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
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
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.