Monday, April 14, 2008

rockin rafting in rocky rapids....

Last weekend was 1 helluva ride in all senses of the word.
From the initial rendezvous with anxious (might be an understatement) parents [some fellow daredevils even decided to boycott or postpone the phonecall till after the 'dangerous waters' ;)] to the tricky trek the day be4 the marathonic n 'rapid' finale everything about this trip organized by HEC [Himalayan Explorer's Club] was enuff to set ur pulse racing!!

It all started the day be4 , when a friend inquired about my willingness to undertake the expedition fraught with dangers.
Being me ["The only thing I can't resist, is TEMPTATION"] , there was only 1 decision -> when to deposit the money. Then came the talk with my apprehensive mom , which pretty much took every ounce of conviction i had. Finally began, the journey that i would probably remember for a longggg time.

Day 1: Saturday

GOD!!! Waking up early [7...coz i hadnt packed fully ...yup , thats me.. :P] on a weekend sux.. but hell...i guess , there's no gain without pain! So ... finally packed and ready to go , me and my gang headed towards Nesci [as Nescafe is popularly called..] at 8:15....

After the multiple rides [we had to switch at Haridwar] which included lotsa slumber
hours and discussions on career , why lakshman jhula is called so , and who all actually gutted it out to convince their parents that the mortality rate ( ) of people rafting is not so high...[my arguments had included : "whether even walkin on roads today is safe ", "you only hear about the gruesome deaths and not the fun experiences..", blah blah blah..]..we finally landed in Hrishikesh.

After the ride in the "Vikram" [a kind of auto-rikshaw I was ignorant of till be4 ( )] alongwith my friend Vickram [we both were DuDes..{short for DUal DEgree Students ;) ;) }] , we arrived at our lodging [which included a few tents and a few rooms.......Me n a cupple of frendz grabbed a tent quickly...muahahahah]

Lunch and a quick rest later , we were down at the beach in our undies [and for some , swimmin costumes]..taking dips in the friggin freezin Ganga. Me , being especially weary of cold water...took a li'l persuasion and time to take my firsssssst dip, which believe-you-me wazzz damn COLD... But then the fun water splashing started and some time and photographs later , we were bak at the hotel [lookin longingly at the other side of the beach ,where some guys n gurlzz were playin Volleyball]..

Anyways 30 mins and no volleyball later[shucks...!!] we were rounded up by the seniors for a trekking trip..
Who would've known wht the immediate future held then!!!!!!!!

What initially began as we called it , an evening-walk [we walked on the mountainous road for a couple of kms]..

transcended into the more-expected hilly terrain.
When asked whether we wanted a long trek or a short trek...
you know what a few over-enthusiastic fellows [me included..]
would have said..
And so the journey that would eventually drag on for more than 3 well as the daylight started gathering 'weary' overtones.

The middle hours of the journey included me n my friend ,
Vineet (another DuDe) race from the end of the pack to the front guide which itself included overtaking a pack of cows, which if it was possible, seemed angry and scared at the same time...the mother protecting the calves and eyeing us vehemently for any signs of danger.

But then just as the daylight was falling and the path to be treaded was thinning [beside the steep 200 feet drop,in sight] , the most unexpected thing happened..we came across a LANDSLIDE...[yes...wud u believe our luk!!!] 1 step meant seeing a trickle of rocks fall with a plonk below...

Consider the situation...
Going bak wasnt an option , night was approachin n approachin fast , tricky agglomeration of rocks in front...

With high heartbeats n nervous energy...nd with the help of the guide who used a wooden stick to help us latch on to something , 1 by 1 , slowly but steadily we crossed that area....only to be faced with another problem...
"the guide couldn't find the way!!!!"
After regroupin and making sure the number of arms and legs was the same as be4...we clampered here and there..till some cud see an old forsaken building somewhere in the distance...
Initial sighs soon got converted into nervous frowns after the murmuring of a conversation of the guide on the phone made its way to some ears....

somethin on the lines of :
"Haan...Ham Bhoot Bangle ke paas hain...aage ka raasta nahi mil raha...kya karoon?"

With bated breaths nd hearts in mouth we finally found the ever-so-narrowing path in the ever-so-dimming light.
The tricky path led on , with us making possibly the best use of mobiles in that situation "torches" . Here and there rocks fell , people slipped ...once, even my friend, Kunal [not a DuDe,but rather a (whch we pronounce as 'buttock') :P] slipped down to all fours in the narrow stretch just in front of me...and lay there for a second thanking his stars!! But slowly but surely , we progressed on the path fraught with dangers...plodding forwards in the beams of Cell-u-lite [cellular light..:P]...

and at long last , with weary bodies,minds and souls saw the path to the road.......

The night ended with a nice buffet dinner followed by a bonfire [some people had brought wooden sticks from the trek]
which included a peppy session of Dumb-Sharades.. in which my team rocked..[me n a 2nd yr guy, Arpit, especially]...and finally some games of cards.

Day 2: Sunday

We had an unsettling and unexpected shock in the beginning , when all ready for breakfast n the rafting , we were greeted by a form. Now , you must be wondering why a form shud have had tht effect on us...but lemme tell you , as any lawyer wud tell u , any form where you gotta sign shudn't be taken lightly....more so...if it contains a clause , that

With scary premonitions and parents' words echoing in our heads...we somehow managed to scrape our signatures on the sheet.

A filling breakfast (of aloo paranthas , and the beverage which is elixir to vineet ->tea ) helped to lighten the mood and with our luggage ready we too were ready to move.

For the first time for many of us , we asked for a lift from a 'truck-waala' , and in the though-ephemeral journey , we had a taste of our old physics' lessons of inertia , when we had to stand clutching to any and every-thing trying to withhold our flinging bodies..... You know , you need to experience some experiences until you are experienced enuff to say u don't want to experience them again...lolz [PS:the damned guy even charged us money!!!]

But once we got off , our pulses quickened and hearts started racing as we saw a group of people covered in lifejackets ready for a rafting extravaganza [some being pretty gurllz.. ;) :)]. Quickly, geared up in life-securing (hopefully) equipment, we headed out to the shore where we were greeted by this seemingly knowledgable, experienced and self-assured rafter who explained us the basics of rafting [how we were to hold the paddle (a few held it like a cricket bat) , where to sit on the raft , etc etc].

Then we were assigned to our inividual guides in groups of 8.
Before mounting the raft , he told us that it wasn't goin to be a cakewalk, and that the two rafters in the front needed to be the most powerful [b'coz 1:all the other rafters were supposed to mimic them and 2:paddling at the front required the most effort!!] . So , finally it was decided that me and
Arora [as his second most popular name is, ;)] would be the front rowers and we took our first steps into dangerous waters.

Initial comments from the guide indicated to us tht we cud enjoy in calm waters but needed to be responsive and quiet in the rapids (the actual danger areas consisting of water flowing fast on short jutting rocks) in order to hear the commands.We were told how to paddle and all the commands tht we might need to enact upon in times of crisis [like if there is danger of the raft overturning , we need to stop paddling get inside the raft and hold onto the lifeline, command was HOLD AND DUCK]. We were told that the risk in rafting is mainly if we fall in the rapids with the danger of banging our head on the rocks...

and we realized just what grave mortal danger we had 'paid' to get into....

With the thoughts of the form we had signed , stil lingering in our head we were told wht to do in case we fall [lie on back facin upstream !!] and even made to go inside the chillin water , but soon we learnt to trust the lifejacket, and how to pull a teammate bak up if he has fallen.

Trust me on two things when i say :

1.There is absolutely no way u cud drown wid a lifejacket on , if u dont panic....seriously!!! Having a buoyancy of 150 kgs
[Adnan Sami has just progressed from needing 2 lifejackets to a single.. :)]...

2.Its equally tuff to get bak by urself on a raft once u have fallen.... gosh!! Using the rope at the side to propel u bak up on the raft sounds much easier than doing it!! Believe me.......I was imagining a situation in which, say u and ur friends are on a raft....suddenly due to a wave , u all fall down in water..but everythin's ok....xcept one thing...NONE of u are able to get bak on the raft...hahahaha....u all are there , with all the equipment u need , but are still stranded coz u cant mount the ruddy thing!!!

anyways...bak to the ride...

Then , our guide introduced us to a few jingles , which would prove very imp later.


which might not look as impressive lest done in the emphatic fashion we did [with paddles meeting at "BABY"....and a big splash with the paddle in the end].

2nd was with even more JOSH....
Tilmil Tilmil Dhoom Dhadakaa
repeated 3 times with enthusiasm and standing on the raft(yea..yea) in the end!!!

We referred to the other teams as Pakistan and Sri Lanka ( :P ) and competition with them and the jingles kept our spirits up.

to be contd...