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A Perfect Evening

What can be a perfect evening? You will agree when I say – good company, tasty food, cozy place and live music. We were a diverse group of 13 people from Europe, Asia & Africa. The food was spread over dumplings, fried rice, sandwiches, exotic cheese, red wine, fresh cherries, apple cake and strawberries. The place was nice, warm and dry as it rained and thundered outside. The music was live performance by none other than Prince (Rogers Raymond Nelson). If this defines a perfect evening then nothing could have been better than the last Saturday evening when we had all of them together. Except for the fact that it was not in a restaurant or bar or cafe but at this place.

This Saturday evening (July 10) we had planned for the concert hike where the idea was to hike to Werchter from Haacht (about 8 kms), listen to live concert of Prince, have a picnic dinner and then hike back to Leuven (about 15 kms). The forecast for Saturday evening didn’t look very encouraging as heavy rain with thunder storms were predicted. For a moment we were in doubt whether to go ahead with the hike or not. But the enthusiasm among all the hikers was quite high and we decided to go for it. We boarded the train from Leuven to Haacht which was about 15 mins ride. We started our hike from the Haacht station to Werchter through woods and fields as planned by Tomas. Until that time, the forecasts still looked doubtful. Half way into the hike, the sky became darker, the clouds looked threatening, winds started blowing hard and the sky flashed. Tomas changed the route and shortened it so that we can reach Werchter before getting caught in heavy downpour in woods or fields. Despite of this, it started raining heavily before we reached the concert venue. Since most of us had rain covers, it did not stop us from proceeding ahead.

We had planned not to get inside the concert but to listen to it from outside while having our picnic dinner. Since we hikers are a diverse group, the idea was to share/taste food from different countries. But the problem was where to find a place to lay out the food and eat it as it was raining. The best possibility was under some trees where we were not directly under the rain. We did find such a spot but still it was not good enough to keep us dry. Someone noticed that there was pile of wooden frames lying nearby and suggested that we can lay a few of them on the ground to make a base to sit or stand. Two frames were pulled and laid on the ground. Better but still not okay. At some point, Amirhasan came up with the suggestion that why not tilt the frames against the tree and create a small shelter. The idea sounded good and was executed. Nice but it was not big enough to accommodate 13 people. At this point, other ideas started flowing in and one of them was why not place two frames in inverted V shape and create a sort of tent. Perfect! Lets do it! Well just two frames were not big enough. So we put another two. Still not big enough. Another two. Nopes! Still can’t fit 13 people. So another two. In total we used 4 pairs of frames to create a small tent which could fit all of us.  We also laid down a few planks on the ground to make a floor for the tent. We were all pleased at the results and we slowly crept into our dining room :). It did fit all of us pretty well.

Once settled inside, the food was laid out. Brice, who had joined us from Antwerp, had brought a bottle of red wine which was used to raise the toast to an interesting evening and to all the hikers. Perfect! There was lot of food and quite a variety of it. By that time, the concert was on and Prince has started performing. Delicious food with awesome music :)!

The weather was still not very encouraging. Although strong winds and thunder storm had died down, it was still raining. Once our sumptuous dinner was over, we waited for some time inside our tent for rain to reduce. We also discussed whether to go ahead with the original hiking plans or cut it short. Well, all of us were on a high by our experience till that point and didn’t really want to miss rest of the fun. So we decided to stick to the plans and hike back 15 kms to Leuven. We cleaned up the place, dismantled the tent which served well as warm & dry dining room 🙂 and left the place to proceed with the hike.

Fortunately the rain died out soon after and it did not rain for the rest of the night. The weather had become quite pleasant with cool breeze blowing. The sky still looked dramatic with occasional flashes and patches of clear and clouded sky. As we walked away from Werchter the concert music faded out and the nature’s music faded in. The rains had forced the frogs out and the surroundings were filled with tar-tar of hundreds and thousands of frogs with a background score of the blowing wind. We walked into the night on the roads, through the fields, besides streams and the railway tracks…  I’m sure all of us will remember this hike which turned out to be a fantastic one beyond expectations!

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