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!