After a lot of trekking, hiking, climbing, walking, one must take time out to either swim or fly, nay? A toss then, ya? Fly like a bird you say? Sure, why not? Nepal (Pokhara) is one of the top destinations in the world for adventure sports. One of that sport is Paragliding - both solo (but you need to be certified) and tandem (where an instructor files with you). There's also bungee jumping, zip flying, cross country flying, and flying in ultra lights (in a two seater glass plane kind of thingie where one gets to fly amidst the Annapurna and go really close to the peaks). Oh, there's also the cute little flight from Pokhara to Jomsom and back. But if you are the water kind, there's river rafting and some others but I am not so I didn't really care to find out more about them!
Whenever I see mountains, especially ones that seem inaccessible, I wonder how it would be if one were to fly and sit on the peaks and gaze at the world below. Must be all the effect of climbing and sitting on water tanks - a favorite pastime of mine all through the childhood. Our flight back to Pokhara rekindled that wish again as I sat in the 15 seater gazing at the beauty of Annapurna and watching glaciers, mountain rivers, streams, waterfalls, valleys, dense forests, natural grasslands, and rough yet beautiful rocky terrains fly past below me. So much beauty and so untouched by the humans (as it should be). I would have loved to teleport myself to these places and become part of them - slide down the glaciers, play in the rivers, bath in the waterfalls, climb the rocks, run through the forests, hug the trees, talk to the flowers, eat the wild berries, and nap on the grass. Ha, a magical life that would be. But alas, I haven't learnt teleporting yet. Sad that. Perhaps I can at least fly to them, si? That should be possible, hmm? But then I should transform myself to a bird first! And once I transform, I must remember my human wishes and not go flying off to the valley in search of seeds and nuts (I have a feeling I will do that if I become a bird :p). Sigh! Back to reality - I can't really abandon my human family as I do not yet know to transform back to human from bird form. Must learn that soon. Next time Annapurna, next time. So until then, the closest to flying like a bird that I can get to is to paraglide!
Though the very thought of paragliding was super exciting, I was a little nervous when I thought of the take off and landing. Flying is cool and easy (as I have done that when I practised my bird transformations with my master) but how to take off and land in human form? Well I learnt that today. One must first drive to the highest hill in sight (in this case it was the Sarangkot at Pokhara), meet and greet one's flying buddy for the next 30 minutes (it helps immensely if it is a young and handsome hulk), hand over the life chi to him and trust him to give it back in proper shape, get strapped into a purple paraglider (duh, they thought purple matched my pink shirt, stupid men!), hold his hand for dear life (initially only; after that he needs it for flying, sigh!), and start walking off the hilltop cliff while furiously praying and imploring Anjaneya to ask his father (the wind god) to be kind and merciful. You see, one can't really fly unless the wind cooperates. Even if the wind were to lift you initially, you will soon come speeding down to ground if the wind is not blowing properly. Oh, you also need the Sun god to heat up the wind and create thermals (wind pockets that help you gain altitude and fly high high and higher). Being the dear friend he is, Anjaneya ensured his father listened to me. We took off from the cliff within 2 - 3 steps of walking and I was airborne in under 10 seconds! Woohooooo! I believe I can fly, sang my handsome flying buddy trying to pep me up in case I was afraid. Mr. Hulk, I don't need no pepping, thank you very much. I am born to fly!
The next 30 or so odd minutes were some of the nicest, calmest, peaceful and exciting moments of my life. Sounds contradicting, uh? Not really. As I flew higher and higher, and tuned out all the noises of the world below (except for the continuous talking of the hulk. Shut up, now will you?), a peace descended on me - look at the green hills below, look at the calm lake, feel the weightlessness, feel the benevolence of nature.... All is well with the world at this moment and place in time. All is well, there's beauty all around, the sun is shining, one is flying, the wind is blowing, and the hulk keeps talking. It was almost meditative for me (sorry am like that!). My buddy was afraid I might get sick...perhaps puke all over. Tell me if you feel sick, he said, tell me immediately. What would he have done, I wonder? Crash landed and broken his legs to escape from my puke? Nah, I can't have that. No sick feeling at all dude, I replied, fly higher man...catch that wind and give me a spin. He grinned and took me higher and caught the thermal to start the spin. Bugger, not so fast, I shouted...he hesitated and alas we lost the thermal! No spinning! Perhaps next time he assured. Okay. Pitch control at least? Sure he said. So we went swinging in the air. Up and down, side to side, flying all around.... oh, it was sooo awesome! Better than chocolate cake I assure you. You must try it at least once in your life. As for me, I have started thinking about what it takes to become a Paragliding pilot. And I shall catch that thermal and spin next time for sure.