Monday, August 9, 2010

River,Canal and the Wadi

Cut 1 : My Phobia
I dread heights, i used to be more afraid of water. As a kid i once had the misfortune of watching a man fall from our terrace in to our well and there was the incident when i got swept off by the current while washing our truck in a river and i woke up later in a hospital. I also remember falling in to a water cask head first and remaining there till saw my legs sticking out and saved me from drowning. So by the school going age i was really very very hydrophobic.

An irrigation canal ( Source : Google)
Cut 2 : The canal
I am riding a bike, sandwiched between two burly 3rd year seniors of my engineering college, i'm feeling numb coz the ragging had been going on for weeks and i was sick to the point of quitting college. The bike suddenly veered off the main road to a dirt road and we approached a pedestrian bridge connecting two banks of an irrigation canal just wide enough for a man to pass. I closed my eyes and i could hear the gurgling water above the din of the motorbike. The guy must have crossed that narrow bridge a 100 times on his bike he crossed the bridge with out reducing speed and i felt the fabric of my jeans scraping the wall of the bridge. Our college had no mens hostel then and most of the guys rented out villas near the college. It was customary to name the villas so as to identify them easily and names went like "triple x", "white house" ," Pentagon" , "Kryptex" , "saplee villa" , " buji villa" etc. This time around they were taking me to a particular villa named " Durandam". I thought about all the stories about "durandam" , of it occupants and their antics. Durandam is a malayalam word which means tragedy i hope i neednt explain further.
I was expecting the usual round of punches slaps and horrific abuse which were common in those days in engineering colleges as part of the ragging for first year students but to my surprise there is only shakehands and casual conversation. One of them introduced himself and took me along for a walk. We walked and talked and then he lit up a cigarette and hoisted himself up on the railing of the canal's walls and made me do the same. He asked me if i could swim to which i explained my phobia. He nodded and pointed to me a foot ladder and told me to make a good note of it. I was still asking myself, why he asked me so when he just pushed me in to the canal's gurgling,froathing swirls. I opened my mouth to scream only to taste murky water , i thrashed around, i tried to call for help when i came up for air , the current was pushing me along like a twig. I saw a lot of seniors by the bank laughing their heads off. All of them shouting at me to grab the ladder. I grabbed it somehow and made my way up slowly, i collapsed exhausted and vomited my insides out. I smiled to myself as i my ears and nose slowly cleared. They had much fun at my expense but i got cured of my hydrophobia.
Ragging is really good to break the ice and get rid of your inhibitions,if it is done by sensible seniors and as long as it does not involve abuse. I made a lot of friends amongst my seniors and juniors because of ragging. When i first came to muscat i felt very very alone but my life here changed for good when i met 12 other guys who studied in the same college.

As-Siffah wadi near quriyat : (Pic by me)
Cut 3 : Wild Wadi
I am navigating using a gps, with kevin (my colleagues 10 year old son) on my lap. we are trying to find a wadi near as siffah dam. I see a bunch of omani guys jumping off a cliff face as we park by the wadi banks. I walk over to them saying salam and i watch as they show off their diving skills. One of them says to me " sadeeq taal minni, leish entha kauf ? "(my friend come over here , are you afraid?). I smile and tell them " aiwa sadeeq , aana wagid kauff" (Yes my friend i am very afraid). Another one sneaks up behind me and push me off, i was expecting it and i do my perfect knife dive routine and come back up with a thumbs up sign laughing my head off to the loud cheers whistles and mabrouk calls from the omani guys.
So this is the story of how i acquired and got rid of my hydrophobia, now i have the fear of heights to overcome.