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Old 24th April 2013, 21:24   #181
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Originally Posted by Kamen_rider View Post
Thank you! Yes, it was amazing being able to experience the coastline from the sea. One thing I must say is that travelling in the ocean at 5kmph is an entirely different experience from riding a motor driven boat - ...
You know what? For the first time in my life, I was feeling that why can't I read faster! Just want the story to unfold so fast. And you on the other hand, is making me wait. A wait which is so so so difficult. This is Awesome! I am yet to read the entire TL but can't stop myself from replying. You are Unbelievable! Awesome!! Awesome!! Awesome!!
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Old 24th April 2013, 22:03   #182
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Amazing Kamen!

I really do not know how to wish you from bottom of my heart for your grit and determination, might as well make a thesis to talk to the new joinees in my bank.

Great show and waiting with bated breath for the next episode!
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Old 28th April 2013, 18:23   #183
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Another 5 hours 40 minutes till this weekend officially gets over.

Hopefully we get the next installment today. Fingers crossed.
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Old 28th April 2013, 18:47   #184
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Oh Man,

Isn't this crazy. Respects. Hope you will upload some more pics of your feat. Remarkable indeed because you can think of something like this which I doubt would ever come in my mind.

Stay safe

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Old 28th April 2013, 18:50   #185
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Default Day 6, part deux: Police Story!

We waited till the Khaki clad rider drew closer. He stopped a few feet away from us,and tried to prop his motorcycle on the side stand. The sand gave away, so he found a small piece of rock, which he used to wedge between the metal arm and the sand. And then he walked towards us. I waited for him to speak.

'Where are you coming from?,' asked the unsure constable. He seemed to be in his early thirties, wearing a clean uniform and a pair of black sandals. 'Shrivardhan,' I said. 'I have come from Shrivardhan. I left there in the morning.'

'S-h-r-i-v-a-r-d-h-a-n', I repeated, making sure that he understood.

The constable looked at me blankly, and then at my kayak. He was trying hard to digest the information. If he, at this very moment, hopped on his motorcycle and decided to ride to Shrivardhan, it would take nearly four hours . It was 120 kilometers by road. And here was this strange man straight out of the sea, who claimed that he reached Dapoli in 10 hours - without a motor. It seemed impossible.

'What were you doing in Shrivardhan?'

I told him that it was a stop on my way to Goa, and that I had been paddling for the last one week, starting from Mandhva across the Mumbai bay. I could see him struggling to comprehend what I had just said. 'Mandhva?' he muttered. A look of extremely bewilderment and confusion clouded his face; he looked like a man who had just been told the sun now rises from the west. At this point of time, he realized that all this was beyond him. He thought it better to call it in. He checked my drivers license and copy of the passport to establish my identity.

Live in India long enough, and one knows that anything unusual is automatically assumed illegal. It does not matter whether an antiquated law exists in a musty old law book left by the British. What matters is that if it is unusual, it is illegal. This could be as silly as taking pictures on a road and being told by a policeman that it was 'not allowed.' It could be a couple walking in the park being stopped by the moral police. Harmlessly playing football in a deserted place. It could be anything. It can stretch to extremes. Once, a good friend in Chandigarh sent his cook, 'Bahadur' to the market for some errands. He got on a cycle and pedaled out of the mansion. When he did not return after several hours, my friend got worried. He thought perhaps Bahadur had met with an accident, so he got in his car and drove around, looking for him. When he failed to trace him, the worried man visited the nearest police station. And what he saw there shocked him. Bahadur was sitting in a corner of a room with a sad face.

'Why did you detain Bahadur?' my friend thundered at the Police.

'Paaji, yeh Yankee cycle chala raha tha.' (He was riding a 'Yankee' cycle, so we caught him.)

My friend could hardly believe what he was hearing.

'Yankee cycle? Yeh ki honda hai?' ( Yankee cycle?! What do you mean?)

'Wohi, jiska handle niche ko muda honda hai.' ( Oh, the type of bicycle with the handles turned downwards)

So what happened was this. Bahadur got on a racing cycle (BSA Mach 1) from my friend's garage, and sped off to the market. The police saw a pot bellied Nepalese riding a sleek bicycle, so they whisked him and his cycle to the police station.

My friend gave the police a piece of his mind in chaste Punjabi, and took a distraught Bahadur back home.

So here I was, a man claiming to have paddled a few hundred kilometers alone, without the help of a motor. This was as common as a pink cow rollerskating the streets of Mumbai. Highly unusual, so it was assumed to be highly illegal. I could now hear the constable talking on the cellphone, his deferential tone suggesting that he was speaking to his superior. And while he talked, I saw a second constable riding towards us in a distance.

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'Look,' I told the policeman. 'I have been paddling for 10 hours non-stop, and am very tired. I'll just head to the hotel with this man, and all of you can come there and question me all you want.' I bent down to start deflating my kayak. 'No, no, no! You must wait till Saheb comes. He must see all this,' pointing at my kayak and gear.

'It is getting dark, and there is a lot of expensive gear. I need to move this before it gets completely dark.' I told him.

Just near the trees, there was a clearing which was cemented, with a single beach light on a pole rising vertically from it. The light shone down dimly on the area. Evening moths circled the white light, and I could hear their faint buzz above. With the hotel owner's help, I carried everything there and waited.

'Who are we waiting for?' I asked the constable. 'The customs and port authorities,' he answered.' And saheb is also coming in sometime.' We saw a group walking towards us. Three people in short sleeve shirts, and they were from the customs. When they came very close, they just stood there, not saying a word. There was a moment of awkward silence. They had never faced such a situation before, so they had no idea how to begin. I made it easy for them. I sized up the customs group, and I addressed a man who seemed in charge. Short mustache, and tough looking guy. I told him my story, but he did not say anything. I showed him a copy of my passport, and he grumbled something about it being not attested. But then it turned out he wasn't the boss of the group. Apparently, a young chap in his twenties was. His name was Umesh, and he politely asked me where I had come from. I repeated my story again, as I would many times during the course of the next few hours.

The port guy arrived next. He wore a white short sleeve shirt, its buttons strained against a bulging paunch. He had a thick, jet black moustache, and when he spoke, it was like grease left over after deep frying. ' You have done illegal,' he proclaimed. 'Illegal.'

By this time, a lot of hanger-ons started crowding the place, and one of them seemed to owned a fleet of fishing boats. 'You need permission,' he said, seconding the man from the port office. 'No, I don't,' I shot back. 'One needs permissions or registrations only for mechanically propelled vessels. My kayak is operated by hand so it does not apply in this case.' Both of the guys shook their heads in unison, indicating that I was wrong. I just smiled faintly - I was not going to get into a heated argument when everybody seemed to be against me. It would have been a meaningless waste of energy. All of us stood there under the light, and waited for the police to come from Dapoli.

The inspector strode in after ten minutes or so. A slim guy with a receding hairline, and a firearm on his hip. As he walked towards us, the stars on his uniform glinted in the beach light. 'Where have you come from, and what are you doing here?' he began, without any preamble. He looked at me strangely after I told my story to him. After hearing what I had to say, he went across to the customs and port official to discuss what they needed to do. They decided to first check all my luggage first, so they went through all my bags one by one. I had a lot of unusual gear, so every few minutes, they would go, 'What is this?' 'And this?' 'What is this used for?' and I would patiently explain the virtues of a solar charger, GPS, tent, stove, fire starter and so on. They saw my laptop, and soon they were going through its contents, picture by picture. While I did not mind that, I was getting slightly annoyed by the crowd trying to take a peek at my pictures - even kids as young as 7-8 years old. One of the customs guys saw my camera, and wanted to go through all the pictures. I had enough by now, so I said, 'Have you seen my wallet? It was here somewhere.' That had an immediate effect. Their faces clouded with genuine concern, and they started looking for my wallet. I knew exactly where it was, and after sometime, we found it in one of my dry bags. By then, they had forgotten all about the camera, and I quickly pushed it out of sight. Not that it had anything except photographs of the trip, but going through all of it would have been extremely time consuming.

The customs did make a few phone calls to the hotels (where I stayed during the trip) to make sure my story checked out. One of the bystanders in the crowd said he knew Bangalore and would make a few phone calls to find out whether the address on my driving license existed. And so on. The circus continued.

A man in his thirties with his young daughter was part of the crowd, and they watched my stuff being taken apart by the customs. We started talking, and he commented that I appeared so calm while going through all this. I just shrugged. My new friend's name was Mohan, and he worked in Pune. He had come to the Dapoli beachside for a vacation with his family. So while the police, customs and port guys were talking, Mohan and I had a nice chat, exchanging phone numbers. It wasn't the last I saw of him; I met Mohan later in January after the trip, when I had to go to Pune on a business meeting. He insisted on treating me to dinner, and over few plates of Chinese food, we looked back on that fateful evening and had a few hearty laughs.

Looking at the reaction of the authorities, it was mildly amusing to see that no one seemed to know what the law was; it was not surprising considering that none of them could even spell a kayak ( it was true, I had to spell it out for them several times). The police inspector even asked me how did the airline allow the kayak to be transported, and why did they not object. I politely told him that it was not hazardous cargo, and aircrafts carry far more dangerous items in their hold. So you get the drift now - no one had a clue.

But by the end of it, everyone wanted to wash their hands off me. The police thought the port guy could take me in, while the customs and port authorities thought it was the police's job to take care of the proceedings. The custom officials declared that I had nothing which could be seen as objectionable, and they made a quick exit after shaking my hands. The port guy kept on talking about 'permissions' and things like that, so I told him I will accompany him to the port authorities office to get the permission he spoke about. 'No, no, no. The office is in Ratnagiri city and it will take time.' I called his bluff and said, 'No problem. I will come with you right now. I can leave my stuff here and I will go to Ratnagiri tonight. We can visit the office in the morning.'

The portly man shifted on his feet uncomfortably, burdened with the prospect of an unwanted responsibility. The police inspector looked at him hopefully.

'No, I will check with my office and let you know.' With that, he gave his number to the police and hastily walked away. So two hours after I landed, it was just me, the police and the crowd. 'You must come with us to the police station and meet the in-charge there. Pack your boat and we will carry everything to the police station.'

The second constable who arrived at the beach was very impressed with what I had done, and kept using the word 'daring' in a few sentences. And when it was time to get my luggage to the police Sumo, he wouldn't let me pick up anything, and put the crowd to task with a few sharp Marathi commands. Soon there was a motley crew, from ages 8 to 40, carrying my gear to the road. Sweet revenge. Even my heavy kayak, packed wet, was hauled up a group of people and all I had to do was simply amble behind.

The white Police Sumo was right on the small road, its red lights flashing lethargically on the roof. My things were quickly loaded in the cavernous rear of the vehicle, and I sat on the second row of seats. There was another policeman at the wheels, who looked back and smiled at me, while the inspector got in through the front passenger door. We slowly drove out of area, leaving the crowd to undoubtedly what would be exciting dinner conversations. The radio hissed and crackled as we sped towards the direction of the city.

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During the drive, the inspector lamented that the he was left to do all the paperwork, while the customs and port guys got off easy. I pointed out that there was still time, and he could drop me back at the small hotel. After all, I had committed no crime, so why bother with all the trouble? He shook his head vehemently and said that I needed to come to the police station and give a statement.

He asked me what I did and how much salary I made. While I was truthful about my job, I trimmed down my salary to 25% of what I actually made. 'That is a good salary,' the policeman said sagely. He then asked me how much the kayak was. 'Twenty five thousand,' I replied. 'It is like buying good almonds. Thousand rupees a kilo.' Both of them burst out laughing and after that we made the trip in silence, though we stopped once to check on a police beat box. We arrived at the Dapoli Police station around nine, and since it was late, there were only a few cops around. The inspector told me that I had to meet the station in-charge and let me to another room. Brass letters on a wooden plate grandly called out the name and the title, and the door opened up to a large room with a huge wooden desk in the center, and then four or five rows of chairs in front of it. The policeman behind the desk was straight out of a Bollywood movie. I guessed his age to be around 50. He had a big build and a even bigger moustache, jet black twines which protruded on either side. I sat on the last row, like a cat who keeps a wary distance. Overhead, the ancient fan creaked bureaucratically. The inspector from the beach told the man behind the desk my story, and I could hear words like 'inflatable boat', 'five days', 'Mandava', as he reported the incident to his superior.

I was fascinated by the senior policeman's appearance, and I stared at his face as he took in the facts. I could see his large eyes grow bigger in wonder as the other inspector told him that I had paddled alone from just below Mumbai. After he finished listening, he turned towards me and said,' Come, sit closer in the front. You have come alone from Mandhava, in a boat operated by hand? That is so daring! I have never heard of anything like that. But these are bad times, so we have to be careful. You have to give a statement, my men will help you do that. Have you had dinner?'

'No.' I said.

'When you are done, the constable will take you out for dinner and also arrange for your accommodation. You can then come tomorrow morning and collect your kayak.'

I liked him. He was very friendly, and later the other cops told me he was a good sort.

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I walked across to another room with a few plastic chairs and a couple of computers. They started doing the paperwork, and for the first time in my life, I realized how tedious most of the police documentation is. Though I did not have to write anything myself, I could see all of them laboring with the Marathi legalese, struggling to find the correct local words for things like 'inflatable kayak'. Writing the one pager took almost an hour. I was feeling slightly hungry, so I pulled out my energy bars. These were good, high quality energy bars with a lot of dry fruits and nuts so I passed them around to the cops, and they munched on it while they typed the statement out.

After sometime, another policeman in civvies walked in, and he seemed very suspicious of me. He took my cellphone and went through my cellphone messages and contact list. He would point at a name, and say, 'Who's this?' or 'What does he do?'

While one group of cops continued typing the statement, he asked me to come to another room and told me to give me names of people who knew about my trip so that he can call them for verification. He called up one of my friends in Bangalore. He told the cop that I was a famous sea kayaker in Karnataka (big lie, that, but thank you), and I went out to the waters all the time. I saw the cop shaking his head, and heard him say, 'That is ok, but these kind of things are not allowed in Maharashtra.'

Not satisfied, he tried to call up at my dad and a few more people. When there was no answer, he asked me why. I pointed at the wall clock, and pointed out that it was half past 10 in the night, and that was good enough reason. He grumbled a bit, and then he stopped dialing any more phone numbers. Later I came to know that the gentleman was a crime branch inspector and he was a surly type.

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I was allowed to go around 11 pm, but asked to return to the police station around 9 am. The cops arranged for the police Sumo which still had my stuff in it. A constable (the second one from the beach) came with me, and we went to a three storied building which housed a guest house. The constable was incredibly nice; he did not let me carry anything, and he asked the manager of the guest house to arrange a room for me. He told me NOT to pay anything to them as they had an 'arrangement' with the place, and then a young boy from the guesthouse showed us to my room. Clean place on the 2nd floor, with two beds, and common shower and toilet. Not bad at all. We kept my bags in the room and then we headed downstairs to walk to a place where they served dinner. By the looks of it, the home-eatery served a lot of policemen. I was joined by the policeman who drove me from the beach to the police station, and dinner was piping hot rice, some chicken curry and vegetables. And yet again, another cat waiting to swipe something out of my plate. The policeman and I had a leisurely chat, talking about each other's lives. And just before I left for my guesthouse, he looked at me squarely in the eye, and said,

' Hamare line mein bahut sare log dekhne ko milte hain, lekin aapke jaisa customer se mai kabhi nahi mila.'

(We get to meet a lot of people in our line of work, but I've never met a 'customer' like you!)

Next Episode: Day 7, part I: Curiouser and curiouser. What the ...?!


Last edited by Rudra Sen : 28th April 2013 at 19:27. Reason: small correction
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Old 28th April 2013, 19:32   #186
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Originally Posted by SDP View Post
Another 5 hours 40 minutes till this weekend officially gets over.

Hopefully we get the next installment today. Fingers crossed.
Your wish granted, SDP.

Kamen_rider, this is getting interesting with every passing episode. Sad, but true, anything UNSUAL is termed as ILLEGAL in the first view.

You staying calm amidst all this might have caught the officials by surprise.

Hats off!
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Old 28th April 2013, 19:54   #187
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Hey! Apart from your 'daring' feat, I need to commend your deft writing skills and what is, an absolute perfect placement of words. Great job!
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Old 28th April 2013, 21:05   #188
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Kamen_rider, the police took you to the police station in their vehicle. And you took snaps while in the vehicle and later in the police station?

That's some courage!
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Old 28th April 2013, 21:11   #189
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Originally Posted by SDP View Post
Kamen_rider, the police took you to the police station in their vehicle. And you took snaps while in the vehicle and later in the police station?

That's some courage!
Phone camera with silent mode should do this without much issue here.
You really don't need to hold the phone as a camera to grab these kind of shots.

Well, I may be wrong here also.
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Old 28th April 2013, 22:19   #190
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Worth the wait to hear about your rendezvous with Police/Customs/Port authorities. Do we get to read Day 7 this week ?
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Old 29th April 2013, 01:55   #191
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I was astutely avoiding a reply on this thread, Rahul. But today I couldn't stop myself. You are killing us with this.. you are not supposed to take 2 weeks to make a post. Man, you were faster with the paddle.

I assure you there are many of us following your journey. We may not be writing in but we are glued too the thread. How do I cajole you to do whatever it takes and hit the submit button sooner. We will forgive the grammar and the typos if they slip by, though going by the quality of your writing I don't think you need to worry.

We are living a vicarious life through your (and ADC's and Deky's and...) exploits. It's nice to forget that paunch and general feeling of a wasted life.

How do I thank you? Maybe I shouldn't...
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Old 29th April 2013, 11:03   #192
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

That's a shivery situation to be in, I must agree. But given the meticulous preparations you have done for this trip, I am sure you would have anticipated this and was prepared mentally to tackle.

On the other hand, I honestly say, it is definitely a warm reassurance to the people of India that coast guards and policemen do take their job seriously.

Am curious to know why the customs guy insisted on getting a permission? Did you check it up again later after your trip? Is there a law saying so mandating permission for kayak'ing in Indian waters?

Kamen_Rider, What you have done will leave it's sweet after taste for years ahead to be shared to generations to come ! Kudos !
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Old 29th April 2013, 11:33   #193
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Default Re: Day 6, part deux: Police Story!

Originally Posted by Kamen_rider View Post
Next Episode: Day 7, part I: Curiouser and curiouser. What the ...?!
Hello Kamen,

The narration is now getting really nail biting.

You have recalled the entire incident with Police authorities & wrote it very well. It is almost like reading a suspense thriller. But now, do not tell us that we will have to wait for a full one week to know what happened on next morning.

Request you to alteast finish off this encounter with police authorities soon, if your weekday time schedule permits.

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Old 29th April 2013, 11:37   #194
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Default Re: Going solo at 5 kmph - Mumbai to Goa in an inflatable kayak!

Absolutely riveting narration of the police episode Kamen !! The Maharashtra Police are well known for their inefficiencies and extorting attitude. Your 'Daring' probably saved you from being at their receiving end. You must copyright your adventure for a movie\book.
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Old 29th April 2013, 12:50   #195
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Originally Posted by rajwheelz View Post

On the other hand, I honestly say, it is definitely a warm reassurance to the people of India that coast guards and policemen do take their job seriously.
Thats what I was going to say but the job Dapoli police had done should be done earlier by Alibaug police, Dighi port and custom officials .
Though there is nothing illegal in kayaking by Indian national in Indian waters, the police should be vigilant to notice the unusual activity in their jurisdiction and Dapoli police had done it perfectly.
Though Dapoli police had done their duty, I am curious to know how police had acted after knowing that aal is well?
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