OUTDOOR ADVENTURES INDIA

OUTDOOR ADVENTURES INDIA

I grew up with a family that roamed, we were constantly on the move, we sailed, hiked, camped, drove across the country on holidays. School in the foothills of the Himalayas created a love of nature and continued the outdoor experience.

When rafting first started in India (1985/86) there were a handful of young men who decided to train to be river guides, I went rafting, met them and became the sole woman to join the fledgling adventure industry. We all created the first adventure outfits in India.

Himalayan River Runners, Mercury Himalayan Explorations, Outdoor Adventures India, Snow Leopard Adventures. A few years later, Aquaterra Adventures.

Our businesses grew because we loved what we did, the sports, the environment and we were professionals. We formed the associations required to regulate all aspects: safety guidelines, environmental guidelines and we created an adventure fraternity that introduced our wilderness areas to the world.

First descents and first ascents. The first ever international white water championship, we few represented the country. Opened new areas and new rivers: Spiti, Zanskar, Kali, Tons, Brahmaputra and the so far hidden Himalayan valleys.

It was a wonderful adventure that I have lived. At Outdoor Adventures or OAI as it was called, Ajay and I led every trip personally and that was our USP. Our camp on the banks of the Ganga was our home, I lived in a tent for months at a time, our guests became friends and returned to do almost every trip we ran.

Why did we stop? Because we did not want to dilute the product we had created, we did not enjoy, or have the continued energy or enthusiasm to lead every trip.

There was a whole other world to discover too, and it was time to do more.

I still promote all the trips that we ran in collaboration with the associates we made, they are conducted by younger, more enthusiastic people with the same level of professionalism. Occassionally, I do still accompany a trip to add my stories.

I think Ajay is finally doing something with the wonderful photographs he takes.

PAVANE MANN

A wandering urge and a keen sense of adventure involved her in the  outdoors since the early age of 7. Sailing, snorkelling and diving  along the coast of India, the Andaman and Lakshwadeep Islands. Studying at The Welham Girls School, Dehra Dun, with  nature loving teachers led to camping, trekking, bird watching and   an interest in natural habitats and wild life. She has trekked  extensively over the high Himalayas gathering experience and    knowledge that extends to almost all aspects of the region-  geographical, natural and cultural. Pavane has been  associated with rafting since its conception in India and has run almost all Indian and some overseas rivers.

AJAY MAIRA
A natural outdoorsman, he has been trekking and camping since he was 8. Educated at the Lawrence School, Sanawar. Ajay represented India as a member of the first Indian White Water Rafting team that took part in the World Cup Rafting Competition in Switzerland (1987). He ranks among the top few professional rafting people in our country. Those responsible for exploratory first descents, opening new rivers to the sport – Spiti, Upper Teesta, Brahmaputra. Instructing, training and setting out guidelines that make white water rafting in India comparable to the best in the world. He also skied,  did mountaineering expeditions and numerous treks.

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The parents, 50 years!

Landmark events make for remembrance. It was our parents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary and I was laughing out loud at what a roller coaster ride it has been for all of us.

Then came the flood of little memories:

My grandparents huge rambling garden in Patiala. I was a very little girl and my mother was walking me around the garden ostensibly to teach me my tables. We walked through the rose garden and I learnt about Crimson Queens, Sunflares, Tea Roses and rose -water; onto the lawns and the profusions in the beds offered hollyhocks and Sweet-peas, Talking Antirrhinums or Snapdragons that opened and closed their mouths and could tell stories. The pixies that lived in the rockery and the fairies that lived in the flowers. Finally we discovered a water pipe feeding a flower bed and, there , where the water hit that lovely brown mud was a little hillock of rippled chocolate effect. That is all it took, we sat there for the rest of the morning making mud cakes and creating a little garden-world of stories.

I still don’t know my tables, but I know moments, dreams, beauty and life.  I think it carried me farther than the tables, thanks my mommy.

Then there is the memory of the most unique driving lesson a girl could have. The emptiest, straightest, safest stretch of tarmac my father could find was the runway at the Dabolim airport in Goa. That he was commanding the airbase at the time was obviously a necessity. So there we were, one orange ambassador, my daddy and I at the start of the runway: into first gear and we bucked into motion, into second which was smoother, third was a piece of cake, cruising, then he say ‘see that line there, now put it into fourth, that is where you step on it, get to fifty and take off.’ We went racing down that runway and almost fell off the cliff at the end, driving lesson or flying, I don’t know what he imagined,  but I am still flying!

I think every girl has a swash buckling hero in a dream somewhere. Just what do you do when they come larger than life?

She lived at 5 Safdarjang Lane in Delhi and he was a flying instructor at Jodhpur. How was he ever going to woo this amazingly beautiful woman that he had met?

He did it. Almost every Saturday morning as she sat on the lawn or the verandah, reading her book, a roaring fighter jet would do a low fly past, waggle it’s wings and disappear to land at the Safdarjang Airport. Soon after this swashbuckling man with a flying helmet under his arm would come calling.Uff! And we get excited with motorcycles.

They still make the most beautiful, if volatile, couple and I think I speak for all of their children and grandchildren when I say we are extremely proud to belong with them.