The D day was approaching and the Chevrolet guys hadn’t even delivered my car yet. I was tense and with real quandary about cancelling the booking and waiting, my brother wrote a letter to General Motors stating the need of the vehicle at the particular time. GM honored the request and got the car delivered on 26th May, 2013. What a relief and so excited.
Finally I got married on 28th May, 2013. Since scarcity of leaves and extreme hot weatherin planes left few places for me to visit for my Honeymoon. Hence Jim Corbett and Nainital – Road trip was finalized. But 2 days before we go, my brother says, “Manali is far better than Nainital”. The point was right and taken. All of a sudden, Manali was finalized. But it was a tourist season and getting a hotel will be next to impossible. First we try to get HPPWD Circuit house booked. But it is already booked. Then we call few friends who know few friends and finally a room was booked at the hotel.
We were at Rohtang pass and after loitering around for an hour or so, we decided to head back. As soon as we had covered couple of kilometers, there was this Tata sumo stuck in the middle of road with a broken axle. So the traffic was held up on both sides. Our Guide asked us if we would like to trek down the way to Marhi. After a little thought we decided to walk. We walked for about 1KM, there we saw people paragliding. I enquired about the cost by the guide, he said that it is about 2500 for a short ride and approximately 6000 to the ride near Manali. After analyzing the mode of operandi, operators who will quote you more and then bargain. I thought let’s give it a try. We approached them and as expected they quoted 13000 for 2 people. I straight away said that I cannot afford it and walked a little. They say Ok 12000 Last. I Said “Nevermind”. In the mean time I started looking at the people who were in queue and had paid for the short trip, without even looking and talking to them. The paragliding guy comes to me and ask me what do I want to pay, I say 8000 is max I can pay. He says 8500 and the deal is stuck.
I ask my Wife if she wants to go first, to which she agrees, I am sure she didn’t even realize what I was asking as she was more interested in getting photographs of her clicked in the gadgets that she wore. They asked her to wear the safety belts and helmet. They check all the locks etc twice before takeoff. After she wore the belts and all, within seconds she takes off. Next comes my turn, although showing brave face to her, I was little worried now, not because of my turn but I wanted her to be safe. They do the thorough checking of belts and all because of my weight being on higher side. They asked me to stand at a particular position and say that I will have to run a little.
I stand at the position; two men came and held me by the straps near my shoulder. The driver ( I don’t know if this is the right word) is standing beside me, and before I realize what is happening, the two guys holding me by the straps pull me hard and throw us down the cliff. The downward moment was for only 2 seconds ( I think) or less and here we are flying, with my breath inbetween and I trying to breath, we are up up in the air. After few seconds, I try to take out my Micromax Cavas from my pocket. The driver says be careful, because if I loose it, I am not going to get it.
First 5 minutes of the flight was breathtaking. Literally breathtaking, as I was unable to breath. You can alse hear the breathlessness in the video.
To add fun to the paragliding, the driver use to approach some rock and just as we were above the rock (say 10-15 ft) he would pull up again.
After few minutes, I got comfortable and started enjoying the ride. From above we saw few trekkers too; they were trekking on some glacier. Many horses, Sheep were grazing. The best thing was looking at the natural beauty untouched by Human civilization. We could see many shepherds along with their sheep.
Then there were vehicles moving on roads looking as if ants are moving, the road looked like a noodle on the plate. We kept circling the area for about 35 minutes before the Driver made me understand how we land. By the time the phone had already died of power. He circled the air like a whirlpool to decrease the altitude. Many tourist had gathered on the road to look at us. From above we saw that my wife had landed safely and she was too looking at us.
Time comes for the final decent, the driver says get ready to run. After a moment he shouts “Oh!! ****” Hearing this I try to comprehend what’s happening, and I rose my legs straight to my knee level, but before I realize, with the great thud, we land in the ditch.
The safety gear was of good quality, I landed on my bum, but due to safety gear was saved by any injury. The Driver unties the safety gadgets and stands up, but I was in such a position that I can’t stand on my own. “Mujhe uthaana padega “I say, he stands beside me and helps me to stand. After standing I see my clothes, which were totally engulfed in mud. My wife comes running towards me, I couldn’t stop laughing and thinking “Indeed adventurous”.
I let my clothes dry and then get rid of the mud. Later we called it a day and went to our hotel only to be planning river rafting and river crossing for the next day.