Ashwin’s Tryst with Paragliding at Shelar
The saffron flag above the temple fluttered vigorously. It was south wind and quite strong. I knew it was not going to be flyable. It was Saturday, 21st January 2012 … my first visit to Nirvana Adventures in Kamshet, India, for paragliding this year, and all my hopes for flying were dashed by the wind that blew in the wrong direction and at a very wrong pace. However, at Native Place, the guest house where I stay every time I visit Nirvana Adventures, you are never let down – there’s always beer, a hammock under the huge Umbar tree and a great number of melodious birds that sing better tunes than Justin Bieber. I promptly settled for the beer and a blissful afternoon under the cool shades of the graceful tree.
Just two sips of the frothy ale later I saw Vinya (one of the paragliding instructors at Nirvana Adventures) getting ready for an afternoon session of ground-handling with a bunch of new students. East, west, north or south, as long as there was wind, I could do ground-handling. Dash it! I had to abandon my beer!
An hour later, along with the new students, I took my glider to Ashram and sweat it out it the vast openness of the place. Not before long, I noticed something amiss – the wind! Just a little while ago it blew my dream of spending quality time in air, and now it simply robbed my opportunity to spend some quality time on ground. Well, that’s what paragliding is all about, isn’t it?
3 hours later, we returned to Native Place. The sun was setting and the placid lake was like a canvas of changing colours. The air was getting colder and the Native Place terrace turned into a star-canopied lounge. There wasn’t much to talk about flying, so we sang into Nikhil Bhide’s karaoke instead.
Next day the wind god seemed pretty pleased. The wind was strong and blowing in the right direction, and the thermals were more than accommodating. This was a day to fly, I thought. It was great fun to watch every pilot take off and quickly rise above the Shelar Mountain. There were nearly 20 pilots who had already taken to the air – Rinul and Dylan Fernandes were amongst them. It was time for Apoorva Talwalkar and Me to join them. Finally, I said to myself with a big grin, I’m going to fly. Just then I notice something amiss – the wind! Without waiting any further, I launched myself and headed straight to where everyone went to get that lift. And there, at that very spot, where every single pilot got lifted I found something amiss – the lift! I got a sink instead. I turned quickly to my left expecting to reach out to some spot where I could get a lift – but it simply wasn’t there. There was a prompt, and to an extent, a very good advice from Sandip Bhalshinge – “Ashwinbhai, flyout and go for the landing.”
I landed and looked up. The rest of them were all there, high above the mountain, flying in the cool air of Shelar. I went up again to give it another shot. At the take-off I just had to give one look at the windsock to realize there was no point in even turning the vario on. I executed a forward launch, took off and went straight for landing. I landed and looked up. The rest of them were all there, high above the mountain, flying, probably even giggling at my 2 top-to-bots!
I packed up, went to the parking and looked back and said, “I’ll be back.”