I measure the success of a trip by the number of memories in it and I have made some that will last a life-time. I was pretty scared about the bus trip (considering my motion sickness),however, thanks to multiple doses of tablets, I almost immediately fell asleep in the bus and reached the place really safe and sound.
We reached the house at noon. A few words about the house – amazing place, away from the city, surrounded by trees and hills and on the banks of a lake. I could kill to live in a place like that..
So we had a quick lunch and left for a place called Ashram. If anyone has played “Red Redemption”, the vast empty spaces between cities that you ride on in the game, this place is similar to that. Not a single human soul for miles around and I immediately fell in love with the place. I wanted to camp there at least one night however that didn’t work out this time. Hopefully next time we carry tents etc and camp in that place for a night. Here was where we needed to practice steadying the gliders and the absolutely zero wind made it pretty tiresome. Well in one line – who ever said no pains no gains sure wasn’t kidding. It was really really tiring. And probably because of the overdose, I became sick but after a 10 min super-nap, was fresh again. After we reached back to the house, we played cards for an hour and went back to our dorms. I fell asleep as soon as I hit the bed.
Day 2, was more fun. We all woke up at 5:30 and were ready by 6-6:15 and went to a place called Shinde hill to practice bunny hops. This meant we run from a small altitude and launch up in air for a few seconds just to get the hang of it. First flight is almost like a first kiss and you are so nervous that you forget left from right (at least in my case). The instructor kept saying right and I kept going left and landed in a bush full of thorns. (Jeans and full-tshirts are a must here). We finished by 9:30 because there was thermal air which was pushing the gliders upwards(which is not suitable for learners).
The afternoon, there was not much wind again so the practice sessions in the Ashram was cancelled. A bunch of us decided to go to the lake and take a dip. It was pretty deep and I have zero swimming experience outside of a 5 ft swimming pool. I said what the hell and jumped in. Turns out I can float okay in any smooth water irrespective of the depth. Of course, Nagaraju and Kranthi were escorting me all through the swim on my either side. I even dived into the lake from a drum-platform. Apart from Nagaraju doing a really bad back-flip, landing on his back which turned ultra red, there no other incident.
We came back and started playing cards. The game was so intense that a small group of audience was formed. Finally Naren and I were left out, I quickly raced ahead to 190+ (game was for 200) and he was at 160 something. But after two round he lost and I won. It was surprising especially because I was playing really bad.
That night before dinner, Mahmood, Nagaraju, Kranthi, Bharadwaj and I went for night stroll along a dusty rode. We walked for about half an hour and as you all know, me being the agent of darkness, loved the lack of artificial light and loved the glow of the moon and the star studded sky. The topics we talked about ranged from politics to marriages to girls to work. Loved that walk.
Day three was amazing as well. We were to launch from a small hill now about 200 mts I would think. The hardest part of it was climbing the hill carrying the glider along.
My nokia lumia 920 was pretty handy here taking some very amazing pictures. People lined up for getting photographed. I managed to barter a few Pav Bhajis in exchange for taking pics.
That evening followed the a very similar pattern to the previous day, swimming in the lake, playing cards all through the day. The main thing that I realized at this point was there was no TV, no internet connection nor any cellular network here. I can’t explain how peaceful that made me feel. I had no idea what was going in the rest of world and frankly I didn’t care. A vacation of this sort is a must for everybody.
Final day, I was already feeling slightly bad that it was ending so quickly. We did another five jumps from the same hill. My last jump, I overshoot the target by a huge margin because of the extra lift caused by thermals and Sanjay(the instructor) asked us to pack up. Manideep who jumped after me, disobeyed and climbed the hill and got an extra super-long jump (envy you man!!).
For the after noon, Suchitra who had to go to Bangalore left early. We, Hyderabad folks had more time and decided to check out the Karla caves nearby. The trouble was there was a temple adjacent to it and it was some festival day. The stairs to the caves were packed with people. Naren had hurt his leg and so stayed back in the van. Manideep and Anwesha walked up the stairs while the mischief masters were thinking about bunking this trip because it sounded boring. Luckily I say a water pipe that was directly leading to the top of the hill and a guy who was selling guavas told that it was climbable. That was all the motivation we needed and we climbed up. A word of Kudos to Mahmood who climbed it more confidently and smoothly than the rest of us. I, with my, rubber shoes was the most clumsy climber but we did it all the same. The caves were boring (at least for me who doesn’t like man made stuff).
See the wall over there at the top? We reached there from about a 100 steps below from this point
Then we headed back to home, said our good-byes to our hosts and instructors who were now our friends. The journey back was filled with everyone talking about their experiences and again took two tablets to avoid motion sickness and landed safely back in Hyderabad.
A few things that I wanted to talk about but forgot earlier
1. We took a test to get our certificates and I completely sucked at it. There were two questions which were opposites, I mean they both can’t be true and both can’t be false. Funny thing was I put False for both of them. Luckily, I wasn’t the only idiot there. Someone else put True for both of them. Nagaraju I think.
2. Bharadwaj this is for you, don’t tell folks you know swimming. What happened was I told him to swim along the bank. And because he said he knew swimming I didn’t bother to tell him that there was a deep spot at one particular point. But what he actually meant was that he could swim as long as he could hold his breath and he lost his breath correctly at that point. Luckily he managed to swim to shallow area.
3. Mahmood, I wish I could take the picture of you looking at chicken barbeque. Mahmood isn’t used to Indian food and the entire trip he survived on Chapati with no side-dish and coke and a few of us were worried about that. On Saturday, there was a barbeque and Mahmood came to life. We were all happy that he was finally eating fully.
4. I made some really good new friends in this trip and learnt a lot more (about the dark and fun -side) of my existing ones. Finally put facebook and whatsapp to good use here. Will probably go back really soon to complete 20 jumps (which is kind of a pre-req for the next level). Will be glad to meet everyone then.