My Path To Find Chi…

A&W Magazine

I stared across the length of the Zambezi River wearing a redhelmet and a life jacket wrapped around my upper body. The nonchalant winds ofan October morning brushed my face and the sun shone bright above my head. Ilooked across to my left and right and saw my fellow passengers who were goingto take this thrilling journey down the Zambezi river in a raft. The river wasroaring and we could see the high waves lashing against the stony shores. Mywife who supported me throughout stood next to me holding my hands and said tome, “Manoj it is going to be the best adventure we have ever done and who knowsthis one might come out to be an A+.”

I took a deep breath and thought to myself proudly, “Everyonethinks I am scared since I am staring at the river for a long time but littledo they know that I am staring at it because I am proud and happy as raftingdown the Zambezi river has been one of my long cherished dreams.”

 “Come on buckle uprafters we have a long day ahead,” the guide of Zambian origin said to us. Wewere a group of 8 rafters from all over the world and we huddled around him ina semi-circle as he started briefing us about the endeavour ahead.

“Well there are many rules which you all have to follow as youall know that ‘Zambezi River rafting‘is one of the most perilous and exciting rafting expeditions in the world. Howmany of you have gone river rafting before?” The guide asked us. We remainedsilent and looked at each other to see if anyone had gone before, but none ofus raised our hands!

“So I have got a bunch of enthusiastic people who are ready tobargain their life for some fun and f
rolic. Well, first of all – safety is the most important factor and even abovefun, so I strongly request everyone to be cautious and I want no hocus-pocusinside the raft. Everyone listen I will now stat
e the rules of today’s task and hear me properly since this will help youto stay alive!”

These words sent a shiver down everyone’s spine and everyone wasnow nervous, though they all t
ried to hide it. I too had become a little nervous but I was not scared. Igleefully looked at the ins
tructor as he gave us the rules, “No one will jump out of the raftwhatsoever till we give the signal. You will have a paddle in your hands sohold on to your paddle tightly and do not lose it unless you want to pay extracash as a fine. All of you will listen to the raft instructor for signals andall of you will follow him. The most important rule: Have fun and do not panicduring  the journey. Now you will all goto your respective raft as your instructor is waiting for you. Gracias and BonVoyage.”

The guide was Spanish and the instructor of our raft was aFrenchman. We proceeded to our rafts and settled down in our files according toour weight and hopefully I was not in the last.

The instructor whom we called ‘Baku’ for short gave usinformation about the journey and the geographical info about the Zambezi, Itslength, width and many interesting facts.

There were 9 rapids in our trip out of which the eighth was thebiggest and the most perilous one a
nd we were pre-informed that we would have to fall in this rapid. Each rapidhad its own name and they were quite interesting like the eighth one was knownas ‘The Midnight Dinner’.

Our long awaited journey started and we reached the first rapid.The mighty waters of the Zambezip
ushed us forcefully deeper and deeper inside the current as we braced ourselves to see

WHAT CAME NEXT ?

As we crossed each rapid the rapids became tougher and tougher.I could feel the rough air on my face as I rowed down the river with my fingerssore. My whole body was covered in icy water and the only source, which kept uswarm, was the Victorian sun that had majestically taken its place above us.

Midway through the journey we were informed that a professionalKayak-er was taking the wholev
ideo of our experience and it would be available to us after the trip if wewanted to buy it.

We reached the fourth rapid and the water became even moreferocious. The water looked as if it was waiting to catch something and just rusheddown , the only thing that was stopping it was the stony hard rock in themiddle that just divided the water. These rocks were so deadly that if anyonebanged into them it would easily split the man’s skull in two equal halves.CREEPY!

I counted as the rapids went by and the waters went high 5th,6th, and 7th and now was the most awaited moment of my whole journey – TheEIGHTH RAPID – The Midnight Dinner!!

The instructor took his mark and told us to brace and becautious… As soon as the instructorf
inished these words everything went black and my head swirled and my wholebody was numb, as the Mighty Zambezi had just engulfed us.

After a few milliseconds I realized that our boat had beentoppled and everyone was in the water and our raft was upturned. I swam till Ireached my raft and caught the rope as we were instructed and if not, then it’sHappy Journey down the Zambezi…

We were in the water for some time as we clinched our lifelineand soon after sometime the river calmed down. We upturned the boat and satinside heaving a sigh of relief and I felt inner peace and a new sense ofrevitalization had awoken inside me as I had found my CHI! I had done it. YES!I have passed the Zambezi, which is known as one of the most deadly rivers inthe world of rafting.

The instructor allowed us to swim in the shallow side of theriver near for some time as we relaxed and enjoyed the serene beauty of themountains above us. I could hear the humming of the birds, whistling of crispleaves during autumn and the roaring voice of the water.

I just lay bareback in the water as I became one with nature. Iwoke up after sometime and saw that everyone was ready to leave. I quickly cameout and dried myself up. Baku came to me and joked, “You laid in the water likea otter for a long time!” We both laughed and started our journey back to ourstarting point.

The climb was even more exhausting as we had to climb up againand it was pretty high. There was rich breakfast for us and we all ate to ourheart’s content. I thanked the guide and the locals for helping us out and for givingus the best to cherish -the memories for years to come!We drove back to thehotel in Zimbabwe and saw that my niece and son were sleeping like a log withmonkeys on their bedpost!!! We woke them up and told them about our day sincethey were not allowed to come being kids. They were jealous but theyunderstood.

I know that this would not have been possible without somepeople and this blog would not be complete until I thanked them. So here itgoes:

•Ambika Agarwal (my wife)

•Niti Agarwal

•Snehal Kanodia (my 1stniece)

•Riddhika Kanodia (my 2ndniece)

•Yugansh Agarwal (my son)

•Baku (the raftinstructor)

•The locals in and aroundthe place

Well, so here ends my story because this writing is not enoughto express my feelings and I quote “There are two types of people in this worldthe boring and the passionate. The boring take the same path without obstaclesand the passionate take the risky path that is filled with risks. In each riskwe learn a new thing in life that makes us tough while the easy path comfortsus and does not teach us the hard ways of life. So now you decide which pathyou want to choose in life – The Boring or The Passionate!?”

I can proudly say:

It is my passion,

It is my religion and I don’t deny it,

It is the choices and I abide by it,

Cause’ adventure is my life!!!

Terms you have seen and their significance:

•Zambezi: A river formed by the Victoria falls on the borders ofZimbabwe and Zambia. Hence its  name.

•Shearwater Victoria Falls: The place where we did our riverrafting.

•Names of rapids: The Morning Glory, The Midnight Dinner, etc. …

•Victoria Falls: Waterfall in the southern region of the Africancontinent, Zimbabwe, Zambia,..

•CHI: Inner peace or strength which gives you the power tocontrol anything or anyone as you  havecontrol over your senses, body and the soul. A&W

Manoj Agarwal

Manoj Agarwal is aMechanical Engineer from IIT Delhi, lives in Bangalore and is into manufacturinggears. His passion for adventure started at the age of 35 when he had been toAustralia and New Zealand on a holiday, since then he has been involved inparagliding, river rafting, bungee jump, sky diving and mountaineering.

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