Thursday, November 27, 2008

Jim Corbett National Park Day 2B - Jump off the cliff...

Post the breakfast, we head no time to rest or to take shower. It was already half past 11 and we were to head for some adventure sports. Before I unveil upon the happenings of the afternoon, it is pertinent that I reveal a few facts about my adventure journeys of life. In the twenty-five years of life that I have lived, the number of adventure activities done by me is, for all practical reasons, zero. Though I could easily blame it on the lack of opportunities, I must also proudly accept that i am shit-scared of any sports, whatsoever and adventure doesn't even feature in my dictionary. Nevertheless, I am a manager of a team and I must showcase what is expected of me rather than what is the real me. I got the adventure sports organized by one of the most trained, equipped and safe group. They had organized three activities for us namely, rappling, river crossing and bridge slithering. I will explain them as we move on.

All of us boarded the bus, my team had brought from delhi and after hardly a ten minute drive, we stopped near a bridge which shook (do not read stood..it shook) over a shallow river. It was a suspension bridge and so it was suspended. Simple. That meant that it would vibrate even if a man half as heavy as me jumped on it. And we were 30 people in total. However, we crossed the small bridge and on the other side, the rappling setup was awaiting us.

The organizer thought highly of himself, or he wanted to scare us. Whatever the motive, the brief that he gave about the activity scared the shit out of most of the people and almost all ladies walked to the river bank along with their kids to enjoy the view. Hald of my guests had completely abandoned the activity. I had presumed that people would readily do these activities and I can peacefully click them in scary positions. But only two youngsters of my team dared to do that. I had no choice. If I had to get people to do this, I had to show them that it was easy. And the only way to do that was to do it myself. So, I hid my fear under my smile and wore the gear required for rappling. A Harness, gloves, a helmet and few carabiners attached to the rope, which boasted of carrying people 20 times heavier than me. I listened to the instructor carefully.

He patiently explained to me that I had to hold the rope with both hands, my right hand shall ensure that i move in straight line and the left hand will control my speed. Sounds technical. Then he asked me to stand on the edge of the cliff. FIne. No issues till now. And then he asked me to lean back. "Are you out of your bloody mind?", i thought loudly. "I am standing at the edge of a cliff that is at least 10-15 meters high, and even though the height is modest, if i fall, the stones on the ground are enough to make me paralyzed for life." I found it ridiculous..no i found it weird...no ..crazy...or to be true..i found it scary. After all, I was an 85-kg, round shaped creature who has done no sports in life and can't rely on two ropes to control his body weight. All my teammates, and their wives were looking at me. I could not show fear on my face. I am the boss of the husbands of these ladies. There is too much prestige at stake. I decided to take the pain. I leaned over and the instructor shouted, "Do not bend your knees". "Knees !! What knees??", I thought. "How did they bend? I did not bend them, I swear. They must have been scared enough to bend themselves". I put all the effort to straighten my legs. My heart was pumping at double its speed.

After stayting put in the horizontal position with my body perpendicular to the cliff, i started moving my legs backward. The first step was tough, but with every next step, it got easier. Hardly 10-15 steps and I was down on the ground. Hey!! I had done it. I had done rappling for the first time in my life. My legs were shaking, my heart was beating fast, but my face was smiling. I had a sense of achievement, a sense of excitement, mixed with happiness and fear. May be, this is what people call, "the adrenalin rush".

The nxt challenge was to get the ladies to do it. I first caught hold of two young girls and convinced them that it wasn't as tough as it looked. I sounded convincing, or so I thught. The first girl kept standing at the edge for fifteen minutes and completely denied leaning back. After several doses of motivational words, she finally summed up the courage to lean, and once she had done that, the walk was simple. The second girl was more afraid, but more confident as well. She screamed, and shouted and pleaded, but we managed to push her off the cliff and she walked down. Two ladies had done it. I had proved to be agood motivator of people. Now there was no stopping. I started pushing all the ladies to do it. Some complained of medical complications, Barring a couple, who sounded genuine, I igonred the excuses of the other ladies.

They must have hated me for their husbands' boss and for pushing them off the cliff. But, by hook or by crook, I managed to get everyone do the rappling. Everyone started with fear and ended in jubilation. The confidence level was so high that they went head for the river crossing themselves. In fact, an 11-year kid also volunteered for the river crossing. I was so happy that I had not only overcome my own fear but also the fear of a non-adventourous group of two dozen people.

Bridge slithering wasn't that scary now, but would make us wet as we would jump off the bridge into the river. Women denied and men resented that they were not carrying spare clothes. A few yound girls did the wet jump with all clothes on and walked out wet. We decided to send the ladies back to the resort and then let the men do it. After the ladies were gone, all men became wild. Since they did not want to wet their clothes, they decided to jump in their undergarments. With men of swollen bellies and unshaven chests, it wasn't such a handosme scene to look at, but it was definitely fun. I was dragged in the water too and amidst that cold winter evening we played in the water like six year old kids, splashing water over each other and trying to unwrap the only cloth around everyone's waist. The pics will always remain a reminiscent of the stupid and wild times we spent. The bus came back after dropping the ladies and it was already sunset by now. Wet and cold, we rushed back to our resort.

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