Nov 01, 2018, Almost into the sludge
Slow Boat Down the Ganges Update 37
Today started almost at 6 o'clock and like yesterday, I had pretty much the whole village surrounding my cot waiting for me to wake up. I wanted to hit the water by 7 latest but the hosts insisting that they would either give me breakfast or pack lunch for me. I decided on having breakfast and after a hearty meal of rotis spread with awesome butter, some vegetables of cauliflower and potatoes, and some yoghurt, it was time for me to leave. But by the time I hit the water it was a little after nine, a couple of hours more than I had wanted, but nevertheless.
There were about twenty or thirty people who came to bid me adieu, with promises made of coming back. I felt truly humbled at the way I was hosted and treated, something I have experienced throughout the journey. It certainly brings back the belief in humanity, where people extend a hand in help and support without any expectations at all.
My target today was Mehndipur which is a little over 40 kilometres away. Which was doable, which is what I have been averaging everyday, and that's about a seven hours paddle, would is what it turned out to be.
It was a pretty peaceful and uneventful run, except in the morning when I was paddling into a 8.3 kmph headwind. I did manage a better than 5 kmph average speed. The river depth has increased. Not substantially, but enough not to be grounded. There were a couple of times the sand scraped the bottom of the canoe, but not enough to be grounded.
A little after 4.30 pm I reached Mehandipur, my destination. There was a bit of a current as I approached the bank. My request to some bathers to grab hold of the boat was met with a firm no. A few metres ahead a more accommodating soul held on to the boat as I got off and secured it. Almost immediately I was surrounded my about a hundred curious onlookers, each with a question for this weirdo who emerged from the river. I was not too comfortable filming this interaction since it was an alien crowd, some of who seemed to have already had more than their quota of Happy Juice.
Soon enough a sadhu appeared and took me under his wings. He too had had his quota of Happy Juice, but looked like he could be trusted. The first thing he did was bring me some hot tea, something I relished. Next he commandeered some people and lugged the boat up the stairs of the Ghat and pointed me to a cot, stating that was where I would be sleeping tonight. I graciously accepted secure with the sadhu's promise that my stuff was safe as long as he was alive.
The onlookers continued and only dispersed about an hour later. I did not quite know how people would react to being filmed and consequently I did not switch on the camera. I might take some videos tomorrow though.
One thing that has happened is that my primary GPS has malfunctioned. It is just not switching on. Thankfully I have a second unit. I have not used it and have to figure out its workings. Cannot be too complicated, even if it is a more recent model.
I got some Happy Juice for the sadhu and his cohorts. An entire bottle was finished in about half an hour and everyone was happy. The sadhu cooked some vegetables and made some rotis, another shack owner made some dal, while a relative of the Chiyasar family who lives here, brought some fish. A happy stomach was ensured.
With luck and a lot of muscle power, it is possible to reach Kanpur tomorrow, more than sixty clicks away. That ain't happening and I will have to camp somewhere or find some good folks to park with. Kanpur has to wait for another day. I do not wish to witness the sludge that the river reportedly becomes, but there is no choice. Take the good with the bad. C’est la vie.