Sep 03, 2018, D-minus-28

Slow Boat Down the Ganges Update 11

It is still pelting down. The rain was unique as far as Delhi is concerned. Very heavy rain, very loud thunder and a weather that is very “monsoony”, very unlike what Delhi experiences. Also, there is information that the Ganga in Uttarakhand and western Uttar Pradesh is flowing above danger level, as are many of her tributaries. Villages are submerged, roads have disappeared, and as mentioned a couple of day ago, there have been deaths due to a boat capsize near Bijnor.

There is still seventeen days to go and maybe it is early days to think about delaying the launch for a few days. But with weather like this, a postponement not only looks like an increasing possibility, but the more prudent thing to do. I do like the fact that the water volume and the current will help me. But it will be foolish to fight the vagaries of an angry river. It might well make better sense to allow the river to quieten down just a little bit.

I was looking at a met department rainfall map. The departure from normal rainfall is the highest in Uttarakhand, and gradually becomes defficient as we enter West Bengal. For last wee (Aug 23 to 29) Uttarakhand has had an excess rainfall of 65%, Uttar Pradesh an excess of 56%, and Jharkhand 11%. Bihar has had a deficiency of -1%, while West Bengal is deficient by a whopping 28%.

The other possibility that might arise if the rains continue in the manner that it is currently, is the dams on the tributaries might start to overflow and the gates be opened to let some water out. That will again play havoc with the volume and the current. And if I do not receive prior information about the release of the waters from the dams on the tributaries, I might get caught unawares on the swirling waters. Not a happy prospect.

We are at the end of the southwest monsoon, so the rain winds are moving northwest, after having dumped their loads in the eastern part of the country. The rains should have abated by now, and I am almost sure that this is the last few days of heavy rains, and that it will disappear in a few days.
But, why take a chance? There is point in being foolish. A river in spate is not a good place to be paddling on, and I have no intention of pushing myself beyond what would be absolutely necessary. And paddling in the rain is not an option, any day it rains I will be camped on shore. It is just a question of a few days. And it is much better to be cautious that end up in a situation that might be difficult to handle. This expedition is not about inviting and tackling danger, but it is about an adventure. I want to go down the river as safely as possible, without taking unnecessary risks. And a flooded river does pose some avoidable risks.

If you go back to the title of this page, you will see that it says “D-minus-28” instead of “D-minus-17”. Sep 20 was chosen as the launch date since it is the father’s birthday. Obviously the rain Gods do not agree with that date. Therefore, I am moving from the birthday of my own father to the birthday of the Father of the Nation - Mahatma Gandhi. He was born on Oct 02, and that is the new date I have decided to launch A SLOW BOAT ON THE GANGES.

Considering that this expedition focusses on cleanliness on the Ganga, and the Clean India (Swachh Bharat) campaign has Gandhi’s famous glasses as part of the logo, it provides another justification to launch on Oct 02. Now that the decision has been taken, I am much happier. I do not have to keep looking at the weather forecast, willing it to improve in the next ten days. I have almost a month to go now, and I am certain that things on the river will quieten down a whole lot by then.

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