My Rafting Trip

This thing was written long time back to be published on the intranet in my office. It’s a rather long piece. Look before you read…

After all the speculations and apprehensions et al about being a non-swimmer and the phobia with water, I finally decided to embark on this trip. We left this place at around 2:30 ish on the night of 20th March from our houses. The majority of the junta hadn’t slept at all, courtesy the India-Kenya World Cup match. There were 4 qualis’s in all with around 30 ppl (after 2-3 ppl dropped out) with the qualis’s divided in east/west/north/south delhi etc. We all had to meet at ‘Noida Mod’. So we set out in the middle of the night, all charged up.. with the music at full volume.. and the qualis at full speed, what with the absolutely empty roads and all… that special sense of romance that the night lends..and the cool air.. one can imagine what it was like. We covered up quite some distance in the early hours of the morning. On the way we stopped at Cheetal Grand, a restaurant complex with an amazingly beautiful variety of flowers. There were a lot of photography sessions here due to the exquisite view the place provided. By this time all sleepy heads were also wide awake.
We set out again for Rishikesh, which was quite some distance and many temples ahead. With all the spot photography sessions we reached Kudiyala at around 11:30am. We were asked to quickly change into our rafting gear and have a quick bite of breakfast. After this we were supposed to go to another place, DevPrayag, from where we were to raft downstream to our camp. Hurriedly, we all changed and then had a quick brunch which had so much variety, I only wish I had some more time to relish it, not to forget the intuition that the next meal would be a long way off. We all set out for Dev Prayag in our qualis’s whereas the luggage was to be loaded on mules and taken directly to our camp via a shorter path. Just before the starting point of rafting, we came across a ‘Sangam’ where the Alaknanda and the Bhagirathi join the main river – Ganga. One could clearly make out where the two rivers were meeting each other because of the light green and the dark green colours of the water. We reached the rafting point and were given life jackets and helmets to adorn. I must say the life jacket nearly smothered me! We were given oars and the whole atmosphere suddenly changed from funfilled to highly professional.
We all assembled in front of the 4 rafts where we were introduced to the camp incharge, Anil Bisht and his team members. We were also given safety instructions about rafting and familiarised with various commands that a guide might give to the rafting team. Some of the commands we learnt were “paddle forward”, “paddle backward”, “relax”, and “highside”, out of which the 1st three are pretty obvious to understand whereas “highside” means putting ones weight on the front section of the raft by lying down there. This was to be used to tackle fierce rapids. So here we all set out in our respective rafts with most of the non-swimmers gathered in one particular raft. Amit was kayaking separately. Everyone was taking turns at rowing and generally getting the feel of rafting. People were also taking dips in the cold water by holding onto the rope that sidelined the raft, the rope being called the ‘lifeline’ for obvious reasons. Those who were comfortable swimming in the river had a frolicking time. By this time the sun had started burning overhead and more and more ppl grabbed the chance to get into the water. All the rafts also started having water fights where people would start splashing cold water at any nearby raft. Now everyone started innovating on the ways to make others wet. They used their oars and empty buckets to this effect, not to forget clambering onto someone else’s raft to make everyone else wet. Now that everyone realised that the empty bucket was a good weapon, all the rafts had some swimmers hounding for it, with their respective raft cheering them. It was good fun, sailing through the river and also having some games on the way!
We spent the whole afternoon toiling away, paddling and then had our lunch break around 4pm (as I had guessed) at a sand beach on the way. The moment we took that break, we realised that the lunch and drinks for the whole group were in our raft and we were the ones with the minimum number of oars, slaving for everyone else’s benefit! After the refreshing lunch, which again had enormous variety, we set out for our base camp. By this time the sun had started descending and ppl felt less inclined to get wet, as the wind was anyway cold. As a result, the remainder of the downstream trip was very calm, with no water fights and no one taking dips in the water. Everyone was just sailing away, taking in the beauty of the surrounding mountains, clicking snaps on the way. We reached the base camp at around 6:45 pm. Here everyone collected their luggage and chose a tent and a room mate for themselves. After arranging our stuff, I went out to take another dip in the water, in the presence of the main in-charge Anil. By the time I got out and changed to some dry clothes, I had missed the tea and pakoras, which had smelt heavenly and inviting when I had chosen to take a dip instead.
Since we all had a lot of time to kill before dinner, we decided to just sit around in a group. As it got darker and darker the place just got more and more scenic with stars peeping out from every inch of the sky. It was a dream for stargazers and amateur astronomers. We all went to a makeshift area with wobbly rocks and adjusted ourselves there for some conversation. It was absolutely dark now, what with no electricity in that area and no inhabitation in the nearby mountains. Occasionally we would notice the sharp beam of some vehicle on the mountain roads, which actually appeared quite eerie. The zillions of stars and all the constellations could be easily spotted with the naked eye because of the absence of the disturbing factors like city lights, pollution etc. The sound of the waves splashing against rocks only added to the ambience. In some time, the camp in-charge, Anil came along with another of his guides, Lama, who had a guitar. We had a short guitar session after which we had dinner in the ‘café’ which was an area with lots of cane furniture and a thatched roof. After dinner, we all retired to our respective tents. Some people were still not in the mood to sleep and were generally singing songs, some people were chatting in their tents, not that it made any difference to the outside world as everyone’s conversation (and their snores too) could be heard clearly because of the “thin walls”!!
The next morning, I got up early and had some juice to begin with. After that I went to get acquainted with “storm” and “scissors”, 2 puppies that Anil has. After a photo session with them we had a sumptuous breakfast with a lot of variety again. After this, a group of people went to explore the nearby waterfall and had a splash there. People could also indulge in miscellaneous activities like kayaking, beach volleyball, badminton, diving into the water from high rocks, building sand castles or just lazying around in the sand, with lunch in between of course. We had a session of dumb charades after lunch and then ppl opted for rappelling and rock climbing. By evening ppl were tired of all the activities and we had a bonfire where everyone just chilled out. Some ppl were playing antakshri, others were busy in their drinks and still others were busy chatting. After this we had an amazing chinese meal, complete with the soup and all. Some people wanted to leave early the next day to watch the world cup final but finally the evolved consensus was to stay and attend the 2nd day of rafting which included fierce rapids this time. Throughout the trip, everyone had heard so much about the rapids, that everyone had their own personal perception about them by now.
We set out early the next day and the last day of the camp trip. Everyone took photographs because after this, photography wouldn’t be possible in the turbulent waters that were expected. With all the talks about rapids and especially “The Wall”, I must add that most of the people were quite apprehensive of that rapid. The waves were supposed to rise as high as a wall and this could capsize any raft if not tackled properly. The chances of the raft capsizing were given to us as 100% as anything was possible! So we all set out, with our raft in tow with others. Ours was a maximum non-swimmers raft and that’s why we were probably kept 3rd throughout the downstream trip. There were lots of kayaks also so that if any rafts capsize, the rafters could be “rescued”. The first rapid was “Daniel’s Dip” which had high, fierce waves hitting the rafts like anything. Everyone had taken his or her respective positions, with our guide trying to calm down everyone. We had been given strict instructions for keeping absolutely quite. The experience of crossing this rapid was awesome. But still the tension of crossing the next rapid – ‘The Wall’ was quite prominent. Again, we had been given strict instructions about everything, all members took positions, with our guide shouting out the commands amidst the roaring of the waves. The ones who were supposed to paddle were doing so furiously even as they were almost being jolted out of the boat. As soon as the command for “highside” came, all the three highsiders, put their weight on the front section of the boat. HUGE, never-ending waves were hitting furiously and drenching all the highsiders and suddenly before we knew it, we had crossed ‘The Wall’ and approached calm waters. Everyone was elated and we had a ‘three cheers’ session for our guide, Som. Just as we finished cheering for ourselves, we saw that another raft, (the one following us) had capsized and all the rafters were in water. We took hold of the ones floating near our raft. Others were taken care of, by the kayaks.
After this rapid, we crossed a few other rapids, like ‘The three blind mice’, which is a series of three rapids, one after another. Another was ‘Good Morning’ and yet another was ‘Cross Fire’. The rafters were encouraged to do ‘body surfing’ in one of the smaller rapids. Some of the people jumped into the water, while holding onto the lifeline, just before the rapid appeared. Others took dips in the water once it became calm.
Our rafting trip was nearing its end now. We also saw an ad being shot at some camp for ‘Ganga Mineral Water’! Finally our rafting session came to an end at Shivpuri, where we had lunch, had a final photo session and finally bid goodbye to the camp in-charge, Anil and his team. After this we set out for home, all tanned and tired. Now everyone’s focus suddenly shifted from the trip to the World Cup final being played between India and Australia.
On the whole I am sure everyone had a fabulous time, made a lot of new friends, and shared a lot of fun times with them. We have been exchanging snaps quite frequently to say the least. Thanks to the organisers for taking the initiative to organise a trip like this!!

Rains Lash – Episode II

Rains lashed back with a vengeance, on Delhi.. yet again. Monsoons have arrived and as usual, this was followed by traffic snarls, water clogging and vehicle stalling everywhere. Somehow Delhi never seems to learn but I guess some things are never meant to change anyway. I was *REALLY* pissed this morning as I wanted to drive to office. Had some work to attend to on the way. With the heavens pouring their hearts out the way they were, I wasn’t allowed to take the car as I don’t have much experience in “monsoon driving” yet. There’s always gotta be a first step, but that was not enuff of a reason for my dad to let me take the car. “The brakes also seem to be having some problem and I don’t think you should be taking such risks”. Humph was all i could do. Eventually had to resort to going by the office bus. Gosh!! Such a waste of time and it also involved getting wet. (am not really fond of getting wet, am no rain dance person).
So there I stood infront of the gurdwara waiting for my bus, getting wet and wetter with each passing moment, clutching on to my pink (yes, that *is* the colour), transparent, Japanese umbrella as if it’s my boyfriend’s cosy hand (wry smile). Passing vehicles inevitably splashed me with more muck. Finally the bus came and thankfully the seats were not *as* wet as I had expected them to be. The rain had almost stopped by then.
I decided that I had had enough of a bad mood and decided to spend the journey (it sure is a long one from Delhi to Gurgaon) observing how monsoons change Delhi. Here are a coupla things I noted.
–Lush greenery was visible everywhere..everything was cleaned up and bright even though the same place would have earlier looked like a patch of wild weeds growing -unchecked.
–Birds dotted the electric wires! They shouldn’t have been doing that in this weather.. and surprisingly they were all sitting with regular equidistant intervals.. made me wonder about their sense of space and order :-).
–Monkeys (yes they are as free as us to inhabit Delhi) were enjoying the monsoon too. I spotted one looking heavenward and slapping his forehead. That one might have been imitating me had he seen me earlier :-P.
–Squirrels were darting about trees probably checking if their stocks were soaked or preserved.
–Waves and ripples forming in the water bodies that had appeared everywhere.
–There were no boundaries to the roads! All footpaths and dividers were submerged in water in many areas. One had to practically rely on instinct to drive or rather wade through the water.

Finally I reached *office*.. what an anticlimactic destination for such a weather!

Let the rain come down and wash away my tears
Let it fill my soul and drown my fears
Let it shatter the walls for a new sun

A new day has come-Celine Dion, A New Day Has Come
.. and a cathartic feeling has come over me…

Ode to my doggie

Every morning we take out the water hose to fill the cooler and after that, we clean the whole place with water instead of going through the 2 regular cycles of sweeping and mopping. Every morn, my doggie (Boozy is his name n u bet he stays true to it 🙂 ), makes himself unavailable the moment he sees the water hose. He knows what’s coming and like all animals of his species, hates getting wet. He does something else with even more regularity. He turns up right there after about an hour (give n take a few minutes) with such accuracy that it’s amazing! He has observed that after about an hour, the place would be clean and the floor not too wet and just cool enuff to plonk on. His sense of timing *amazes* me, to say the least.
We all have an inbuilt clock inside. The body clock dictates a lotta bodily mundane (but nevertheless essential) functions. Many of the body’s responses to large changes in environmental light are controlled by a light detection system in the eye. Jet-lag is the classic example – where body time and local time get confused. It is only after a few days of exposure to the local light environment that body time and local time become synchronised once again.

There’s a long-standing fascination with biological clocks about understanding the molecular mechanisms that regulate them. The circadian pacemaker, or control center, in humans is located in the brain’s hypothalamus. A cluster of only several thousand neurons govern a wide range of 24-hour physiological variations in our body, ranging from changes in hormonal levels and body temperature to susceptibility to disease. Understanding the detailed workings of the circadian clock may explain why heart attacks occur more often in the morning and why the incidence of asthma is more common at night, for example.

But to have an idea of how much time has elapsed since a certain event, one definitely needs a more advanced clock. So my dog ain’t no dumb mutt 🙂

Do it urself babies!!

Our techno world is reaching new heights. Whatever will they think of next! Fourteen lesbians in Britain have become pregnant with sperms sold to them by a company through the Internet. Praise the Internet instead of the Lord now!! You can check out the news item here.

Rains Lash!

One of the most interesting things happened last friday, something which could actually result in a lot of business loss for the company in which I happen to be employed. There was a complete power outage in one of the plots that we operate from. The generators and power cables etc are kept in the basement of this plot. The rains on thursday night had lashed out pretty strongly and Haryana being the way it is, with no proper drainage system in place, the water flooded our basement. It was 3 feet high with the major equipment completely soaked in water, resulting in emergency shutting off of the power supply. The UPS could also not last for long.

When I reached the office, most of the ppl were standing outside as nothing was working – no PC’s, no AC, no lighting. Everyone wondered for some time abt what to do next (of course the ppl handling the crisis were already at it). It was obvious that the power would not come back so soon and when it does it would take some time to stabilise things. The power was there in other plots but ppl cdn’t really work even there, since the central hub of the company was down. All unix servers, mail servers, proxy server were down, cutting us off from the entire world. It’s such a handicap in this age of electronic means!!
Anyhow strategies for making the best of the opportunity started pouring in. I was all for a Jaipur trip (provided we started on time) or a guitar session (have kept my guitar in office). Someone wanted to watch American Chai at DT Cinemas, Gurgaon. Have already seen that movie in a film festival last year. It’s another one of those where a typical NRI of Indian descent is confused about his “culture” and eventually realises sooner or later that it’s very much a part of him. Ultimately we watched Matrix Reloadedat PVR Gurgaon. The hall is superb, the movie is not. Various upcoming malls at Gurgaon add to the modernistic sheen of that place.
So we had a blast and came back to office, only to be told that the power outage is here to stay for some time. These guys were lucky all this happened on a Friday, with a weekend buffer otherwise imagine the number of wasted manhours!! I must have heard the term BCP (Business Continuity Process) umpteen no. of times that day! Lot of ppl went back home and attended to things they never get the time for on weekdays (that includes sleeping :-P).
In all, such things though in rarity, should happen .. it’s a good team building exercise as we all could make out :-).