Sep 17, 2018, D-minus-15
Slow Boat Down the Ganges Update 15
As you can see, I have been off writing for the past ten days. It is because I have been not only out of town, but out of civilisation. Camped out in the folds of the Padampuri forest, near Bhimtal town in Uttarakhand. I was conducting a survival Course with two wonderful people, Sam Sidana and Tara Bagaria. Of course, as a first for me, there was also Koko the dog, who was more peaceful than could be expected from someone other than of the human species, particularly when in an alien environment.
The past week was absolutely wonderful, as all my journeys into the wilderness always tend to be. What made this experience particularly gratifying is the fact that Sam and Tara are wonderful individuals and were great to have around.
The Universe tends to conspire when we pursue something with a passion. This particular trip happened since the launch of A SLOW BOAT DOWN THE GANGES was postponed from its original date of Sep 20 to Oct 02. This provided the window to conduct this Course. They have been corresponding with me for some time, but somehow the opportunity did not present itself to be in the forest together. Suddenly, due to the postponement did provide that opportunity.
What makes me believe in the machinations of the unknown and undecipherable Universe is something that happened while we were at camp. I was obviously excited about sharing the Ganges expedition and we got around to talking at length about it. In the course of the conversation, I enquired, probably more in jest than in seriousness, whether they wanted to join in the expedition. I have asked this question to quite a few people in the past and there has almost always been a vehement negative reaction, with a multitude of reasons why they cannot join me. It took less than ten seconds for Sam and Tara to jump at the opportunity and volunteer to be a part of the team.
They would definitely be there, there would be their vehicle as road support, and one of them would always be on the canoe. This was awesome. The reality of expenses was quickly dealt with, with Sam and Tara volunteering not only to take care of the travel expenses, but also to bring a whole lot of health foods with them to sustain us through the journey. Both of them are health food consumers, almost to a fault, and all of it is vegetarian. They have promised to turn me into a vegetarian by the end of the Ganges journey, while I have categorically told them, “That ain’t gonna happen.” Let us see who wins out in the end. If I were a betting man, I would bet on me on becoming an even more ardent meat eater!
There is something else that Tara is working on and I would not venture to make that public just yet. Let us give it a couple of days to develop and once I have some news, I will share it with you. If it works out, it will be another example of how the Universe conspired to make things happen.
With Sam and Tara as part of the team, and of course Koko the dog, the equipment list and packing kit needs a whole new look. More things will need to be packed with two and a half extra members. Tents, gear, paddles, life jackets, food, snacks, etc. There are things that I will need to buy and there are things Sam and Tara will need to procure to kit themselves.
Time is short and with just two weeks to go, a lot needs to be accomplished. I am really getting more and more excited. The butterflies in the stomach are multiplying like rabbits. But butterflies are good, they keep you on your toes. I cannot afford to go wrong since I have to carry everything that might be required for the two month expedition. If anything is left behind, life will become a lot more challenging.
The advantage of a road support vehicle is that a lot of the stuff can be transported in the vehicle, instead of having to be carried in the canoe. Also, having a team now, the logistics will become so much easier. Being a solo traveller brings about its own challenges. For instance, safety and security of the gear. A short stroll to a street vendor might result in stuff disappearing. And that will certainly not be a good thing. Now, there are always three people. There is a lot of sharing of responsibilities, and there are a lot of responsibilities. Setting up camp, cooking, freshening up, picking up provisions, collecting and purifying water, even sleeping, become so much easier when there are multiple people to complete the chores.
I am really so glad that I now have Sam and Tara as part of the team. Thank you so much.
The next few days will be all about the gear and equipment. List them out, put them in their individual bags, unpack, repack, buy stuff that is still not at hand, check weight distribution, number of bags, what goes in the car and what travels in the canoe, a whole lot of work. The electronic equipment needs ot be checked and rechecked. Some extra items need to be carried in case the primary items malfunction.
There are letters to be sent out and friends to be contacted, to solicit support in towns where they reside. With the date of launch now so close, the to-do list seems to be getting longer, never shorter. And that is a good thing. The Devil is in the details and I have no particular affinity with Mr Murphy. I would like to cover all possible eventualities, even though Mr Murphy has a way of sneaking in even when one thinks that everything has been taken care of.