Feast for Thought

Not pontificating. Only trying to bat on the side of the environment. And ethics. And simple living. And slowing down. (And trying to learn and practise before preaching or teaching...)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Rafting down the Brahmaputra - a travelogue from pre-blog days

Once upon a time - in a previous century, an earlier avatar, I found myself at Leh, on the Indus, enrolled for a (whitewater) river-rafting course. [Why whitewater? Learn about river rapids here]. And another on the Ganges at Rishkesh, a year later. And very soon - "You are the first Indian woman to raft down the Brahmaputra!"..exclaimed a colleague. Not possible...arguable, I said. Who cared? There was the Brahmaputra, and there were the set of six rafts and a couple of kayaks, and all around me were the team of 21 Americans and 5 Air Force colleagues.
The mission? A self-contained, 12-day, 110+ km, self-contained Indo-US whitewater expedition on the Brahmaputra from Tuting to Pasighat. Team leader JB had a motley crowd of first and old timers to shepherd around, so did his Indian counterpart Sqn Ldr TS. Me? Oh a veteran with a vast experience of 4 days on the Indus at Leh a summer ago, and another 4 days on the Ganges at Shivpuri as a warm up for the expedition.

(All this was 13 years ago, I intend taking swimming lessons very soon).
The equipment (rafts, tents, cooking) was provided by AK's Mercury Himalayan explorations; his team had a Kashmiri cook and two more raft guides.

The schedule: Set off early from Tuting on Day 1, traverse the Upper Siang till about 2 pm, then pull out at a convenient beach, camp the night and set off next morn, till on Day 12, we reach Pasighat around mid-morn. (The schedule reads similar to the day by day itinerary given here).

Our low-budget red-coloured wet suits consisted of pants & jackets. (Every morning after the first spray from a good white water stretch, we got used to feeling wet and cold, and would spot-jog or munch on peanut candy to keep warm),

We had windy days when tents were uprooted; then there was some hard work portaging, or heaving, but there were intangible rewards too... a view of lovely golden showers at Yembung, pristine white sands, water, water everywhere...

What a welcome we got at Pasighat!

And it felt very nice to call long-distance to Chennai to convey kushal-mangal. Get chance, will go back!

[I had put this in Swarna's travel jottings, but I felt that it was languishing there. That's the place I visit often when I notice the travel bug peeping out of my camp kit and patiently asks for a bite, and I turn the other way...]

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