Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Latest News
WhatsApp introduces 'Recent Online Contacts' feature: What is this and how to use it NASA's plan to bring Mars samples to Earth undergoes revision due to budget cuts Election Commission Of India: 48.76cr Drugs, 19.27cr Liquor Seized From Mar 1 To Apr 13 | Guwahati News China’s GDP growth beat expectations – so why are analysts and business groups still downbeat? US, Chinese defence chiefs talk for first time in more than two years Samsung has good news for Galaxy S22 users: OneUI 6.1 update to bring latest Galaxy AI features and more Copenhagen’s Old Stock Exchange Building Partly Collapses in Fire Former UK leader Liz Truss backs Trump and blames others for her ouster after 49 days Biden under fire for shutting down US oil production, urged to impose sanctions on Venezuela Possession Of Ganja: Two Youths Held For Possession Of Ganja, Luxury Car Seized | Coimbatore News CBDT signs record number of 125 Advance Pricing Agreements in fiscal 2023-24 Gay cruising hotspot or sacred Hong Kong wishing tree? It is both in this art exhibition by Trevor Yeung SCMP Best Bets: Beast can scare off rivals at Happy Valley | HK Racing Justice Thomas returns to Supreme Court after 1-day absence 404 | Fox News 'I can feel Begunia residents' support for Congress, my family' | Bhubaneswar News Rumoured couple Sonakshi Sinha and Zaheer Iqbal's relationship decoded by body language expert China’s top diplomat Wang Yi to push belt and road during visits to Indonesia, Cambodia and Papua New Guinea Luck finally eludes Shreyas Iyer! KKR skipper loses toss against RR despite kissing coin before flipping | Cricket News Electric vehicles: China’s Chery Automobile enters UK’s car rental business as its Omoda EVs are leased out by Octopus A London court rules against a Muslim girl who wanted to pray at a school known for strict rules UP: RPF cop saves man from coming under train at Prayagraj railway station | Allahabad News India's unemployment rate to decline by 97 basis points by 2028: ORF report 'Rishabh Pant deserves to be...': Ricky Ponting makes a big statement on wicketkeeper-batter | Cricket News Sony PS5 Pro leaked specs confirmed: This is what to expect from the next PlayStation 5 launching soon Inside the Manhattan Courtroom Where Trump Is on Trial Law firm accidentally divorced wrong couple after 'clicking wrong button' Opinion | Israel-Iran showdown puts the whole world in uncharted territory Waterborne Diseases: Waterborne Diseases On The Rise | Ahmedabad News IMF keeps China’s 2024 GDP growth estimate unchanged on ‘troubled property sector’
HomeSportsFrom Gaumukh to the Bay of Bengal: one man’s voyage of discovery...

From Gaumukh to the Bay of Bengal: one man’s voyage of discovery takes him the length of the Ganges


The challenges were considerable, but this month he endured massive waves and strong gusts to end his 2,750km journey at Sagar Island in the Bay of Bengal.

This was a far cry from his conservative, middle class upbringing, when Rency aspired to follow in his father’s footsteps and sign up with the armed forces.

Most nights were spent camping by the side of the river during Rency Thomas’ trip down the Ganges. Photo: Rency Thomas

But his dreams of joining the Indian Air Force were cut short as a teenager. Over time, Rency developed acute pain and inflammation in the joints and for six months, was bound to a wheelchair.

He was diagnosed with Reiter’s syndrome that had no cure, and could only be kept in check with regular medicines and a lot of care.

“Some doctors said I would never walk again, others were kinder and advised me not to indulge in strenuous activities. It was quite depressing, but I had the willpower to make something of life,” Rency said.

Once back on his feet, he realised adventure was his calling, having dabbled with everything from trekking to kayaking and microlight flying. An opportunity with an outdoors company handed him his first rendezvous with the Ganges.

In 2005, he handled logistics for an expedition featuring explorers, Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen. Here on, four similar assignments planted the thought of his own adventure on the river someday.

Rency Thomas cycled early during his journey, descending into Devprayag. Photo: Rency Thomas

“I was confident that no one knows the Ganges as well as I do,” he said.

The project was put on the back burner as he focused his energies on setting up a travel company. But last year, when he was laid low by arthritis yet again, he knew he had to go.

Rency put in a month of training in the backwaters of Kerala and through well-wishers, managed to put together funds and resources that included a sea kayak, a whitewater kayak, a mountain bike, and a vehicle that could ferry his support team of four and the supplies for the expedition.

In November 2023, Rency started out from Gaumukh, the source of the Ganges in Uttarakhand. After hiking 23km, he hopped on to his mountain bike to descend to Devprayag, from there he hit the 60km whitewater stretch down to Rishikesh. From Haridwar, he switched to the sea kayak for the remaining stretch.

It needed all his experience to navigate the right water channels; getting stuck on sand banks, for instance, would mean lugging the 50kg kayak on his own.

The team kept track of Rency’s progress and had to often create their own roads to reunite with him along the banks. The winter months meant a late start and an early end to each day. Rency would wrap up affairs on the river and lend a hand with everything from setting up camp to cooking.

Funding troubles meant that sometimes Rency Thomas was raising money while making his way down river. Photo: Rency Thomas

After exchanging notes with his team and a good night’s sleep, he would rise for another absorbing day on the river.

But as they descended into the plains, dense fog and lack of visibility meant a delayed start and short progress on certain days. During other times, they had to stay put until the necessary money arrived to continue making progress.

“We had to raise funds on the move and there were days I would be talking to potential sponsors even while paddling,” Rency said.

They lost 18 days of the expedition playing the waiting game. Rency would often be forced to stretch himself and tackle bigger distances to make up time. Things came to a head around the 60-day mark when dense fog stunted their progress, as did the funding.

The physical fatigue and aching joints were manageable, but the emotional stress began to take its toll.

“The arthritis would act up on certain days and I would need help to walk, especially after cycling. But it was no match when compared to the ordeal of fundraising and dealing with bad weather,” he said.

Rency Thomas celebrates in the Bay of Bengal as he nears the end of his journey. Photo: Rency Thomas

A strong bond in the team helped deal with the setbacks, as did the warmth of the people they met along the way. In Jharkhand, they were made comfortable in the homes of relative strangers; folks from the Nishad community, whose lives revolve around the river, showered encouragement on seeing a lone man battling the elements, while curious children gathered around Rency’s 17-foot kayak and asked plenty of questions.

“Everyone knows how polluted the Ganges is,” Rency said. “My intention was to focus on these people whose lives are so inherently tied to this river and in turn, talk about the need to increase our conservation efforts.”

On the final day, Rency’s teammates ditched their vehicle for a boat and made their way to the end point. The big sea fishermen couldn’t quite believe their eyes when they saw Rency cut through the currents on paddle power.

As he navigated the final stretch, a few locals dropped their chores to receive him. And soon settled in to hear of his monumental 95-day effort, the first human-powered descent of the mighty Ganges.



Source link

RELATED ARTICLES

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments

Latest News