29 November 2007

Last in the boat race

One of the important things of writing is the parts you omit. There is a tendency with writers to write everything. People don't have time for essays. This I have learned in a hard way. All my articles - longer than 2000 words, have not been well received. Now I make a point to limit my articles for 1500 words.

I have found that articles on a single theme won't sell much; where as a group of anecdotes make an interesting article. This is because reader has a better chance of liking any one of the anecdote.

Following article is a single theme article. I tried to make it as interesting as possible. It is a daunting task; need to avoid this kind of articles in future. You can also read it on daiji here.

Last in the boat race
Some people know how they are going to die. I am one of them. That is one thing I share with Owen Meany and Sandra Bullock – premonition!

My death will be in water. Every time I was in the water something ominous had happened. One time my Jet-Ski toppled in mid sea; I was hanging there till rescue team saved me and wife.

God saved me all these days. Some day he will get bored, he would say: Lets try something different this time! That would be my end.

Mississippi Masala
I am yet to see the places Sha-Rukh-Khan roamed in Kal Ho Na Ho or more inflammable Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. Unfortunately there are some highly unromantic places in US. One of them is Mississippi. I know, because I was there!

More than 50% of Mississippi is forest that means every now and then you meet deer, raccoons and other rodents on your way to office. Long boring highways, houses miles apart - a place for hermits and artists! That’s how Mississippi has managed to produce Mark twain, John Grisham and Elvis!

These boring long days made me crave for any gatherings or outings. Gatherings were rare though, I was the first one on the venue when there was one. There was an official email for canoeing – I missed it. The mail got lost among the hundreds of unwanted mails I receive everyday!

Jesus loves you
I receive nearly 200 mails a day. Almost 99% percent of them are not related to me in anyway. Most of them are spam, promotions, deals, forwards which I had already read long back. If I read all these mails I won’t be able to do anything else.

That day, I saw a mail with subject JESUS LOVES YOU. I also receive mails from fanatics! Inside there were 10 reasons why Jesus loved me. The mail also highlighted the point that sinners were his favorites!

At the bottom there was a strict instruction to forward the mail to 10 more people in 5 minutes or something ominous would happen. I wonder what kind of morons generate these mail chains - deleted the mail. That’s when I saw the canoe mail. I was the last one to register for the canoe venture, it was in the afternoon.

Land of no-network
When I reached the river (it was a tributary) no one was there except for an old man.
“What’s your name?” he asked. He was clearly irritated by my delay.
“Tony Montana” – I wanted to say, but was afraid he won’t catch the joke; told my name.

"You are late, your team has left half hour back" he said.
"You can not take cell and camera" he further informed. That is why there are no - tourists grinning besides medieval monuments - kind of pictures in this article! The idea of being “disconnected” with the rest of the world scared me.

My grand father never used a cell.
"Grandpa you need a cell" I used to tell him.
"I don't need one;” he would say “most of my friends are at a place where there is no network coverage".

That was long back. He was a no-gadget person. He was content without a cell and email id. He was a happy man. Some time back he has joined his friends - at the place with no-network!

I was excited, jumped into the canoe. Wife, Reema took the back seat; started rowing instantly. Few meters in water realized that I was unaware of the duration,
"How long is this trip?" asked the old man.
"You will get an END sign in two hours!"

"What?!!" but then the canoe had already gained speed by the current.

Mission Impossible
What surprised me was that the river was real and wild. It was not a man made canal as I was expecting.

"You said it is a 10 minutes trip"
"That’s what I thought”. There is a boat ride near Manasa, Mangalore – I was expecting something similar.

It was our first canoe experience.

"What are we going to do for two hours?” she was scared “Let’s abort this - Control ALT Del" last sentence was the result of too much exposure to - virtual world!

"There is NO Control Alt Del. Welcome to real world!" I said.

Mystic River
The water was surprisingly cold and muddy. The surrounding forest was dense; our team was no where in the vicinity. There was an eerie noise of unknown creatures of the wild. It was creepy.

"I am scared, let’s go back!" Reema said.
"You can not go back! We can not row upstream"

There were no sign posts, no volunteers. We didn't have a cell. We were alone in the wilderness.

Canoe was moving zigzag.

"Let’s figure out, how this stupid canoe works first!" it took us some time to figure that out.

Made in China
The scenery was beautiful. The kinds of you see in movies. I was so used to movie life I never thought these things existed in real life. It was like Animal planet, only you are on the other side.

There was a fallen tree, across the river.

"What do we do now?"
"We need to get down and manually push the canoe across"

It was deep; getting down was not an option.

"We need to climb the tree, and pass the canoe across"
"I can not do that"
"That’s the only way"
This whole exercise took half hour.

There were more fallen tree ahead, somehow we dodged around. Just when I thought we would pull this thing - saw a snake on one of the branches of a fallen tree.

"Snake!" she shrieked.
"Sit tight and maintain the balance;” I said “hey this is not a real snake"
"What do you mean?"
"There is a MADE IN CHINA sticker on its tail! Guess, this is a part of whole adventure."

Careful what you are wishing for!
I don’t know how long we were rowing. We had started around 1 PM. It was definitely more than 2 hours. I had lost track of time. Moving in the wild is scary – especially when you don’t know the destination.

Canoes don’t move smoothly in a straight line as they show in the sports channels. You need to have strong arms to manage them.

Now I was on the back seat, sometime back canoe had made a 180 degree turn!

“Do we have steep falls as they show in the movies?”

I didn’t bother to answer this question. Canoe was moving gracefully, for a moment I thought we made it. It was peaceful and silent. Some of the trees were precariously bent towards the water. Little turtles dived to oblivion as our canoe barged alarmingly close. It was really beautiful. It was like trance.

I was late, when I heard the piercing roar of the fall. We fell with a big arc and a huge splash.

The last thought before entering water was - Is this chaos because of not forwarding the Jesus-loves-you mail?

Being there
Water was cold. We were safe since we had life jackets. We lost hold of the Canoe. It was moving wild and away, oars were missing.

"Are you okay?"
"No" that means she was ok.
"For the records - the answer to your question is - Yes. We do have falls as they show in the movies. Careful what you are wishing for! Let’s move to the bank now"

We were drenched and shivering. Somewhere I had read that the important thing you do when you are lost is to reflect sunlight using a mirror. So that planes hovering above can track you. I wonder how practical this is.

Canoe got stuck in water-weeds along with the oars at some distance.
"We need to swim till the canoe"
"I am scared"
"Don't worry you will not drown, you have a life jacket"

I swam till the canoe. There was water in it; it was heavy and immovable from the weeds. It took a long time to drain the water.

We reached the destination around 7.00PM, four hours later than expected. There was the same old man (he reached there by land) waiting for us. Our team had already left; no one waited for us.

"We were about to send a rescue team" he said.
"Guess we saved your efforts"

"The whole experience itself terrifying; why you need to have rubber snakes to scare the rowers?" Reema asked the old man.

"There are no rubber snakes, lady; you must have seen a real one"

Then she realized the truth.
"Somebody is going to miss the dinner today!”. I was expecting this.
"Let’s get out from here" I said.
"The creep will sleep on the couch!” I was expecting this too.

Life, as usual

Wise Man
It took me two days to come out of the trauma. I was like a zombie. Some of my friends told me later, those were the only two days they had seen me NORMAL!

My manager caught me in the cafeteria. I was sad about this guy, for not waiting after the canoeing.

"I knew you will do it!” he said “Fantabulous show” this is all jargon. I don’t like people who use ‘fantabulous’ in day to day conversation. It sounds pompous, especially when you can use either fantastic or fabulous (that’s where the word has come from) for the same effect.

During my younger days, there were kids getting euphoric by maiming frogs and killing lizards. I used to wonder what would become of them in the coming years. Now I know - they become managers!

"Are you interested in our next venture, scuba diving?" he asked.
Once again water!

"No “I said
"..and why not?"
"I am afraid of sharks!"
"There are no sharks where we are going; although there was a shark incident in 1967"
"I am sure there will be one waiting for me, if I ever go there!"

A date with the almighty
When I entered the church it was empty and peaceful. I like the resonance when it is empty.
"God" I prayed “I will not say what Amitabh had said long back - AAJ KUSH THO BAHUT HOGE TUM. I simply want say - THANK YOU."


"Now give me a signal - that you heard my prayer. Some kind of chanting bells or a strong gale or falling flowers from the altar"

More silence.

Outside the church met a beggar.
"Sir, care to share a few cents" I was baffled by this sophisticated beggar. He was surprisingly well attired for a beggar. I got suspicious.

"God, are you testing me in the form of this beggar?"
"Pardon me Sir?"
"I am not talking to you!"

"What was your highest tip?" later asked him.
He told me.

"Here is that amount “gave him some bills “..And one dollar more!"
"You are a generous man" he was surprised.
"I am not generous; I simply don't take my chances with God!"


  1. Good One once again!!! I liked the snake part (made in china), Poor Reema!!!

  2. Hi Ravi,
    I read all of your blogs. Ek se badkar ek is what I think after reading each one

  3. Hey nice article..but I did not get the joke of Snake (Made in China) ?