There are certain things people keep doing and which are talked about a great deal. Things like falling in love, experiencing the thrill of living by yourself for the first time or engaging in adventure sports like bungee jumping, skydiving and WW rafting. All these things are talked about in such a great deal of detail that all of them have become clichéd. And yet, when you yourself experience one of these things for the first time, howmuchever clichéd they might be, the thrill is tremendous. For me, I have always wanted to do all the dare-devil sports. And I kept thinking about doing all of them in my head for many years, so much so that I kind of got tired thinking about them and waiting for the right time to do them!! (things like lack of money, lack of time and lack of other resources always got in the way!!).
And just like that, during dinner with some of my friends, we were talking about the psychological effects of turning 30, and whether one looks at life differently. One of my friends was turning 30 in a few days from the said dinner. And I mentioned how I am turning more scared of things in general as I am growing older. And how I am not liking it. And I mentioned that I really wanted to do skydiving before I got so scared that I changed my mind! And just like that, it was decided that all of us would go skydiving the weekend after my friend’s 30th birthday! Reservations were made, videos were watched, deep breathing exercises were practised and much anticipation was built in those couple of weeks leading up to the D-day! For many days I was battling myself on whether to tell my mom about this whole thing. At first, I was not going to tell her, and had planned on writing a letter and keeping it, just in case anything happened! But then, I scrapped the plan and went ahead and told them everything! I had a whole speech prepared because I was so sure mom would object, but to my utter surprise, the moment I told her, she squealed with delight and said that finally I am going ahead and doing it! And that even she wants to do it some day! (there went my speech). There are so many such times when my mom really surprises the heck out of me!!
Anyway, so a big burden off my chest, I was happier that I was going to do it with my parents fully aware of what I was up to. When the said day arrived, we reached the place an hour late after battling horrible traffic and were sure that we had missed our appointment. But they did accommodate us in the next few slots, and in the meantime we were told to sign some papers. Things like we realised the risks and that this might lead to our death. Once the formalities were taken care of, the husband and I went to the watching area to watch two of our friends take the jump first. Once their jump was over, we were tucked into our jump-suits and were scooted off to the waiting aeroplane. They did ask us if we wanted to say anything for our friends and family before we went. S said something along the lines of “go skydiving” and I said “I do hope I survive this jump to actually tell the tale” :D. Once our statements were captured on the video, the plane started, and with that so did the acceleration of my heartbeat. I knew I wasn’t scared per se, but my heart rate was definitely up! Once we reached 14,000ft (which is the highest height they were offering), S who was seated next to the door, got ready for his jump first. The moment the door was opened, that was the first time I actually realised the height and the amount of wind outside! And just like that, in the blink of an eye, S and his instructor disappeared. I think that was the first scariest moment for me, and I, very dramatically shouted S’s name!! Next was my turn, and we scooted closer to the door. I guess in the entire skydiving experience, for me the scariest moment was the point when I was dangling from the plane, ready to jump. Scary and exciting at the same time. Because once I jumped, the wind was so strong that I couldn’t really think about anything much!! The first 50 seconds before the parachute opens is the free fall, where you are falling rapidly down (The speed was scary, based of the amount of upward wind thrust that was hitting my face!). In the pictures and the video it seems as if you are floating in the air like a bird, but in reality gravity if doing one heck of a job!!
After about 50 seconds of free fall, the parachute opened and the instructor gave me the steering of the parachute so that I could operate it. I was extremely thrilled to be given such a big responsibility 😉 and grabbed the steering. We then did some sharp turns and somersaults and then glided around for a bit. The views were amazing, we could see the Santa Cruz beach, the fog covered hills and the highway. S, who had jumped before me had already landed and I could see his parachute touch ground below me. During the time of my landing, the wind was a bit eccentric and the instructor told me that we wound be doing a horizontal landing, where I might land on my bum. And that is what happened. I touched back down, on the earth, safe and sound. I thanked the instructor and babbled something about how awesome I was feeling to be alive. I ran and hugged S, then my friends and my instructor.
The entire way back, I was reliving the jump and smiling to myself at the amazing thing I had experienced. I think it will be a while before I forget the feeling.