Acres of grey sand and a riveting river flowing by
Surrounded by giant green hills and clouds clattering in the sky
I was there standing stunned in a solitary beach
But I was not all alone, my friends. With me there were 26 students that I teach.
Good Evening. Presiding Officer, Toast Master of the Evening, Fellow Toastmasters and Guests.
This is the scene of a sunny summer evening on the 3rd Friday of May of 2013. After a long bus ride through not so smooth and not so straight road we reached our destination in the banks of Trishuli. The only problem – what we encountered was not what we had expected.
The organizers had told us that we’d be staying in RBC resort. Thus, we had expected cozy cottages, kitchens and lavatories and resort staffs at our service. Instead, the place was as deserted as an island. One blue-colored tent, two Chinese girls in shorts and a large red raft were the only signs of human existence in that beach. Obviously, we were upset with this unpleasant surprise. But what choice did we have other than to accept the unexpected?
Thus, one by one we unloaded the tents from the bus. The tents were then set up in two rows – six tents in each row. My tent was a tiny green one – the second one in the front row from the right. I also got a blue-colored flimsy floor mat to sleep on and an orange and odorous sleeping bag. I folded my towel into a pillow and settled uncomfortably at one end of the tent. Inside the tent, standing up – even for me – was not possible and it was as dark as a pitch.
For dinner, we had to trudge all the way up to a hotel in the highway. We had to pass through dark fields with tall green plants and climb narrow and steep brick steps to reach the hotel. Since we had only one or two torch lights, we walked in a long line holding hands like a train. At night, a fire was barbeque. We all sat in a circle surrounding the fire.
Sitting there I felt the grainy sand beneath my feet, saw the lights of the vehicles passing along the highway and heard the subtle sound of the river. The river sounded as mellow as a flute.
The next morning after having our breakfast, packing our bags and receiving instructions from the guide, we were all set to sail. We were divided into four groups – red, blue, yellow and white – based on the color of our helmets. I was in the ‘white’ group consisting of five other girl students. Team ‘white’ was supposed to be the safest team because the main guide was going with us. We were all ready to rock, roll and recharge. Also surprise awaited us yet again!
Once barefoot inside the raft, I felt as light as a feather. I was an empty bottle that swirled and twirled along the tides. Around me I saw a kaleidoscope of hills and then there were miles and miles of water. The splash of water in my body when the boats bounced was so refreshing in that hot humid afternoon.
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There were songs and shrieks and the thrust of water that thrilled us as we floated along the river. We passed a number of exciting rapids – lady’s delight and snail’s nose to name a few. Then came the most roaring rapid of all – upset. The guide instructed us to hold on tight, stay silent and paddle ‘fast forward’ continously. But the boat consisted of five chicken-hearted girls who would hide inside the boat and give up rowing whenever the rapids rose. I was the only lion-hearted one sitting in the forefront and rowing with full force and fortitude. Yet as soon as we reached the rapid, all six of us and the guide was thrown into water.
But I had no idea what was happening. For the first few seconds, I was trying to grab the rope on the outer edge of the boat. Then after a minute or more, my head was out of water and I saw that there was no boat. I was floating all alone in the midst of a restless river with a life jacket as my only life line. Awaiting for help, my heart started to pound and pray. Hence, I spread my hands wide like an eagle (one hand was still holding the paddle) and looked upwards towards the sky.
In a few minutes, I saw a boat coming at a swift speed towards me. I lift up my paddle to be noticed. Then my student, Arunima, whisks me out of water into the boat. She’s the rock of that team. Phew! So much of being safe, you see. What an unexpected journey all the way!
We expected a relaxing resort but landed up in a dry, deserted beach
We hoped to be safe and were hurled into the roaring rivers
What do you do when life sometimes shocks you with a surprise
Complain? Fluster and be frustrated?
Here’s a magic mantra to deal with this, fellow toastmasters and guests
Just go with the flow and accept the unexpected.
The speech is from Competent Communicator Manual of Toastmasters: Project 4 – How to say it. The speech objective were to eliminate jargons, to choose grammars and words that appeal to the sense and to choose grammars and words that communicate clearly.