Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Washing away all sins in River Ganga

Very Little in life is completely new . Most things that we do are inspired by the "variations of a theme" that has already been experienced. Once the theme is mastered the monotony sets in and the excitement fades away.

The call came on Thursday evening , some months back.

Mr B:Hey , this is Mr B , whatz up?
Me : WHAT? (Did i hear the name right?)
Mr B :You #$@$#$#@$#$,
Me : Ok , Hey , Whatz up ? ( This guy is a gossip collector , why the hell is he calling me ?")
Mr B : So Hows Work?
Me: Blaaaaaah Blaaaaaaaaaaah
Mr B: So what are you doing these days ?"
Me:Nothing much , just doing the same thing that all the guys without girlfriends in Delhi do ?
Me:Me wondering what I am going to do this five day weekend?
Mr B: You were never interested in gals or gal frnds anyways . Still I remember **** and poor gal had a crush on you, u know (Why this guy is buttering me ?)
Me: Well , U know .I hate mishy mushy types and she is not of my type yaar.
Mr B : U were always an a***@$@#@$@# when it came to girl"ish" matters .Never mind , Aren't your parents pushing for marriage? ( I knew you would ask this , you bugger, you called me to collect gossips)
Me: Nopes, (Grins) .Me wondering why they are not pushing .Last time they set up meeting with a girl I almost slept off and gave them sound advice on how to set up meetings with potential daughters in law and leave me alone for some time to enjoy my solitude.( This guy is a gossip machine , five common friends are going to call me up quoting this).
Mr B:Hmmm , Any way you were never interested in girls that I introduced you ?
Me : Huh , They were so boring and you know mishy mushy blahhh blahhhh ( Gossip Monger)
Mr B : What abt a trip ?
Me : WHAT ?( I almost fell off from my chair)
Mr B : We will go for rafting Man .
Me : Rafting , but Why me yaar ? Why don't you go with your gal friend?
Mr B:Yaar, I had booked a ticket for my gal frnd before we broke up . Anyway if you are free we can go.
Me: Shucks , Your gal friend broke away and you are calling me . You think I am a gay or something , you #@$@$$%#$^^^$%&&^%^&%^
Mr B:No man , but what will I do with my tickets ? ( This guy was always stingy , no wonder gal friend broke up )
Me: Man , I am going for a film fest in India Habitat Centre this weekend , anyway thanks for the invite.

Don't know what he did with the invite but the rafting idea was kicked off that day and good he called me . The last three day weekend was just amazing , thanks to Mr B and one of the his numerous girl friends who broke up with him.

There was almost one week free time between Delhi Mumbai shift and I decided that it was time to complete the places that I haven’t visited in North India and the only one remaining was Kashmir. I went to one of my Kashmiri colleagues and asked him

Me: Do you think it is good time to visit Kashmir now?
Colleague: Certianly , if you don’t want to come back alive
Me:Ok , I am planning to go there after they relive me
Colleague: RIP , I will email you the address of all Christian cemeteries in Kashmir
Me: My id is , in case you don’t know

Unfortunately I couldn't’t get anyone who was as optimistic as me about coming back alive after visiting Kashmir , and had to settle for Rishikesh to wash away my sins in river Ganga with a friend who is practicing law . Since I have done so many sins , this is not my first experience in washing away sins in River Ganga and so the post is a truncated version of my earlier trip .

I was sleeping in the Dehradun - Rishikesh bus .Suddenly somebody pushed me violently and said ,

" You know what , Rishikesh is one of the places where Amrit fell " .
Me (Still groggy after a nice bumping sleep in the bus): Who is Amrit? How did he fell down ? Do we know him ?
" Amrit as in A_M_R_I_T , the divine nectar for which Devas and Asuras had a war. Me: Oh ! That amrit.

The bus window gave me a scenic view of calm environment, tributary of some river , dense forests and a pot hole filled road and a jeep that was waiting to pick us up .

"Bhaai Saab , Jaldi Aao , Shiv puri tak jaana hein"- Our Jeep Driver called for us .

I was thinking . Not bad . Shivpuri is 17 kilometers away from Rishikesh . We will go all the way uphill in this jeep and will raft down hill. God save me !

The road to Shivpuri has some awesome curves again reminding me of Ayesha Takia and strange boards like

'Speed thrills but kills',
'Better Late than Never'
'Don't Drink and drive'
"Feel the curves but don't hug them"
"Check your nerve on my curve"
"Love thy neighbour but not while driving"
"Better be Mister Late than to be Late Mister"
"If you want to stay married, divorce speed"
"Mountains are pleasure if you drive with leisure"

Friend: Are you afraid ?
Me: Obviously not ( I was always a brave fellow , that's why I came with you and didn’t go to Kashmir )
Friend:" What are you thinking about ?
Me: I am thinking who is going to kill Chidambaram for reducing the tax on pet food in the budget
Friend:" WHAT? “
Me: Keep quiet , the river looks so menacing and the sign boards seem to be the dooms sign
Me: Hope we come through this alive , do you know swimming?
Friend: Nopes , I hope you know and will save me
Me: Good , In that case we need only one ambulance when our body is packed off to Kerala
Friend: Can you please shut up?

Suddenly the jeep that was going down a Windy hilly path stopped and we heard a greeting.

Hello , I am Surya . I am your instructor for rafting.

Both of us looked up and saw a four feet five inch guy standing near the jeep .Me wondering how this thin minuscule guy will lift someone who fell into the river .

Surya, our guide who seemed too diminutive to save any of us from drowning , handed us life jackets , plastic helmets and started introducing his team which included a fourteen year boy called Karan who Surya said will save us in case any of us fell into rapids .My friend whispered to me " So they are sure that at least few of us are going to fell down" . I looked back at him and found it quite amusing to see him staring at Karan . The look said it all " Karan my saviour , please make sure that I am getting out of this alive"

Surya started giving us instructions which essentially boiled down into five things

"FORWARD" - How to oar the raft forward?
"BACKWARD" - How to oar the raft backward?
"STOP" - When should you keep the oar on your lap?
"How to save your dear life if you fell into the river?"
"How to cling to Karan's small kayak and save your dear life if you fell into the rapid?"

There were around thirty people and all of us were divided into five boats . These thirty people included some pretty girls, some aunties , some small kids and lot of bald old uncles . I gave a questioning look to my friend when he saw the confidence of bald uncles and he looked away . I know what he was thinking and he knew what I was assuming.

Finally both of us found ourselves among group of eight people which included four bihari business men , one guy working with Coca cola India and One foreigner from France . My friend whispered to me again " This idiot has come all the way from France to drown himself in Ganga . What an Ass ?" . I gave him a nudge to keep quiet and all of us scrambled in to the raft and Surya gave the command all of us were waiting for "FORWARD". The raft started and I could not help laughing when I saw the look on my friends face , " I am going to die".

Finally we were on water in Ganges and the raft started swinging from side to side — and we started our journey around 11:30 PM from Shivpuri to Rishkesh which was a total stretch of seventeen kilometers .— The light traced dark silhouettes on the river’s mountainous banks. Trees, shrubs, creepers, nesting birds, and may be animals that shuffled past those .I felt something brush against my oar as the boat moved silently downstream. Was that a vine-weed, aerial root or viper, swinging menacingly from that tree, or it can be even a crocodile? I shuddered. What if I die of snakebite, and that too 25,000 km away from my home in Kochi and that too in river Ganges of all the places? . Anyway crocodiles don’t come in running water , So Most probably it is a snake .

Surya was searching all the faces and he reassured us when someone asked him about snakes . “Don’t worry”, . “Snakes and other animals don’t attack unless you frighten them. They’re not like us”. His dismissal of the human species was spontaneous, perhaps born of wisdom gleaned from the rich and diverse ecosystems in river Ganges —the intricate web of life spun by creatures of the forest and cave systems — that have been around for millions of years, long before humans appeared on the scene. I was in no mood to argue and kept quiet.

We slowly started and suddenly the atmosphere in the raft became relaxing. Surya had given a STOP command and as we slowly slithered down the river, everybody kept quiet united by the surreal experience. I felt like a trespasser disturbing the system and flagrantly violating the rules in Ganga on a raft . We continued with our voyeurism — spotting a jeep some 2000 m above us on a road going to Neelkanth, a frog here, a fish there , some guy staring at us from top and in the distance, skimming the water, was that a python? Maybe. Who knows? and then I saw it . The first rapid.

The fear returned back in to the boat on seeing the waves. " Common guys , Forward ", Surya yelled over the roaring sound of water . " This rapid is the first major one , you are going to face . It is known as Return to Sender " . I looked at my friend and his face said it all " Doesn't it sound like " Return to God?" . The first few waves seemed easy , but suddenly a BIG one came and the raft and us were almost tossed into the water. Few guys forgot about paddling and crouched themselves into the boat while Surya was fervently giving a "forward" command.Finally the raft steadied and all of us looked around and was pretty disappointed to see that nothing much happened as all of us were still alive and kicking .Thank God! My friend told me in Malayalam.

We have four more rapids like this . The next four are called Roller Coaster, Double Trouble ,Golf course and Club house. Golf course is the biggest one .How ironic ?, - I was thinking - Sexy names for rapids , how can someone name such a menacing thing like a huge rapid in a river as a serene , verdant and peaceful place like golf course.

Roller Coaster the name of the next rapid said it all. A huge rapid, it was the most challenging one in the entire trip. It reminded me of the roller coasters I rode on at fun fairs and what exactly it is to be like when you are inside a roller coaster. A giant heave, a steep fall, incredible twists and turns. White foamy water entered my eyes, mouth and ears. The raft and all of us got drenched as never before and this is no short rapid. As our raft bobbed up and down, I realized that this was not going to be over in minutes.I saw the guy in front being tossed over by the water. It seemed to go on forever. As we entered calmer waters, the relief on the faces of our team members was palpable.

Double trouble was not much of a trouble after the roller coaster and every minute of our approach to the Golf course was exciting. My heart was thumping wildly and every pore in my body was absorbing this adventure expecting something big in the Golf Course , the biggest rapid after the Roller Coaster experience. Soon, all of us were crouching down as we heard Surya yell and we hit the `Golf course'. As we descended this 10 feet wall of water, we could almost see the craggy edges of the rocks that flanked this rapid. We could hear a thud, as our raft hit rocks, stones and boulders and for a moment I thought this is going to be my burial place when our raft sunk. I could see Karan at a distance who was trying to see what had happened to our raft . Fortunately in a matter of minutes we found ourselves floating gently. Some of our Bihari businessmen started chanting slokas from the Gita as our raft gathered speed and Me and my friend heaved a sigh of relief.

Suddenly the French guy fell into the water and all of us thought a crocodile has taken him over . Suddenly a head popped out and he said , " The water is so calm after that rapid , I could not resist jumping". Hearing this three of us jumped down . I could see my friend trying to solve the differential equations and Plato's triangular theorems in deciding whether to jump or not and finally he too decided to jump after achieving quod erat demonstrandum.The river was leech free and thank god it was so exhilarating to float along with the boat in the cold water .The only sounds were the tup-tup of flowing water and the sound of our own voices.

We stopped for lunch and it was a welcome break after the exhausting rapids and two hours of oaring. The white sand and a white tent was a nice place to have some hot chappatis , rice and aloo.

We started again and there were two more rapids but very small ones and it was as easy as calculating 2+2 after the roller coaster and golf course experience .We were concentrating more on floating in the water and an interesting place was the tipping point from which all of us jumped down.It was a 14 feet cliff jumping exercise. The height didn’t seem daunting but when I had let gravity take over I was wondering for a split second why is the water not touching my feet. I must have gone into the water, a few feet and when I emerged my ear drums could sense what the world refers to as increasing pressure of water as one goes deeper into it.

The aunties and bald old uncles were the most enthusiastic lot . After sometime all of us got bored and we started water fighting till we reached the Laxman Chula . The people who were going to the temple through the chula would have found it amusing to see the water fights between people in two three rafts .We alighted at Ram Jhula and gave a quick good bye to Surya , Karan and rest of the team who helped us in the journey.

Have been to almost all places in India in the last three years . But this was a journey worth reminiscing may be because very little in life come totally new and when you experience something new for the first time you wont forget it for quiet some time.

I don’t know why I have a tendency to do any thing that makes my blood hotter and heart beat faster . No wonder my parents always accuse me of doing atrocious things and being in a constant state of crisis putting them under constant state of tension. Hopefully next time I do something like this I will be alive to write it in the blog and will not be resting in peace somewhere .
LOL :)


Srijith Unni said...

I have read travelogues, but this is so cool..! I could almost picture myself on that raft.. Hope you have more such interesting journeys.. and believe me you better come back or i`m gonna dig your grave to make you blog..! LOL!!

Have Fun, Take Care and God Bless..!

With Best Regards,
Srijith Unni.

Attribution said...

Remix version?
Old Vodka in new bottle?

Reminds me of those school and college trips when most of friends refused to do anything thrilling other than sit and gossip pass around rumors and cook up stories and plan what to wear next valentines day.

Umesh said...

Again a long post. You could have easily made the conversation with your gossiper friend and the white water rafting into two posts. Anyways...

The rafting part was terrific. I felt like i was watching an adventure thriller. My heart is till beating fast. A wonderful account i should say.

Even i want to do rafting some day but not sure if i will be able to coz of my recent "naanam ketta" fall which dislocated my right shoulder. I'm asked not to swim or do any "circus" with my arms. But i will do it some day. Thanks.

Again this time lemme tell you, you should try writing for a hollywood flick. :)

Neihal said...

So now that you have washed away all your sins, done rafting, and me survived another long post, whats next on agenda :P

Seema said...


Man... that was one helluvaaa adventure…could see it thru n thru…wawwww the speedy heart beats at each of those rapids…would have loved to be there !!!! Pure adrenalin rush !!!! Cheers n Kudos !
Atleast the enroute memoirs of Ayesha Takia got you right there thru the journey ! Lol I got one of the secrets here…CURVES huhhhhh (u dont always have to do tags!!!)

Was that a vine-weed, aerial root or viper, swinging menacingly from that tree, or it can be even a crocodile? I shuddered. What if I die of snakebite, and that too 25,000 km away from my home in Kochi and that too in river Ganges of all the places? . Anyway crocodiles don’t come in running water , So Most probably it is a snake ….that was great DEDUCTION when someone's almost gonna bite ya LOL

Am sure these fUNDOOOO sign boards kept u ON -
Feel the curves but don't hug them"
"Check your nerve on my curve"
"Love thy neighbour but not while driving"
"If you want to stay married, divorce speed"

Too good…narration was great !

Nariyal Chutney said...

@Sreejith: The cost of a shovel to dig grave is approximately 125 INR :).LOL . You too have fun , buddy :P

@Attribution : Yupz Old Smirnoff Vodka in new bottle :).Wonder why your friends go for trips in that case since "sit and gossip pass around rumors and cook up stories and plan what to wear next valentines day." can be done with out going for a trip :)

@Umesh:This post is dedicated to him ( and his galfriend) for initiating the idea :).Hey , you dont need to swim to raft but a little bit of oaring is necessary :P. Not sure whether your arms will take it :).

@neihal:Think I should do more sins before going for a rafting again in Brahmaputra . Assam has the best rafting experiences that India can offer :) Thiking about a trip to North East .

@Seema: What curves ? Who the hell is Ayesha Takia :P? .

Nariyal Chutney said...

@Seema : Sorry , My mom wanted to know what I was writing and reading for the past one hour when I was replying to u :P

Ishomishihakku Sthuthiyayirikkatte . For that Amen :) . The signs were in fact Fundu not fUNDOOOO and were pretty interesting to stare at :P.

Ajith said...

.Last time they set up meeting with a girl I almost slept off and gave them sound advice on how to set up meetings with potential daughters in law and leave me alone for some time to enjoy my solitude
-- Could u share the tips ;) ?

Neihal said...

WOW! NC you got me jealous...I lived for a year in east and never even thought abt it...damn!!

Jo said...

Very good post as usual. :-)

I think you should break it up to separate blog pieces. It's too addictive to skip any part of this. :-)

mathew said...

beautiful narration seriously are living on the edge!! ;-P

Nariyal Chutney said...

@ajith: Tips have to be customised depending upon the intensity of your parents. Let me know all the symptoms so that we can give the best solutions :).

@neihal: Never mind , As long as you are in India you can always go back :).

@ Jo: Sure dude , think I have to make the posts more crisp :).

@mathew: :P, Thanks . Hopefully now people wont think that I have plagarised and all :)

Sunita said...

Hey!! That was really funny. Great read :)

Dimple said...

Got here after some random blog hopping..but seriously tha was a cool one..!!

ToOothlEss WOndeR! said...

why does it look like i'm reliving an old trip?
i'm sure so many rafting trips start - and proceed the same exact way?
i know atleast one which was a total photo copy.

Nariyal Chutney said...

@ Sunitha : Hmm , Rafting is a lttle bit scary the first time , then it becomes funny when u think about it :)

@ Dimple: Nice to know you enjoyed it :).

@ Toothless: You bet , this was my secondd trip and was exactly like my first trip :).