Kayaking and 2nd chances

Sunday. January 30th.

Another check on the Bucket List. A chance to kayak in the hinterlands on Hyderabad. In a lake in the arid land of Vikarabad – a huge surprise that – let alone finding a pond, there was a frigging lake in the middle of it. An enterprising gentleman, Ram Bhamidipati organized the Adventure sports meet for ‘Meetup.com’ers to row and kayak in the Nagasamudram Lake in Vikarabad.

It was an amazing trip. A small motley team of 13 started off to Vikarabad. We were hoping that we would have at least 6 kayaks to row around – Ram made it clear that there were only 2. We were disappointed but Ram clearly assured us if we could manage 15 minutes of rowing, it would be an achievement. And oh! and how wrong we proved him and ourselves. You see… kayaking is a physically extracting sport – seeing and doing are two very very different things. Sweaty bodies, bruised arms, aching legs, screaming muscles – lots of water around, its one of those few sports where quitting midway is equally tiring. As that old ancient mariner would say … water water all around but not a drop to drink.

Rowing a kayak inspite of lack of friction is no mean task. Pushing your own body through water is an apparent exercise in serendipitous path finding algorithm. The oars have to be held tight pushing against the water left, right and left in tandem with your rowmate 😛 and thats when the kayak gives in and starts ahead. And bull headed men can try push all they want, coax and scream at the kayak to go hence, but then if your physics are wrong the kayak is a merry go round. But then reconcile with the fact that your kayak is your worst physics teacher come alive and adhere to his command, and he would listen to yours.

Emotions can run high too. Screaming at the erring boatsmen to come back – them lost in their own world taking in the pleasure of the world it can quickly become a bit tiring for the onlookers goading them to come back – 2 kayaks are not enough for a 1st time experience.

Somewhere in all of this, I decided to help my own brother and his friend to row right. And how do you give face to face advice to the kids in the middle of the lake? Well obviously you swim to them and swim I did. But then the delicious irony of this sport is that coaches and students all need to put in the same effort to stay afloat – no discounts. So when I decided to stand straight look them eye to eye and give my 7 seconds of speech, obviously the lack of land under the feet did not give my chance for oration. All that I could realize was that I felt a few feet short, a shortcoming that never manifested in the off-water world – but here that came to show itself in simple brutality. And my obvious panic helped no one – the onlookers on the shore only watching me in amusement mistaking it for a new style of freestyle. My brother who was much more near and much closer and much aware of my abhorrence for any stunts understood as it was – a simple damn rescue. He jumped in to rescue forgetting the fact that he was not better swimmer equal at best. And so did jump his friend too. So there I was obviously sinking like a rock with hands, him reaching out to me only with a lack of skill to complete the rescue mission and the fact we were world class swimming pool swimmers only helped that much. Only later did he realize with his jacket that was virtually unsinkable. Inspite of my gurgling screams, one of my colleagues got the better of his senses decided to come to rescue. In the meantime, yours truly was able to touch land and swim a bit forth by the time which the colleague caught me and pulled me in. That was it. I was in. A huge hug later or more thankfully a lack of a punch and a slap later, all went fine. It was a stupid act that only got right in the end – to first swim and then panic incessantly and then to arrive at the conclusion that rescue would come but I might be unconscious at the max when pulled ashore. A hundred things could have gone wrong, only they didn’t. Thankful for that. Only the confidence the worst would not happen at all. Crazy yet true.

A brief collection of energies, thoughts and courage later all were back in the water – rowing and getting the muscles torn. Finally we did decide to return home. And then a huge set of memories. Pagadala, Saki, Keerthi and Venu, and that stranger from Wipro – thanks. I would not be here if it were not for you.

  • Cost of meetup – 350/-
  • Driving 200 kms in your car – 1000/-
  • Cost of each kayak – 15000/-
  • A small memento from the Siddhi School for Autistic Children – 100/-
  • Blowing a kayak and getting in the water – 15 mins
  • Rowing the kayak, swimming in the lake, getting almost killed and living to tell the tale over a bottle of beer – priceless

Links to the trip:

Murali n Me

The 1st trip into the lake

Murali n Me

The obligatory wide screen shot

Murali n Me

Brother's friend and him

Murali n Me

The instigator, The organizer and the Sea Swimmer