Since childhood I had some fear of deep waters. And this is quite ironical because I have learnt swimming in my school. Yet, when I tried to jump in deep pool or a lake or stream, I felt my heartbeat in my ears. My heart would jump out of my mouth and fear groped me. My hydrophobia always came as a hurdle for me whenever I tired something related to water.
So, when my friends asked me to accompany them to a trip to Rishikesh, my first thought was, ‘shit! River rafting.’ I tried to be smart as I laid out one condition on which I would go was I would not try river rafting. As everyone knows Rishikesh is popular for white water rafting and it is the most safe place to try this water sport.
When we reached there, the number of rafts going with the flow of the Ganges, twisting and turning, made me think twice over my decision. That view of people enjoying themselves made me question my fear. If it was not today, then I would never be able to overcome this phobia that has been engulfing me since ages. So I decided to take a huge step towards the most fearsome thing in my life.
The next morning, we had breakfast in our camp, donned our life jackets as if they were our armor, raised our paddles like swords and charged towards the raft like it was our carrier to fight the fast flowing river. For me, it was actually a battle that I was about to fight with my fear. The moment our instructor was giving us directions about do’s and don’t’s, I was contemplating over my decision. The raging river had my full attention. She called me to ride over her and that she would protect me in all manners.
With all the safety gears in place, we took our places in the raft. I sat between my two friends because I was still afraid. Along with us, two instructors were also there to guide the raft in proper direction We were supposed to paddle and take the raft forward or backward as per the instructions. With a chant of ‘Har Har Gange’, we took the raft into the river. Then started the experience of a lifetime. There were supposed to be 10 rapids of different levels. Grade 1 is normal whereas Grade 5 is the most dangerous.
As I started paddling and synchronizing with my group, I forgot all about my fears. The fun and hardword to row the boat made us so engaged that everything seemed distant. The splash of bone chilling cold water that drenched us from head to toe was a relief in the hot sun. The river snaked through huge mountains with lush forests and took us with it. The rapids were a different kind of thrill for us. When our raft got into one, there were chances that it would topple over, taking us with it. So my only prayer was do not flip over. When the raft hit the rapids, it would crash against the waves, twist with them and sometimes even stand vertically. Our job was to keep paddling as fast as we could. The adrenaline pumping across our veins was enough to keep us going on. When the river was calm, we were asked to jump into the water. I was not ready for it, in spite of all the encouragement I got from my companions. But it is something I did the second time I went for rafting.
The course was of 16 kms and by the end we were exhausted. We took a pit stop at a point where we could have maggi, water, some snacks and could also plunge into the river from a cliff. I did not do that activity as well. However, the next time I go, it is on my list.
I do not regret any moment of this experience because it not only helped me to overcome my fear, it also made me realize that there is nothing I cannot do unless I do not want to do it. These fears and phobias are all in my mind and it is in my hands, whether I want to throw them away or keep them safe in my mind. After that day, I felt a sense of pride in myself and there was no looking back. River rafting has become my favorite adventure sport and I have done it thrice till now.