Rishikesh is a holy mystical place visited by many across the world to attain peace and calm but the youth prefers adventure over the divinity.
This is our second trip to Rishikesh, first one was beyond awesome. We were all high on adrenaline after the rafting adventure, finding our way through mighty Ganges is no small feat. Motivated by our first non eventful victory, we have embarked on our second. So here we are, packed in our car on the way to Rishikesh.
It’s a long weekend, entire Delhi is on the road heading in all possible directions. Roads to Rishikesh are mainly smooth by Indian standards, we by pass green paddy fields, get stuck in the city jam, get stuck behind some super slow moving trucks, eat tandoori parathas in the highway dhaba, more jam and then more. We are going to camp in jungle near one of the Ganges tributary, trying our best to make it on time, it usually take 4.5 hrs but we have been on the road for over 9. Finally we reach, its divine, anybody coming from city find aloof jungle setting calming and relaxing and thats an irony of sort since we are here for adventure. There are 12 hi-end camps placed in a circle, they are actually only namesake camps as they are fitted with all modern day facilities, geezer for warm running water, air conditioners for dealing with hot afternoons, wooden beds done up nicely in jodhpur print bedsheets and quilts, in camp service for food and beverages, personal toilets, things you miss you most when in wilds. We enjoy bonfire in the evening, eat free snacks and relish the drink of our choice. We are all set for tomorrow.
An instructor is going to accompany and help us navigate through the ferocious Ganges. The instructor is giving us usual safety instructions… it’s an extreme sport, teamwork is required blah blah, i am ignoring as i am busy checking out the crowd. And there are way too many people, yesterday roads were crowded today it will be river. We put on our life jacket and helmet, we are looking more like a warrior then sailor. Armed with our paddles we are ready to take on the mighty Ganges.
Thumbsup and we start the adventure. The rapids are named very interestingly, Golf course, Sweet Sixteen, Wall, Go to hell, Cross fire depending upon the thrill they provide.
We are trying to coordinate and navigate through rough waters, mostly my paddle miss the water as its too bumpy and when it does touch, i can hardly paddle through, within minutes its clear i have no strength no, stamina and no paddling skills. Now all i have to do is hold on and pretend to paddle as it is a team work and i don’t want to be spoilsport. The instructor is smarter then i thought, he guessed it the minute the plan brewed in my head, he is continuously nudging me with his paddle, his way of motivating. Adrenaline reaches to its peak every time we sail through rapid, it gets bumpy, the boat swings from left to right, instructor screams incomprehensible things and we make it through. It’s scary and fun.
‘Go to Hell’ is arriving next, suppose to be tough one and like the name suggest, it promises hair raising experience. We are all geared up to brave it. As it approaches, the instructor yells something, again i can barely comprehend, it engulf us so quickily that i loose track of whats happening, the raft gets entangled in the water swirl and is going round and round, next i feel myself flying in air away from my raft and landing deep in river, saved by cms from hitting the rock. Deep in water unable to breath, pushed by water current, huge waves are showing no mercy, they are pushing me back as i am trying to make my way up. I am getting scared, worried, anxious, nervous, loosing track of time, i am in water for couple of seconds? couple of minutes? i have no idea, i cannot breath, i am going to loose my life in water, away from everybody i love. Fear takes over courage.
When you know there is no way out, either you can fight or you can give up without fighting. I made up my mind not to die. Not today atleast. Not like this. Not away from everybody i love. But this is a different kind of battle, I have to fight within to stay calm, not to loose nerve, to think positive, to hope that somebody will pull me out of water, somebody will save me, river is too rough and mighty i can’t fight it, i just have to wait for help to arrive, i have to believe it will. This kind of battle are toughest to fight, the enemy is within you, trying to pull you down, reasoning why things will not work , why you will not survive.
I survived. Help arrived after 2 km or so, i was pulled out of water by a raft ahead of us.
Next we arrived at the hill point from where people jump in river for additional thrill. It’s about 30ft high. As the raft stopped, i got up to walk up the hill. Instructor had something to say, i thought he will praise me for my bravery, instead he said, ‘Madam aaj ke liye kaafi adventure naahee ho gaya’. I just made face and settled for Maggi instead, the place is called the Maggi point.
What happens to you is in your hand, don’t let anybody make you believe that you will not make it. You are stronger then you know!
PS: My family till date don’t believe that i could actually think in that situation. That i thought about buoyancy, the upward force that will push me back on the surface or breathing while i am out and holding by breath when i am in. I used all i knew to stay positive because that’s all was required. That’s all i could do.