Rishikesh was a place that we had been waiting to go since we started INME trips in fourth grade. We had heard so many stories and experiences that came from the sandy beaches and rushing rapids of the Ganges. Now that we finally got to see what we’d been fantasizing about for ages, it felt like a dream come true.
Everything about our trip to Rishikesh was new and magical, from the Metro we took from the Delhi airport to the railway station, to the twists and turns of the road taking us farther and farther away from cramped, crowded Dehradun into a quieter, more serene landscape. It was a pleasant surprise that the camp wasn’t too far away from the railway, we breathed a sigh of relief as nobody got sick on the journey. Once we reached camp, we were enthralled by the ropes course that was on site, and the cozy, familiar tents that stood in rows, waiting to be cluttered with suitcases and knickknacks. We met our instructors, faces that were mostly new with a few familiar ones.
The first day was utterly amazing- we got our first experience with the Ganga, going rafting. The rapids slammed on either side of the boat, cold water that sprayed onto our clothes and faces. We also learned how to paddle. It was surprisingly harder than we thought – the heavy oars were foreign to most of us. We made our way back to camp, soaked but feeling completely energized. The night was cool and clear, which seemed like a blessing after the sweltering day that left us all soaked with sweat.
The second day was equally as vibrant as the first. We had been divided into two groups the previous day, and ours set out to learn how to kayak. The hardest part by far was lugging the monstrous boat up and down the side of the hill. It all felt worth it when we saw the sparkling sand and deep blue water that signified yet another day of fun. After learning the basics, we tried kayaking ourselves- to mixed results. The highlight was definitely when we got our kayak flipped over by the instructors and were dunked overboard, gasping for breath and laughing in the water.
The third and fourth days was absolutely fun filled, we finally got to attempt the massive rope course that we had been eyeing since day one.
The first few challenges were easy, but the last one left many people stumped. It was really heartwarming to see people encouraging their friends and classmates on as they worked their way through the course. By the end, everyone had completed it and despite the blisters that we got, we felt like we had really accomplished something.
Another interesting aspect to the program was the teamwork that went along with it. From the day we built rafts and had to make them float, to Helter Skelter when we cheered our teammates on as they participated in events, we settled our differences and learnt to work together with various members of our group. By the end of camp, I felt like I knew so many people a lot better, and felt like I could relate with my friends, classmates, teachers and instructors more.
By the last day, an air of gloom had spread over camp. Nobody wanted to leave the place that we had made so many unique memories in. Luckily, we got to spend that last day at the beach, playing and splashing in the water and lying on the sand. We came back to camp and reluctantly shoved our clothes in our suitcases, then sat around the main ground, drinking in the sights we would miss tremendously.
The program ended in true INME style- we sat in a circle and took turns being in the middle, where we got showered with compliments and memories by our groupmates. The appreciation made us slightly less bitter about leaving.
After a delicious meal (accompanied by lots of birthday cake) we hiked down the rocky path we had gotten so familiar with, and were loaded onto the buses for the journey home. Looking at the lights reflected on the river, I felt pretty miserable, but every time I remembered a memory from trip, my face immediately lit up in a glowing smile.