High On Waves - Kayaking In India
“You know people always ask me – ‘Aren’t you afraid of the water?’ Well, who wouldn’t say no? But then, they are simply not aware of what the sea throws at me every time I go and paddle.”
That’s what Kaustubh Khade had to say when asked about his love for kayaking. Kaustubh took up the sport as a challenge and learnt kayaking in India after completing his graduation from IIT. Today, within a span of 5 years, he is amongst the top crop of India’s professional kayakers.
In this brief interaction, Kaustubh talks about the highs and lows of kayaking, his experiences during expeditions, and his life journey, including a lovely tale of romance on pedals with girlfriend, Shanjali Shahi.
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL ASPECTS OF KAYAKING
Kaustubh, being the first Indian to longest solo sea kayak, sheds light on the physical and psychological facets of kayaking.
“To kayak long distance is of course physically strenuous. You are putting yourself in pain every day. Every five days your body wants to give up,” the 30-year-old had to say while talking about the physical strain of the sport.
Referring to his Kutch to Kanyakumari expedition, “By the end of my 83-day journey, my fingers were swollen, and every stroke hurt,” says Kaustubh.
And that’s not it, psychologically, kayaking is a tough dare too. “I spend 6-8 hours out on the water at a go. That’s 8 hours with no company but myself. There are no towns to go through, no chai-wallahs and nowhere to fill your water bottle. Once I’ve cast off, that’s it,” Kaustubh asserts.
“I have to surrender to being by myself. A world of thoughts goes through your head. Everyday. From the happy to the dark. The loneliness on the water itself might push one to pack up,” he adds.
For sure, kayaking is much more than just paddling through beautiful waters.
Here’s a look at Kaustubh’s Mumbai to Goa expedition, marked down in the Limca Book of Records for the longest solo kayaking excursion by an Indian.
TIME AND TIDE WAIT FOR NONE, BUT….
During the Kutch to Kanyakumari expedition, Kaustubh swears he felt as if time and tide simply stopped for an indefinite moment. While kayaking, just off of Udipi, his eyes fell upon one white beach, and without giving it a second thought, Kaustubh kayaked right up there. “It was beautiful; I had the whole island to myself. I ran up and down the rocks. With its scant vegetation and birds flying overhead, it was true freedom running wild on an island scaring the crabs.”
“But it’s not fun every time. When I was off of Kannur, the water suddenly got real choppy. The wind was gusting, and in the midst of all this a kayak handle came loose on the stern (back) of the kayak and got stuck in the rudder. It jammed it in a right turn. So any stroke I took kept turning me in circles,” Kausutubh said while sharing a bitter experience of his 83-day journey.
The struggling young man had to then jump off his kayak, swim to the stern, correct the issue, jump back in and bail out the water. And all that while being tossed around by the waves.
Check out another avid Kayaker Rishi Rana as he engages in some breathtaking whitewater kayaking in Rishikesh.
ROMANCE ON PEDALS
Kaustubh Khade and his girlfriend Shanjali Shahi have an unusual idea of romancing on peddals. During Kaustubh’s Kutch to Kanyakumari expedition, Shanjali decided to accompany him on her bicycle, while his better half conquers the sea on his Kayak.
“The 3-month trip was battling physical exhaustion, dehydration, and the heat can put a strain on almost any relationship. So it was a miracle that we both came out of it stronger,” says Kaustubh, tongue in cheek.
“We really held each other up. Shanjali’s knees were bust and my fingers ached for weeks after. But at the end of every day, we would meet and discuss our day. Have our dinner together and plan the next day,” concludes Kaustubh.
Check out this Big Fit Indian Wedding for some more adventurous romance.
Kayaking is one of the most practiced water sports training in India. One can best learn Kayaking or Canoeing in India in Rishikesh (Uttarakhand), Himachal Pradesh, and Kerala. To conclude, there’s a famous quote by Confucius that says, ‘A man of wisdom delights in water’ …. So, start paddling!
Author: Zishan Amiri
His peculiar love for words and Sachin Tendulkar got him into sports journalism. A vintage bike lover, whose introvert personality often takes him to long solo rides on his restored RX 100.