“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters.” ― Norman Maclean
I was born and have lived a large portion of my life next to a river, in the tea town of Dibrugarh in Assam. Not just any river, but one of the world’s mightiest rivers, the Brahmaputra. Naturally, my life and the course of the river over time are interconnected, as it is for all the other townsfolk. In the summer monsoons when incessant rains make the river swell, we fear it, and respect it for replenishing the soil with minerals brought fresh from the Himalayas. Then, the winter comes, sunny days for months; we celebrate, we sunbathe and we go for picnics and swims. Basically, life in Dibrugarh revolves around the seasons and follows the Brahmaputra’s course.
Some of the most cherished memories of my life have occurred in the Brahmaputra. The most popular weekend adventure in this region is to drive to the riverside, hire a boat and find a desolated island from where no soul can be seen for miles and miles. As a result, throughout adolescence to adulthood, I have been a part of such outings. The Brahmaputra has an average width of eight miles in this region; as if separating its two banks eternally. In the vastness of this ocean of a river, lie embraced more than a thousand deserted islands. Some of them are permanent, some islands get washed away every monsoon while new ones prop out in the dry months. So, it has never been hard so far to find the perfect island to camp at. Robinson Crusoe would certainly love to be a sailor in these waters I think.
We go all armed; with tents, extravagant rations, porters, cook, alcohols… the list goes on. The first and foremost highlight of the trip is the time spent in the water; throwing each other and splashing water everywhere. The ones who know how to swim have it easy and play a lead role in assisting the beginners into the water. The ones who are mischievous spend their time looking out for those who are scared of water only to throw the poor souls into the river. Then there are the mothers who help their children learn how to swim. The fresh water with its magical and mineral rich properties rejuvenates us all, takes away our weariness and instills in us a newfound zest – an Alive is Awesome Bathing experience. By the time we finish playing in the water, we are as hungry as newly born kittens. Men cry to their wives for food while the children cry to their mothers. And when the freshly caught fish is served, we are never disappointed.
The other highlights of such a trip can be building sandcastles, playing beach volleyball and soccer, flying kites, fishing for food, finding washed away wood pieces which can be used as abstract decors for homes, gossiping, teasing women, sleeping under the stars, drinking warm rum in cold nights while sitting near the warmth of a campfire… The imagination runs wild when one is lost in a lonely island and has all the time in the world.
* This post is part of a series showcasing Alive is Awesome Bathing experiences.