Friday, December 12, 2008

Him and Her


One weekend, Him & Her decided to go kayaking in the Kundalika River. The Kundalika is more like a thick turbid stream than a river. The expedition was His idea, attractively packaged as an 'adventure experience'.
The ride to the starting point was about a 1.5 hours drive away from home and Him was convinced that it'd be a nice start to the adventure that lay ahead. Him picked up Her and started early so as to avoid the traffic and have the road to themselves. They were going to be joined by some other at the meeting point about 30 minutes away from their place.
Now when they reached the appointed stop, no one was to be found. Him and Her waited a bit, with Her trying to control her fuming and not let Him notice it. Him called up the organizers to ask about the rest and learnt that they'd already gone ahead. With all chances of someone to lead the right way to the kayaking spot disappearing, Him decided to go ahead and make it there by themselves. Knowing Him's sense of direction and his absolute faith in his own instincts, Her was sure the adventure had already started.
Her vaguely believed that the whole thing would be over in about 4 hours and she'd be back home in no time. She had been rashly assured that 'you won't fall in' and 'it'll be just the two of us most of the time'.
The road was beautiful and lonely, except for an occasional lorry or a herd of cattle. There was a heavy layer of fog combined with mist everywhere. And though it blocked the view beyond some distance, it evoked a feeling of mystery and romance. Her enjoyed the drive, and kept her eyes peeled for all possible signs that assured her that they were headed in the right direction. Him was ever the hero, singing in a soulful way, whistling some, driving at a nice pace. He had thoughtfully included Her's favourite soundtracks on the car stereo system.
The two adventurers arrived at the starting point, to find that they were the first on the spot inspite of starting later than the rest. The weather, traitorous as always, was cooler than expected, much to Her's distress. After ten minutes or so, the other folks began to arrive. However, the 'organizer' was missing.
He showed up a little while later and informed the group without much ado that the kayaking would not happen that day. Her was irritated by this attitude and specially since she had sacrificed a resting Saturday to be there. Him saw the dark clouds of fury hovering over Her and afraid of a downpour, quickly decided to have a word with the organizer. It turned out that since the water was not being let out from the dam that morning, the river would not have enough flow and density to kayak in. Him painted a colorful picture of how they had come from far to enjoy this adventure and how Her would be disappointed about not even setting foot in the water. Him, of course, forgot to mention the threat to his life and limb should the trip go waste. A deal was struck. The organiser was going to let Him and Her do a bit of canoeing in the river at no charge. 
Him conveyed this to Her who took the news half heartedly. Him tried to cheer her up by adding that they could have fun in the water when they were done canoeing and then have a picnic lunch before leaving.
Him had prior experience with kayaking, but not canoeing. But he refused to reveal his ignorance. Both got themselves lifejackets and helmets. The lead canoer showed them sitting positions and rowing styles. Through all this, Him inserted sentences like, "It’s easy. Really.", You'll manage fine." which did nothing to boost Her's confidence.
So Him sat in front and Her in the back of the 2 Cox canoe. While Her got the basics right after a while, Him was merrily free-styling in front leading the canoe astray. The pair was soon enveloped in the loving embrace of branches near the bank. Him continued to executing random strokes with reckless abandon considering he had to live up to his claim of being an expert in these matters. Her furiously ordered Him to 'stop rowing, PLEASE' and assigned him the task of pushing the canoe away from the branches by getting into the water. Him , aware of having tested Her's patience, meekly obeyed orders while Her dreamed of a warm, dry bed.
By the time they managed to finally get themselves out of the mess, nerves were already a little frayed. The romantic expedition soured somewhat for Her, although Him was floating on an adrenaline cloud high in the sky.
After a few more valiant skirmishes with overhanging branches, their boat began to follow a less schizophrenic path. Things went swimmingly for a while, until Her expressed a heart-felt desire to answer the call of nature. Him navigated the canoe towards the bank. Before Him could get down and steady the canoe for Her to hop out, Her got up and tried to step out. And Lo and behold, the two of them were in the soup.
Neither of them was prepared for this drenching at the moment. The canoe had overturned and it took them sometime to get their bearings. In the meantime, the canoe had merrily floated downstream and along with it went the two paddles. Him launched himself at the task of retrieving them with gusto and swam away with powerful strokes. The guilty party hung back with a heart full of concern and eyes following Him's, every move. 
As Her watched Her Him’s bobbing helmet, she shouted back seat directions about what path the canoe was taking. Her waited on the bank cold and miserable while Him managed to get the canoe and both paddles after a chase. The fact that the flow slackened further downriver helped achieve this. Her received Him with much fanfare and wandered away to fulfil the original intent of the whole episode.
By now, both Him and Her were completely wet and had had enough of the canoe. They made their way to shallower waters and took off the lifejackets to swim a bit. Him had fun drenching Her with water when she least expected it. Her did not fall for his overtures to lead her mid stream under the pretext of a great view and then proceed to dunk her headlong. She stayed in the safe zone of the banks and collected smooth stones to take home.
An hour passed this way and both were famished. Over the spicy snack that Her had conjured up, they had a great laugh about the ‘unplanned’ adventure.

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