong date and we discovered this only an hour before our intended journey from Kings Cross to Edinburgh. But with respect, Mahesh fell on his sword and purchased all 4 return tickets, knowing full well it was his responsibility and mistake.
After an initial rush to WH Smiths for water, newspapers and chicken sandwiches, we boarded the train and took to our booked seats. The train ride up afforded some fantastic scenery, punctuated by each town or city we went through. Raj was his usual self in never failing to entertain us with stories of his childhood or social awkwardness at University. Always self-deprecating to a point of hilarity and astute in his social observations, he made the long journey a pleasant one.
We arrived in Edinburgh late in the evening and after finding the Bed and Breakfast for the evening we were able to settle over a whisky and some supper before retiring for the evening ready for the next stage of the journey.
Raj Dharampuriya was uncustomary ready very early in the morning. Impersonating a geography teacher on a field trip with his clipboard and map. He seemed to relish the responsibly of organizing the hike and despite his initial mishap with the train tickets, the day went smoothly. From the hired car we took to the Cairngorms to the map reading and orienteering to Lochnager, the day was exceptional. Stopping to take in stunning views or shed layers of clothing as we scaled the slopes in fine weather, things took a sudden turn when a fog crept its way up the opposite mountain as we neared the peak that crests the loch. Catching only a glimpse of the water’s expanse, we were soon shrouded in a dense fog that made it impossible to see beyond 10 meters. Of course, the Loch was out of sight, but the concern soon set in when we realized we couldn’t see how we would get back to the mountain and back to the town. Remembering the climb up the mountain with its stunning views, a panic set in that some of the path was rocky and narrow with some sharp turns and potential hazardous falls.
Ever the optimist, Raj Dharampuriya led us back down the route we took and with his exceptional visual memory he seemed to remember each boulder and rock face as if reading road signs through a foreign town. With growing confidence, we descended the slope and the disappointment of not completing the hike was fast disappearing. Perhaps it was with this confidence that threw off my judgement that led me to trip and subsequently fall down the side of the mountain. It all happened so quickly that I was soon holding onto a ledge with fall below me less than fatal but certainly bone breaking.
Why he brought a rope was beyond me but his enthusiasm and seriousness he applied to the trip was a life saver. Throwing down the rope we realized that it wasn’t going to be enough. Realizing my lack of strength was going to prevent me from hauling myself up, Raj quickly took the decision to have him secured by the waist and lowered down the slope with the support of our other 2 friends holding onto the other end of the rope.
It was in no time that I was pulled up from the ledge and we scaled the gradient together, clasping the rope and him as we were pulled to safety.
A nasty accident had been avoided owing to a friend’s enthusiasm and tenacious preparations. And more so, the quick decision to head down the slope to retrieve me had reminded me just why Raj is the best man for all occasions.