Carpe Diem

From Sudhakaran Jeevan ‘s post.

Here’s an example of “Carpe Diem”

The doctor in the story isn’t me, btw. I loved it because, it demonstrates what people are capable of, if, they shake away fear and uncertainty. This usually needs a pretty severe shock. Something that will shake you out of your comfortable, boring, predictable, routine. That could be the Covid lockdown. Or it could be frustration about some other externally supplied constraint. The restriction should rankle one so much, that one is compelled to take action. The situation so dire, that one sees clearly the impermanence and fragility of life.

The response to that realisation is usually one of three.

  1. Denial- ignore
  2. Accept- dig hole and cower in it.
  3. Accept- get out and live.

One can either sit in the holes we’ve dug for ourselves and wait to die. Or, we can get out and live. Carpe Diem, baby!

Note- the comment above is my interpretation. I don’t know the doctor in this story, personally, and I don’t know what went through his mind. But, this is how I looked at the story. And this is what I loved about it.

Mother’s day on Mother Nature’s lap

I met him 2 years ago on the 15th of August when kerala was witnessing the unprecedented floods . An episode which eventually made us good friends . The Soft spoken un assuming paediatric heart surgeon with a great attitude , can easily connect with people of all ages irrespective of their social Strata . A trait which is diminishing from our society .

The Covid pandemic and the resultant Lock down made the adventurer in my friend restless . He couldn’t say no to the vast expanse of the kerala Back waters. He wanted to buy a canoe . Initially I thought that he was joking when he told me , Hey I want to go all alone paddling the canoe from Cochin to Kumarakom . ( almost 60 Km by road and few miles less by water )

On 4th of may , He came to Samudra shipyard and took a quick trial on the kayak and the canoe . Though he had the kayak in mind , after the trials he changed his mind and settled for a blue and white canoe . He said , I will come back the next Saturday and then by early hours of Sunday , I shall leave for Kumarakom . I asked him , how many hours have you paddled earlier . He said , I don’t have a log of it . However , I had a good share of the country canoe experience , when I was a child . After Growing up , I cannot recollect any experience . I asked him , how are you going to do it without a few days of practice ! . He said , It is there in the mind . When it is there in the mind , the body adapts ! . Then he said ,you know something jeevan , before every surgery , I run that particular case in my mind many times over and finally on the day of operation , for me it is like repeating something which I had already done . From his many adventure tales I have listened to , the striking one happened some where in the Himalayas . He had hiked about 28 kilometres through knee deep snow to see a 3 km long valley of flowers , It seems Only few determined people have seen it ! . I knew , this guy is going to Do it . Kochi – Kumarakom on a canoe Alone -Starting by 2AM with an expected time of arrival at Kumarakom by evening . A fourteen hour work out for the upper body ! .

He turned down my offer to see him off by 2 am the following day ( Sunday the 10th which also happens to be the mothers day) . The canoe was entrusted to the security personnel at Samudra shipyard . He reached on time ( Mid Night ) the security guards were concerned about his well being and asked him , sir are you sure ? . He smiled and said don’t worry brother , I am confident that I can take care of myself . He had come with the required gear for the trip . A good water bag . Packed Break fast . Sun Glasses . Rain wear . Cap . A bailer . First aid kit . With the help of the security , after arranging the Gear for the trip in his canoe . He left by around 3 AM . It was a full moon night . He was paddling alone , the splendid moon watched him paddle upstream .

I woke up from sleep by 4 Am and immediately called him up to find out . He was quick to pick up the phone in two rings . He said , Good Morning , hey you are not sleeping ? . I am on my way , crossed the Aroor bridge . No issues . Then he said , Ah yes there is one small glitch though . I got the tide calculations wrong . I am now paddling against the current . I suddenly realised that I had not verified the tide timings when he told me that he has the chart for the day and he will be going along with the tide up stream . Now he is paddling against the current ! The current normally is about 2 knots . My God , He said , it seems I am not making any headway . I told him , keep a relaxed pace . He was making little progress . I couldn’t sleep .

I called him again around 8 am . He said, I had my breakfast by dawn as I was hungry . I said what about lunch ? . when the state is under lock down due to the corona pandemic , you will not get any food on the way . He said , I shall manage . Now the going was better , as the tide changes every 6 hours . He was going along with the current . I had a gut feeling that he would need some assistance . Subash , our boat driver , who had been with us during the fateful days of flood and our rescue mission , lives in between Kumarakom and Aroor , I called him . He was more than happy when I told him that our Doctor friend is some where out in the lake . I had exchanged both the phone numbers . He took his country canoe and went in search of our friend , Thanks to google map .He reached the shared location soon . Thomas seemed to be tired . Subash invited him to his home for some rest and lunch .Subash and family was exited to have one among the kind hearted people who had helped them rebuild their house after the floods ravaged it( The Rotary club of Cochin Global was generous offering help ) . After lunch and about an hours rest , He was ready to go ! . Subash called me and said , sir he seems to be going ahead to complete his trip . It may rain in the evening . I called him and asked , are you sure ? He said , don’t worry , I am going . What a spirit of adventure ! .

He started off again by 2 PM and this time as he was paddling along with the current , it was relatively easy . By around 4 .30 PM I got a photo of a person in a hammock relaxing . There was a note under the photo . It read “Reached Kumarakom . I just loved your canoe “.

Fortunate to have spent the mothers day on Mother Nature’s lap .

Jeevan . Samudra Shipyard .

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