10 October 2010

The Bungee

Before going on this trip to Africa, I had DECIDED that i would do the bungee jump.... in the end, that was what pulled me through.

Signing on the dotted line for the indemnity against 'damages'... not that i'd be around to claim anything !
walking down the bridge to the platform with my heart beating furiously and then having to wait there for 20 minutes before my turn.... more than enough time to back out. But it had to be done.

It was quite the experience... un-bloody-believable... very few thoughts before... just petrified, i'm so scared of heights anyway.... but during was unspeakable.... all the blood just rushed to my head and hands and i could see the water and rocks rushing at me... incredible.... and then the jerk of the bungee.... 2-3 times... body going everywhere... zero control. outstanding.

Would i do it again? ummm yes i would, i think.

The Bridge... long walk to the platform
As Ready as i'll ever be

Don't look down. Whatever you do, don't look down


Eyes open and enjoy it. Wow

Just hanging out, waiting to be picked up
The long walk / climb back up

Its time for Africa!

The Africa trip was conceived (of all the places) in Arunachal, on the banks of the Brahmaputra.

So we decided the next river would have to be the mighty Zambezi. A bunch of us got together and convinced Vaibhav Kala to put together a river trip for us on the Zambezi and bung in a safari leg too - in the Masai Mara.

What an amazing trip it turned out to be! The short (seemed like it was a whole day long) flight from Lusaka to Livingstone in a 10-seater plane where you could open the windows!
Pretty much everyone on that flight threw up their lunch, i was busy passing out airsickness bags, thank god i didnt need one!

As we flew closer to Livingstone, the aerial views of the Victoria falls were simply breathtaking, pictures look brilliant but the real thing was spectacular.

The walk in front of the falls was something you could feel as much as see, the roar of the falls could be felt inside your body and the mist all over your face!

Soon after, Ruch and i did the Gorge swing together, which was very very scary for me and the only way i got through it was because of her. Even more importantly, it took the edge off my fear and i was able to do the bungee jump later the same afternoon.

The Bungee was a highlight in itself.... separate blogpost for that !

The hectic, activity-ridden day was followed by the calm, relaxing and soothing upriver cruise on the Zambezi river. Beer and sunset with friends, life couldn't be better.

The following day we went for, what I thought was the scariest experience of the entire trip - a dip in the Devil's Pool.

The pool is formed right above the lip of the Victoria falls with a sheer drop of 885 meters on the other side. and yet it is completely safe (or so we were told)

The 2-day rafting was quite spectacular, the first of which was the single most exhilarating day of rafting I have ever done - and naturally the hardest and most exhausting too.

That amazing night of sleep on the beach in a sleeping bag under the stars was one to remember, i woke up in the middle of the night and my eyes opened to a sky full of stars - a carpet of stars in the sky. a spectacular sight indeed!

The 2nd leg of the trip was to the Masai Mara, which all but beat the first leg of rafting !
all the days merged into one of unbelievable sightings of Lions, Cheetahs, Rhinos, Giraffes, Zebras, Elephants, Hippos, Deer etc etc

And that too at such close quarters that some were scarily touching distance!

The trip ended (or so we thought) with a meal at Carnivore where we tried some exotic meats...

On a whim and a fancy, some of us decided to extend our trip by 3 days and go to Mombasa!
Was just the relaxing, unwinding relaxation we needed after the hectic rafting and safari 'holiday' we had just experienced.....

27 April 2010

Old Trafford is my real home.

It was in 1983 that i started supporting Manchester United. Today, I went to watch them live at my REAL home, in Old Trafford. I've been to the stadium before but not to watch a game, this was different.

I went all by myself, took the train up from London (Thames Ditton actually). Left at 5.30 AM, 5 hour journey. Well worth it. The match was against Tottenham Hotspur (a london club), so there were loads of Spurs fans on the train with me. Once in Manchester, and even more so at Old Trafford, I felt well at home amongst the multitude of red shirts... ready for the game, one we had to win to stay in the title race.

I went across to the ticket office to collect my ticket and on the way back towards the stadium saw Sir Bobby Charlton step out of his car right in front of me. I would NOT believe my eyes, stunned. Just stepped up along with 10 odd supporters and said hello. He stopped and shook hands with me and others, signed some autographs. What a moment. I had to sit down and settle myself. Unbelievable.

Went into the stadium a good hour before the game and took my seat, it was right behind the United bench... the players came out for their warmup and they were right there, almost in touching distance. This was turning out to be quite the day......

Soon after, the teams came out. Followed by god himself, Sir Alex. I felt a glow inside me, so special a moment.

I watched most of the game in a trance, managed to take a few photos. but watching the game was far more important.

All the others around me were season ticket holders and obviously knew each other well. They weren't really sure whether the stranger (me) was worth their time, just a tourist, or a supporter or what. By the end of the game, we were celebrating goals and hugging... amazing.

It was the kind of time you just dont want to end... i wanted it to go and on and on... i could have spent the rest of my life there... i guess thats why its my real home.

First glimpse of the stadium, from a distance 

Luckiest moment of my life, 'bumped' into Sir Bobby and shook hands with him. dreams are made of this.
The holy trinity of United. Best. Law. Charlton.

This photo is NOT zoomed in. Thats how close to them I was. Macheda, Evra. Giggs.
Watching Giggs' (and Scholes') movement off the ball was the highlight
Again, not on zoom, so close to god. Sir Alex
Comfortable, at home.
Last glimpse, time to leave home again.

08 April 2010

Be careful what you wish for....

"I wish...... I wish I could kayak instead of rafting". And thats how it all started.... seemed like a very good idea at the time ! I had been rafting 4 times in about 14 months.... Zanskar in Ladakh, Ganga and Tons in Uttaranchal and the Mighty Brahmaputra in Arunachal.... On all these trips there were the regular Safety Kayakers along - Kahn Singh, Gappu, Manoj, Jeetu..... and it looked like such fun... dont get me wrong, i didnt think it was easy. I realised it would be difficult but little did I realise HOW TOUGH...

So during the Brahmaputra trip in december 2010, we started talking about doing a Kayak Clinic in Shivpuri at Camp Silver Sands. Seemed like a simple enough idea and even a good one at that.... so i signed on !

Come April, we landed up at Camp to 'learn to kayak' and oh my god what a trip it turned out to be.

4 days of gruelling paddling and near-drowning in muddy, murky water under the unrelenting sun. 2 sessions a day of several hours. I think it was the only way for me to find out that kayaking, river kayaking was not for me!

The water looks great when youre looking at it from the bank or even from the raft but when youre in a kayak and you roll over upside down and you cant see a thing and there's multiple currents swirling about, its very different. And with your lower body constrained in the kayak too..... not a great feeling.

On the last day we went down the river for a few kilometers which was great fun, probably the only time i'm going to be able to do that. Went upside down in a rapid and kept my nerve for about 7-8 seconds to be rescued. Most surreal few seconds of my life.... water everywhere... currents swirling... so much visual noise but audibly none. complete silence.

We had no idea what we were walking to....
Camp Silver Sands is a beautiful place at any time, but even more so when every bit of you is hurting and bruised
Looks a lot simpler when you're NOT in the water !
Rolling. the toughest part of kayaking and one that i never managed
Oh boy, i'm gonna have to get in soon
Rana. Our 'patient' teacher
We did finish!