Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Unconventional Team Building

In June NalandaWay decided to have its first off-site team building trip.  The vision was to go trekking in Kodaikanal, camp outdoor and have surprise team building activities sprinkled in between. 

Beautiful Kodai 

DAY 1:  Reached Kodai with a lot of bonhomie. An hour’s drive from the city was our base camp.  The  plan was to start trekking before noon, but there was no sight of our trekking guide for what seemed like an eternity. 

When he finally turned up and we took our first steps, the skies opened up.  We scurried to our vehicles for the rain to abate.  After about 30 minutes, with just a light drizzle and with garbage bags as raincoats we resumed the trek.  Barely 10 minutes into the trek there was a blood curling shriek from one of the female employees as she spotted leeches on her legs.  From that moment it was pandemonium galore.  We were told to walk fast, aka run, and not mind the leeches.  There was running, crying and shrieking in a continuous cycle. The path seemed endless, we turned back mid way to repeat the cycle of running, crying and shrieking.  Not all were crying and shrieking, but surely everyone ran for their lives.

We tumbled back on the road with feet, legs covered with leeches that had came out after the rains.  There was a frantic effort to pull them off.  Blood was trickling down our legs like sweat after an intense run.  A scene out of a comic horror movie.

We made our way back to the camp in heavy downpour.  There was shed acting as make-shift kitchen with its sides open. We huddled around cooking fire in the ‘kitchen’ with no electricity. We were wet, bleeding with leech bites, but we sang, swapped stories, and played dumb charades.   Retired into tents for a listless sleep.

Our bedrooms  

DAY 2: Following a sumptuous breakfast, we started our trek to a waterfall.  It had the promise of swim, bath, and washing of previous day’s nightmare.  We walked for over one hour only to realise we had just reached the point of descend, and boy, did we descent.  Steep, very steep and rocky, inducing acrophobia and never ending.  Then the downpour – dense and causing landslides.  We scurried yet again and huddled in a room at a farm used for drying garlic.   There we were, packed in that room full of garlic, eating rusk and mixture, watching the guide doze off wondering what did we get into.

Once the rain abated a show of hands to continue or return had a majority opting to continue.  With this decision came new challenges.  One, as we learnt from day 1, leeches would be out post rains.  Two, the ground turned slippery and we were in flip flops. Three, most significantly, the guide did not seem to know the best way to get to the waterfall.

We resumed nevertheless.  Our boss was leading the way on a slippery descent.  He fell.

We were in a single file behind him. Everyone stopped mid way amidst walking falling, taking a step or drinking water.  There was absolute silence.  His left arm was twisted at the elbow in an angle that can be described as alarming.  No more choices. We had to get back to sanity and civilization at the earliest.  Boss made an arduous climb up with a staff and local help to a hospital in Kodaikanal. While rest make a painful climb back.

Before the fall, during the descend 

Chief Operating Officer decided enough of drama and made us pack up from the camp.  Kodaikanal city here we come! We find the boss in the city with his arm looking normal, in pain but in good spirits.


DAY 3: Walked around the city, ate, talked, ate, talked, slept and left for home sweet home.

Happy to be getting back 

A sizable staff was new, a few working from Delhi, Coimbatore and Andhra Pradesh.  In 3 days we learnt more about one another than months at work.  We saw each other tested, troubled, resilient and strong.  What better team building than a trip with misadventures?