Magical, how else would you describe a sport which keeps surprising you every time. It is exciting and calm, safe and potentially dangerous, Joyful and fearful, these are some of the clashing rocks potentially crushing, between which a pilot has to pass. Mastering this I believe keeps us all excited to the sport. The experience which I am going to share is one of those magical moments. Life has its own way of teaching things perhaps this flight was life’s own way of communicating with me.
The 90 minutes’ trek to the take-off site was exhausting, it was already a long day, considering it took me and my friend 4 hours to drive to the site. (the above image is the real image of the site in jawhar)
The view on the take-off was refreshing. Long Mountain range, beautiful lake and refreshing clear sky, it had nicely set our mood for flying.
Without much effort I and my friend took off, in next 20 minutes we both were soaring at 800 ft. Everything felt very still and peaceful. Winds were gushing through my face trying to communicate with me, talking to the wind is my way of connecting with the wind and my glider. It helps me to stay relaxed and build trust both with the glider and the condition.
Paragliding is not an easy sport it takes time to master the skill, it is demanding both in terms of time and money. I often wonder at times, what drives me to the sport and each time when I land I have my answer. Paragliding for me is sublime acme of sensuous adventure, it is state of perfect happiness and great joy.
After around 60 minutes of flying with only 2 gliders in the sky. I decided to go and explore the south side of the ridge facing west. By the time when I decided to come back I was struggling for penetration because by then the winds had gone more north west. After trying for some time I decided to explore my landing options and landed safely.
On landing I was surrounded by some excited kids. It’s always fun to interact with them and answer their curiosity, understandably, not every day they see an alien landing from the sky. There were approximately 50 to 60 villagers majorly kids watching me pack my gliders. On landing I contacted my friend so that they could come and pick me up. After packing my glider, I started walking with the villagers. This started flurry of questions from the villagers. One particular question which stuck with me was how much do I get paid for flying? I was surprised by the question but to give you some back ground the village seem to be a poor. I was not sure how to answer the question. I was uncomfortable answering the question, may be looking at the hardship what villagers have to go through to earn a living.
After 10 minutes of walking I finally reached the village, I was surprised looking at the state of the village it was even worse then what I had expected. The structure of the houses, state of the roads, clothes of the villagers, etc. was in bad shape. It was surprising, 4 hours away from Mumbai and I felt so disconnected with reality. I had a long chat with the villagers about the functioning of the school, about the agriculture, how they earned their livelihood. Against all odds one thing which stuck me, they were optimistic. It’s no secret that the disparity of the income is extremely high in India and this village was a prime example. However, this could not be generalised for all the villages in India.
While in the car I was reflecting to what had happened. I felt sad, my heart sank.
If you think of it, the only difference between us ,was that they did not get the opportunity and I did. How do you expect to do well under such circumstances? It is not easy.
The day made me realised that how lucky and grateful I should be. In the lottery called life I have just been lucky. The experience taught me how naïve I have been all these years, getting worried about salary, owning a house, car etc. Keeping things in perspective, these things look so irrelevant.
In paragliding we believe that, if you can walk away from a landing, it’s a good landing. That day not only I walked out of my landing but I also walked out wiser.
“Perhaps some of us have to go through dark and devious ways before we can find the river of peace or the highroads to the soul’s destination.” Joseph Campbell