May 15, 2007

Wet trails

Vignettes from a trip to beautiful Dandeli, these about visitors there. There may be more vignettes, not necessarily about visitors.


In the tiny swimming pool with us one morning are two fathers and their two sons, splashing about. All of them and the two concerned wives/mothers -- one pregnant -- and all their baggage have come to Dandeli packed in a tiny Maruti. Hard to imagine how everyone and everything fit, but here they are. This morning, one wife watches the splashing from the first-floor balcony outside their room, and the pregnant wife watches from a chair beside the pool.

At some point, we realize we have forgotten to bring a watch down with us, and we need to know the time. My wife swims over to the side and asks the woman in the chair, "Excuse me, what's the time, please?" She shakes her head and smiles shyly, pats her bulging tummy and says "No, I'm pregnant!"

I swear I am not making this up.


Family from Bangalore has a young son whom they want to take whitewater rafting. At the point where we all gather, the person coordinating the trip says, stand the kid against that pillar. If he is taller than that mark, he can go. If not, he can't. It's not a safe trip for small kids.

Father takes the son over to the mark, and his head tops out well below. Coordinator tells the father, then father tells the son, we can't take you. Son immediately begins to wail, loud and nonstop. Father takes him away.

Ten minutes later, several rafting hopefuls are seated in a jeep waiting to go, just two of us in the back. The son suddenly appears, no more wailing, swimming cap and suit on, climbs in the back with us. Then the father appears, reaches in, grabs him and they go sit in the front. The mother gets in with them. We move.

20 minutes later, at the starting point for the rafting, the instructor asks what the kid is doing here. Father says, we were told you would take him for a quick boat ride on the river, then he'll go back with his mother. It's only me who is going on the rafting trip. Instructor looks nonplussed, says the short ride may not be possible. Son immediately begins to wail, throwing his arms round the father's legs, saying he wants to go with his Papa. Instructor eventually makes some arrangements, two of his assistants put the boy in a boat, row to the centre of the river and back. Meantime, five of us get into another boat and get going, and I've soon forgotten about the boy.

Until about halfway into our rafting trip, when the other boat shoots past us so it can tackle one of the rapids first. The father is sitting there, waving happily at us. So's the mother. So's the son.

Later, the mother tells us, he cried so much that we finally brought him.

I mean, fooey and crapola, what are rules for? Whose safety are we talking about?


On our last morning, we wake to find several other guests have showed up at night. They are taking their morning constitutional. It's a good idea. After all, the weather is a delight. Just walking out to the main gate of this complex and back would be a good workout, with several ups and downs, besides bonus sightings of gulmohurs and copperpods and hornbills. There are plenty of other pleasant walks too.

But these guests are not walking out to the gate, or anywhere else. They are down at the pool. But these guests are not swimming either. Instead, they are walking round and round the tiny bit of water. One even jogs slowly around it.


Samir said...

What does a person's height have to do with white-water rafting? Shouldn't other things be considered? Like ability to swim etc?

Anonymous said...

re vignette #1:

As a member of the "tiny Maruti" class who has been on similar packed trips I could identify with them. Interesting experience looking at "me and mine" thru your eyes.

Had to put myself in an "aristo driving a Merc" mould to get the feel right though I think this was an innocent observation coming from you.