Pilot in the shade – The art of being a paragliding spectator at the Shelar site Kamshet
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.