The Barpole river seemed filling with every passing minute, the showers on the coffee plantations in Coorg were miraculously finding its way through creeks into the river every few hundred yards. Moisture in the air, with the shining sun and a tormenting rain, which I was made to believe to be the occasion when foxes get married, as a child, made sure the colors were vibrant in the horizon. I was trying my stint with rafting at Coorg, had read many an article about the rafting circuits emerging from the Himalayas, with the awesome rapids and couldn't resist the temptation to try it in the Wetsern Ghat region, when I stumbled across it on the internet.
Equipped with a plastic paddle and safety jacket , which a co-rafter observed as tighter than a sports brassiere, 5 of us along with an instructor set of into the river. He showed us the basic maneuvering skills on a raft, made us repeat the rowing techniques and finally said, "lets go, but before that, anyone wants to take a swim", and then he looked at me, as if I will be interested to.
My experience with water has always been the calm temple ponds and the blue tiled swimming pools, where I swam never like a fish, but laboriously . The one time I ventured swimming in water with a good current, I got tired midway and it took 4 of my friends to drag me back to the shore, in a beautiful canal in Allepey. I am not sure of the thought that went through me at that time, sitting at the front of the raft with my feet tucked tightly into the foot hold in the raft and the paddle held like a club, half a seconds pause, and I swung my legs over to the other side of raft. Dropped the paddle to the floor and dropped myself to the other side, into the depths of the Barpole river.
I didn't know how good the safety jacket was, in fact I haven't ever worn one before. I didn't know the depth, nor the currents nor anything about the river or swimming in a river, but I took the plunge. Like a dead weight, I cut through the layers of water on ma way to the bottom, didn't know how to swim wearing a safety jacket and my efforts in swimming made sure I found depths which I wouldn't have found if I hadn't tried swimming. There was a rush inside to fight with the water and see day light, and then a calmness settled, an icy calm which made me let go the vain fight with the water, which I wasn't gaining. Miraculously I was almost thrown back to the surface from the depths, the river was chivalry personified, making peace with people who didn't fight back. The few moments when the river tried embrace me to its bosom, the calmness and peace and the true sense of solitude I felt, gave way to chaos with the day light falling on my head again.