It’s time to go back to the basics. And to watch the pros at it, is even more fun. Between them, these pilots probably have over 70 years of flying experience. But when they decided to make a day of groundhandling, it was with all the gusto that beginners have for first flights (it was extremely contagious).
So 6 pilots headed out one morning, with even more spectators to watch the fun. With French pilot Bastien around, it promised to be entertaining. (Try and make your way to Nirvana in the next couple of months just to watch him fly!). While the pilots geared up, the rest of us got rid of the slight chill by basking in the sun.
And what a trip it was, watching them was so much fun, it makes you want to do as much groundhandling as you can. But it should definitely come with a warning. “These stunts are performed by professionals, please don’t try this at home”. As one pilot got on to anothers’ shoulders, all the while controlling the glider and then jumped off onto the ground landing gracefully on his feet, the rest of us watched in awe. This stunt is called a Totem by the French, and a disaster when the landing is not so graceful (of course sending the rest of us into spasms of laughter).
You can never do enough of groundhandling, and watching these guys definitely inspired me. See if you can wrangle a demo from them whenever you make it to Native Place. And, of course, next time you are at the guesthouse, stroll down to the pond in the garden to check out the new additions to the Native Place family. You’ll see some guppies and mollies floating around, and a homemade “porcupine fish”. Only request, please don’t feed the fish!
Crackers, chaos and craziness. That’s what Diwali was like this year. Did I mention craziness? 25 paragliding students, lots of family and add a couple of Europeans to that mix. But so much fun.
The week began with Laxmi Puja and fireworks, food and an air of festivity. The Raos led the Puja with everyone singing along, and Jannis and Angeliki looking extremely confused.
This week also saw the return of Doc and Emil to Native Place. And students from all over the country. We had group from Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune, everywhere…Have you ever seen an assembly line? Well, this is what a paragliding assembly line looks like.Shinde hill was a madhouse, with 15 students being launched from take off on a single day, a complete circus. But the energy was contagious as students ran back up the slope on the adrenalin of first flights.
My favourite part was standing near the landing and watching their faces as they come down. The range of expressions seen is priceless. From massive grins to “WHAT AM I DOING?!”, you see it all!
Heading back to the house we’re in for a surprise. In the bathroom, we had to look out for the fish and not the frogs. The common loos have been brightened up with a bunch of eclectic fish swimming around the walls, with the occasional fish swimming against the current. So make sure you take a pee(p) when you’re here.
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
Some of the above were familiar faces, people we have known for many years , as well as first time visitors. Each guest found their own place in the sun / sky / hammock. Every guest was treated to panoramic nature views from the air and from Native Place, enjoyed great food at Native Place, made friends, achieved best flights and pushed their boundaries … Most of all each of them felt a sense of being at home – in this remote rural corner of India – at a unique eco friendly and culturally sensitive guesthouse called Native Place.