My previous trip could be considered as another great milestone in my paddling experience. For one, I had the opportunity to paddle a river for the first time and add it to my kayaking resume. But over and above such an addition to my personal accolades that undoubtedly I am happy to self-endorse, what really makes this specific trip special was my assistance in the instruction to beginner students, some of them being my very good friends…

Now before anyone would find it alarming that I was in fact the one instructing a highly skilled sport that requires a great amount of experience to be able to provide sound training to beginners, do notice the word ‘assistance’ being used before. For those, though I am sure in the minority, who are worried that their friendly neighborhood beginner is no longer… well… a beginner, once again do not fret, I still have a long way to go. But my job, aiding in the teaching was secondary while Manik still continued to be the main instructor. Now even though my responsibilities were more like the demonstrator and ensuring things are going smoothly on the side, I still found this trip highly soulful for me.

It was a two day trip. We left Bangalore on Friday early morning for a place called Dabbaguli, on the banks of the great Cauvery River, which would be the third river I get to paddle on. The intent was to paddle that day and camp out on the beach that night. Saturday would involve more paddling and back to Bangalore that night. For the first time, two of the beginners who were enrolled for the Learn to Kayak (LTK) course that Goodwave Adventures offers, were my good friends from college, Nihar and Bhavya. We reached the river early afternoon and got ready for the course to begin. Soon Manik began the theory part of the course, explaining the gear and basic terminology. I aided in helping them to retrofit the kayaks to their suitability. Everyone was ready to hit the water!

 All geared up and ready to go

All geared up and ready to go

My first task was to demonstrate the wet exit. Manik gave me the liberty to explain what I will be doing before performing the wet exit. My first ever instruction. As I resurfaced, I looked at my buddy Nihar, perhaps to get reassurance if I fared well. He reflected an expression that I am very familiar with and I have known it to be positive. Bhavya seemed ready to go! So the shenanigans begun with everyone getting a feel of being underwater, performing the wet exit one by one. I could see them getting more and more comfortable with the water as time went by, reflecting in their body language and expressions. It was time to test their grit with paddling. After another theory session articulating the paddling techniques, they were back in their boats giving it a shot. It was amazing to see the progress of a beginner, from the other side this time, as their faces reflected true determination of keeping their kayaks straight. After a hardworking session, we paused for lunch. The intent was to cross the river and practice further.

 Crossing the river

Crossing the river

The confidence with which everyone crossed the wide Cauvery River was compelling. A river with such size and water could be daunting but everyone seemed unfazed and performed just as they were instructed. As we reached the opposite bank which was far more pristine in nature with minimal human interference, we decided to continue the lesson there. Manik started teaching the t rescue. I once again demonstrated the steps that needed to be conducted. I was assigned Nihar to aid him in his learning. In no time Nihar had got the hang of the first few steps. I looked around to see everyone performing well rather quickly. The sun was setting and it was time to head back to our soon to be camp site. We set up our site, tents and tarps were put up, firewood was collected and soon everyone was seated in a circle around a bonfire. A night under the stars, with bread and butter sandwiches, beverages and small talk, couldn’t have asked for more. It might have felt quite late at night, but it was around ten o’clock when we slept, exhausted. The beauty of nature instilling good habits in us!

 Our camp site

Our camp site

The bright sun woke us up in the morning. We started to pack up our stuff and load it back into the cars. Manik had heated up water in his vessel that can be used for cup noodles. After a quick bite, we were ready to carry on with the paddling for the day. The goal was to better everyone’s paddling skills and to teach how to enter and peel out of eddys as well as ferrying through a current. Everyone began to test their abilities and soon began styling it! It was a great way for me to practice and work on the minor weaknesses. Once we were done, we planned to work on the fun grade two rapid that was just a few meters upstream. For starters, we decided to just swim it! We walked up a bit to a certain point and just jumped right in, letting the waves take us down. We broke for lunch after the swim, everyone ravenous after a good effort being put in. But that was not the end of it.

 Demonstrating peeling out of an eddy

Demonstrating peeling out of an eddy

This time we were going to tackle on the rapid but on our kayaks. We began the rather difficult journey back to where we began the swim, paddling upstream for a portion of it and carrying the kayaks for the rest. Manik and I went up to the start of the rapid to do the trickier section as well, while the rest joined in more downstream on the fun rapid. And fun it was! So much fun that some of us did it again! This time with my good friend Bhavya daring to do the whole thing. He certainly had no regrets!

 Bhavya tackling his first rapid!

Bhavya tackling his first rapid!

The day’s hard work was done and we changed quickly. The boats were tied and soon we were on our way back to Bangalore. As I had mentioned in the beginning, this trip was different for me, a lot closer to the heart in a way. As a very new kayaker who has now had five paddling trips, it can still be said with utmost certainty that I have a lot more to learn and a lot more opportunities to get better. But to witness a number of beginners going through where I was, got me thinking in many levels. This sort of rites of passage, barring from the number of life lessons it taught me, gave me the boost I needed to my paddling career. Just the very simple notion of providing valuable training made me believe in the prominence of my efforts with kayaking and how positively it could affect me in life while contributing to a cause. To top it all, I was fortunate to share a passion with good friends as well! This friendly neighborhood beginner is still around, no doubt, but boy maybe he is growing up…

 Some moments can never be replaced

Some moments can never be replaced


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