For VG – the River would not be the same without you!

If cliff jumping was packed with the rush of a solitary exploration of thrill, rafting was personification of what team work looked like. In their complete and utter surrender to instructions being called out by Aman, the group in Raft 1 was lost to everything except how the PVC plastic entrapment of no meagre size steered its way through a mighty river. The Ganga was every bit the majestic princess in the hills as she was the queen mother in the plains of Banaras. Here there was a youthful bounce to her curves and bends. Even in the stretch between two rapids, the current seemed as strong as the water was relaxed on the surface. When the raft neared the first rapid, the thrill mixed with slightly nervous anticipation in Aman’s voice was enough to put all their senses – sixth included, on high alert. As the raft waved and bumped through frothy white water jumps, their arms stilled and moved alternately on each side of the raft as per their leaders chant. When the rapid was traversed successfully and the raft was back on its smooth glide along sparkling jade waters, the group burst into shouts of victory. Aman, laughed at their exuberance, clearly living what he had confessed were the best moments of his career in their shared merriment. He then, told them they could all give their oars a rest and look back as Raft 2 made its journey through the same rapid.

Living it was one thing; watching, another. As the group saw the oars go silent and live in a pattern similar to what they had just executed, there were small gasps and loud shouts in Raft 1. Khushi, bit her lips to avoid putting her nails between her teeth as she saw Arnav at the head of the raft, steering the oars with no pause that the others had been able to enjoy. The blue raft, bounced and jumped against white water, almost dangerously on the edge before it was all over and they were close enough for the their expressions to be clearly visible to their predecessors.

Khushi looked away before she could meet Arnav’s eyes, unwilling to either succeed or fail in her effort to keep him unaware of her entanglement. People shouted out to each other on both rafts, laughter and cheering marking the successful completion of the first rapid – even if it was the most innocent of them. Few minutes later, the instructions were back as Aman steered them to rafting across the plain water stretch and prepared them for the next set of rapids.

It was after the third rapid had been manoeuvred that Arjun decided to speak. And when he did, nothing ever was the same again. The confidence he seemed to radiate in experience brought a new flavour to the session. Jokes turned ribald and familiar tribal cheering found its way between the two rafts. The gentle skimming between two rapids even turned into a mock-race as Arnav’s raft moved in close enough to reach out and touch and yet remained behind Aman’s, as if in secret instruction. It was seeing Arjun in his usual cheerful element that Khushi realised that not only had she been surprised to see him clammy and closed, she had also hardly spent any time with him since they had arrived. In the last six months, with no Arjun by her side to discuss people and goings on, run ideas by before implementing them, even sing ridiculous songs with, she had realised how much she missed having him around. In the absence of female company, she had somehow become exclusively closer with Arjun. Arjun in college and Tripti back home had what had kept her going in the last four years. It had scared her in the third month of their employment with Speed, her first extended period without Arjun, to know that she had come to depend on someone other than family this much. And yet suddenly, in the wake of everything else, all she wanted to do was seek him out and lapse into their meaningfully irrelevant conversations – about Speed, the world, the future and Bollywood.

So when Aman told them that the next stretch between rapids would be very long and gentle; and that the adventurous of them could take their time to laze in the river, Khushi knew that she would have to coax Arjun into joining her.

It was no easy task of course.

“I am not about to die in this river, thank you very much,” He said as he remained seated on his seat even as the others around them began lowering themselves into the water.

It took him an endorsement and a more than gentle nudge from Aman – again – to even consider making contact with the water. As a first step, he gently fell into the water, back first and kept his legs tucked under the beading of the raft, which Khushi mimicked. However, before they knew it, their legs had slipped away from the raft and they were now floating away from the boat, sun streaming into their eyes and bodies blissfully being caressed by a resting river. Arjun didn’t speak for several minutes during which they had slipped away from others’ earshot.

Khushi turned to look at him as she straightened herself and gently moved her arms to stay afloat and move little. The raft was in visible distance and she knew that when Aman’s call came, they would be able to simply wade their way back. “You are uncharacteristically quiet, you know”

Arjun’s eyes were closed as he floated in his back, brows knit in an effort to minimise sunlight exposure to his eyes. “I am scared shit.” He mumbled under his breath.

Assuming she had heard incorrectly, she asked him what he meant to which he finally responded with eyes open and brows raised. “I am not a swimmer and I am floating in the Ganga with a rapid almost approaching. This is scary.”

Khushi laughed. “The rapid is more than four kilometers away.” She reminded him. “And it is just a rapid – the easiest one – it’s not the Niagara Falls.”

“Okay, stop. Talking about Niagara at the moment is not helping in the least.”

Khushi chuckled but nodded her head nevertheless.

“But I have to say, you are uncharacteristically upbeat. Clearly getting you to Rishikesh is the best way to unleash the adventurous side of you.” Arjun remarked with a curious glint in his eyes. “First that jump this morning…you did it before all others….I was shivering in my knees even when I was almost the last one and knew that nothing bad was even remotely possible. And now…My arms are aching and I am the athletic one between the two of us.”

Khushi made a face. “Thank you for calling me lazy so innovatively.” Then she swept her hands about her, as if parting the river and shrugged. “I promised myself this would be fun. And water is my element – I am most comfortable around it.”

“Of course you are,” Arjun grumbled. “I am so not. This is…”

She frowned at that. “What is the matter with you.”

Arjun looked away and shook his head. “Nothing. I am just…out of my depth. Literally.”

That made Khushi chuckle again, this time with Arjun. “I missed you.” She confessed instinctively, her mouth curved into a wistful smile as she continued to stare at Arjun.

Arjun, however, looked at her with a blank expression and clouded eyes.

“What?” She asked when the silence was too long and the heat in her cheeks was more than the vapours of mist around her.

He shook his head with a strange smile and looked away.

In that moment, Khushi knew that something had changed between them. That what she had only glimpsed earlier and too infrequently to be taken seriously, was more than what she had bargained for. She shouldn’t have uttered the words about missing him – even if it was true – it could easily mean a lot more than it did. What if he felt something for her? The thought sounded ludicrous enough for her to burst out laughing – or at least hope that he would like he always did. Except this time, there was no brushing things away. Arjun, almost insistently, refused to allay her fears by breaking the impasse and saying something, anything that would dissipate the sudden tension in the air between them. So it was up to her to diffuse the situation. So she blurted out the first thing that came to mind.

“You think we will get our first choice in location and function when we get back?” It was a ridiculous question regarding their final assignments for the rest of their career at Speed – one they had already beaten to death. But in the moment, it was the only thing that would help.

Arjun looked at her and shook his head with a smile before he wiped his face and sighed deeply. “You know the answer, Kavi.” He said softly as he moved his arms to stay afloat. “They will not give us Marketing and Sales – those are exclusively post graduate posts. And it is unlikely you will get Sourcing or Plant Operations given….” He shrugged, “You know that they think these are non-women friendly functions. So that leaves…”

“I will quit R&D if they give me that.” She vowed, her breath heavy as she spoke. “I hated that particular project the most. And I have no aptitude for design. Plus it will add no value to an MBA when I get one. No way. I will…”

“See you had the chance to cozy up to Ganesh Shankar and you decided otherwise,” He pointed out with a wicked smirk, clearly with the intention of riling her up. Thankful that he had somewhat returned to being his normal self, Khushi was about to comment on his own final assignment when they heard a dull sound in the distance.

“What was…” She looked around even as Arjun wondered what had caught her attention in the background. The realisation hit with a sweep of stringy current against her bare feet. For a second, she thought, she had brushed against a water snake or a river weed. She was about to scream as her heart skipped a beat when she heard Arjun’s loud shout of dismay

“Shit!”

She looked at him and opened her mouth to say something when she was reminded of her own comprehension. They had drifted too far away from the rafts, almost at the other end of the wide river. She could see the two rafts in line with each along the other bank. Almost everyone was in the rafts and the few who weren’t, were close enough to be in a matter of minutes.

“Shit.” She echoed as she instinctively began to move in the direction of the raft. “Arjun, just try and swim this way,” She shouted over her shoulder as she tried to wade through the river. The current, however, was strong enough to hinder her progress and enough to make her worry – about Arjun more than she did about herself. What had she been thinking? How had she completely and selfishly forgotten that Arjun didn’t know how to get himself out of such situations because of lack of basic training. And she herself? All the physics that told her to swim diagonally upstream so that the current would push her straight ahead to the rafts was proving to be useful.

“Damn, Kavi. I think we need someone to come rescue us. This is impossible.”

The arm muscles that Arjun had mentioned before in the context of rowing, were making their presence felt now. Every fibre stretched and screamed as she tried to swim her way – fast enough to fight the current and slow enough to make sure she was still with Arjun.

“This is the safe part of the river,” She muttered more to herself than she did to Arjun. “The rapid is far, far away. We are going to make it.” It was just going to be extremely embarrassing to have the rest of their gang and the River staff, Arnav included, watch patiently as they swam to safe shores.

“I am going to call for help,” Arjun told her moments later when they were still a good distance away from the mid-point between their original positions and the rafts.

Conceding that the time for foolish pride was over, Khushi nodded though Arjun had already begun waving and shouting out for help. She knew it would be Arnav who would come to help them before she actually saw him dive into the river and swim his way towards them. He made it look so easy that she now actually felt completely stupid at having given in to Arjun’s panic. And her own. Damn, she cursed in her head, realising that this was the second time in the day that he was coming to “save” her. Excellent strategy to keep away from him, Khushi, she scolded herself as she watched patiently as his arms sliced through the water and his head bobbed one side and then the other. To save herself some embarrassment, she continued to swim in his direction, urging Arjun to follow her using basic hand movements that parted water. However while Arnav covered meters in minutes, Khushi and Arjun only struggled to stay in the path that Arnav was following to get to them. And so, it was Arnav who found them first and as easily as he had swam across the river. He came to a halt in front of her and allowed himself to float for a second before he looked at her and then at Arjun.

“You shouldn’t have strayed away. Especially when one of you cannot swim.” His words were soft and controlled but the annoyance behind them was unmistakable. Despite the rivulets of water streaming down his face and drop sticking to his long lashes, the rebuke in his eyes was evident.

Embarrassed that not only that she found herself in such a situation so shortly after the first, she remained mute and allowed Arjun to apologise – which he did rather profusely.

“Here,” He threw a rope, she hadn’t seen he was carrying, to Arjun. “Just hold on and swim with me.” Then he looked at her. “You can swim right behind me – follow the same course that I do. If you try going straight to the boat, you will end up at least five hundred meters further downstream…because of…”

“The current, yes i know” Her voice was sharper than she had intended, anger bubbling in the pit of her stomach. He didn’t need to be all condescending. She was as qualified as him even without the gold medal.

For a second, she thought he was going to say something when Arjun reminded them through chattering teeth that they needed to get back to the raft. With a single nod directed at both of them, he began to swim away with Arjun and Khushi wading and swimming respectively behind him. When they reached the red raft, Arnav waited till Aman pulled Khushi and Arjun in, one by one, before he headed back to the his own raft. The rest of the excursion, went off as smoothly as one could expect. But to say that she enjoyed the last rapid as much as she had enjoyed the first five, would be a lie. Her rowing had remained as dedicated as before but something had changed and she felt it in the slight tremble of her body as the look in Arnav’s eyes came to torture her out of her sense of solitude.

About an hour after the rescue mission, the three rafts were bouncing gently along the now wide river as signs of civilisation and temples became visible in the distance. Aman pointed out the faint Lakshman Jhula in the distance, the main temple and several ghats, scarcely populated at this time of the day. Tired by the adventure of the hours before or simply awed by the rejoinder of the real world, she didn’t know. But the group fell silent. Water bottles were passed quietly and the rafts were manoeuvred deftly to the bank on the opposite side of the ghats. There Mohan and a couple of other River staffers were already standing with packets of dry food and warm fruit juices. Getting out of their lifejackets, the Speedsters tore into their grub  even as the River staff worked to put rafts and other gear to order. There were several other rafting camps now visible nearby – most of them evidently tourists taking advantage of the best rafting season that was presently underway.

Shortly after hunger and thirst were conquered and nature’s calls answered in make-shift facilities that the camp hired for its post rafting freshening up purposes, Aman announced that two SUVs were ready and waiting to take them back to the camp where they would have a couple of hours to rest before the team had to gather again for a rafting debrief and today’s training sessions. They were also told that since the number of SUVs was lower than they needed, Aman and Arnav would take two of them on their bikes back to the camp. Needless to say, Arjun jumped at the offer and called shotgun on riding with Aman. Khushi rolled her eyes at the shift in loyalties in Arjun’s world and joined the SUV passengers on their uphill climb to the motorway. When she reached the main road however, to her dismay, the SUVs were stuffed to capacity with deadbeat engineers, CNBC journalists and their equipment. She felt her teeth grind into each other as her mouth tightened. Chivalry, as much as it was a double-edged sword, was a dead concept. She looked on is exasperated disappointment as the boys avoided looking at her even though she was sure they all knew that she needed to sit somewhere.

“Come with me.” Arnav said, almost into her ear. His voice was perfectly normal and yet the little hairs on her neck rose in unwarranted awareness.

A motorbike ride. In the mountains. With Arnav Varun. The man who she had no control over her feelings for and had convinced otherwise.

No! She shook her head as she whispered. “I am sure there will be space for just one more”

Arnav came up in front of her and looked at the two vehicles now revving as the drivers adjusted gears and looked at him questioningly.

He turned to look at her. “There is no way you can sit in the back.”

He was right, it was too cramped and having her sit would mean two others sitting on laps would have to be pulled out.

“You will be okay in the front seat?” He asked as he skimmed over her appearance too quickly to be termed rude.

She looked at her own clothes and grimaced. Wet t-shirts and knee length shorts were not her clothes of choice. If it had not been for instructions sent by the River on training wear, she would have been in long track pants, at least. Nevertheless, anything was better than riding with him. So she nodded.

Arnav let out a barely audible sigh and walked up to the SUV in the front and asked the boy sitting in the front seat to come out and ride with him so that she could take his place. The change was made quickly and Khushi slipped into her seat and adjusted her shorts to cover as much skin as she could. When she looked up, she saw Arnav Varun stride away to a parked Royal Enfield even as Aman and Arjun were already astride another similar one.

River Song, Music and Lyrics

Song Title: Ramta Jogi

Album: Taal

Singers: Alka Yagnik, Sukhwinder Singh

Music: A. R. Rahman

Lyrics: Anand Bakshi

 

Mann mein lagan yeh laagi, jag chhoota

Jag chhoota, jiya bairaagi;

Yeh baat wahan tak na pahunchi,

Yeh chot jiya par na laagi;

Yeh dard zubaan tak na aaya,

Yeh tere dil vich ki aaya?

 

 

Note:

Thank you all for being so so so kind to this story despite the pace and everything else that seems to inspire hair-pulling. I am so grateful to have you all here.

Next Update: June 20, 2016, late night IST

 

343 thoughts on “Chapter Nine: Free Falls and Close Calls (II)

  1. i dont think i will be able to comment sooner anytime near future, nor be able to participate in any wonderful lively discussions here, caught in a roller coaster ride of asli dunia
    i almost thought you were gonna end this chapter with khuhsi’s awaiting answer to his request, thank goodness, i definitely couldn’t have been on edge for another whole week with another cliffhanger :P
    such magnificent depiction of ganga and rishikesh meera,would you believe if i said i could feel the white water ruffles on the tip of my fingers?you are endowed with stupendous writing skills meera, your stories are whiff of a fresh air in fan fiction world.NEVER stop writing.
    She said no to a bike ride with Av sir.. i adore this girl’s determination! she really has changed from being a shy girl to a tough cookie hasn’t she? khushi is totally a very REAL version of a strong woman. my admiration for her grew leaps and bounds for not accepting the offer.
    Im happy she acknowledged arjun’s importance in her life and was the “i missed you” a mistake? i dont think so. i have a feeling arjun has an idea about whats running in her head, infact i think both arnav and arjun know in what web they three were caught in, the only one who seems to be oblivious is khushi,.also,not strangely, arnav and arjun are always perceptive of her.

    arjun is stronger and deeper than what he seems outside, he too clearly maintains a facade around people, i dont think he has any hopes for his and khushi’s,and i feel he has always known its a fool’s errand,but when does a heart need logic to flutter,and i STILL, though im now 99% sure he has feelings for khushi, can’t help but hope for him to have a better future with someone else, a heartbreak is a heartbreak even though it was known and prepared for,i dont want that for arjun :( ,but the prologue suggests otherwise,there seemed to have something happened between these two before the prologue period, im not able to put my head around it. their friendship is too precious to be ruptured over anything.

    Is arnav disturbed at the fact khushi and arjun were careless…or becuase those two were floating around alone ;), i do hope its the second one. was he annoyed witrh her refusal of ride? but he called for it.and he knew that didn’t he?

    beautiful song meera, always loved all the songs from taal.
    and i should say this, you really have a great readership, such beautiful and insightful comments! im not surprised though, you are the writer after all! you deserve such wonderful readers meera.
    take care

    Liked by 11 people

  2. Beautiful update! Khushi really needs to watch what she says around Arjun!!! Poor Arjun If he is in love with khushi!as khushi is arnav’s !!!
    Cannot get enough of this story!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. First thing I felt after reading this update was–what?, it ended, that’s it — no no, and my heart didn’t want to finish it and I know this is very common feeling for all of us with your every update. Honestly I a not able to formalize my thoughts as I feel that all your wonderful readers have said everything anyway and I have replied to their comments by becoming a GHUSPATHIYA( forcing my uninvited entry😜😜). However I must admit it was lot of fun👌👌.
    I am happy that khushi is acknowledging her relationship with Arjun and I am positive he loves her and her missing you comment did not do any harm as Arjun knows her very well. But I am sad that when khushi and Arjun are so tuned — why they can not love just each other– why AV sir has to come but I my heart also loves AV sir just like khushi and currently I do not know what is going on with dear AV sir . Bachara AV sir seems to be in turmoil and not yet able to understand the real reason of his feelings and emotions—koi baat nahi– he will come around and tab tak let us have fun reading this beautiful story woven by our one and only Meera. I am proud of this strong khushi and agree with her decision of declining bike ride. No bike ride till AV sir confesses his feelings like—-” hum to tere Aashik hai sadiyon purane. To mane ya na mane😜😜”. Hahaha. Jokes apart there is this palpable tension among three of them and why do I feel that something big is going to happen in near future.
    The live rafting experience was vivid and mesmerizing Meera and hats off to your khushi ( and you as you did it as well) for doing it as I am worse that Arjun and will never ever do it(sorry I was born with intense water phobia and got married to water lover and took swimming lessons three times and still never dare to go on deep side of pool and I have to chant hanuman chalisa( just like shivji) when we go in water/ boating etc just for sake of with family).

    I love all the songs of Taal and adding another song which just came to my mind mainly for our enigmatic AV sir — don’t watch video–just listen to lyrics,

    Liked by 13 people

    1. Guspathiya and hanuman chaalisa had me laughing out loud… and my husband is going to bow throw me out of the bedroom! He says this new found passion of mine is getting out of hand! But I think he is secretly jealous ☺

      Liked by 10 people

      1. 😀😀😀. My hubby is same and I think you are right that they are jealous. I usually do all my comments etc when he is not around otherwise he makes fun of me and tells children– your mom must be with her arsi( that’s what he
        calls my obsession).Hahaha.

        Liked by 6 people

            1. Hubby dearest don’t just know but sometime have to share out time btwn my passion for Arshi,….FF reading, comment typing…..and responding on this blog…..

              This week had been crazy….I have failed to even read half the comments or be a part of any speculative comments.

              I am catching a breather currently after completing all the case study of the course i am taking….final exams next week and then ….mauja hi mauja….

              Liked by 4 people

  4. Hey Meera sorry for coming in so late. And thank you for a wonderful rafting experience in the Ganga. I’m actually itching to try it.if I ever do try white water rafting, the first credit would go to you.
    Lovely update. Finally our rather clueless Khushi is beginning to understand the dynamics of her relationship with her friends. A dip in the Ganga seems to have opened the proverbial mind’s eye in her. She is slowly becoming aware of Arjuns interest in her and her own rather unhealthy obsession with Arnav. Although I wish she had accepted to ride with Arnav. What a picture that would have made! Sigh!
    This Arnav confuses me. Whatever happened to Saira? He seems relentless in pursuing Khushi. I feel he is aware of Arjuns feelings for Khushi and hence the resentment. He hates her attempts ignoring him. Currently I’m a little unsure if I like him.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Meera, thanks for the update. Again, I enjoyed the rafting as if I was there.

    I love this Khushi. She’s stubborn and too convinced about her believes that she is not ready to see things from any other perspective. What can she do after all?? Other than resisting Arnav at this moment. When I read abt her swim against the current, I felt she’s doing the same with Arnav too. I’m sure Arnav has his reasons for who he is now and then. Will have to wait to know him better as our Khushi is not yet ready. Love reading this story:)

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I read it on Monday and than my brain and heart went on a vacation. They thought they might be able to decipher AV’s look or his concern or his condescending tone. They thought and thought and came up with a fact that not knowing what’s actually going in AV’s mind and heart and speculating it as we like will only lead to heartbreak. Though I would like to think that all his concern and condemn was because it was Khushi and that she and Arjun were away from all and alone. But hey now speculation.

    Between, the rejection for bike ride is something he must be expecting yet went ahead and asked Khushi, why?

    I loved this strong and determined Khushi. She took a decision to enjoy her training and shis doing it to bits. No AV sir can spoil it for her, or is it his concern. Nay, this strong Khushi isn’t going there, and I liked it. Though I liked the fact that she accepted and acknowledge the fact that she missed Arjunan d that he means more than just a friend. Though it can’t be that way and he knows it.

    Arjun, he wears a mask all the time. His fears, which came out in open. His laughter and a need for humar all the time is it a way to deal with heartbreak? Coz he knows that there is no future with Khushi. That even though she missed him it not in that sense. Arjun’s situation reminded me of this song fron Juno.

    Well it’s just the first line of the song “Anyone else but you”. It goes like…..

    “I’m a part time lover and a full time friend…..”

    And like many other I agree that Arnav and Arjun both know or have an incline the mess these three are caught in the only one unaware is Khushi. Plus, Arnav is confused too with his feelings for Khushi, or at least he hasn’t reached that level to know and accept what she means to him.

    Song of the present situation, if not all three this suits Khushi and Arjun at least.

    Dard Pehle se hai Zada, Khud se phir yeh Kiya wada,
    Khamosh Nazarene rahein bezuban,

    Ab na Pehle si Baatein hain,
    Bolo to lab thur thuratein hain
    Raaz yeh dil ka na ho bayaan
    Ho Gaya ke asaar koi Hume nahin
    Humsafar mein to hai, Humsafar hain nahin

    Dur jata raha, pass ata raha
    Khama kha bewaja khwaab bunta raha…

    Liked by 9 people

  7. Loving the pace of the story …..
    Enjoying reading the beautiful , adventurous , zealous moments amidst the very pristine and enchanting nature. ..
    So our Mr Arjun do has some feelings for his chasmish friend but probably knows her too much to confess….
    and Our heroine dear is hell bent on being nonchalant and unaffected…..but can’t Arnav read her inside out , then why this hesistance in expressing what he feels too…What’s the actual story behind his being engaged . So damn curious to know!! Don’t want Khushi for a heartbreak second time.Though she tries to keep herself strong n unaffected , I doubt this time she would be able to do so..
    Waiting eagerly .ty.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Meera

    Excellent update. I have been to rishikesh & haridwar during our college tour and i was literally imagining the scenes on my mind u have depicted it so well. I was thinking Arjun was going to be Khushi’s relative ( thru Tripti) and im still sure on it.I understand these miss you from Khushi is friendly…no worries .

    I thought that these ppl will be in same vehicle but u brought in bike ride and khushi denied. AV sir must be very mad. When i read that i remembered the dialogues from movie “Vaali”. ” nee theriathunu solli iruntha ava solli kuduthu iruppa. Appadi ippadini oru romance nadanthu irukkum. Illaye annaiku romance nadanthathe. Ennathu nee theriyumnu solliyum ronance nadanthatha?? ” Now im expecting something similar even if they didn’t go together , in midway will you make them go together?? Too much of expectations he he …there are only few days left now..do something meera( sorry for tamil dialogue..hope u know tamil if not will translate u next time ;)

    Is there any chance that we get 2 updates a week or a little biggggger update please…always i wait for weekends now u made me wait for Mondays!!!!!!!!!

    Liked by 4 people

  9. “The Ganga was every bit the majestic princess in the hills as she was the queen mother in the plains of Banaras” – such a beautiful way of describing the journey of a river. The elegance of a Princess with a dash of exuberant froth and the regal depth, the gambhirta, of the Queen.
    Much as the romantic in me would have liked Khushi to climb on that bike, it would have been entirely out of character. Sigh … that image of them keeps playing in my mind though. With this song playing in the background –

    Liked by 10 people

    1. Oh wow Ruchi! What a lovely song ! Now I too want to door nikal jaoon! What fun it would be if we all could go on this Rishikesh trip together. This song makes me want to dream!

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Chalo Charu chalo,
        Chand ke paar chalo,
        Hum hai taiyaar chalo
        Aao kho jaayein nadiyon ki duniya mein kahin
        Chhod de aaj ye AD ye zameen
        Chao Charu chalo,
        Rishikesh ke rapids par chalo

        Liked by 3 people

  10. Silly, Silly Kaveri!
    1) Do you have any idea how many killer curves there are along that stretch of winding road from Jhula to campsites?
    2) Do you know how thrilling it is to downshift and drive fast through corners which would have automatically meant holding on to him tight?
    3) You, who topped Thermodynamics, did you know Heat Transfer can be heady? Conduction at your front from his body heat and convention at your back-side from the cool mountain breeze!
    4) You really think you’re such a good liar? That he won’t or cannot look past your display of indifference?
    5) I am convinced that you’ll understand better if talked to in engineering terms – heat of vaporization (of water in your blood)? heat of condensation (as sweat)? friction between sliding surfaces? Kaveri Khushi ??

    Liked by 17 people

      1. Convection**
        Saying NO to a bike ride in the mountains, by a river, amidst low clouds, in wet clothes, with the only man you are attracted to in this wide world, who has also offered to drive you on a kick-ass bike is equivalent to SINNING.
        Shivaaaaaaa !!!!!!!!!!!!

        Liked by 14 people

    1. E.P.I.C!
      It is no surprise that I’ve understood this more quickly than I did the lesson of thermodynamics.
      Kaveri Khushi listen, listen to the voice of V
      and give us that chance to jump with glee!

      Thermodynamics ki kasam hain tumhe Khushi. XD

      Liked by 15 people

      1. We don’t always need Meera to give us cliff hangers do we! We readers are a breed, and create cliff hangers all by ourselves!!! Now I am restless to know if anything eventful happens during the ride back to camp that creates a certain person to change vehicles ☺

        Liked by 10 people

      2. Exactly! :D Start the tradition of taking hypocritical oath on Laws of Thermodynamics Khushi.
        What the oath is for, we will tell you in parts, as needed… :P :P

        Liked by 9 people

    2. **A gem of a comment…..** ur comparative explainations made me understand thermodynamics quicker than my profs. weekly lectures. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
      Being a MECH students….who better than both of them to clearly understand the dynamics.

      Could it be THE Reason of him asking her…..

      And THE reason of her refusal…..

      Liked by 10 people

        1. Super comment . Totally agree wz you… Had I too been taught Physics like this … Wud hv excelled .
          But honestly loved yr take on Thermodynamics n Khushi …

          Liked by 1 person

  11. For me, this chapter was a relaxing read. Even if it had death defying stunts, Khushi’s heart seemed free. I’m appreciating her tenacity, wonder how long it’ll last ;-) The men in her life are still unreadable and I’m looking forward to where your mind takes them.
    As always, thanks for writing and more than that for sharing. Take care.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. As usual, another fantastic chapter.

    I do feel sorry for arjun ashe is lovely. His feelings for khushi are probably similar to khushis feelings for arnav! Damn…khushi needs to have a talk with him!

    Khushi riding with arnav woukd have been too much for her. I am unsure how he views her. He seems to care for her and is perceptive of her but don’t know if theres more than that.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. You know what? I am okay with Khushi not taking the opportunity to ride with Arnav. It was very Jessy-esque (VTV). She does not want to stoke the fire she cannot control. I think I would have taken that route too. But it was directly opposite to everything else she did that day. She found the courage to push herself to do daredevil acts; it’s a shame that she couldn’t do the same when it came to Arnav.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Jessie-esque! What an interesting comparison 😊 I totally get it.

      I guess there are different levels of dare devil acts with their respective pecking order – probably adventure sports still take the lower ranks as compared to learning physics in close proximity to Arnav 😊 Our Khushi probably will have to push much harder to get there!

      Liked by 8 people

      1. She had her heart broken, now after four years she feels she has a better handle on it, meets the guy again, realises she still carries a torch for him, but as far as she’s concerned he’s taken. He even apologized for not mentioning he was engaged (should that be “is engaged” if it still stands?). So one can’t blame the girl for not putting herself in situations which will only make things difficult for her. The other daredevilry, its her pushing herself to do things, to bring herself out of the shell she knows she resides in most of the time. Getting some valuable life experience :-)

        Liked by 8 people

        1. True that – I keep forgetting that she does not yet know about his equation with Saira, though we have not doubt about it 😄

          Meera… don’t get any new wicked ideas than what you already have in the pipeline!

          Liked by 7 people

        2. Well, since he did not break her heart and it was all in her head, she could’ve tried the daredevilry of riding pillion. :D
          But yes, I would take her side on this decision.

          Liked by 7 people

          1. He did apologize for leading her on, so it was not all in her head. She may have denied everything, but that we know is a defense mechanism. Heart break could also be that she gave her heart to some one who she felt was unattainable, then felt a glimmer of hope for sometime for it all to come crashing down. No her going with him wouldn’t sit with what we know of her.

            Liked by 7 people

              1. I’ll add my two cents! 😉
                Any sane girl would have thrown ego etc. aside and joined the guy on the bike! Hehe!
                The guy of her dreams is ready to take her with him. The mausam is suhana, she can hold on tight(risk of falling) 😝
                lovely mountain breeze. Which sane girl would let go off this chance? Tellz tellz?

                Liked by 4 people

                1. Hello hi bye bye?!!!
                  I don’t think ego or sanity is in the picture, its more a fear that makes one want to not even think of taking a risk, a self protective instinct.
                  The weekly torture of the poor refresh button starts…. :-)

                  Liked by 2 people

        1. Thank You!. Yaam petra inbam peruga ivvayagam”. And sure it was a treat before the next update from Meera for the rest of their two days in the camp.

          Liked by 7 people

    1. Thank you Anu! Khudse bolne mein sharam aati hain. So glad I didn’t have to do it. XD
      Meera might be pestered for AV’s view now, I think. Do I see her running towards me with a belan? Okay, bye. XD

      Liked by 9 people

      1. Lol.. you know what… it is all Meera’s fault. She sets the bar so high with each of her update, and inspires so much speculations that she is making her job too difficult for her!!!

        She might run to you with balan, but will end up hugging you tight that you will find it hard to breathe ☺

        It is a joy to spread happiness around in whatsoever one can… and she sure does it to so many of us!

        Liked by 9 people

          1. You should be proud of yourself. It’s no mean feat to inspire and compel someone to write through your words. I’ve said this before your writing brings one so much joy and don’t you think we all need it in today’s times?

            Liked by 9 people

            1. I’ve said it before and say it again, Meera is a very beautiful and warm person. It comes across in her writing and her occasional comments as well. It shows in the comments from the readers as well. There are many others spinning different tales, but not everyone is enjoying this kind of readership. The numbers just seem to keep adding, and I hope they do, for every big and small thing she writes for all the years to come.

              Liked by 10 people

              1. Totally agree!!! There is just something so beautiful about Meera that reflects in her works!!! And even in her comments!! Rare to come across such humility as well!!

                Stay blessed always Meera!

                Liked by 10 people

              2. Words like these are truly overwhelming. It really makes me wonder if I deserve this. Especially when there are so many out there who are writing such better more evolved tales with such superior craft – those I read and look up to in awe! Thank you S and everyone else for all the love. I cherish and count myself as lucky to have found you guys!

                Liked by 11 people

              3. Ahhhhh such apt words….

                Now I just hope the train have not left the station so I can join the band wagon of idolizations……

                Meera,….I can’t say it any better than Sohni….but only….I love you and ur writing dammit………bas!

                Liked by 8 people

    2. Thank you for the link.

      Nivedita – you deserve a hug !!

      Meera what’s this magic you have weaved on the readers? I finally gave into it and started commenting, Nivedita coming up with something like this and I am sure there are many more. Phenomenal !!

      Liked by 5 people

  14. Meera — this wait is killing us!!!! Its sheer torture having to wait a week for the next update!!!!
    Monday — jaldi aa jao — ya Meera — be kind enough and treat us with an early update :)

    Liked by 5 people

  15. I long for her to get on that bike and drive off into a beautiful sunset in the mountains with him… but I know we are still not there… I will wait for you to work your magic in their relationship. ok is it just me or did he react a little when she said that trupti had talked about her and Arjun and not about arnav??

    -K

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Simply amazing and picturesque description.. loved it…. I am enjoying this beautiful journey of the river of joy….full of adventure ,thrill and fun….with so real and beautifully written characters and their emotions….eagerly waiting for the next chapter….

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Meera,….its almost 11:30 EST…..have to attend a seminar in and hour n half…..please uske pehle update kardo dear……warna poora seminar my brain will be stuck on their separate rides to the campsite….

    This week has been nightmarish for me,….help out dear…please …..

    Heard this song and couldn’t help but this of AV and Kaveri.

    Liked by 7 people

  18. Is there any possibility that we get an early update meera? I want to read the update before I go to sleep which i have to soon considering my eary start tommorow :(

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Di, will you please update the unedited version today. Who knows, maybe you will leave behind some clue about what’s going on in AV’s brain. ;)

        Liked by 1 person

          1. :(
            I am not the first one to comment on your story even after this update alert. Nooo.
            I really wish Nivi di shares her tricks on how to stand first. ;)

            Liked by 1 person

    1. You are from UTC(GMT) timezone right?
      See, right now I am deprieved of sleep and so I am researching on timezones.
      Hope I am right. :)

      Liked by 2 people

  19. Hi Meera,

    I don’t know how to directly message you — I tried on IF (but I assume you get so many notifications, you might’ve missed it) but I just want to say that although I don’t know you — I feel like I do. I was literally hook, line and sinker since the first day I started reading your creations. I haven’t left a reply on those — I was a silent reader since it had been long since you completed them so I wanted a chance to give my insight on all your works. I stumbled upon A River Runs Through it — and as I waited for the updates — I divulged by myself with A Word’s Worth and then The Emerald Isle Tales (it was a race to finish them before you decided to take them down – I won the race :D). . I just fell in love with how you wrote everything with such detail, such finesse. Sadly, I didn’t have a chance to read Careless Whispers — but if you do ever put it up again, I’ll be waiting. I discovered you have a Index on IF and now I’m spoiling myself with reading A Fate Intertwined — I finished Colors of the Wind in a day. I have read Unbreakable — it was your first story as you had mentioned and I have seen the progression in writing which is honestly so so amazing. Also, thanks to you I had a chance to read other writers works such as mirabell, curiositybyjigs, kahaani(chotidesi) (and hopefully to discover more). I’m so glad you’re sharing the talent you have and I look forward to each and every update for ARRTI.

    If you ever write based off another series or decide to venture off on something with your own characters, just know I’d love to be part of that journey.

    As for ARRTI — I love Khushi and her character — I can relate to her — she is so real. She is someone who represents perhaps every girl — at one chapter or another in their life. And Arjun — I love him. I think — strangely enough, I might be weighing the scale more in his favor than Arnav’s (which is not something I’d ever expect from myself) but Arjun’s character is just so lovable. He resonates such a genuine persona. I love the liveliness that is Krishna — and look forward to more parts with her hopefully in the future. Arnav’s been tricky – I don’t know how I feel about him yet, I feel like not only does he have to open up to Khushi more but to us ;)

    Sorry for the long comment !
    Sarah :)

    Liked by 7 people

  20. Arey public dheeraj dhariyo! She will update when she is done. Look at what you’ve done Meera, you’ve created a monster :D

    Please take your time Meera, cus like everyone here, you too have a life and its obstacles! We all will wait, as long as it takes, we promise! (I can see everyone nodding their heads, can you?) :p

    Liked by 2 people

  21. another very beautiful update Meera and I must say i Love Khushi’s determination to stay away from Arnav! Would have loved to see them on bike but guess I trust your writing more, so i will wait for their perfect moment together:)

    Arshisimple on IF

    Liked by 1 person

  22. A beautiful update Meera . Loved this Khushi … And Arjun too .
    Your in depth / detailed writing touches ones soul …literally.
    Pls continue this blessing you are bestowed with …
    Looking forward to reading a lot more of your work ..
    God bless.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Khushi finds courage in her aim to be strong and move on…..that gave her the impetus to do the cliff jump. Methinks khushi is guilty of taking arjun for granted, by ignoring hints of his feelings. Maybe she needs to stop doing that.
    It’s evident that Arnav is effected by khushi, was is just concern and annoyance or was there jealousy too.

    Why did he ask khushi to ride with him – he really needs to come clean about his feelings and intensions.
    Good on khushi for saying no.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Well I myself has gone to rishikesh & haridwar & a very beautiful place.
    The way u have described it is absolutely amazing.😘
    The calm atmosphere when u are near the ghat of ganga is overwelhming.
    You just make me remind of the beautiful days spent there.
    Well coming to the story I guess Arnav definitely has feelings for Khushi & was not at all happy by seeing Khushi & Arjun alone.
    Somewhere I feel that Arjun is also having feelings for Khushi.
    Guess this is going to be interesting.
    Love triangle I guess.😘😘

    Liked by 1 person

  25. A physically and emotionally packed ride this was!
    Arjun deserves a tight hug and kiss for going along with the rest on the cliff jump despite his obvious fear of water. And then this little “incident” with moving too far from the rafts has certainly not instilled too much confidence in him, I bet.
    I think he thought Khushi was long over Arnav and that he would be able to handle having them both in the same space again after so many years. But he can’t can he? I feel so so terrible for him. And he can’t even talk to his best friend about it. Unrequited love is one thing but to know that he could lose his best friend if he even mentions the L word must be killing him inside. Meeray yaar, find him someone who loves him like he deserves to be loved.

    I did think K would be stuck riding with Arnav. Am glad she stuck to her guns and insisted on the car.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Wow amazing explaining on the experience itself..I would be definitely not doing it with fear of water and I know people who love it. To read about it was thrilling enough.

    Arjun and her equation changed? It must something she is completely unaware from the beginning..

    Arnav riding the bike..I could definitely opt for that you see ;-)

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Amazing rafting experience…i think u have lot of experience in these places…one with personal experience only can write like this…
    He rescued again khushi…inthis situation i juat wanted to know more about arnav’s expression…that is whether he is jealous or not…
    So arjun is scared…hahaha it is funny….
    Big question mark is what exactly arjun feels for khushi…i think he loves khushi…i am not sure about that…being friends more than 5 years and helping her and never leaving her side it all shows that…
    She again ignored his request for a bike ride…i felt sad for both of them…what about arnav’s past i am clueless…hoping next chapter will reveal something about arnav…
    I love this song u recommended from the movie taal…whole album is best…

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Beautifully written Meera… Rafting, feels like life time dream. I felt like I too was rafting with them too. So wonderful dream experience I had. Sorry will not be able to take part in this sport in real life but was glad & enjoyed the ride here. It felt like dream come true.
    Arjun has flaws…now we know he is scared of swimming, just like me.😜
    Noooooo…Khushi shouldn’t have said to Arjun…”I miss you.” Arjun is going to take more than a causal comment, the inner feeling of Khushi. Now, both are going to feel awkward.
    Here come the HERO to save the day. Loved him how he admonished both of them for not paying attention. Nope, Khushi wasn’t going to ride with Arnav. “No way Jose.” She wasn’t going to make it too obvious. 👌👌

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Amazing description of their adventure… you make it sound beautiful..

    Arnav is just being concerned, something’s gonna go down.. kinda have tht ominous feeling, K is at the end of her limit.. he anger and pent up emotions could burst… can’t wait to get to next chapter! :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  30. “The Ganga was every bit the majestic princess in the hills as she was the queen mother in the plains of Banaras” You keep amazing me with the whole artistic expressions you keep bringing in the story. Though all of this might not be important to the narrative, it does enhance the entire setting and makes it all the more interesting.

    Yes, despite whatever the equation Arjun is Kaveri’s best friend. Her sole friend since four years, sisters don’t count. So, it makes sense to blurt out facts like I missed you. However, this doubt that it has been taken in a different context does seem scary in ways, because Khushi never imagined those possibilities.

    However much I wished they would have gone for the bike ride, I know it would be too soon and too hypocrite. Nevertheless, it does sound exciting, bike ride with AV. The story in it is pace, keeps exciting me about the possibilities ahead.

    ” Yeh baat wahan tak na pahunchi,
    Yeh chot jiya par na laagi;
    Yeh dard zubaan tak na aaya,
    Yeh tere dil vich ki aaya?

    Liked by 1 person

  31. khushi you should be very careful around arjun especially with your words….I strongly believes arjun has some feelings for khushi and I don’t want his good heart to get broken…..
    she had really become a strong women with her own opinions…not that naive girl who will fall at a single smile

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Meera..
    Heart attack aa jae ga mujhe..
    At one moment,the blog was again protected n now it is open ..
    Pls dear..
    Let me read the whole of it n it’s spin over too..
    pls…..

    Liked by 2 people

  33. I was very busy whole day, so, I did not even notice that the blog was closed for a little while. The chapter was fabulous. I think who ever has not done river rafting would look forward to go on one now. Such was the narration. If we can get Aman or Arnav as raft leaders, then it will be a piece of cake. But, Khushi knowingly forfeited the opportunity to ride with Arnav on his ever green Royal Enfield. Will she ever get a chance again?
    Cheers……

    Liked by 1 person

  34. I have never done white water rafting or cliff jumping or free floating in river.. So I could totally relate to Arjun here.. Too many coward bones and fear of water!! Not to mention that I know I surely will not have AV to rescue me from potential fatal situations 😁😁😁
    But but.. Refusing a bike ride in mountains..?? That too with that dream man, after being soaking wet in ridiculous cloths.. What were you thinking Khushi!! Rather you were not thinking.. . Wish Krishna Tripti Gupta had been there to help her sister make better decisions!! 😂😂
    Love love the descriptions of cliff jumping earlier and the rafting experience.. This is the closest I am going to feel like experiencing it in real life!! 😉😉

    Anagha

    Liked by 1 person

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