It was a fine Saturday morning and getting up was quite a task but I did get up knowing full well that I was due for a day of adventure. I had attended the Kayakathon the previous year and it had been nothing short of riveting. Needing a 1st finish in the last race to clinch the bronze overall, our team finished first and we stood 3rd overall. I still remember that my hands gave up on the halfway mark but I pushed through somehow with every ounce of energy left in me. It was a thrilling finish and I still recall almost plunging into the water with excitement.
With similar ideas of finishing at the top, I started from home in the morning. I had a few friends from office joining me for the event. Majid, with whom I had worked in a professional capacity earlier, was organizing the event. We reached Sanjeevaiah Park and there were at least about 100 people there eagerly waiting for instructions. I saw some anxious faces, quite visibly apprehensive about the water. I was not sure what plagued them, the fear of water or the thought of falling into the muck.
(The participants for the race cheering on the teams)
The teams were divided and I was chosen in Gowtham’s team. Gowtham was our coach. Suboth, Sahibar(colleagues from office) and I were in one team. I was sure that with good teamwork, we stood a chance to win. Suheim Sheikh(the founder of Yatch Club of Hyderabad) gave us some nuggets of good advice before the start. Post that, Gowtham gave us instructions about the format of the race. We called ourselves the “Hussain Bolts”, the obvious Usain Bolt pun gave a nice ring to the name. We were to have about 6 races and the best team, overall, would win. This was similar to the last Kayakathon and I was glad to have some experience on my side. I expected a good finish. And I guess good is what we got.
(The team 4 – Hussain Bolts. Hitesh is extra)
We had a practice run right before the race began and my friend Suboth and I head out kayaking. Suboth was sitting infront, with me in the middle and Prasad(one of the children who sail at the Yatch club) steering the boat at the back. As we were really excited and pumped, we got a bit carried away and rowed too hard. We paddled in the opposite directions while Prasad steered hard to the left. The kayak lost control and we toppled into the water. The next thing that happened was that hilarity engulfed us and we couldn’t stop laughing while floating in the Hussain Sagar water. The rescue boat arrived and looking at us, they chucked as well while lifting us out of the water. We returned to the shores with everyone having a good laugh about the fall. We were initiated, I thought. Less did I know that more initiation was to follow.
Suboth and I started the first race. . We collided with 2 other kayaks in the beginning and that cost us a lot of time. It was a spectacular effort and we finished last. We were aghast but sure that we would recover. Anusha and Shiva started the next race and thanks to a collision initially, their kayak toppled very close to the shore. Though this was something that was not to be laughed at, we couldn’t help but laugh our hearts out. As they were in shallow water, Prasad came walking to the shore but Shiva tried to swim in the water and we were all in splits at the majestic swim. Something was not going right for us. As Prasad was tired, I decided to steer the kayak in the 3rd round with Harsh and Sameer. Thankfully, this time we finished the race at the 4th position.
(Harsh and Sameer turning in a decent performance)
The next race had Sahibar and Ritish and they finished 6th. We were back to our consistent ways :D. We had Anusha and Shiva ready for the fifth race as they had not completed the race previously. We set out and finished the race 4th, happy that we could clock in a decent time.
At this point, there was a slight tweak in rules by Suheim and 2 more races were added. We now had 8 races in all. The team was tired at the moment but we knew we had to pull off a blinder to stand a chance to finish anywhere close to 3rd. Thoughts of last kayakathon flashed through my mind and I believed we could produce some brilliance. What happened next was nothing short of hilarious.
I was to steer in one race and participate in the other. That would make it 5 races in all for me. My hands were secretly amused at how I would pull it off. The first race had Sameer and Harsh with Prasad steering and they finished a comforting 3rd. I was really pleased with Harsh as he was way too tired to pedal before the last stretch but we cheered him on and he finished the race. I was to steer the next race with Sahibar and Suboth. Suboth was in the front of the Kayak again and I sensed an impending doom. Right at the start, Hitesh, one of my colleagues from office fell in water as his team’s Kayak toppled. Seeing this, Sahibar and I couldn’t control our laughter. So much that we momentarily forgot about the race and just went on guffawing over the incident. Less did we know that we would meet a similar fate in the next minute. Suboth paddled hard left, Sahbiar paddled right and I tried steering them on course. Result: Another topple.
(Moments before the topple. I’m laughing or shouting, I have no idea)
(With the kayak into the water)
At this point, I could not control my laughter. Suboth and I had toppled again and it was evident that together, we were recipe for disaster. The rescue boat arrived and for a change even they were in splits. The life guard innocently asked “Aap log dusri baar gire na?” after which followed another round of laughter. We were out of the water and headed straight to shore where people were not surprised at all to see us fall. Again.
(Even the life guard has a good laugh over it)
We were done with 7 races and one last race remained. Suboth and I teamed up again and I still remember Majid’s words before we started. “Dude, just finish the race this time.” We started and collided with another boat at the beginning. Thankfully, we did not topple this time but finished last by a very narrow margin (glorifying defeat).
There was a tie breaker for the the 1st position and Team number 1 finished first. Hitesh’s and Neha’s team clinched the silver medal. We clinched the Hussain Sagar water. There was a post-event ceremony where the winners were awarded while we applauded. They provided T-shirts and snacks later. Though we did not win a medal, I think this was the first time I had this much fun at a kayaking event. The topples may have contributed to it all. Overall, the event was a big success and everyone had their fair share of adventure.
(Participants from Deloitte. Photography by Ritish)
Hussain Sagar is a beautiful lake. Although, efforts are being made to clean it, we still have a long way to go for that and events like these would definitely draw attention of authorities to priorities the cleaning of the lake. To GHAC, Yatch Club and more such awesome events in the future.
Blog by Sahil Kaul