I’m not new to kayaking. The first time I stepped into a kayak was on the River Denva in Madhya Pradesh in tiger territory. This was two years back and I was participating in the NDTV-Volvo Adventure Challenge then and our task was to kayak to a location about a couple of hours distance to camp and then drive and ATV in the deep ravines by the river’s shore.

Frankly, kayaking began with a lot of apprehensions as paddling isn’t something I was skilled with. I remember having hired a boat for an hour in the small canal next to the India Gate lawns in Delhi. The man at the ticket window asked, ‘It will be an extra hundred rupees for an oarsman.’

‘I don’t need one,’ I declared.

He gave me a crooked smile and a nod. I told Specky, my wife, ‘Should be easy. Rowing a boat doesn’t require a doctorate in mathematics, you see.’

The next hour we were going round and round barely ten feet away from where we started. The man at the ticket window was smiling. The oarsmen were giggling. And I was thinking, ‘No more water sport for me now.’

And here I was strapped with a safety jacket and holding a paddle, ready to steer my kayak for miles in a river that was infested with crocodiles! This was scary. Of course, we were two of us in our team and we also had a forest guard at one end and with one paddle. The two of us were to share the paddling load of the second paddler… and, believe me, kayaking gave us both numb arms but a feeling that was way beyond heavenly.

It is more important that I share some more insights that I had that day when we kayak-ed with the cameras of the filming unit circling us for our best and worst moments. You see, I am a writer first and, therefore, all that I realised in retrospect was that kayaking did help my creative instincts. Later as I sat in the tent that we had pitched and after my job of collecting firewood for the fire was over, I gave my kayaking adventure a thought and jotted a few points.

  1. Kayaking, I realised, helped me look at everything from a new and unconventional perspective. The fact that we were somewhere in the middle of a river with a fairly large girth made this business of seeking perspective rather unnerving in the beginning but then the creative impulses start relishing the risky stances and… everything from a setting sun to trees and their shadows spoke a different language. Mind you, we were not sitting in a speed boat and kayaking makes the moments linger like a thick drop of elixir precariously balancing itself on the lips before slowly descending into the throat.
  2. Kayaking is hard work and this simply means that you are comfortably sitting and yet huffing and puffing. The body pushes the mind to think and this is what makes thoughts emerge from their deep seats to zoom up to the surface and make contact with your consciousness. If you think this is impossible, try kayaking and you’ll thank me later for all the lovely creative ideas that made their way out of nowhere into your mind.
  3. The third advantage that even a short time of kayaking presented to me was a few exclusive moments by myself to look into the water with its mesmerising ripples and seeing the reflection of my thoughts breaking into a dance. Yes, being by yourself, thoughts break into a dance and this is immensely vital for creative writers. Imagine paddling and watching the output of the kinetics and dynamics of this action translate into not just a forward thrust but also lines of waves resembling lines of poetry with syllables bobbing up and down. This is actually unbeatable and one major reason why I would love to go kayaking anytime I get an opportunity.
  4. I told you earlier that we were kayaking in crocodile infested waters… but that isn’t the only risk kayakers face. There are tens of other reasons why kayaking helps one think of instant solutions instead of mulling indefinitely over a problem. Solution seeker is what kayaking makes us and this is what any creative writer actually wants and wishes for. A writer’s block isn’t something that stands a chance to survive in front of a die-hard kayaker who in intent upon capturing some ingenious ideas to write about as well.

Well, being an adventure sport, kayaking does paddle in a fair number of management nuggets as well… but then this is one discussion that I leave for another post. A post that I may write if given the opportunity to take part in the #ChaliyarRiverChallenge. I mean this is precisely why I am participating in the Chaliyar River Challenge activity at AdventureN in association with Jellyfish Watersports.

And, by the way, I don’t really need to say this but all the wonderful fruits of creativity are possible only if our rivers are clean and worthy of allowing a sport like kayaking to exist. A corollary to this is the thought that if kayaking is becoming popular, it is possibly because we are getting more and more concerned about the health of our rivers and keeping them clean and flowing. Kayaking exists because rivers flow! Let us keep our rivers clean.

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I am participating in the Chaliyar River Challenge activity at AdventureN in association with Jellyfish Watersports.

I am participating in the Chaliyar River Challenge activity at AdventureN in association with Jellyfish Watersports.

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Kayaking exists because rivers flow!

Kayaking exists because rivers flow! Photo credit: Kerala Diaries

Let us keep our rivers clean

Let us keep our rivers clean. Photo credit: Kerala Diaries

I am participating in the Chaliyar River Challenge activity at AdventureN in association with Jellyfish Watersports.

I am participating in the Chaliyar River Challenge activity at AdventureN in association with Jellyfish Watersports. Photo credit: Kerala Diaries

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Arvind Passey
15 September 2016