Friday we approached the Shelar Paragliding site to see a large Cu Nim peeping over the back of the ridge. Kind of like an iceberg where you get to see the benign top and not the huge expanse lurking below. That put paid to our takeoff ideas and we hung about playing cricket, flying kites, ground handling or cloud watching.
Soon we headed back to Native Place and up to the terrace to witness the drama in the sky and wait for the big thundershower that the looming dark clouds were promising. Big clouds were sneaking in from the west, slipping behind the ridge from the north and joining the bank of clouds behind the ridge.
Soon the entire ridge was encased in a formidable yet fluffy cloud wall. There were hints of lightning in the distance too. We settled down with refreshments waiting for the big rain.
We could read it in the clouds and smell it on the breeze yet we looked up at the sky in vain… heavy clouds but no rain. The shower bypassed us to shed its load elsewhere teasing us with that familiar haunting smell of drenched earth.
Saturday and Sunday proved to be good in the paragliding department. As it always is post a big shower at this time of the year and paragliding pilots and students went back to the city sated.
Peace Bliss & Happy Landings
Sanjay & Astrid Rao
I truly believe that paragliding is not a sport taken up by crazy people, but lazy people. If you want to argue, I already give up.
On my way to Shelar, a wonderful paragliding site in western Maharashtra, I was all set go and watch my buddies fly. Yup, I was totally not intending to fly that day. The wind was strong, I could see. The wind direction was wrong, I could see. But it was gliders in the air that I could not see. On reaching Shelar, I quickly approached Shelar Mama, who with his signature broad smile poured me a glass of hot chai. “All the pilots are bathing in the sun at the take-off area since 3:30,” Shelar Mama updated me. “Good chai,” I responded and proceded to sit in the shade of the 3 Bhendi trees near the landing.
I was glad I was not up there at the take off. It was around 5pm when Chetan Khatokar decided to climb to the take off to give it a shot. And around the same time Nikhil Bhide, who was at the take off, decided to climb down from the take off after a futile day of para-waiting. Meanwhile, the setting sun was giving up on all of us.
It was well past 5:30pm when Nikhil came to where I was standing, and I said “look up.” There were more than 7 pilots in the air, with more joining them. All climbing high up. One was even learning wing-overs. When those pilots soared, I could feel a dip in Nihil’s heart rate. Chetan was the last to take off. He went straight to the venturii, missed the lift and came straight down to land. The only exciting part of his flight being the landing spot, which was miles away from where we stood. An XC pilot in the making … hmmm.
The sun was down and the canopy of twinkling stars was drawn up across the Indian skies. . It was Sanjay Rao’s (Co-owner of Nirvana Adventures) birthday on the 4th and many friends were gathering at Kamshet to celebrate. It was with grilled Indian Mackerel and freshly caught River Bass along with music, wine and company of good friends that we brought in Sanjay Rao’s and Hitashi’s birthday. If laughter was medicine to any ailments, I’m sure I was healed of many that evening.
The next day, flying was cancelled due to strong and cross wind conditions and we all headed back to our respective cities. While Nikhil stayed back for another week of flying.
Crosswind dominated the long Easter weekend. The north wind component continued from the last weekend with a little more strength and stubbornness – consequently very little flying happened. Some of us managed to catch a window of opportunity and get airborne for a significant amount of time but one could actually see the cycles in action as a wave of pilots who had managed to get up one minute all drifted earthwards as the lift dissipated. Gokul who got up early when the direction was good took advantage of the north component and headed back to tower hill and the highway. While some pilots got top to bottoms or simply had to give in and walk down.Sunith who is now 13 years old accompanied us to the site and did some grueling ground handling in the hot sun. He was supervised by Vinya and as I watched their interaction memories of them playing together as children flooded my mind. Scenes from 10 years ago, running around barefoot in the sun, up and down the hills and fields along with the rest of the Shelar kids. Happy days, happy memories.I had been looking forward to 3 flying days and a lot of other excitement as well. The wind may not have blown favorably but there were other factors and incentives to keep us happy. We had just completed the first round of 100 courses with the air force, there was old friends Mike and gang at Native Place to catch up with, Steve’s staggered birthday bashes that went on through the week, an Easter egg hunt with Irene Anna & Stephan and the standard post breakfast cool off in the lake to look forward to as well.Peace Bliss and Happy LandingsAstrid Rao
The east west transition is complete and we now have a consistent west wind blowing every afternoon. Flying at Shelar is on as usual. Here are the highlights of the last few weeks.
Mother, daughter & hammock:
Captain Shyam came for the weekend in the begining of the month. At that point we were still moving between Tower Hill and Shelar. While he was away flying Anisha and Anaya enjoy a peaceful relaxed afternoon at Native Place.
A Pair of fledgling bulbulls fall out of their nest in the bamboo growing inside the central courtyard at Native Place and a few of us get to witness their parents give them thier first flying lesson.
Michael is back in Kamshet once more from Hong Kong along with Ian, Mark and Ben. Shelar Mama was mighty pleased to see an old familiar face and greets him with his inimitable gusto.
EP and CP batches in progress for the air force during the weke and all you wonderful people on weekends.
Peace Bliss & Happy Landings