Friday, June 24, 2011

The Lake Placid Fiasco

I am time and today I am going to tell you a story. This is no ordinary story. This is a tale of four “great” men; four well educated, intelligent young blokes whose qualifications, put together, would place them at the top of any spectrum in the public eye. One is a post-doctoral research scholar and a respected author of scientific texts; another is a thought leader and a master in business administration; and yet another, an engineer, one whose expertise facilitates, without much ado, some of the comforts fellow human beings enjoy. This illustrious trio is accompanied by a doctoral student who aspires to be an established author of scientific and non-scientific texts. With no further introduction, I would like to take you to Troy, a beautiful Victorian town on the banks of the Hudson. Here, the protagonists are preparing for the misadventure of their lives.
(Intro style inspired by the Mahabharat series aired in Doordarshan (India) in the late 80s).

June 18th 2011
11:30 a.m.

It’s a beautiful Saturday. The Hudson sparkles in the late morning sunlight and showers downtown Troy with its warmth. Down by the banks the residents wallow in serenity, intoxicated as they are serenaded by the ebb and flow of the breeze through the leaves behind them. A little removed, up the hill, in the campus of Rensselaer the protagonists unaware of nature’s treat unfolding near the river banks decide to go somewhere; anywhere. They have been cooped up in this town for way too long.

Sid, Sandy, Raul and Kirk, [*] thus, set out for Lake Placid in Raul’s zebra striped Camaro. Lake Placid is a horseshoe shaped waterbody in the  Adirondack Mountains in northern New York. Spanning approximately 2,170 acres (8.8 km2) with an average depth of about 50 feet, Lake Placid is one of the most prominent lakes in the New England area.
[*] The names have been changed for no particular reason, and with not even one ounce of creativity.

It’s a two hour drive on I-87 North. A hassle free journey takes them to the village of Lake Placid. It’s a little after 2. It’s about time they had some lunch. Nothing fancy. Subs would have to do. Kirk gets his regular footlong tuna. Within fifteen minutes, having filled their stomachs, they head out to the lake for a strenuous kayaking experience.

Alas, they were plagued by one small problem. There was only one shop renting kayaks known to  most of the people around, and that was closed. It was nearing 3 and the protagonists were getting frustrated. They should probably have woken up earlier. They should have reached Lake Placid sooner. Would the long drive end up to be fruitless? I would have paused if I could, but then the universe would descend into chaos. However, the earth’s axial tilt was still in their favor. It’s nearing summer solstice and darkness engulfs the land no sooner than 9pm. Time was still in hand. I had given them a lifeline.

At quarter past 3 they find Eastern Mountain Sports. The protagonists head in. Yes, here EMS does rent kayaks. Kirk asks the lady behind the counter, “is there a dock nearby?” She replies, “We can set you up and you can get going from the one behind the shack.” They make no further enquiries. Raul and Kirk start off in a 12 foot regular kayak while Sid and Sandy are in the tandem. Sid hasn’t paddled before and it will take a while for him to be comfortable on water.

They head to a beach a quarter mile away. There are swimmers in lanes marked by buoys. Careful, they must be; not due the fear of hurting the swimmers but of toppling their own kayaks upon collision. Once on the beach Sandy and Kirk switch places and they head back out after a few minutes rest. They race to the diametrically opposite end of the lake roughly a mile away and hold a mid-water conference.

Sandy: Now, that didn’t seem so far.
Sid: It’s hardly deep too. Look, I can touch the bottom with this paddle.
Kirk: Come on, we are closer to the banks. What do you expect? It will be deeper further in. After all, this is Lake Placid.
Sid: I’ve heard they call this the Queen of Lakes**.
Sandy: Maybe it’s King George and his placid queen.
Raul: Ya, Lake George was huge. This looks more like a pool.
Kirk: A calm one nonetheless. Maybe this lake looks beautiful from atop the peaks. That could be the hype.
Raul: And, of course the winter olympics hoopla.
Sid: My friend was saying this lake is a must-see. Ya, right!!! Wait, did the 30-foot crocodile really live in this commode? ***
** Actually, Lake George is nicknamed the Queen of American Lakes.
*** Lake Placid is a 1999 American monster movie. Yes, it was filmed elsewhere.

They decide to paddle around till sunset. Anyway, they had paid for the kayaks and it looked like like they had most of the lake for themselves. “Where did everybody go? There were so many tourists on the streets.” These thoughts were shut out as the protagonists enjoyed the serenity that surrounded then.

At roughly half past 8 they head back to the EMS dock. Sid, Sandy and Raul return the gear and head into the shack to get their belongings. Kirk waits near the kayaks as an employee arrives for the routine inspection.

EMS Employee: So how was your day?
Kirk: It was great. Thank you.
EMS Employee: Did you carry your kayaks over to the horseshoe? It’s tougher to kayak there, you know, with the speedboats around.
Kirk: :-0

Kirk manages to hold a straight face trying very hard to hide his shock. He still catches a small glint in the employee’s eyes, the kind you get when you discover a new tale to share with your buddies; a tale of four “knowledgeable” dimwits. He heads back into the shack. “Guys, I have some bad news. This was not Lake Placid.”

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