Expedition New Delhi: The True Meaning of Brown Claw

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My first Indian wedding experience lived up to expectations, yes half the guests got food poisoning, but before that kicked in-it was one hell of a night. The reception was located at what we normally use as a campsite for the OB programs, but it had been seriously pimped up. All night the kids surrounded me – I suppose they thought white people have good moves. They came to the right place. I ran around like a headless chicken that night trying to experience all the wedding festivities; the all-woman circles that danced in a jumping motion, the live band, getting those sexy Indian hand hennas (although mine was severely smudged when someone took my hand as it was time to leave the dance floor).

The week after the wedding was a little bit of a smudge, after my body got over the food poisoning, I safety kayaked for the ex prime ministers grand daughter, with 30 armed security guards I felt a little pressure but all ran smoothly. I then began a 7 day trekking and rafting expedition with a group from Singapore which is what I’ll be focusing on today.

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The trek was special for me as we were followed by a dog named bobcat (I had no say in the naming process). He slept in the doorway of our tent at night and kept the group together in the day.

One lady in particular deserves a mention as she acted as a motivation for many of the group on the last leg up the mountain; stick lady. Every time she see’s a group trekking to the top of the mountain she stops whatever she is doing and gives them all trekking sticks that she made, the reason being; it is her dream to visit the temple on the top of the mountain but she has never been able to make it all the way, however just knowing that her sticks help some people reach the top brings her joy. I tried to persuade the lead instructor to let her ride a mule to the temple but I had no luck. The campsite had a delicious view of the snow capped Himalayan mountains which turned orange as the sun came up, just looking at these mountains makes me feel things I can’t quite explain.

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In the morning Ajay, Debu and I went to visit the temple which had an entrance with hundreds of bells all around. Once speaking to the Sadhu and finding out the story of the temple, I also found out that the bells where brought by the people that have had their prayers answered. We all said a prayer before leaving, I hope one day there will be a bell from me hanging outside the temple.

Apres trek, we started the rafting, Bobcat couldn’t quite let go and hopped onto a raft to join us. Coming to the end of the day of mostly floating, Nathan pointed out a surf wave so I paddled over for a play and saw 2 black bears on the beach, not wanting to shout as to scare off the bears I felt it was a perfect time to use the brown claw river signal. A confused Nathan looked back at me as we had previously said how ridiculous the signal was, he then saw the bears and understood. I was slightly torn between watching the bears or surfing the wave as it was a nice looking one, so I opted for both and managed to get a nice view of the bears 10 feet away from me whilst on the wave.

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David Attenborough may as well have narrated this day as once we arrived at camp the wildlife didn’t let up. Chilling round the camp fire, we were disturbed by a very loud growl coming from the bushes. We went over to investigate to find 2 yellow eyes staring at us from the jungle, we moved closer to be met by an aggressive growl which sent us all falling back over the sand bank. After some discussion of what to do with a leopard wanting to come over for tea, we decided camp evacuation was too dangerous as it was now dark, so instead we set up a harbour area with 3 fires, raft shelters facing inwards, and centuries on night duty. All we needed was inches of snow and not being able to feel my fingers I would have thought I was back on one of my OTC camps in England. Armed with a paddle and river knife me, Nathan and Raju went to deconstruct our shelters which had unfortunately been put up only meters away from the leopard. After a swift operation we made it back with our sleeping bags and roll mats ready for the night. Once morning came I was very eager to check out this leopard situation, with tracker Ajay we found where the leopard had taken down its prey and then dragged it off into the jungle, there were also leopard cub prints alongside the mothers which were adorable.

The expedition was made by the extraordinary people we got to share the experience with, two instructors from Singapore Arfan and Khali, Ajay the Rafiki of India, Raju and Debu (Mario and Luigi) and of course the infamous interns whom I’m here with; JP and Nathan.

-Ellie

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Current Location: Delhi, India

You can read more about Ellie’s adventures in India here.

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