The last couple of months have been great for traveling – apart from a longer trip to North India (you may have already seen my post on Delhi) I also had the chance to go camping near Mumbai, two weekends in a row. The cool thing about camping is how self sufficient an activity it is (and has to be). You don’t need to rely on anyone else to do it, it’s just a matter of loading up, heading out and finding a spot to park yourself when the sun goes down. It can be as strenuous (or not) an activity as you like and no matter what happens, you’re guaranteed to have a good time.
In the spirit of being self-reliant and in a throwback to many times in the US, my friends and I also decided to cook on these trips. Unlike the US, where we would load up with everything needed at the last Walmart before leaving civilization, in India we had to scrounge for firewood, carry our food pre-marinated and prepped for the fire and, since we weren’t able to make use of prepared fire pits, we had to carry a grill as well. As always, I grabbed my camera and intervalometer, to make some timelapses of the night sky. I made one into a gif. It isn’t great and I’ve shot better but this is what I happened to get that night…
I find that camp life also brings out peoples’ true personalities. You can tell who among your campmates is the helpful sort, which ones are the quiet introspective sorts. The conversations you have bring out a truer side of people too. The somewhat primal experience lends itself to inordinate amounts of honesty. Maybe there is a lowering of inhibitions, a willingness to share, that’s brought on by the presence of a campfire. These are all great things about camping.
If there’s one part of camping that I absolutely love, however, it’s the warmth and safety that you feel when you’re huddled up inside your sleeping bag, snug within your tent as a violent wind and rain lash at the outsides. The feeling of having cheated hypothermia of another victim – of knowing that between you and a sad death by exposure lies only a few millimeters of waterproof fabric – nothing can beat this. It represents a victory on a fundamental level by all of humanity against cold, cruel nature. Maybe that’s why I like camping so much – because it makes me feel superior and reminds me that my species is superior. That our technology and societies have triumphed over the best that nature has thrown against us.
It’s sad, then, to see that nature might, in the long run, have the last laugh after all. Because the other thing you notice when you go camping is how we’ve also disrupted processes in nature to the extent that it is harmful to our continued existence on the planet. Weather patterns gone awry, a marked diminishing in the number of birds and animals one sees, a huge increase in pollution, these are all evident when we leave our cities and visit the fast receding green spaces nearby. I hope we can reverse this course.
Anyway, enough maudlin musing. Time for a few pictures of our group!