Drove up to Kamshet on Friday morning. A 5 day EP course was in progress and as it works at this time of the year it is early morning call so consequently the students crash out early, exhausted from the exertion of the ground handling and the scepter of having to wake up early the next morning.
Saturday saw Shinchan arrive. He came armed with a couple of bottles of wine and after the days training gathered the students and pilots on the terrace in the evening. Having done his EP and CP courses in the last summer he was still in that groove and told me that all the way up to Kamshet he was dreaming of the good life i.e. wake up late, hang about the house, meet like minded people whom you instantly relate to, chill in the hammock or some other cozy corner with a book. Enjoy a great lunch and a power nap and then head out to the Shelar Site for a great afternoon of flying where you enjoy spectacular sunsets from the air, at dusk as you drive back to Native Place you enjoy the cool scented breeze and look forward to a nice shower and a BBQ party on the terrace under the stars with a bunch of interesting happy people.
I recalled the last time he was here as he spoke – a bunch of these guys would gorge on the delicious chicken and keep up the refrain ‘this is life’
He was the catalyst that got us all in the mood and we were up on the terrace enjoying fine wine, chilled beer, super tandoori chicken and jacket potatoes.
Raj, Akshay and Steve, wanted to know why they had not indulged in similar revelries the previous nights but were happy to have discovered this facet of Nirvana. Prajakta, Deepika Ravi and Niles joined us shortly – and as they say the more the merrier.
Raj a painter was inspired, asked me for a wall and portrayed his feelings beautifully. We were all suitably impressed. Raj had his guitar and soon the singing began. It was a marvelous Nirvana Saturday night and such going on’s will continue through the season.
The next morning we were at the training site early and everyone had great flights. That afternoon some of them headed off to Tower hill hoping for nice long flights but we were headed home to son and school fair. The Diwali holidays are coming up though and we have some idyllic flying to look forward to. Can’t wait to step into the Kamshet air.
Back home to Mumbai and Kamshet but our thoughts keep going back to Bir Billing. We miss the daily flying fix, the friends we made, the general excitement and more. Doc and Piku are still there and and killing it every day with great flights. Doc has been enjoying the air and testing the thermals gearing up to fly the house thermal with the crows at Pipalkoti.
Piku who arrived a few days before we left was amazed with our aerial achievements and determined to start off with an instructional tandem flight with Steve to get over his nerves and learn how to thermal.When we last spoke to him he said that he doing some serious flying under Steve’s guidance and was enjoying every minute of it
Steve’s guidance was simply the best and we all have come away richer for the experience.Mike, Bruce, Flo, Severine and many others encouraged me to keep at it and I am grateful for the energy they shared with me.
Sachit and Chiqui are back in the city too but planning to make a dash for Bir once more. We will keep at it at Kamshet and are looking forward to a rocking season beginning with Tower Hill where we will explore the air with new perspective.
Peace Bliss & Happy Landings
Then the last flying day dawned and after two days of staying within familiar surroundings I was focused and ready to head out again but this time keeping the rules of the game in the fore front of my mind.
At take off I decided to fix up my talk back but Steve told me he would rather have me listen that talk – ( that man has known me for years and must have thought – if we make it that easy to speak she will do all the talking)
XC to Big Face – We all took off gained height and headed out for the first ridge and then the Red Temple. Hiren headed back to Billing from there, Dwane landed out at Sansal but Steve and me kept going. There were clouds at the back on the main range and our plan was to keep going up to the Big face (11 odd km away) and stay ahead of them using their lift.
With one more ridge to go before reaching the big face I had a mother of a collapse and then another 40 percent asymmetric and the thought that came to mind was ‘I want to go home now’ but since I did not have the talk back at my finger tips I was reluctant let go off the brakes to voice my thought on the radio. A few moments later I processed the info and realized that my wonderfully stable good natured DHV I Airwave Mojo 2 had held me in good stead opening out with a strong determined sound. Besides it all happened so fast that I had no time to get spooked.
I calmly continued to head out but have to say that I was ambivalent. We got to the Big Face and edged past the side. It was covered with thick clouds. I was jubilant but had lost height on the last leg. I scratched about for a while but there was not much lift on the mountain side and I was in no mood to head closer to the cloud buildup behind so out I went and Steve reluctantly followed me. I had spotted a valley full of terraced fields beyond and my sense of preservation made me home in for them.
I’m getting comfortable with the business of getting out over the valley scanning for power lines and other hazards and landing in a safe place by the road and that is precisely what we did. A large bunch of children greeted me, helped me to pack and carried my glider up to the road to a well placed chai ( tea) shop where we all waited for taxi to take the conquering heroes - well that’s precisely how I felt while crossing the last ridge and making it to the goal. Guess we will have to leave the return from Big Face to my next trip.
The journey back from Big Face by cab was wonderful. Through forests, paddy terraced valleys and through a few streams. Back at Bir Dwane and Hiren were all packed up and ready to leave. Tomorrow I head back home too.
The XC course was an amazing experience. Steve is a great teacher and it’s wonderful to be able to explore and push your boundaries with an experienced teacher showing you the ropes, allowing you to take your own decisions while laying down the rules and keeping an eye on you.
To see more pictures check out the Nirvana Adventures group at http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=34911357213
Peace Bliss & Happy Landings
The next 5 days went off like clock work – breakfast at 9, head out to the site by 10, wait for the vultures and the wind dummies to takeoff, launch, milk the house thermal till about 3000 m and then headed out in some pre decided direction. We usually took off after 12 and it was not until past 3 pm that we met up at the Friends Café where we refreshed ourselves and indulged in an exchange notes about who got to where, the intensity of the thermals, clouds, the inversion etc.
All three of us had interesting experiences, memorable flights and covered distances.
Hiren’s Out and Return: Hiren got to the Red Temple and back (2 ridges away and approx 8 km out and return. I got over the golf course, went on to buzz the Red Temple and then landed out in the village of Sansal.
My Out and Return: The next flying day I made the Red Temple and back while Dwane landed out at Sansal. I was buzzing from the flight and once back at Friends Café met Angus who told me that he was still feeling uncomfortable in the air – it suddenly occurred to me that he was the same guy who had an accident while going XC to Manali last October. “No more XC for me” he said but I was not paying too much attention.
The cautious lady is back: The next morning however I woke up thinking how low I was over the trees on my way back from the Red Temple. I was so determined to get across and back that I had paid scant attention to one of the cardinal rules – keep a safe landing in mind at all times. The scene of my working hard to get up, and then instead of heading out for landing deciding ah! A little more of this turning stuff and I will be able to clear the next spine back and get back to Bir and then I was sinking out once more leaving me no more option but to keep working those little thermals.
I could have bombed out into a nallah (dry stream bed) without too much trouble but it was definitely not a good landing field more likely an emergency one. Wow! I had been foolhardy. Steve had made the basic rules clear to us but I had thrown caution to the wind or should I say to the thermals.
This realization kept me flying well within the boundaries the next day. Practicing thermalling and getting to the opposite ridge and back – staying within safe distance of the official / familiar landing.
Dwane makes tracks: Steve and Dwane headed out in the direction of Jogindernagar as the right side was clouded out. I had seen him hit a thermal and go straight up like he was in an elevator while I was struggling in a not very cooperative house thermal. They landed out in Chauntra in the Tibetan school ground. It was Dwane’s day of triumph.
Racing the clouds: The next day we took off, gained height but a sudden dramatic cloud buildup took place and we had to head out and low real fast to get away from it. As the cloud passed we once more worked at getting up but once more a huge cloud came by and again it was time move safely away. I had enough of unwanted lift for the day and decided a nice landing and some time pass in the landing field would be a great way to end this cloud traffic flying day.
To see more pictures check out the Nirvana Adventures – Paragliding in India group at http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php?gid=34911357213
Peace Bliss & Happy Landings
I woke up at 6 am and rushed up to the terrace to find big clouds gathering fast over the east. The sun peeped out for a short while only to be enveloped by cloud and it began to get very dark. A huge thunder storm ensued and we thought – bother another day gone but, I was to learn that the big mountains hold a lot of weather surprises. Within two hours the storm has spent itself and much to our delight strong valley winds whipped up and drove the clouds away.It turned out to be such a clear blue sky day that we could see the snow covered peaks in the distance.
Quickly we geared up and regrouped – Steve, Dwane, Hiren and me caught a cab and headed up to Billing. We huddled together for a detailed brief and then hung about waiting for news that the valley winds had mellowed and for someone to take off and assess the strength of the thermals.
Everyone I know launched and had a blast. I had a great one hour forty five minutes thermalling flight that soothed away my flying blues. Celebration time it was – everyone was joyous – the magic of Paragliding in Billing prevailed.