The Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages (HCCB) factory in Odisha is located in Khurda, in close proximity to Bhubaneswar, the capital of the state. The factory is not too far away from pristine forests and for the nature lover, nothing could be as inviting as the dense green foliage around.

The greens had caught the attention of Suprava Rath, just like several others, who would reach their work place after negotiating the serpentine roads. As part of the finance team for the last seven years, the Excel sheets had always kept Suprava engrossed. The number crunching during a typical, busy working day had left her with little time to get closer to nature, so near her. But nothing could deny her that the lure of the green which was always inviting.

Unknown to Suprava, the 20-something Minu had been nursing similar dreams. The lure of a promising career had got the Ranchi girl to Bhubaneshwar after she had completed an engineering degree in electrical and electronics. For nearly year after she began her first job, she would pass by the forests and admire the beauty.

It was not just the two of them. Their colleagues, Mausumi and Shobha, had also been admiring nature and, someday, wanted to get away from the whirring and clinking sounds that they had got used to.

When Joydeep Roy, the new Factory manager of the Khurda plant and a nature enthusiast, joined work, the first thing that he noticed were the enticing hills and the greenery around the factory. When he met his colleagues at the factory and had developed a level of familiarity, he was almost certain that like several of his mountain expeditions in the past, he would have to trek the Barunei Hills; alone. He still took a chance and floated the idea to these four women colleagues of his. He thought he knew the response. But his colleagues surprised him and agreed to trek the hills with just two days’ notice.

For the group of women, it had always been a case of so near, yet so far. With Joydeep’s call, they had the guide that they always wanted.

“When I saw the beauty of the location from the top of the hills, it was a breathtaking sight. I could never have imagined what it will look like from the top”

With his active support and encouragement, the group took time off work on a Saturday – four women, two security guards, an instructor and Joydeep – embarked on the nature trek.

The energy was turning contagious by now. No one from the factory had ever attempted the trek and it took a group of four women to break fresh ground.

The trek was steep and tough. Joydeep’s experience and the instructor’s guidance helped. There were times when one of the ladies would want to give up. Egged on by their colleagues, they finally reached the top.

“When I started the trail, I found it extremely difficult and painful just after few hundred metres. But then I realised that while managing a shift operation, I have come across many situations which were new to me. It’s my patience, presence of mind and never-say-die attitude which have helped me in all these years. The fulfilment after reaching the top was extremely thrilling,” Mausumi, who works on the Kinley line, said about the experience.

Barunei Hills is a popular picnic location for families in Odisha. For those inclined towards action, it is also a trekkers’ paradise. Its peak is also considered auspicious among the locals. When the group reached Sitakund, it was like a dream being fulfilled.

“When I saw the beauty of the location from the top of the hills, it was a breathtaking sight. I could never have imagined what it will look from the top,” Minu, mother of a 14-year-old boy, recalls of the day which left a lasting impression on her.

It is back to work for the group of inspiring women. The Khurda factory too continues to whirr. Like he did at Bengaluru, Joydeep will be studying for newer locations to whet his trekking appetite.

In the first few weeks at the new plant, Joydeep has inspired a handful of women. Some more could be joining hands. Very soon.