Report: P.Tharyan Photography: Mohd Nasir
Just the other day I was telling my friend that journalists
are usually pampered by corporates when they are invited for a drive to some
exotic locations around the country. But when Nissan invited me for a drive of
their Datsun Go+ car, I did not realise they would be cutting me and those of
my fraternity off our usual pampered surroundings.
I am not complaining. In fact, it was an experience I shall
remember for the rest of my life. For the first time in my journalistic career,
rather than the confines of a five star hotel with luxurious surroundings, we
were accommodated in tiny tents on the banks of river Ganges with a sleeping
bag and a hot water bag each, to keep us warm in the freezing cold. There was
enough space for each of us to crawl into our respective tents and get into our
sleeping bags and go off to sleep, hugging on to the warmth of the bag. The
tent by itself was tiny but insulated from the cold winds. No mattresses but a
thick mat kept us insulated from the cold sand.
I tossed for a while in the pitch dark night and while I was
struggling to sleep I heard the faint snoring of my colleague, Mohd. Nasir. If
he could sleep, then I could too. I did sleep after a while and woke up early
morning at around 5.30 for the car shoot. With LEd lanterns in our hands we
rushed to the make shift toilets nearby. After the morning ablutions, we went
about with our assignments with great gusto.
Later after breakfast, we were asked to report for rafting.
Of the 25 journalists in the batch, around 14 had earlier opted for the river
rafting exercise. Sadly, only four were left in the end. The rest either
developed cold feet or had other valid excuses to opt out. The four of us were
introduced to Kalyan Negi our main instructor who would take us on a 20 odd km
rafting expedition down the Ganges. An Englishman Howard too joined us. He was
to lead us in his kayak. He was an instructor from England and it was his first
time in the Ganges.
As the four of us got into our body hugging suits, we were
given a short safety-cum-instruction lecture by Negi. He told us that we had to
follow his instructions to the book and showed us how to hold our paddles, how
and where to sit on the raft and what one had to do when one slipped into the
river or when the raft capsized. The shot lecture left us a wee bit petrified
but we were excited too.
As the raft made its way down the river Ganges, we felt a
sense of achievement and joy. And when we began crossing the rapids one at a
time, we also realised how beneficial team work is and how a lot can be
achieved by doing things together and in tandem.
Some of the rapids were really tough and the raft bounced on
the waters like clothes in a washing machine. Well, almost! We followed Negi’s
instructions perfectly and the raft made it through the journey without any
River rafting is something every individual needs to add on
to their “Bucket List”. There is no such fun like rafting in the Ganges. When
our raft went through placid waters, Negi instructed us to get off the raft and
swim in the river Ganges. We did so, with a bit of hesitation but it was an
awesome experience. The water was freezing cold but then for me it was the
first time that I was swimming in this sacred river. Now that I had dipped in the Ganges, I thought
to myself that all my sins too had been washed off.
The team at Nissan Datsun had really come up with this
unique experience for journalists. For the first time I was not complaining.
Yes they pampered us, but then we enjoyed it thoroughly too. Staying in tents without the fluffy beds and
the attached loos, was fun too. River rafting on the Ganges was simply the
icing on the cake!
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