Row row row your boat
gently down the stream
merrily merrily merrily merrily
life is but a dream..
Have you sung this rhyme in your childhood classes? I remember swaying my hands back and forth and merrily singing it loud. It was and is still fun to row the boat in air and sing aloud. But when it came to getting unto a boat which was in real water which was like more than 10feet deep! Man!! It can get really adventurous I say. Really really deep!!
I was all excited about planning a trip to Allepey and we ruled out the option of staying in a house boat as we will not have much to do apart from sailing in the backwaters. It is a good option only if you want to sit idly at one place and booze or if you want to cuddle with your partner and escape into dreamland. But for girls trip, we wanted to roam around in the city as well and hence we booked our room with a resort which was right on the backwaters.. Bang! The train to Allepey chugged really really slow and by the time we reached we were awesome dirty and tired. We hired an auto to take us to the resort and went finding our way to Punnamada. The auto took us through a small lane and stopped on the way and pointed towards a smaller lane where we need to walk. It was actually backyard of a house and I was wondering if we were barging into others’ house. We walked through the lane and came to a clearing and wow.. There, backwaters!
The place was awesome with house boats parked all along and some sailing, with the morning sun ray falling on the water and looked like diamonds thrown around.. And right opposite on the other end of the bank was the resort. The care taker waved from the other end and he embarked on a small canoe. “Are we going to get into that?” I whispered to my friends. Fear gripped all over me. Am poor with jumping into things, am poor with alighting, am poor with crossing, am prone to slip and fall down at the silliest thing you can imagine and and and I don’t know swimming!!! Mummyyyyy.. The boatman rowed the boat swiftly and he parked it close to the bank and tied one of the sides to a coconut tree. The care taker took our luggage and kept it into the canoe. “Get in” He was full of smiles while I gave the worst stare at him! “Into that?” I asked myself. Now do you know what canoe is? It is a narrow boat like fish shape with some planks in the middle! Is it going to hold five people? I could see water inside the canoe, is it in the process of sinking? What if it wobbles away? The bank where we were standing was much higher than the canoe, so we need to kind of jump into the canoe. What if I don’t place my foot properly and it slips and I fall into the water? Only I was asking all these questions while my other friends got into the canoe. I was calculating the distance between the bank and the canoe and the speed at which I should place my leg into the boat, no not boat it is canoe. The caretaker was by now laughing, “Just sit down on the bank and put your foot into the canoe.” You know how friends are, they had by now got all the chance to tease me for lifetime. I managed to sit down and was about to drop my legs into the canoe when suddenly ‘the deep blue sea’ movie came into my mind and the canoe looked like a shark with its mouth wide open to eat me up. Don’t they all look similar!!! Very patient caretaker I should say!! He reassured me again and there I went into the canoe and quickly sat in one of the planks with my eyes and head rolling! And then some seating rearrangements had to be done to balance weight.. The canoe started sailing and I was holding onto both the sides of the canoe sitting stiff like a rod. By now calculations as how to get out of this canoe in the other end of the bank was going on in my head. Thankfully the other end of the bank had some steps so getting out of it was comparatively easier.
Now this was the mode of commute every time you want to get into the city. “I love this resort so much. It is just lovely to watch the water and houseboats sailing from here. I don’t want to roam into the city man. You people do all that. I am just going to sit here and laze around!” My friends burst out into laughter hearing this. “Canoe is not going to eat you up!”, it started with this statement and went on for many more. Now my mind was doing calculations as how many more times I have to get in and out of that boat for the entire trip, the number did not seem very appealing. We got ready to set out into the city and the test came up again. I don’t think I had so much fear to write even exams. Getting in seemed ok but the other side of the bank was again testing me. It was pretty high and the boat was wobbling happily. The boatman was holding onto the canoe trying his best to stop it wobble. My friend got out and gave a hand. “I think I might pull you into the canoe in the process of me getting out!” I shrieked out at her. She was looking at me as though it was the best chance I had. She was stronger than I thought and phew one test over.
I had to go through this whole exercise multiple times then on. With subsequent times, the boat man got used to me, he was like whether I hold the canoe or not, she is going to shriek so no need to stop it from wobbling. The owner of the house, the backyard of which was we had to get into the boat, was finding it as most entertaining. My friends got tired of teasing too. And I was doing calculations quicker and was learning to get in and out of the canoe with less fuss. Well according to me, it was less fuss!! But then it started pouring and sitting in the bank and getting into the canoe seemed messy! It was slush everywhere and the canoe was already filled with water. I was so sure of getting slipped by slush, fall right onto the canoe and get my head hit on the houseboat parked adjacent to the canoe.
With the option of sitting in the bank ruled out, I finally took the courage to kind of jump into it. The owner of the backyard house came closer to have a better look of the comedy scene. Few women who were washing clothes a little away stopped washing and watched me! With all the eyes set upon, my trembling feet was trembling more! I kept my first foot and the canoe slightly moved away from the bank. Before I could keep the second the canoe had moved away, panic struck me, others shouted not to keep the second foot and I quickly clutched on to a coconut tree and got back to the bank. No wonder they have coconut trees all over the bank! Thankfully it was not my fault that the canoe wobbled away. The boat man had got tired of me and did not hold onto it. The ladies who were washing clothes started shouting at the boat man to hold onto the canoe and I was happy that my calculations were right; it was the canoe’s fault to move away! This was also of course funny episode for my friends.
Finally it was end of our trip and we had our bags packed, all set to go towards the railway station. I was happy thinking that the time has come for the last ride in the canoe. The care taker was once again present to bid us goodbye.. The bags got into the canoe and occupied almost all the place..
“I did it. Didn’t I!! We did not even fall into the water even once” I said that loud with the broadest smile.
“Oh yes very true!” people were mockingly clapping the hands and the boat man and care taker to join in applauding. My friends got in and the canoe was kind of full.
“Where should I step in?” Again with all doubts and question marks I asked the care takers.
“Just keep your leg in the middle of the canoe!”
“But there are bags everywhere!”
He patiently got in, moved aside the bags and made space for me to get in. Whatta hospitality!
“Shall I get in!”
“Yaaaaa” shouted my friends.
I kept my one leg and.. And whoaa it wobbled big time.
“Come to the center, come to the center” shouted my friends. The boat was wobbling back and forth and I was losing balance. I spread my legs hoping it would balance the weight.
“Just sit, sit down quickly!” The care taker was rushing me to sit. Panic struck everyone and the boat man was trying to hold the boat and jump outside in case it topples.
I sat down quickly holding onto both sides on my bag. The shaking came under control and my friends were scorning at me!
“You were about to drown all of us!” came shrills from them. I gave a geekish smile and moved myself to a plank. Did some seating rearrangements and the canoe started its journey..
We politely waved good bye to the caretaker and the canoe soon reached the other end of the bank.
Raamaa.. Before I could think of wobbling the boat again the lady who was washing the clothes came forward. She extended her hand to pull me out. I was more than happy at the friendly hand and got out of the canoe. With that the ride in the canoe came to an end. I looked back and it was wobbling in the still water! It can wobble even in still water!! Kind of miss it actually.. With all the adventurous ride our trip came to an end and we headed back home with all memories..
Oh! And one more thing. The couple next room also had an adventurous story, may be less adventurous. Looks like in the middle of the night they found water in their house boat and figured it was sinking! Then they rushed out of the boat and people helped them to reach this resort. So people that romantic houseboats can sink too..