First, a little about the site. It's in Haridwar, but it's not godly at all. Located at the base of the Mansha Devi shrine (and there are several other Devis at the base), the most distinctive landmark here is the Gowri Shankar Goshala. Let me not deliberate further, except by assuring PeTA that flies are having a lovely time here.
Anyway, the practical. We were informed that the stations were already established. My name, being so strategically placed, sent me to Station No. 10 with the reconnaissance (recce) table, which a few chosen losers were given (all with strategically-placed names; bless our parents), while the rest were handed over a little sheet of paper and a map from last year so that they could copy it and go frolicking about like Little Red Riding Hood.
Station 10. A slum. Oh, how sweet. What juicy flies, what voracious swine! Oh, the pithy swear words! Nonetheless, we are Civil Engineers and we must be ready to float in a septic tank to determine the volume of solids. As long as it doesn't move, we can handle it. Sadly, that was not the case here. We marked a few stations and, right on cue, we were told that they were poorly-placed and would be relocated. Frustrated, we ditched the slum and went to the hills, which we hopes would be an easier job, given the advantage of elevation.
Ah, but how can it be so simple? What is a camp without a treasure hunt, after all. The stations were placed cleverly, so that it took a good old trek to reach their base and a further bit of rock climbing to get to them proper. And once you're there, beware of sari-pulling monkeys who, one friend wonders why, has a very red butt and no sense of decency at all. And if you can avoid them, do try to avoid the gaping holes in the ground, or the loose rocks. Just a suggestion. If you fall and approach death, I'm sure there's an ambulance waiting for you some 200 km away. Perhaps they can use your GPS receiver to find you (if the monkeys haven't stolen it, that is)!
Well, despite the hassles, we finally finished and returned for lunch at a cool 2:30 PM. It wasn't great, but it could have been worse. We sat in the shade of the temple, the cows chewing away their regurgitated fodder in a corner. Ah, bliss!
"WHY ARE YOU SITTING HERE?"
Yes, my fundamental right to put my ass where I want to was violated. A new task: take a theodolite and verify that your sites are indeed inter-visible. No, don't check distances, just make sure that you are not a blind old bat. Oh, and get out of the base camp (while he catches his forty thousand winks).
It all fits so well. Yesterday: the bus may leave early but not later than 7:30 AM. Today: we left at 7:50 AM. Yesterday: you will not return before 7:00 PM. Today: we were back at 5:50 PM. Execution at its best! Now, what's left to be seen is whether the recce tables will be marked at all and, if so, how fair the marking will be (seeing as though Little Red Riding Hoods had Rembrandt-esque sketches ready).
Overall, a pathetic start, the only silver lining to which is that it ended. But there are still miles to go before I sleep (beyond 5:45 AM).