This is my earliest memory of an adventure. I must have been 7 or 8 years old. And it was time to try out some extreme sports – “paragliding”!!!. Well that idea didn’t just fall out of the sky. With Dad being in the army, means you get to do lotta cool stuff and get to see a lotta places as well. So this event took place in Agra – which also happens to be my place of birth.
I don’t remember much of what happened before we got to the huge ground that was to be the venue for the sport. The paragliding experience had been organised by Dad’s Unit for visiting members of our family and for his junior officers and their wives and whoever else was interested. There was a pretty decent crowd waiting to do a little gliding over the city. All I remember is being on that ground and getting all excited about the prospect of flying like a big bird for about 5 minutes in the sky.
Anyway, the paraphenalia was pretty basic. One open jeep to which was attached a long long rope, which was further attached to the parachute. So its like flying a kite. Once ur all bucked up and the parachute is held behind you to catch air, the jeep starts moving forward away from where u stand. when the rope runs out its complete length, U start running behind the jeep to keep up, but as the jeep picks up speed and the parachute catches all the air it needs – then its “lift off”!!.
But i’ll track back a little to the point where it was my turn to go for the first time. Even though i was a really rowdy kid and wasn’t scared of getting hurt n all, this was a little overwhelming for me. But anyways, i couldn’t let anybody know that and i put on my “brave” face and walked up to get saddled n buckled. They put the custom para jumping helmet on me. I must have looked like a human bee with that huge thing on my head – making my neck sway a little with its weight n size. Anyways, I was ready to go and it was snap time before I went up. So with mom n dad standing on eithe side of me, we got a snap with me grinning away to glory and the parachute in the background. With the formalities done, it was time for some action…….
And so the jeep started. The rope started slackening behind it. I had Dad and a “bhaiyya” on either side holding me by my arms. Then i started running behind the jeep with dad and bhaiyya still running with me. Slowly I felt the ground leaving my feet. It felt like i was just running in mid air and thats when “fear” struck!!!. Realising I was too high to be held by Dad anymore and that i was gonna be doin this all alone – meri to phatt gayi thi big time. As the chute filled up with air to its fullest capacity, the higher it lifted me. That sudden rise in altitude wasn’t something i was prepared for. There were some rude jolts from the rope that attached to the jeep as well. These only added to my trauma. My eyes were closed tight shut. I thought if I opened them I wouldn’t be able to digest the hieght I was at and all alone too…..I guess I was up there for approx five to seven minutes – thought it felt like they were never gonna get me down. Funny thing was (now i can say it was funny) – i kept repeating the phrase “god please save me, god please save me” over and over again……Thats how petrified i was.
Eventually, the jeep slowed down and came to a halt and then we had to wait for the chute to come down at its own speed. As I was coming down, with my eyes still clamped shut, I could hear voices cheering me on. Thats when I opened my eyes and saw that there were five or six people waiting to catch me and break my fall. And thats when i heard one of the many bhaiyyas waiting to catch me saying – “arre baby aankh band kyun kiya hai. papa ka beti hoke aankh band nahin karte…!!!”. And I was like ooops, there goes my reputation of being the most fearless kid on the block – at least in my age group that is 😉
So there I landed, and was i happy to be on ground level or what!!! Next Mom went for a ride and when she came down she asked me if i saw the tips of the Taj Mahal or the market where i always had an “orange bar”, or the colony we lived in. And obvously I hadn’t seen any of those things and had to confess that i was too scared to open my eyes up there.
But it didn’t end there. Having done it once and discovering that it wasn’t as life threatening as it looked I gave it a go twice again, for which i had to throw quite a tantrum – since many people were in line. But I really enjoyed it this time and even though I didn’t spot the Taj or the other places mom had mentioned, i still saw a lot of ant sized people and vehicles looking like toys and that was good enough for me.
I remember my cousin brother had tried it out too. He was 5 i think. But i guess that was too little an age to try out this stunt. He was too light and couldn’t lift off well and the little distance that he did go…he came down real fast like a rock. So it was difficult to reach him in time and break his fall. But in the end all was ok…………
There was even a young newly married officer whose wife went for a glide. And when she came down, he caought her in his arms. Man was that filmy or what!!! Now when i think about it – i think it was the cutest most romantic thing to do. Awwwwwwweee!!!!!
So, thats it. Like I said, I particularly have no memories of what follwed after we were off the field. I guess only very typical things stick in ur memory. This is one of em……….and i really cherish it. I really beam from ear to ear when I look at the pictures we took that day 🙂