Skydiving: Kill the Fear – Kavita Kumble

Warning: Long Post Here

It was a sunny hot May afternoon and I was sipping my green tea in my cafeteria as I bumped into my colleague. “Where is your next holiday?” He asked.

Knowing my obsession with travel, I am now almost used to every second person at work who would throw that predictable question at me. I answered him with a broad smile, “Oh, it’s Spain this time. I know you been there too. Any Tips?”

And then he blurted, “You have to skydive there and you better register it online in advance as they get fully booked as its season time”.

I sounded excited but I was not sure if I could manage it due to my fear of heights. A very stupid bicycle accident 5 years ago which got my head all stitched upheld me back. Still, I muttered, “Sure, I would love that. Please ping me the details.” Before I hit my desk, I received the mail from him with the skydiving link and details.

I was still prodding about it and wondering if ‘hubby dearest’ will allow me to jump off a plane and not because he was worried that I may just die falling but it was like a good 40 thousand damage to the pocket for that act. He would tell me, “What a waste of money it is, and all you can think is doing some nonsense” and blame it on my hormones to think of something as absurd as this.

But, I still mustered enough courage to check the site out and decided to book a slot without telling him a word. I thought the slot would be free for booking but was surprised to see I had to pay 30 Euros for that too. So, I better gear up to forfeit that amount as it was non-refundable if I change my mind to jump. I did not mention any word about it to hubby till like two days before flying.

I, casually, in a conversation told him “Look, I am thinking of skydiving”. He almost had a blank expression on the go and responded, “Why the hell?”

“I think I should get into something more adventurous, else family vacations get so boring”

Hubby asked, “How much damage on the pocket?” I knew that would be the next question. “Don’t bother. Not too much and anyway, I am paying for it.”

He was still not convinced with the skydiving thing but knowing how headstrong I can get, he gave up. Secretly in his mind, he was also thinking that I may just chicken out the last minute.

So that was it. I did not discuss this with anyone other than my close girls’ gang from college who were very encouraging and said, “Yes girl, you better get going and do it.”

I was still scared though and thought ‘what if I freeze? What if that freaking parachute never opens?’

The D day arrived and we arrived in the flying hanger after a really long drive with a sleepy me. (As the night before, I was still all nervous about it and hardly slept). And what do I see?

There is like almost 25 Indians there and one of them says “Hello Kavita” as I walked in. I was raking my head to figure out who the hell he was (not any of my previous boyfriends for sure). He was with his wife and friends.

“Remember? We were together for a kickboxing class at J B Nagar” he blurted.

“Oh, yes,” I said though I was still blaming my old head for not remembering this guy at all. After some small talk, I decided to settle myself and check the place around. It was just about all Indians from some as young as 15 and perhaps as old as me who is ‘43’ to do this so-called ‘daredevil’ act.

We should blame Hrithik Roshan with the so famous movie ZNMD where these three friends decide to jump out of the blue. All these Indians here think they are also ‘cool’ studs to do this.

The sun was blazing hot that day and my inner voice was like ‘What a foolish thing. Jump 15k feet and become poor by 40 thousand. Not cool at all.’

But now that I was here, I decided to stay put. A good 4 hours wait and I was getting more nervous. I was asked to sign a declaration if I happen to die in such an act. There is no way I could sue these guys. Shit, this was getting worse than I thought.

We were made to see some videos and instructions which I thought did not make any sense as, at that moment, I was thinking ‘Perhaps, this is like your last day alive’. I was looking at my hubby who was more pissed as he was hungry and there was not a thing to grab there. Also, he was bored to death by just waiting.

Next thing, I am strapped in by a skydiving instructor called Cedric. Apparently, I am told he is a world champion which gives me some comfort. Perhaps, I will survive this. He is giving me some pep talk and we walk to the aircraft. All his talking goes deaf to me as I can only hear the loud noise of the chopper wings. As I actually struggle to get in and sit, I figure out I have 4 others like me. However, all these are teenage boys and I am the first to jump.

Why the hell should I be the first? The plane was already moving as I said my goodbyes to hubby who is actually wanting this whole thing to get over so that he can finally get to eat something. My daughter was back in our Airbnb waiting for me surely thinking her mom will chicken out.

Looking at those kids and one of them almost bursting into tears, I decided to put up a brave face.  Cedric was busy checking my straps and buckle trying to cheer me up. I was still stoned to react to any jokes that he thought he was cracking.

As we pulled up altitude, all the fields and houses looked small. And before I knew, the only door of that small plane opened up. I shut my eyes. “Take a deep breath,” Cedric said. “When we jump, I want you to relax. Don’t fight it, just relax your body. When you feel me tap your shoulder, I want you to let go of your harness and raise your hands to your side like this as if in surrender. Always fold your legs behind me and your chin thrust behind. Got it?”

I think I nodded. We were to jump. I stand at the edge of the door and my inner voice was abusing me ‘Why the f***ing hell should you do this? A woman over 40 go crazy with hormones for sure, but this was too much.’

We are at 15000 feet and the cold wind hit my face. My heart was beating as fast as possible. I thought of telling Cedric, ‘Boy, I cannot do this. Let’s go back’

But my feet were dangling. He gave me a nudge to jump and there was no way I could pull back now.

We were off that goddam plane. I felt the wind hitting me like crazy and as I jumped, I did not scream or say anything as with all the wind, my mouth remained open. It seemed that there was no way I could shut it.

Cedric muttered something like “You fine”.

I just said ok. We were in a free fall for almost a minute and later stabilised once the chute opened. So far so good. Then I started feeling nausea and felt my head was hit again by some accident. So I just decided to focus on the view below which was just like what you see in the movies. Yes, it was exhilarating. Did I feel alive? I guess I was alive so I did that jump. Did I feel anything more?

Yes, I guess. It was a good feeling that I did not chicken out. I did also feel poor by 40 thousand rupees. I landed before I could think of anything else and Cedric got a nice hug for that safe landing. (My hubby was not too happy seeing me giving him that huge hug though.)

So I left the airfield after making some Indian friends and with a heavy throbbing head for which a headache pill was the cure at night. Guess all that free fall at 250 mph wind was to blame for that.

Did I come out a changed person? No, I think I am the same old me. I was happy as in the rest of the vacation, I did not have to be stressed about this jump anymore and only needed to worry about bad hair days.

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