A big fly in the air?
Category : Travel
It was a regular Sunday morning. Mani and I had returned to the camp after seeing off a bunch of friends at the airport. Two new guests had checked into our white water river rafting camp at Rishikesh (India) meanwhile, while we were busy doing our run over the Ganges river.
We slumped down at the campsite to unwind after doing two hectic days of river, beach and the rapids. Then, sooner than we had expected, it started drizzling. About half an hour later, an eerie silence prevailed, and the wind started to blow again — gaining horsepower, every passing minute. I recalled having read somewhere, that a strange calm always precedes, a mighty storm.
The strong wind swept the sand from the beach and began to create weird, swirling patterns on the calmly flowing river. I had never witnessed anything like this before; a squall of this magnitude in all three years that I’d been going to the mountains. I surveyed the campsite and saw tent poles clutching at the strings. Most tents lay in a collapsed state, and before we could assess the full damage, the wind returned with brutal force, making us scamper for cover under the parachute tent. Before long, even this came down with a loud thud.
Soon it was pitch dark. At three in the afternoon, night had descended on us. The drizzle turned into a wild downpour, blowing ounces of sand into our faces. There wasn’t one dry spot where we could huddle and take shelter. “The kitchen,” Mani shouted over the din, while dashing for the cemented shed. We blindly followed. The shed was a good 200 feet away from where we stood, so we started to run when I saw —- what?
A big fly in the air? “My God! What was that?” I wondered.
“That’s our raft, you idiot” gasped our camp manager, who had spotted it at about the same time as I did it. Forgetting the kitchen, we ran back to the beach to inspect. He was right. It was our raft. 16 feet long, semi inflated, tied to a rock, loaded with paddles, oars, dry box and lifelines, foot pumps and life jackets, floating away from us, at supersonic speed! And soon it was gone….
I heard Mani yelling, “There…there’s the dry box.” Someone ran to retrieve it and brought it back but it was empty. The lid was gone and along with everything that lay inside. The boys scurried around to retrieve whatever they could. Someone also managed to bring down the raft from the tree!
Since there was nothing left to do in the pitch darkness, wearily, we headed for the kitchen and discovered that except for the stove, everything else was gone. Outside, the rain was still lashing harder by the minute. Lightning struck and for a brief moment, the camp got bathed in milky light. We lit a fire with whatever dry wood we could find and spend two liters of petrol igniting it. Plonked on the wet beach, we began sipping piping hot cocoa. As hours rolled into the night, it began to appear like any other day at the camp, old jokes, chilled beer, laughter, and the crackling of a fire!