And by 2014, I mean everyone who’s been super involved and appreciative of the expedition. Nothing says it like a thoughtful gesture, and I wanted to take some time out to thank everyone who’s done that since I started on this quest.
2015 is the year. And I’m sure big things are meant for all of us.
I hope it’s bright and beautiful for you.PaddleHard.
With baited breath you wait at the arrivals gate of the airport. I’ve been here tons of times, with tons of friends and had many a fun moment scaring, exciting and surprising people. And yet, today I wait with baited breath. With an unspoken anticipation that is telling to present company.
My cousin Rohit, or RB, was kind enough to purchase, parcel and post my brand new kayak paddles just in time for the journey. I do not know the person I am to receive, just a name and the familiar sight of Epic Paddle bags. Her family awaits at the head of a queue of eager, bubbly, teary-eyed, red-eyed people awaiting their sons, daughters, wives, mother-in-laws, bosses.
I however, am the only person checking out luggage.
An hour of waiting and I see them. Proudly mounted atop two other suitcases. My babies are here.
Decorum dictated I didn’t rush Mugda. Or hug her and jump up and down in glee. After the requisite time allowed to her to greet family and friends, I respectfully approached at her brother’s calling. Thanking her and her most accommodating brother Sourabh, I whisked away my paddles and let the family have their space.
As you can see, I wasted no time in letting them out for some cold(?) Bombay air. And have been fawning over them all day today. The black one is Sphinx. (After Vinnie Jones from Gone-in-60-seconds.) The other needs a name. Suggestions?
There’ll always be serendipity involved in discovery – Jeff Bezos
As I step up my training, I find that rather than doing circles around familiar territory, It’s far more rewarding heading out in new directions. Every paddle out however comes with the knowledge that you need to paddle an extra stroke back.
On days, this means that if I have a meeting with sponsors or a call with media, I have to be extra careful about the clock. I find myself on occasion whipping out my phone at 10:30 or 11:15 sharp in the middle of the water, trying to find a calm spot to coast while I take a call and make my pitch. Often I wonder what the other person is thinking hearing the calm of the sea in the background.
Digression aside, the real reason why, is that when you are 8.5kms off shore after a gruesome hour and a half of paddling a very unwieldy, overweight recreational kayak, you see a lighthouse. Standing tall as the sea comes crashing down on a reef behind it.
In the distance and with the morning sun, you see a fishing fleet coming out of the mouth of mumbai harbour. Calmly they pass by, a mysteriously queer line. You wonder how there is such discipline in these shipping boats as they maintain a line you’ve never seen on the streets of Bombay.
As they pass on by, you find the choppy waters have taken you closer to the lighthouse. You are almost kissing it, when the good people manning it come out to greet you. By the looks of it, they don’t get company too often. And a barrage of questions ensue. You remember human contact that extends beyond the digital. You make a mental note to come back.
Then you cross the lighthouse. And the sea hits you. It’s rough swell snaps you back to reality. There is danger here. You laugh and paddle on. You Paddle Hard.
I’m out 3 kms into the water again. And it’s a long long day. The november sun has a cruel march inclination today.
And I’m stopped mid stroke, by a singular being. A Km from the nearest shore. In a good land wind, with nothing but it’s two frail wings, a butterfly. A lonely, orange with black spots butterfly. In any park, anywhere in the world, I wouldn’t have given it a second glance. But here. Far from a modicum of safety. A missed stroke or exhaustion propelling it to sure death. The nearest coast atleast a km away. The farthest atleast 5. And a wind blowing outwards. Surely this is not wise. Surely this butterfly is lost.
A question someone asked me pops up in my mind. ‘Why are you doing this, Kaustubh? It doesn’t sound safe.’ And I’m thinking of what must have gone through this butterfly’s mind, when it chose to leave the comforts of the well maintained garden it came from. The sun shines brightly on the landscaped gardens of Raj Bhavan. This is a stately butterfly for sure. Why have you ventured so far. Where do you wish to go? Will you ever get there?
Would it be rude to try and rescue it? Would it be a rescue? What if I intervened in it’s purpose?
Where could it have been heading? Was there a plan?
Is there a plan? Or are we all lost and can’t see it. Seeking what we cannot see. Shores we haven’t touched or imagined.
I’ll leave you with this lovely short film. And the quote from it that stuck –
As for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts – Herman Neville, Moby Dick