In Pursuit of Happiness

There are trips and then there are trips. The rafting trip to Rishikesh falls in the latter category.

I left Delhi with a bunch of people from work and the only thing we all had in common was the will to get away from the hustle bustle of the city. Only one out of the crazy 11 had rafted before and was brimming with excitement over the fun that awaited us. Then there was me, who was all excited because her wish to go rafting was finally granted after 5 years. Yes, that is how difficult it is for me to get somewhere!!

The cameras started clicking before we crossed the border of the capital but after a hearty round of snacks and pulao, the heads started nodding. Thanks to the oddity of being unable to sleep outside the privacy of a bedroom, I stayed up all night listening to bad Hindi movie songs from the ‘90s on a poor quality audio system.

Into the night

In the wee hours of the morning, our driver stopped and sent us out to catch a glimpse of twinkling Haridwar.

Haridwar at Night

Thereafter began the beautiful stretch of our journey during which eleven pairs of eyes peeped out of the windows and there was rudimentary gasping every now and then. Our mini van took us about 35 kilometers uphill from Rishikesh and dropped us at Kaudiyala.

We jumped out of the van. We looked around for a bit. And then I started running downhill! I had to. I could see the river and I could see the white sand and those folks were trudging along like three-legged sheep. Me and this enthusiastic kid ran ahead of everyone else just to hear the rushing water and to feel the breeze and later we got reprimanded for this by our trip manager. Yes, the lady who had been rafting before was appointed as our trip manager.

I Pose!Pose 3

Our trip planners were sensible folks and did not splurge on a very fancy camp but our camp was fabulous nonetheless. Add to this the fact that we had the entire place to ourselves! Just us, the crazy 11. The place was beautiful with a capital B. There we were, surrounded by the hills, by the chilly flowing water, on the white sandy beach. The breeze was fresh and the sun, surprisingly, soft on us. Besides the camp manger and his two helpers, there wasn’t a soul in sight.

Sun, Sand, and TreesBreathtakingly Beautiful?

At the camp, there was frolicking by the water, there was beach volleyball, there was posing on the pebbles, and there was lots of eating!

Splash!Sun, sand, and best friends

The eating prepared us for trekking. We walked up the hills with our guide and saw virgin beaches which can be best described as pretty as a picture-postcard. We sang along as we walked and lots of fun happened until we reached the waterfall. Now, this was the waterfall we all had been hearing about from our trip manager. She had quipped about it from the day we had planned this trip. Nevertheless, we had no idea where we were headed until we reached there!

We WalkThe Water Fall

One by one, we climbed up the waterfall with help of a rope and our guide. Completely drenched but joyous under the waterfall, we all frolicked. But soon the realization struck that we had to go down the waterfall if we ever wanted to get anywhere! The guide heartlessly informed that the only way to get back was to dive down. What happened next is a tale in itself and shall be left for some other day.

Up You Go!Fight in the Waterfall

Tired by all the walking, shrieking, jumping, and generally being excited, we sat by the fire and talked nonsense all evening. Games were invented, played, rejected, and people were asked to “go to the hell.” Not many will be able to recount the events of that evening and no, no one was actually drunk. They were simply high on tiredness and excitement.

Orange SandTired Women

However, nothing compared to the excitement the crazy 11 experienced the next morning. Everything from morning tea to washing up to breakfast was super quick. We all wore tons of sunscreen, done our rafting gear, and sat on the rocks watching the raft number 41 being inflated. We waited patiently in the beginning and then impatiently as the time passed to plunge into the deep water of Ganges, literally. The instructor gave us, well, instructions and taught us the various commands he’d use while we paddled in the rapids. It seemed that we all were listening with rapt attention but soon it was proven otherwise. When we got into the raft and took our positions, the fight began.

JoyRafted!

We fought over positions and we argued over paddling skills (none of us had any!). We shrieked with joy when our raft passed through a rapid and water leaped at us. Being splashed is joy! Those who were fighting to paddle initially soon began to whine to give the very same paddle away. Coz your muscles ache baby, they really do; especially when asked to paddle backwards, against the flow of the river.

Strp it on!Hang on!

We did the stretch from Kaudiyala to Shiv Puri but we skipped the best and the toughest rapid, called The Wall. The water was running high that day and we saw several rafts flip over and people being rescued. Some of us still wanted to do it but our trip manager advised us against it. She commands, we obey. However, we did The Three Blind Mice, Cash Flow, Daniel’s Drill, Black Money, and some other rapids that were not named yet. We named one Bay 26 but forgot to tell the rest of the world about it. However, the best part was where we are allowed to jump out of our raft and body surf. Man, that was bliss. Sheer bliss. They had to beg, plead, and threaten to get me back onto the raft. By the time we got off the raft, we were dead. And that is when our instructor asked us to help him carry the raft to the beach! We carried the damn thing on our heads and walked down the rocky beach. Mind it, this was the hefty raft that carried 12 adults! The trip back home saw me happy and content. I had rafted. Meaningless and tuneless songs were sung, twisted version of truth and dare was invented, snacks were had, and happiness was spread. Ah, the hangover continues, although more than a week has elapsed.

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