Reminiscing the rush of adrenaline
The pleasure of riding on a boat, in a canal or a river, is another experience worth trying.
The pleasure of riding on a boat, in a canal or a river, is another experience worth trying. I remember how, in the days before the barrages, two of them connecting East and West Godavari districts, and the third linking mainland East Godavari district with the island 'Konaseema,' (which has the sea on three sides and land on the other), were constructed across the mighty Godavari river, one could only cross over from the mainland to the island portion by row boat, or steam launch. It was, sometimes, a mildly frightening experience, especially in the monsoons, when the river was in a near spate situation. Crossing from one side of a canal to another in a punt, in the Krishna or Godavari districts, with tall coconut palms swaying gently in the breeze, thick green fields on either side and cool spray blowing across one's face, is an experience that will remain etched forever in my memory.
On one occasion, my wife and I, with children accompanying us, went on a long trip along the Godavari, picnicking on various types of goodies, including fresh tender coconut water and kernel. The only time I ventured into the sea was when I hitched a ride, in a pilot boat, at Visakhapatnam Harbour, courtesy the Chairman of the Port Trust. The feeling of the approaching swell of the sea, as the boat approached the outer portions of the harbour, was most enjoyable. Pity one had to return from that point, without experiencing the pitching and rolling of the vessel, in the crests and troughs of giant waves of the deep sea.
Flying is another inexpressibly enjoyable experience, especially the smoothness of high-altitude flights, but for the occasional spell of turbulence. I had always enjoyed flying, until the time when, once in a flight from Calcutta to Hyderabad, the aircraft had to negotiate a bad spell of turbulence. So bad were the steep drops and the bumps, that, for a few years afterwards, I developed, for the first time, a feeling of vertigo and an aversion to flying. I had that claustrophobic feeling briefly, once again, when on top of the IFC building at Hong Kong, and also when the London Eye car in which I was riding, came to a halt, during its rotatory rhythm. Thanks to some counselling to strengthen my mental resolve, I began to enjoy the experience again.
My first flight, after that self-imposed break, was when I accompanied the (then) Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, the late N Janardan Reddy, to Visakhapatnam, in a plane belonging to the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant. Whatever little residue of aversion might have remained, was promptly taken care of, as we took off in a helicopter, straight from the airport, to travel right into the heart of the Naxalite-affected areas of the district to attend a function. There was a lot of apprehension those days of attacks from the ground on low-flying aircraft and our helicopters flew really low.
Space travel is restricted to astronauts participating in government expeditions, but for a few well-to-do businessmen like Guy Laliberte who, in 2009, undertook a $35 million trip to the International Space Station. Thereafter, private flights were halted, following an accident, and have yet to resume. Needless to say, that is one experience I have not had! But, reading books on science fiction, especially those written by Arthur C Clarke, and watching the movies produced with the plots of those books as the subject, gives one a good idea of what it is likely to be like. The movie '2001– A Space Odyssey,' and its two sequels, as also the movie 'Apollo 13,' based on true life events, are probably among the best movies I have ever seen. Episodes of the legendary serial 'Star Trek,' featuring Captain Kirk and the view of the spaceship 'Enterprise' were also brilliantly picturised, and made for absorbing watching. Laliberte himself has given a fairly vivid and graphic account of his own experience.
Another thrill which I came close to experiencing, but did not quite manage to, was the canal rides in the gondolas of Venice. I made several visits to Rome but, somehow, failed to visit Venice. Similarly, despite visiting Srinagar once, shortly before my retirement from service, I missed a ride in the 'Shikara' in the Dal lake. Despite my advancing age I still live in the hope of doing these things sometime!
All of us have been on merry go rounds, and experienced the strange outward pull, on one's body, and on giant wheels or a roller coasters, to feel the lurching sensation in the stomach, as the up and down vertical motion takes place. Good for excitement but certainly not very pleasant. Another interesting experience was riding in a lift, to the top floor of the Empire State building in 1982 and, much later, in 1997, to the top of the Twin Towers in New York, what with the lifts racing up at terrific speed and reaching the top in no time at all.
Another word about racing before we stop. It has been a common and popular theme for books as well as movies. Almost all the novels of Dick Francis, the famous author, are exclusively devoted to the sport of horse racing in various parts of the world, and the intrigue and suspense that surround the world of racing. Then there was that famous movie of the 1960s, 'Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines,' about a race between aeroplanes from London to Paris, organised by a London-based newspaper. The Hindi movie 'Ta Ra Rum Pum' was also a truly 'racy' film about motor racing.
And now, perhaps, it is time to 'move' to another subject next week!
(The writer is former Chief Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh)
(The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer.The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of The Hans India)