Prayer flags adorn the canoe

Nov 23, 2018, Let’s lose some weight

Slow Boat Down the Ganges Update 50

Prayer flags adorn the canoe
Prayer flags adorn the canoe

The rib does not seem to be cracked after all. It is awfully sore and for the first two or three days, it was difficult to deal with the pain, particularly when sleeping. Moving around even a little bit was accompanied by shooting pain, and the nights seemed to be awfully long. However, the pain seems to have diminished substantially, even though the area remains sore to the touch, and there is still a constant reminder that the trauma had been substantial. Never again a bus ride in a sleeper coach. Much rather be uncomfortable in a sitting seat than risk being dismembered!

A lot of people advised me to take an X-ray, show it to a doctor, and all kinds of helpful and sane advice. Stubborn as I am, I decided to hold on just another day, hoping everything would sort itself out. My worry was that an X-ray just might show up a hairline fracture that would put paid to the expedition. That would not be so nice. With every passing day things looked a little better and by the time I hit the water again, ten odd days later, I should be as good as new.

What is troubling me though is a splitting headache that just refuses to go away. It is intense and concentrated. Every time I move my head from one side to another, the brain kind of follows a second or so later. Imagine rotating a bowl of jelly. The jelly takes some time to meet up with where the bowl has reached. It is very disconcerting and not nice at all. I hope it goes down in a day or so.

The wrist has healed. While paddling, it does tend to start throbbing a bit, but nothing that can be even remotely called worrying. At the end of each day, I put on my wrist band, that kind of stabilises the wrist so well, that I need to either loosen it in an hour or so, or take it off completely. I have tried paddling while wearing the band, but that was uncomfortable, and I did not want it to get wet.

One advantage of taking a break is the possibility of taking a relook at the gear and equipment. Ever since Sam and Tara left, all my gear has had to be carried by me on the canoe itself. And it was a whole lot, despite my having junked a lot of stuff at Garhmukteshwar. The canoe is riding heavy and the drag is affecting the speed.

I have not had the opportunity to use much of the stuff that, at the beginning of the expedition, were things that I expected to use almost every day. My solar panel for instance, to charge the various batteries. Have not even opened it to date. I have been meeting so many wonderful people along the way, that I have not had to cook yet. Coincidentally, my food bag remains unopened. There were some duplicate stuff I carried, fearing one might malfunction. Torches, for instance. Multiple cables, for another. Many many mounts for the cameras. Three external hard disks.

I have had a serious look at all the gear and I just had to reduce the weight I was carrying. And I had to be ruthless about it. And I have been. I have discarded more than twenty kilos of stuff. All of the rice and dal has been discarded. I had much more coffee and soup that I can possibly finish ... that has gone down substantially. There is enough and more luggage on the canoe and I do not expect a passenger. The spare seat and life jacket gets left behind. About six dry bags of various sizes, which though weigh nothing at all, are no longer part of my luggage. I am not a health-food person, and the can of healthy seeds get left behind. In fact, my food bag now comprises chocolates, energy bars, some coffee sachets, a couple of packets of Tang, and some trail mix. I am hoping that with the folks I meet at the end of each day and stay with, dinner will not be an issue. The stuff that I do have will keep me going for the day, quite healthily.

I am really having an experience of a lifetime. This is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of journey and the kind of people I am meeting, the river I am paddling on, the dolphins I am witnessing, the boats I am seeing, the people and cultures I am experiencing, is not something someone not paddling down the river can and will experience. And I doubt if I will paddle down the Ganges again, this is it. And I am loving every minute of it.

However, it is extremely tiring and energy sapping. I realised this for the first couple of days after I was back on my break. I was drained, my energy was gone, I was on empty, not even on fuels. I am so glad that I took the decision to take the break and come back for a few days. On hindsight, now that I am rested and recovered, I might have wanted to paddle another week or so to Patna and then taken a break. But that is on hindsight, and hindsight is always 20/20. I doubt if I would have been able to reach Patna without being a physical and mental wreck. This is a journey I want to enjoy, because I want to do it, not because there is a target date in mind, and people will snigger if I do not complete it in the appointed number of days. I am very happy with the way things have progressed so far, and I am sure that I will enjoy the bottom half of this incredible expedition.

Two items are misbehaving, in fact one of them has given up entirely. My primary GPS is not dependable anymore and that is one thing that loses out on the rest of the journey. The GPS I am using now, the Garmin eTrex20, is doing a good job and I hope it lasts for the rest of the journey. There is much I need a GPS for and it will not be nice to be paddling without the help of a GPS unit. Not only to figure out the way I am going, but also to be able to look at the screen and look at the next waypoint on the route that is already loaded on the unit. I need to capture my route, the waypoints where I am camping, the waypoints where I am testing water samples. This is a new unit thanks to A&S Creations, and I think it will last me beyond this journey. It is a battery guzzler though. A couple of AA batteries almost every day. With about thirty days to go, I require at least fifty batteries, if not more!

The second item that has started misbehaving is my camera. It is a SJCAM 6 Legend. A pretty good camera, people often refer to it as a GoPro killer, and I have been very happy with it. However, it has developed a mind of its own and switches off due to no apparent reason. Not good, particularly when one switches it on, presses the shoot button and hopes that everything is getting filmed as required. It has happened to me a couple of times, when I went to turn off filming, to realise that the camera had switched off and nothing was filmed after all. That is not good.

There is a reason that GoPro is the market leader by far. It is time a GoPro becomes a part of my kit. My brother lives in the US and comes to Delhi almost every month. On enquiring, he mentioned that he would be in Delhi end of the month and that he would be more than happy to sponsor a GoPro Hero 7 Black. This is addition to all the help and support he has extended, much beyond what is expected, even from a sibling. One advantage I will have with the GoPro is that I will not need to change the date and time every time I change the batteries. That is a huge problem with the SJCAM, and there have been times when I have forgotten to change the date and time and then it becomes a pain to figure out when and where the clip was filmed. With as many clips as you can imagine on a trip like A SLOW BOAT DOWN THE GANGES, it is a nightmare to forget to change the date and time. Fortunately, the GoPro does not have this problem. My second camera will continue to be the SJCAM 5000X. It takes excellent pictures and I hope to have a fairly good folder of footage at the end of the journey.

I cannot leave Delhi till Dec 05 has gone by. It is our thirty first anniversary and I will probably never hear the end of it if I leave a couple of days before that. I am sure she will understand, but I would like to be here for that important day. Also, I need to be back in Delhi for a very important meeting on Dec 16. Which means that I will fly back to Delhi on the morning of Dec 16 and fly back Dec 17. I will have to reach as close to Patna as I can, find a hotel where I can park my stuff safely for the two days.

I am also contemplating driving down to Varanasi and beyond. I am looking for a dependable driver who can be my Man Friday for the bottom half of the journey. My expenses on local transportation and travel to and from Delhi, including parcelling the canoe and gear, has become prohibitive. Money is at a premium, and I think having a vehicle will not only reduce costs, but will also provide a lot more peace of mind. Even though I have reduced my luggage substantially, I can keep most of the stuff in the vehicle, and just keep the bare necessities with me on the boat. It will be lighter, and certainly faster with reduced drag. Now to find a driver over the next couple of days. Someone who is not just a typical driver, but someone who understands the unique requirements of this journey. Wish me luck.

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  1. Its quite inspiring and even exhilarating to read . It’s like seeing through your eyes. You are quite vivid.

    Also why not write two books , One for the people and a small one for the ” Gourmet ” you are eating as dinner along the way . India is best reflected in food …Ciao !! From the lesser nortals.

    1. Thanks for your inspiring words. I wish I was more a foodie to be able to bring to life the varying foods along the river. Sadly, I am not. By the way, a book on the expedition and its experience is on the way.

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