That thing they say about adrenaline is true: it’s insanely addictive and you will constantly be looking for your next fix once you get a taste of it. Do something wildly exciting (or wildly stupid) and you will be conscious of it flowing through your veins — your heart rate elevates, your muscles tense up, you become acutely aware of your surroundings. Everything you see and hear singes itself into your memory. Your synapses are firing faster than ever, you are subconsciously registering, analysing, poised to react. You feel indestructible.
You probably weren’t even looking for it the first time it hit you — a rabid dog chasing you down the street, a passing car missing your elbow by millimetres, losing your footing on a flight of stairs but catching yourself before you hit the floor. But then you feel it again, some other time. And then again. And again. And again. And you like what you feel. So you actively seek that sensation — the tips of your fingers tingle with anticipation, constantly looking for avenues to satiate your hunger for a high. But our hyper urban lives keep us rather restricted from doing so. It’s tough, finding a safe, legitimate activity to induce that rush. Walking on the edges of buildings, hanging out of moving trains and racing on the streets may give you that rush but then you’re just asking natural selection to have its way with you. It’s downright stupid. Don’t do it.
Instead, look for a safe environment, where you aren’t a hazard to society. And that’s precisely what I’ve been attempting for the past couple of months with the Datsun redi-GO. The redi-GO is a bonafide city car. It is tiny, designed to squeeze through heavy city traffic on your daily commute. It has got a small 800cc engine and so it’s economical, but makes 53bhp and 72Nm and is more than comfortable around the city. But it is also affordable, and in this limited edition Sport livery, it looks pretty cool. That means youngsters like you and I are going to be buying it, and we’re going to need it to be robust enough to deal with our adrenaline-induced adventures over the weekend. As a journalist who takes his job very seriously, I took it out for a day of white-water rafting to put this fundamental requirement to the test.
There’s this company called Kolad Rafting that organises white-water rafting adventures right in our backyard, some 100km from our base in Pune. The Kundalika river flows near the town of Kolad and you can raft there in a two-hour window every morning. Why just two hours, you ask? That’s because the gates of a dam further upstream are opened every morning for just two hours so that a nearby energy plant can generate energy from the flowing water. The rocky river bed means that the water is choppy enough for a good time out rafting, but only when the water levels are high enough. When the gates are shut, the water level drops considerably and it just isn’t any fun.
To get to Kolad from Pune, you’ve got to pass through the scenic Tamhini ghat. The road is well surfaced for the most part, with just a couple of short rough patches of tarmac. The route is rather scenic as well — you drive past the sparkling blue waters of the Mulshi reservoir, along craggy mountain faces and through rolling fields of tall, dried grass (mildly reminiscent of Donald Trump’s hair). The ghat is also notorious for being home to wildlife like leopards, however the wildest life we saw were a couple of helmet-less jokers in chappals and shorts racing down the ghat on battered scooters. The redi-Go was a pleasant surprise on the ghat roads though. So long as you aren’t trying to push it and find the limits of grip on every corner, it will carry a brisk pace through the twisties. The engine may be small, but the car is light and so it still has enough grunt to carry itself up slopes.
It wasn’t long before I was sitting on an inflated raft, paddle in hand, waiting for the first set of rapids. My fingers were tingling again, I knew the adrenaline was close. We’d just been briefed about the dos and don’ts of rafting — how to paddle, how to brace for the rapids, how never to take off the lifejacket. I’ve rafted plenty of times before and could have given the brief myself if I had to, but my mind was occupied by the anticipation of what lay ahead.
The first rapid was but a teaser — it was choppy, but not very violent — some water splashed in to the raft and gave us a sense of what was yet to come. The rapids got a little more intense with each passing one and we had to paddle harder to get out of them. At one point the raft bucked and tried to throw us off, and that’s when the adrenaline hit not just me, but everyone on the raft. We had a fairly good grip (you use our legs to grip the raft) and everyone managed to stay on the raft, but it was a close call. And we wanted more. It’s exhilarating, taking on an unrelenting force of nature like a flowing river and coming out unscathed.
The entire session lasts over two hours and you travel around 12km downstream in the process. From there, you can either choose to stay on at Kolad, or drive back home. We stayed on at Sanskriti Farms, a quaint little place with cottages in the heart of a paddy field. It’s the perfect place to kickback in a hammock with a book, and relax after a day of adventure.
The Datsun redi-Go came through and has enough adventure junkie cred. It made it to the rafting site without a hitch and even did a fair bit of off-roading to take us to points from where shutterbug Rohit could shoot photographs of the rafts. I got my fill of adrenaline for the time being, but I was going to be back. Apparently the rapids in the Kundalika are even more monstrous in the monsoons and I’m definitely coming back here to give it another shot.