God is Watching

High up in the mountains, a vast forest of pine trees and the occasional horse feces found me camping by a gushing angry river with freezing cold waters coming from a melting glacier.

As the sun set after a long, long day, I sat at a pre-identified spot to photograph the stars as they slowly lighted up the sky. The spot was on a bridge spanning across the river where I could photograph the milky way over the gushing river.

To call that particular bridge is the overstatement of the year, if not the century. The bridge was nothing more than a piece of old withered flimsy log placed carelessly across the river. Walking across the "bridge", one can experience first hand the movement of the tan, sin & cos wave.

And so, on that very bridge I sat with my camera attached on a tripod as the darkness of the night slowly enveloped me. 

You know how the wind blows up in the mountains? Bitter cold wind comes in sudden strong gusts buffeting you left and right. Hence, I was dressed in multiple layers of warm clothing to keep warm. 

Truly enjoying myself, I photographed absolute beauty and I remember thinking: "I wouldn't mind doing this for the rest of my life." And it was at that very exact moment, an enormous gust of wind came blowing, buffeting me and wobbling the "bridge".

And in front of my very eyes, my camera together with the tripod fell right into the river!

I was stunned for 1.342 seconds and when I recovered I immediately used my torch to pierce the absolute darkness, trying to at least catch a glimpse of my camera in the rolling and gushing river. And by some miracle, I saw it floating not 10m from where I stood. At that moment I knew I had only 2 choices, to jump in the river or to bloody jump in. 

The million of stars hanging out in the sky that night were surprised to see a guy dressed in layers of thick clothing suddenly plunging into a freezing mountain river in the black of the night. But with all the crazy things the stars have seen humans do, they probably didn't think much of it.

The moment I jumped into the river, the layers of clothing absorbed so much water that the weight dragged me underwater for a moment. It took all my strength accumulated since birth, to bring my head to the surface and stay afloat.  

The short moment I was underwater was enough to disorientate me. Using the North Star to reorientate myself, I started my search for the camera. 

Banging into rocks and boulders as the current swept me down river, I used my torch to desperately try catch a glimpse of the camera. And lo and behold! I suddenly saw it washed against some rocks not far from me. Using the light from my torch to illuminate the direction I had to head to, I swam toward the camera as if a crocodile was after me.

According to Murphy's Law, "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, at the worst time possible." And so it was at that moment my torch that is waterproof and shockproof decided to be neither. Thus, in pitch blackness I swam in the direction of the rocks and blindly stretched out my hand....

The feeling of bliss and relief when my hand closed around the leg of the tripod is indescribable. I myself couldn't believe that I actually manage to get back my camera. The way I felt then is probably best summarise with the following picture:

So swimming one hand against the current, I manage to get back to the shore and fell down totally exhausted. Lying on the shore, freezing my butt off and bruised all over my body, it occurred to me that it probably wasn't the smartest thing to do jumping into the freezing river in the middle of the night all for the sake of a camera.

Throughout the years of my life, I've done a fair share of stupid things, things that wouldn't be done if I actually stopped and think for a moment. My name "Shimri" means God is watching. I think that the only reason I manage to survive thus far is because God is watching over me and I'm pretty sure he is entertained over the years by my various stupid antics.

Not surprisingly, my camera is not working anymore after its swim in the river. Tried immersing it in uncooked rice when I came down the mountains. After a week of immersing it in uncooked rice, it managed to revive the camera but it went kaput after a while. Thus bringing my journey in photography to a temporary halt. The good thing is that I bought insurance for the camera so I'll be getting a replacement soon. 

So till then.. :)

Lim ShimriComment