Saturday, September 10, 2016

Chaliyar River Kayaking challenge

Kayaking was a foreign word to me until last year.  

An odd reference by a colleague, who had recently  returned from an onsite assignment many years earlier, it was not something I had given much thought to.  All I inferred from his conversation was that was something the corporate team building activities were made up of in countries where there is the luxury of long meandering clean rivers where one went along to relax and for some fresh air, recreation and an outdoor sport.

But there here I was, around July the 04th and all of America was holidaying for the entire week. Well not exactly July the 4th, but the week preceding and succeeding that all important day of American Independence.  I find myself in Boston, locked up in my hotel room, looking at things to do in Boston. 

Well, having grown up in the frugal and aspirational Indian middle class society, I pick up the pamphlet at the hotel lobby and go over all the sight seeing touristy things to do where the entrance fee is free. I soon realize that the Capitalistic America does not have too many of them. 

For sure I go over to visit the Harvard university campus, go to the Boston tea party museum ( what a big fuss about nothing ) and then am short of what more to do to kill my time when I am not at work. 

And then I stumble upon this pamphlet that promises a nice experience Kayaking along the River Charles.

River Charles when viewed from the 14th floor view of our office flew serene, clear and beautiful dotting the urban landscape of Boston city.

I had never kayaked before and had no company to take me along.    But I had time to kill and I decided to venture out.

The ever so friendly Google maps took me to my kayaking point so effortlessly.  There were a few students from nearby universities who went about hiring their Kayaks as effortlessly as we would hire an ‘hour cycle’ in small town India of yesteryears and set forth kayaking.

I was skeptical. I showed my passport to prove my identity, paid up the advance, signed the declaration that said something like you-are-responsible-for-you-own-safety-and-hold-no-one-responsible stuff  and 
The guy at the boarding point strapped my water proof safety jacket and just pulled up a Kayak ashore and asked me to go.

But …. Err...How do I …? I ask him. 

He was getting busy to onboard his next customer in the next kayak and paid no heed to me.

Surely American Customer service isn’t so bad, I murmured to myself, almost deciding that this adventure was just not worth it.   

I waited till the guy boarded two more kayaks and then I asked him what is it that I need to do.

Just row left if you want to turn right and row right if you want to turn left and there you go … he said with a sheepish smile on his face.   Looks like he had seen many a dumb Indian like me before, or most probably he simply could not care.

The thrifty Indian in me knew my dollars, that i had paid up as non refundable advance could not go waste, and so I set forth. 

For those who know me, Differentiating between right and left are not exactly my strong points.  
I failed my driving license test twice because of this handicap. To this day I insist this is some form of undiscovered dyslexia, but I guess, my folks, my driving instructors (of whom I have had many) and the doctors just think I am making it up, all because I am vying for that coveted blue badge - the handipcapped sticker that gives you privileged parking spots in supermarkets. 
Anyway to cut the long story short, here I am sitting in a kayak, rowing myself, not knowing what is left and what is right.    I go backwards and then I go forwards .  Some movement occurs and then I think I have figured it out.

I row my kayak a few meters away and I am all by myself. And then I hit a shore, something under a bridge across a wooden plank or something like that. And I am stuck.  Right, left, forward, backward, I cannot figure out what to do.

I am panicky and am almost in tears. Everyone who boarded their kayak before me has sailed far away and here I am stuck right under a bridge against a boulder or something like that and there is no one at a calling distance. Panic, loneliness, fear, regret and an overall repulsion to the individualistic American culture grips me. 

And then someone who is kayaking along pulls by, and gives me dumbed down instructions. 

He probably knows my left- right paralysis and therefore shows the gestures using his own rowing equipments. 
Like an obedient child, I follow his instructions. In a few minutes, there I am, in my Kayak safely and happily rowing towards the middle of the river. 

He wishes me well and moves on. 
Maybe I should not have cursed those Americans... after all. 

And here I was, in the middle of the Charles River on a nice and bright July afternoon overlooking the Boston skyline, kayaking at my own pace, far and deep down the river for nearly three hours and thoroughly enjoying it.

I was enjoying it so much that I did not even think of a selfie moment until I was about to reach my destination.
But nevertheless here are some pictures.
The views were breathtaking, the experience was amazing and most importantly for me, it was a valuable lesson into, how to let go of my inhibitions and just take the plunge.  

Talking of taking the plunge, years ago, learning to swim made me experience a similar surge of self-confidence that just cannot be explained in words.   

I am excited about the Chaliyar river Kayaking Challenge, because if kayaking across Boston’s skyline was such a nice experience, the amazing views across god’s own country right here in India, must be unbeatable. 

The Indian rivers are indeed facing a crisis. I am not sure how many rivers In India are clean and navigable for a Kayaking experience.
For that reason alone, this one seems like something on my bucket list.

Make it a part of your bucket list too. 
I would love to have some company this time.
Are you ready for the adventure …on September 23rd/ 24th and 25th 2016 .

For more details Click here to read on…     

 “I am participating in the Chaliyar River Challenge activity at AdventureN in association with Jellyfish Watersports”

1 comment:

  1. your experience with chaliyar river challenge is really nice n thrilling . keep writing.


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