“How high are we?” I asked Ganesh bhaiya and the answer left me both “speech and weight” – less; 2200 feet! Well, that is how I felt while paragliding over the Pawna Lake in Pune, surrounded by the dauntingly beautiful Kamshet mountains, standing as sentinels of Mother Nature. The feeling could be described as that of excitement and adventure but that would be putting it mildly; very mildly. I thought that I would be scared out of my wits for this was the first time I was undertaking such an adventure and had no preconceived notion as to what to expect out of this imposed ordeal for it was my friend Amitesh who, against my will, took me on this expedition of sorts; and truth be told, I was petrified because I kept on thinking about the unfathomable possibilities that the unknown might present me with. What followed was something I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.
In that moment I realised that the world is small and we are even smaller for nothing can compare to the celebrity status that the Universe enjoys
The take-off was out of a James Bond movie where I was asked to run with the currents of the wind and take a leap of faith off the cliff; there was an instructor with me at all times but we all know that IT DOESN’T MATTER! “JUMP when I tell you to”, he said and before I knew, I was running towards the edge of the cliff and within moments I was looking into the abyss beneath me. I was airborne; I was flying! We slowly gained altitude, ascending into the limitless sky with the ground beneath me diminishing in proportion with each inch of accession upward, and it was nothing like I had anticipated.
The wind caressed me with the gentle countenance of a lover and the sun was kind too. The mountains were no more frightening for I had levelled with them, both in altitude and will. I stared right at them and we shared a moment of mutual admiration; at least I’d like to think so. Amidst the flighty forgetfulness, a few irrepressible lines from a nursery rhyme suddenly made sense, “Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky“; I was the star in the sky the rhyme so extolled, high above all and still humbled by the sheer grandeur of Mother Nature. In that moment I realised that the world is small and we are even smaller for nothing can compare to the celebrity status that the Universe enjoys. 10 minutes later I was on my way back to the ground; my feet touched raw earth and in years, for the first time, I truly felt grounded.
Icarus did not make his flight in vain for he had experienced what no man before him did, he experienced true freedom.