Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Aqua camp - Kayaking, Rafting, Surfing & much more! :)

February 16th to 19th, 2011
It was at around 8:00 p.m., when my sister and I were watching a boring practice match between Australia and South Africa in Chinnaswamy stadium when I got a call from Sowmya, the organizer at the Aqua camp who informed me that the camp will be starting a day late and I could still be a part of it. After having a chat with my sister and listening for the millionth time as to how much fun she had at the camp, I finally decided to go! J And thank God I did J
I met Avani & Nanda at the Bangalore bus stand the next day morning & soon the three of us were on our way to Hassan. Even though the three of us were strangers, we ended up talking a lot! We reached the Hassan bus stand and then caught a bus to Gorur.  Once we reached Gorur, we asked the locals for directions & the three of us reached the inspection bungalow (IB) of the Hemavathi river dam. It was a beautiful campus. We got into the main building and introduced ourselves to the other organizers and took our seats next to around 20 others who were attending the camp.

The saviour! :)
All of us were asked to leave our backpacks in the rooms assigned to us. After that, we introduced ourselves to the rest of the group. We were each given a paddle and a life jacket and then we all went to the camp site, which was on the shore of the dam. We could see only water till the horizon on the west and north-west of the camp and a temple (around a km away) on the north; the remaining sides were either barren land , hills or a mini forest. We were asked to get into the water and swim for some distance. Once our instructors made a note of who can/cannot swim, we were let to swim as far as we want with our life jackets.  After around an hour or so, all of us headed back to the IB to have our lunch. We were all split into teams of five and each team had to cook breakfast, lunch, dinner in a rotational basis. Avani, Nanda, Raagu , Krishna and I were in a team. We had to cook dinner that day. After lunch, the five of us took a stroll within IB campus & sat on the miniature layout of the dam and got to know a little bit about each other. Once everyone was done eating, all of us went to the base camp carrying our tents with us. The instructors taught us how to set up the tent, after which Avani & I successfully set up our tent right next to the water! J All the tents were set up in a semicircle facing the water.  We admired the sunset for a while and then went back to the inspection bungalow kitchen to make dinner. We had to cook for 30 people. Avani & I had to cut tomatoes & onions L!!  After shedding a lot of tear, we were finally done with the cutting and we set up the table while the instructors were cooking the food. We joined the rest of the team & all of us discussed our expectations from the camp. Once our team served everyone dinner, we had dinner, took our sleeping bags & mats and headed back to our tents. The night was beautiful!! J It was three days to full moon. The entire camp was lit in moonlight. With the wind on my face, listening to the soothing sound of the waves, I stood in front of the water alone for a very long time. I felt like I could just stand there forever. I realized that we had to get up early next morning, so I reluctantly went back to my tent to sleep.
The paddles
At 6:30 in the morning all of us went for a jog & then did warm up exercise.  Once we had our breakfast, we unpacked the kayaks, rafts, paddles, surf boards and the sails at the IB and then carried it till our camp site. We were all waiting for the part to get onto the kayaks and the rafts J Our instructors first split us into two groups. The group that I was in had to learn rafting that day & the group that Avani was in had to learn to Kayaking. All of us were explained the parts of the paddle, the technique to use it and asked to get into water with the paddle & row, just to get the hang of using the paddle.  After this exercise, my group went to our instructor and he explained the parts of the raft to us. After the instructions were given to us, we were split into two groups again. In my group we were five of us, with one instructor. The five of us took our raft and in turns, used a leg pump to inflate the raft. Once it was inflated, we lifted it and took it into the water. 
Our instructor Vinod, taught us how to position ourselves inside the raft. Once we were in position, he told us which way the raft will move depending on whether we row only on left, only on right or both left & right. After a little bit of practice, we were able to move in the direction he wanted us to move it. Our reference was the temple. Once we were right in-between the temple and the camp, we stopped the raft and Vinod explained a rescue technique to us and then, he asked me to jump into the water! Since I had my life jacket on, I jumped in J It felt good J Once I swam a little away from the raft, he threw me a rope, which I caught hold of, and then faced the sky (with my legs away from the raft), after which he pulled me to the raft. Once I reached the raft, he helped me into the raft by pulling my lifejacket. After this, all of us jumped into the water one by one and swam around for a while and while getting back in, we made sure to use the rescue technique. Once in the raft, we headed towards the temple, racing with the other raft and the kayaks J The view from temple was beautiful. The temple was almost on an island (had road connectivity on only one side). On the way back, Vinod did a backward flip into the water. Some of them tried but in vain L I tried jumping high into the air before hitting the water surface J It was good fun J This time without the instructor’s help we rescued each other with the rescue technique and headed back to the camp.
The other audience for the free concert :)
Avani, Nanda & I discussed how much fun we had J since the kayak looked cooler, I was waiting to get onto the kayak the next day J The three of us were happy that it wasn’t our turn to cook now, and we sat in the shade of a tree on the bank & admired the view of the water till the horizon and the greenery far away. We were joined by two local kids, who were telling me their daily schedule: going to school& then coming home & playing. I wish I was still a kid! L Manju sir was wind surfing & Avani was waiting to get on to the surf board more than anything in the world!! JNanda had a surprise for us!! J He started playing a song from his flute in raaga Hemavathi, as we were seated at the banks of river Hemavathi J He played a very melodious song beautifully. After the free concert, which was held at a beautiful location, we headed back to the IB after bidding our goodbyes to the kids . Avani & I found two couches which were big enough for us to lie down on, if we crouched a bit. We crouched a little and took rest for some time, till they called us for lunch. After having lunch, Avani, Nanda, Raagu, Krishna & I went to the pink glass house & relaxed at its entrance for a bit. Once the whistle was blown, one time: attention! , two times: assemble !!, we went back to the camp site. It was now time for us to swim!! J All of us wore our life jackets and swam as far as we wanted to. I enjoyed floating on my back & staring at the sky for a long time. It felt so calm and I was at peace!! J After the swimming session, the 5 of us sneaked out to the dam. Near the entrance of the dam, Avani & I ran to a point where we could see our camp from far. It looked beautiful. I spread my hands and faced the wind. I wanted to just take off!! I envy the birds! There were so many different species of birds here.
"I believe I can fly"! :)
Suddenly we heard Raagu & Krisha shout “snake!” we ran to see the snake which was somewhere below on the walls of the dam, only to find the spot it was in a minute ago! L  The guard had called someone at the IB by now & then told us he would let us in. We were lucky J He opened the gate for us, pointed to a watchtower 400-500 mts away from us on the dam and instructed us that we could go only till there. We were satisfied and took a stroll till that point.

A walk with the sweest kid I have met :)

We climbed the watchtower with ladder & stared at the beautiful sunset. Once the sun was down, we stared at the moon which was behind us for a while & then, Avani & I reluctantly headed back to the camp, leaving the boys behind.
The beautiful sunset :)
Twilight :)
Crepuscule :)
We saw Aravind & Yash guarding the camp site, while the others were at the IB cooking/discussing the day’s events. We decided to join the guys in guarding the camp. We sat facing the water and I enjoyed singing a keerthana. After sometime it got cold & we sat in the kayaks, facing the moon now. Yash was singing real fast bhajans now & the three of us were following his lead, clapping along. It was good fun J after a while it got very cold and we sat behind a tent in a circle to shield ourselves from the wind. Arvind started doing mimicry! He was superb! J The sounds he made sounded so real! We realized that we had to call someone from the IB to guard the tent when we go to have dinner, so Avani & I promised to send someone and left Aravind & Yash behind. We joined in the discussion on the day’s events at the IB and had dinner, after which 2 boys went to the camp & sent Aravind & Yash to have dinner. After dinner, we headed back to the camp. Just like yesterday, I enjoyed the cool breeze on my face & the sound of the waves for some time, before returning to my tent to call it a day.
The moon and its reflection on the water looked very beautiful in the early hours of the morning J After the exercise in the morning, Avani & I went met Nanda at the IB, and the three of us went to the terrace & admired the view of the vast expanse of water till the horizon. We were soon joined by Krishna. Once breakfast was ready, the four of us went down. When the table was being set, all of us admired the pictures that Manju sir had taken on his various trips. Most of them were of birds, nature & monsoon aqua camp. Once we gobbled the breakfast (we were damn hungry that day), we headed to the camp site.
The kayaks :)
It was my turn to kayak today! JLuckily I got a single seat kayak. After the instructions were given, I put my cam in the dry chamber of the kayak & then dragged it into the water, tilted it & cleaned it & then got onto it J With my paddle in place, I started to row J I was so happy to be in control of the kayak, after the strenuous rafting yesterday where it was hard to coordinate, as it was our first time. Once I was a little away from the camp, I tried rowing in all the directions, made a 360 degree turn with the kayak and then was on my way to the temple J I enjoyed being there in the middle of the vast expanse of water all by myself J around 200 mts away from the temple, it was very shallow & to avoid scratches on the kayak or the paddle, I had to get down and slowly drag my kayak to the other side. There was a teeny weenie island there and I enjoyed standing on it alone for some time and made a 360 degree turn admiring nature and taking a few picturesJ I then put my camera back in its place & got onto the kayak & proceeded towards the temple.
Alone on a teenie weenie island with my kayak :)
At the temple, Sowmya instructed all of us to stand in a circle & we played a game which school children play! But it was good fun J After the game we picked up all the litter we could spot on the island & put it in the raft. Sowmya then asked us to form a circle in the water and then lie on our backs and relax for some time. It felt really good. It was very sunny & after picking up the trash, we needed a good break J After a while, we all got back onto our raft/kayak and headed back to the camp. Sowmya was with those of us who were on the kayaks. She was asking us to move in different directions, slow down kayaks and generally testing us on our kayaking skills and later asked us to row back to the camp. I slowed down a bit, and hummed a song while rowing and enjoyed the peace around me. When I was around 100 mts away from the camp, as instructed by Sowmya, I jumped into the water and then tried getting onto the kayak, but in vain L This was pretty hard & I bruised my elbows in the attempt to get onto the kayak. I pulled the kayak while swimming and reached the shore. Thanks to the kitchen team, we all had yummy lemonade once we reached the camp. We headed to the IB and as usual, Avnani & I slept on the couches waiting for lunch to be ready.
Rescue technique when a raft goes upside down

After having lunch, all of us headed back to the camp site. Avani & I were always walking in the long route to the camp, wondering how everyone else got here so quickly. We got to know about the hole in the fence only now! My rafting team and our instructor realized that we didn’t learn the rescue technique in case the raft tilts upside down! So we took a raft and the five of us with the instructor, went into the water and got into our raft. It was very windy! We struggled a lot just to row around 200mts away from the camp. Vinod told all of us to stand on one side of the raft and he held a rope which was tied to the raft in his hand. Due to the shift in weight, the raft went upside down! Once we were all in the water, Vinod (with the rope still in his hand) and another teammate got onto the tilted raft. Once the two of them on the upside down raft went to the opposite side of where the rope was tied to the raft, Vinod pulled the rope as the raft tilted due to the shift in equilibrium, and two others clung on to the raft and ended up inside it when the raft was in position and helped the rest of us inside the raft! It was a superb concept! JI was amazed! J Since it was too windy, we tried it just once more as the wind kept pushing our raft to the shore, after which we went back to the camp, lifted the raft out of water and parked it on the bank. Nanda, Krishna & Raagu had to leave to Bangalore that day itself. After we bid them goodbye, Avani & I went back for a swim. Manju sir was wind surfing and as usual Avani was in aweJ  Manju sir offered to let Avani sit on the deck  and took her for a ride after which all of us got our turns. I felt I was zooming sitting on water surface! J It felt awesome and now I was dying to learn how to surf, just like Avani J
It was our turn to make dinner again! On our way back to the camp, Avani & Vinod were making somersaults! J We got help from the others, since 3 from our kitchen team were missing! It was good fun cooking. The vegetable pulao turned out to be very tasty. After Avani & I served everyone, we had dinner and then headed back to the camp. Since it was my last night in the camp, I stood for a very long time in front of the water and as usual reluctantly headed back to the tent due to fatigue.
Misty morning :)
It was very misty in the morning. We could hardly see anything beyond 100 mts. After the exercise, Avani & I took a walk around the IB , we spotted a Kingfisher and many other birds. After having breakfast, we headed to the campsite. It was bright & sunny as usual now! J All of us were too excited to learn surfing J Manju sir explained the parts of the surfboard & the sail, taught us how to assemble the parts of the sail & the sail to the surfboard. After the theory, we were split into 3 teams with one instructor each & told to balance on the surfboard. The first time I stood on it, my legs were all shaky! And I had to go from the deck to the nose, along the rails and then to the tail of the surfboard till it tilted enough for me to fall off. The next few times on the board were good fun JBy default, the surf board was moving with the waves and I felt very good surfing J Once all of us finished surfing, we had lunch. I packed my bag, as it was time for me to leave, since I had my exams in a few days L I bid goodbye to the instructors & all the participants. Since there were 2 more camps following this one, Avani decided to stay. After bidding Avani goodbye at the entrance of the IB, I caught a bus to Hassan.
Wind surfing! :)

On my way back home, I was loaded with beautiful memories from the camp J Thank you GETHNAA, all the instructors and all the participants of the camp, especially Avani for making it an amazing aqua camp J
Thank you Nanda for the pictures.


  1. yeah, didnt know looking after kids(read as avani and keerthana) would actually be so much fun :D

    nice write-up, can always read it and cherish the trip now!

  2. Hey Kiddo!
    In the first draft I had mentioned both of you as kids and how I had to baby sitting u two.. :P
    Glad you enjoyed the read :)

  3. Hi keerthana--- Enjoyed the write-up with Mah Tea n Parle-G
    Nice-- Kid KID=Keerthana Imaginably Dainty
    KID but never- always adventurous...:)