May 30, 2011

Rafting Trip - Part Three :: Three Blind Mice

Previously :: Something stared at me as I got out of the thunderbox hut...


I slowly backed into the thunderbox hut and zipped it up. The thing outside growled some more and then after a while, it stalked away. I don’t know what it was. Someone later told me that jackals sometimes frequent the camp and in the morning we saw the footprints of jackals in the sand.

It was Saturday morning and it was the day of rafting. We filled into a van which was loaded with two rafts, two guides and one kayaker who was to be the safety guy while we battled the rapids. We went up in the mountains where the river was calm and the spot from where most of the rafts were starting out. Our guide, Mr. Ram and his assistants inflated the rafts and gathered us up to give us instructions. Now, Mr. Ram was a funny dude, to say the least. Kept saying “sunny day, happy day” again and again. Kept joking while giving us instructions, and in all, it felt good to know that someone in the raft knew his business. It was a sunny day, didn't look much happy, but it was sunny.

Some People In Rafts
I was slightly nervous on the prospect of rafting, as anyone would be when doing something for the first time, but the river looked calm and I hid my nervousness by clicking pictures and joking with people in our group. We got all the safety instructions, how to pull a person in when they’re holding the safety line on the side of the raft, where to keep the oars when pulling a person in, how to hold the lifejacket in case we fall in the river, what to do if the raft capsizes, what are the injuries that can befall us in case the raft capsized. The nervousness I was hiding too well returned. But there was no looking back. Not now. The rafts were inflated and we pushed them into the water.

Got in the raft, got instructions on how to row. Which commands to follow. Did a few practice runs with the oars. It was fun. Then the guide told us all to put our cameras, goggles and other valuables in the plastic watertight bag that would be ziplocked to the front of the raft. We sailed along the calm river and our guide told us that we’ll be approaching the first series rapid soon. I looked ahead, but there was no rapid. The river looked calm as far as my eye could see. Then Mr. Ram told us that the first series of rapids is called “Three Blind Mice”. Nervousness and fear sat on my head and it was pretty justified. The first rapid was like a slap from God who is hiding behind a corner. It was horrifying. There was noise of water, I never thought it could get so loud, so cold and so hard. The raft spun around in the water like a toy duck in a washbasin that is swallowing water at speed of light. The raft went up and down like a see-saw, the sharks in the water smelled our fear and crowded the raft. Our guide hit a shark on the head with his oar and it swam away. All of us in the raft were screaming row row row but I saw the water and realized how puny we humans are in front of forces of nature. Someone hit me on the head with an oar and I bent down to hold the safety line. Land looked like the sweetest thing ever and I fantasized about setting foot on solid, hard, land again. The deafening sound of the rapids was all around us. It was hell, but full of water and cold.

Image via Google. Our rafting exp was scarier than this.
And as soon as the first rapid struck us, it was over. The river was calm again. We all looked at each other. Everyone was wet to the bone, scared and exhilarated. One person from our group started to laugh and the guide was screaming at us all because we all held the safety line with our heads down and no one was rowing through the first rapid! He told us that if we didn’t row, the raft would capsize and it would be more trouble for all of us. I took a deep breath and decided to row no matter how scary the next rapid looked. Little did I realize it was just the beginning. It was going to get worse before I set foot on land and one of us was going to fall in the river. The river with sharks in it...


In part four, rest of the rapids and a fall...into the river.


  1. Bhenchod! Sharks!
    Nahin seriously sharks?!


    *Gives 21 guns salute for surviving to write this post*

  2. There aren't sharks in Rishikesh. Or, are there? :|