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
We closed the flying season at Kamshet with our traditional end of season party on the 9/10th weekend of June. Saturday began with an early morning trip to the Shelar site to pay our respects to the Devi on the hills. We walked up to the shrine in silence, said a prayer, lingered a while to enjoy the view before running down the hillside and driving back to Native Place to wait for the Shelar village kids to arrive.
The plan was to give the kids a new experience and for this we enlisted the services of team building professionals to take them through the mountain adventure experience that we offer our corporate clients.The kids were super excited and loved the rappelling zipline, team games and the nature activities. They were given an orientation on mountaineering equipment and those interested were given details on courses to help pursue a passion or a profession.
The day was full of excitement and joy with the kids having a blast with all the fun activities and pilots landing up through the day. In the evening it was just pilots – dancing, chatting, bonding and firefly gazing.
Our way of saying ‘thank you all’ for a wonderful flying season.
Peace Bliss & Happy Landings
Astrid, Sanjay & all at Nirvana Adventures
Kamshet in the rains: We made plans to meet at Native Place during the monsoon to enjoy the rains, streams and waterfalls as well as the verdant shades of the hills all around. So those of you who missed this occasion keep a look out for the announcement of the next event: ‘Discover Kamshet in the rains’
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
All through the monsoon season (June to September) we continue to go up to Native Place on the weekends. The paragliding season will only reopen in October but each weekend as we drive by on the road from Kamshet to Native place my eyes turn to the Shelar hills on the right to get a glimpse of what is going on there. In the first two weeks it is amazing to watch the brown hillsides turn green. Next the tiny silvery snaky waterfalls begin to be seen on the cliff face behind. Depending on the force of the rain we may see as many 14 or more waterfalls and when it is raining heavily the entire Shelar hillside is shrouded in a cloudy haze.
Last weekend we headed right in that direction. We were going to Karanjgaon village to visit the homes of the nirvana crew and kids on the occasion of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival. As we drove closer to the Shelar site it was fascinating to see up close and personal the transformation that the rain had brought to the site.It was also lovely to visit the homes of all the crew and kids.
Ravi Shelar has built a new home and we got the tour of it too – Here is a view of the site from his bedroom window. He also can see the Tower Hill site from his front balcony.
We visited many ganesh idols installed in the houses of all the kids but I could not resist putting up the pic of the idol at Pramod’s house with its very current ‘I am Anna’ theme. Anna Hazare has inspired us all
Peace Bliss & Happy Landings
Astrid & Sanjay Rao