Where did you go in Rishikesh?
We went to a 15-tent beach campsite on the Ganga, with a forested hill just behind. It’s six hours from civilization at Shivpuri (beyond Rishikesh) and is run by Mercury Himalayan Explorations (www.himalayanadventure.com).
Weren’t you afraid your seven-year-old would hate roughing it out?
I was scepticalsince we were going without my wife and younger daughter (who was recovering from an illness). But we got outstanding food and beds with warm razais, so it hardly felt like roughing it out.
What was the camping experience like?
Even though it was in the middle of nowhere, we were served three-course meals, which included hot parathas, scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast, and non-spicy food for my daughter. Lunch was washed down with beer, and whisky sipped around the bonfire at night. The loo (a tiny tent with a basic tin box) was just a few metres from the tent.
How were the three days spent?
They started and ended early, since there’s no electricity. The kids played in the water and built sand castles. Meanwhile, the adults got a chance to chill out, relax, chat, read a book and drink beer. We went white water rafting, and trekking with a naturalist from the camp. We saw a leopard’s pug mark, which caused great excitement in camp later with the kids discussing how the leopard was going to eat us up at night.
What was the rafting like? Can you go white water rafting with seven- and eight-year-olds?
It was exhilarating. The adults went rafting and encountered some pretty big rapids. Since there were only six of us in the raft, it was quite light and the rapids tossed us around. It was a cold, wet day and we were freezing, so we ensured that the river guide didn’t give us the customary dunk. The kids were allowed to join us for a small, tamer section and they loved it.
What was the trip’s highlight?w
The spectacular early morning views of the Himalayas from Chamba were the most memorable. All of us had a relaxing time and Tara loved it in spite of the cold. And, of course, the bonding that took place, since this was the first time just the two of us had gone anywhere.
So though you were sceptical, you ended with no regrets about your brave decision?
None at all. Tara didn’t grumble once. Not even when we camped one night at a higher altitude at Chamba in freezing temperatures. She was happyplaying all day with friends and two rabbits. She regularly talks about the trip. So you’re saying that because she had a great time, you too enjoyed the trip?
No question about it. The kids have to be kept active and entertained. If you want to have time to yourself with a book, you’ve got to organize something for them to be doing, some company their age.
Any other lessons from this holiday?
Mainly, of course, that city kids desperately need exposure to nature. We think they can’t handle outdoor situations, but that’s rubbish. So long as they are doing fun stuff, they adapt well. The more you do it, the better they adapt. Of course, they need company their age. My friends do this all the time. So, the other lesson is that we are now going to shamelessly piggy-back with them everywhere they go. Next stop is probably Corbett National Park. As told to Niloufer Venkatraman. Email your feedback to lounge@livemin t.com