An unforgettable experience

As a child, I was a great fan of Asterix comics. My favourite was the book, Asterix and the Normans. In this book, Asterix and the Gauls teach the ferocious Normans the meaning of fear. The Normans are fearless and someone has told them that fear lends one wing. Hence, they try to learn the meaning of fear, so they could fly! The way the Gauls teach them the meaning of fear is very ingenious and hilarious and I would not describe here but what used to me impress me most was the last line from the book, by the venerable Getafix, that ” … Only when you conquer your own fears do you become truly brave!” This sentence got stuck in my conscience. I was a very fearful child. I was scared of many things. Most of all of the heights. When I was four, my uncle used to throw me up in the air. It was his gesture to show love but I used to get very terrified and used to shout relentlessly, closing my eyes till I was safely back in his hands again. Years later, the rest of my fears faded away, but the fear of heights remained in my conscience.

My senses used to freeze looking down from the balcony of any high rise building. Even as high as five floors would really unnerve me. I was absolutely terrified. I never enjoyed the heights whether it be a vantage viewing spot on a hill or a balcony of a high rise flat. My heart used to start racing and head used to get dizzy with an uncomfortable sensation in my chest whenever I climbed any height.
But one day, a day that I never thought would come, I conquered my fear of heights. The day I went paragliding! I could feel what Edmund Hillary must have felt when he conquered the Everest. I carved an inner strength to win over my panic zone. Once up in the air, I felt the ecstasy of flying which was intoxicating. I saw the scintillating view from above – it was really indescribable. The wind was slicing through the pores of my body like a cold knife and I was shivering from a combined feeling of trepidation and exhilaration. My body was twirling in the sky, flying through the sky. Earlier it would have been a nightmarish experience for me but now I had conquered my fear!
It was our winter vacations and my husband gave us a surprise package – a trip to Gujarat. It was afternoon when we reached Diu. We checked in to a beach resort on the Nagoa beach. It is one of the most popular spots for adventure sports. We saw that the tourists were enjoying several adventure sports, such as speed boats, jet skiing, paragliding and several were strolling on the beach.
We saw there was a long queue for Paragliding and tourists were enthusiastically waiting for their turn. My husband gave me an encouraging look and insisted that I should give it a try! My heart skipped a beat – Paragliding and me!!! I have a fear of heights! But then suddenly I got a bout of courage from thin air and without even thinking, I said – “Yes! I will do it!” I decided to overcome my fear. A loud voice inside my heart was yelling, “Are you crazy? Are you going to be safe?”
Let it be – I answered my own doubts and fears in a small but firm voice. I decided to go ahead and joined the queue for paragliding. Soon the waiting time went off in a jiffy and it was my turn. With trembling hands, I strapped on the parachute. I listened intently to the instructions by the crew leader. I showed the thumbs up and asked my teenage son to take my video! I was very nervous but tried not to show it – to be flying like a bird – a person who had such mortal fear of heights!
Soon the speed boat roared like a dragon and tugged at the ropes. Before I could realise anything, I had lifted well off the ground and found myself floating over the Arabian Sea.
Hello World! My heart shouted from inside. The sky was bright and clear and unbelievable. I pinched myself to feel that it was actually happening and not some dream! Some thoughts came to my mind. I am free!
I was in the air, the cool breeze sliced my hairs, kissed my cheeks, it was a feeling which was unbelievable. The serene beauty of the beach, the white sand, and quiet blue water. Ahh .. it took my breath away. I was humming, “Panchhi banun udti firun, mast gagan mein, aaj main aazad hun duniya ke chaman mein!” A mixed feeling let me fly, with a harmony of mind. Releasing my mind from the tyranny of petty things. Let me fly beyond the rainbow. Let me touch the clouds. Let me hold fast to my dreams. I am in heaven, embracing the sky!
The vast blue sea looked so massive and I was so tiny in front of it. Diu town looked a tiny jewel from the top. Its pristine beauty and swaying palm trees mesmerising tourists from all over the world.
I was glad! I did it! I had overcome my fear. I was high up in the air, romancing the wind and the sky. I had embraced the heights and was watching everything from the top. A certain calmness had descended my mind and there was none of the panic and anxiety that I used to feel earlier from heights. It was like I had come home!
My BIGGGG dream moment was disturbed by the shrill whistle of the ground crew, who were now instructing me to tilt my parachute to prepare for landing. As I approached the ground with massive speed, my heart really went flying but, No, I did not feel any panic, just exhilaration. The ground crew caught me just as I hit the ground and I landed safely.
My husband hugged me and gave me a quick peck on my cheeks. I blushed and I laughed. I kissed him back. Later we played in the seawater for a while. We experimented with the other sports. Soon we were tired, but happy. We sat on the clean sand and watched the beautiful sunset, taking pictures, catching the waves, reliving the brief but beautiful and unforgettable moment of a lifetime.

A few points on how I conquered my fear:-
Positive thoughts. Whenever fear used to strike my mind and soul I used to make a conscious effort to flush it with positive thoughts – like remembering the time my kid first walked or the bittersweet taste of Amla Achaar!

To go with a winning attitude. Like they say in the Nike ad – Just do it without attaching any preconceived thoughts, analysis or ideas. I just focussed on the moment.
Through breathing calmly. I managed to quieten the rising panic. I kicked the fear.
Made an unforgettable experience.

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