Sanjay, Sunith and I drove up from Mumbai to Kamshet on the 9th of November with the happy intention of spending the entire Diwali break in Kamshet. I had only just returned from a week long permaculture course and had my head full of plans for the garden. All through the week I slaved in the garden (happily) saying bye to the paragliding students and pilots each morning as they left for the flying site. Each evening we gathered on the roof at dinner and I listened to the excited reporting of each ones experiences.
Saturday the weather was exceptionally good and pilots gained enough altitude to leave the hill and head for home. Ravi, Bandya, Sandeep, Doc Pathak (yes he is in the house) and our very own 16 year’ old Sunith Rao braved the instability and got all the way back to Govitri the nearest village to Native Place. Sunith had only just got his first vario the day before and boy had he made good use of it.
Sunday saw me ditching the peace of the Native Place garden and scurrying off to the site. I could not stay away from the excitement no more. Colin was visiting from Brunei, Nikhil and Nisha drove up from Mumbai, Doc had arrived the previous day from Pipalkoti and Algeliki and Jannis from Greece, Gregory from the US, Jose from Hyderabad, Ben from the UK, Emil from the Koh Tao … the list goes on. A happy group of paragliding pilots all hung out on the hillside waiting for the wind to calm down a bit and embrace our wings. It was wonderful to be in the air again. I can never get over that million dollar post landing expansive feeling that lingers on, making you feel like you are walking on air and the whole world is beautiful
Peace Bliss & Happy Landings
Due to the late monsoon the season opening was delayed. Nirvana Adventures was scheduled to start paragliding courses at Kamshet on the 18th of October. Impatient brothers Dwane and Dylan ditched the Mumbai city weekend and took a slim chance to get to the Tower Hill flying site on Saturday the 13th only to be rewarded with some wonderful flights. Dwane uploaded the above picture on the Facebook Nirvana Paragliding Group last week announcing ‘Super weekend … it’s on people! It’s on!!” What’s on? another wonderful paragliding season – 8 months of sunny weather and the possibility of soaring the sunny skies with friends and family … snoozing peacefully in a hammock in the Native Place garden … hitting the flying site for bliss in the air and coming back home to Native Place again after a happy landing.
Sherwin and Dharmesh had got there the day before and they were all thrilled to be back in the air after 4 months of rainy weather. The picture made us all feel we missed a great opportunity but no worries people the season is here to stay for another 8 months.
Courses are on again once more. Here is the first batch of the season. Look forward to seeing you all at Native Place and Nirvana Adventures
Peace Bliss and Happy Landings
Astrid & Sanjay Rao
It was to be a moonless night on Saturday the 21st of May, a perfect night to spend on the Native Place terrace, far away from the bright city lights, with a cool west wind blowing over the lake and an inky sky studded with stars hanging above.
After a hot afternoon at the site, a soothing sunset flight at Shelar all we could think of was quick shower and head up for the action on the roof. It proved to be a wonderful night with shooting star sightings and even the odd firefly ethereally floating by.
The next day was Nirvana Instructor Sandip Bhalshinge’s wedding and we headed out in all our finery to the marriage hall ready to be accosted by a riot of colors, share a simple meal and meet many familiar faces. Sandip hails from Karanjgaon the village near the Shelar site and it was interesting to meet all the glider packing kids of Shelar, and especially nice to see some of the glider packing girls like Pashi and Ushi who are now married and have moved away.
The best part of the village weddings in the area is the village trance like party where dancing in the streets goes on till late at night powered by the hearth stomping monster speakers with incredible audio power aboard a mobile silver carriage that comes with a DJ console, seats for the bride and the groom, a generator and a contagious tempo guaranteed to get your hips shaking and your feet tapping.
Full on crazy dancing was the order of the night and every one let their hair down, jumped into the fray and kicked up a dust. After the street dancing the party moved back to Native Place where singing continued till the wee hours.
Monday morning saw a sleepy but happy rejuvenated bunch of people heading back to the city and to work after a very special weekend. It sure was the perfect recipe for a memorable weekend of paragliding, culture and camaraderie.
I received the XC mag just before we drove up to Kamshet on Friday and the first thing that caught my eye was David Obura’s article titled ‘Rediscovering Nirvana” David had taken a long break from paragliding and last year he visited us at Kamshet to spend a week flying in hospitable conditions and get his groove back.
I myself was getting back to Kamshet and paragliding after a gap of 3 long months and that weekend I too rediscovered Nirvana. The afternoon flying at Shelar was incredibly smooth. It’s the kind of conditions that lull you into easy going mode.
I soared about close to the cliff peeping into the vulture and falcons nests in the rock, screeching out to a cheeky peregrine falcon who simply ignored me – guess my diction was not up to the mark, this is how it must feel to be a raptor I thought – soaring on top of the food chain a sky lord overlooking the entire scene with eyes that don’t blink and with nothing to concern you at all. Soon Sunith got airborne and in my heart I felt a little flutter as I saw him gain altitude and shrink into the large sky. Is this what the mama bird feel when her fledglings leave the nest. Nah! Not possible – they don’t have worries – that is reserved for us lesser humans who lack faith in our own wings. I shrugged off the feeling and smiled. There sure was a lot to smile about including watching an incredible sunset and moonrise almost simultaneously.
Time flies too you know! Not long ago our son Sunith was a toddler running barefoot across the fields and hills with the village boys for company. Today he has finished his grade 10 examination ( it’s what kept me away from Kamshet for 3 months) and is flying high with those very boys.
And things change too you know! Last year it was the road that came up all the way to the site, before that it was the vultures that left their roosting area in the cliffs in large numbers, and this year it is the windmills have sprouted on the tops of the ridges. But paragliding goes on as usual. And every one lands at sunset. And then it’s time for the FlyNirvana family to head back home to Native Place our lovely base built for pilots to come home to after a sunny day at the site.
Peace Bliss & Happy Landings
I have waited a long long time for this….my first flight . I have been going to Native Place for as long as I can remember and have seen Anand Mama (uncle), Jan Mami (aunty) and Dada (dad) learning to fly and have had a good many laughs at the many many funny landings of Anand Mama. I have climbed Shinde hill and Shelar hill multiple times in the hope to fulfil my flying dreams. I had been after my dada who has been promising me a flight with Ravi Mama for ages and I had almost given up hope till last Saturday when we made it to Kamshet in Jan Mami’s brand new car.
I climbed Shelar hill and was really excited at fulfilling my dreams of becoming a pilot. At take-off, I had to wait quite a bit as winds were cross and I was wondering why all those Pilot Mamas were sitting down and feeling so sad while Kavya and I were having so much fun. My dada says that this is called Parawaiting….well, Parawaiting is fun!!! Kavya and I danced and explored the place with my Mom.
Finally, after a lot of waiting, Ravi Mama called me to get ready. Ravi mama looked serious as he went about checking all the straps while I was excited and a little bit scared, but Ravi Mama made me feel OK and put the helmet and harness on me. Dada was more excited than me and was running around clicking photographs. I was of course having the time of my life since I would finally make the run for my flying dreams to take off.Ravi Mama and I were strapped to the paraglider and Pramod Mama was helping us. Then Ravi Mama lifts the glider and starts to run and before I know it, we are in the air. As we took off, I said “bye Dada” and flew off into the sunset J. It was a small flight but a big dream coming true for me as I looked around the hills and at the sky.
As I came for landing, Anand mama, Kavita mami & Jan mami came running to meet me and they all seemed super excited. I had ofcourse completed my first flight and as a good pilot who had done his first flight, danced around the landing field. I saluted Ravi Mama for the flight and then waited for Dad and Mom to come down the hill. I want to do this again sometime soon. Dada has promised to bring me back here for a few days during my summer holidays.
And no offence to my grandparents, but I would rather go to this Native Place than to Goa or Bangalore.
The only thing I did not understand was when I told my Mom that since I am now a pilot, I will have beer instead of milk. All hell broke loose and dad and Anand mama ran away. These grown-ups have funny ways !
Ghost written by Anand Mama aka Anand Palekar