'Good luck! You'll need it' said George, the bulky British instructor, trying to get an expression out of me. 'Yeah, yeah...I've done many such adventures before. This is nothing thats not up my ally.' I thought. And so began my Sunday "Flying Fox" adventure, at the Neemrana Fort, Rajasthan.
We had heard about Neemrana from friends before...but ever since I found out that it operates a "zipping tour", my adventurist soul had been aching to go there.
5 ziplines (with one of them the longest in Southeast Asia), a two-hour aerial journey, a bunch of college kids for company (as opposed to my 3-yr old, who my loving husband decided to babysit for while I zip), should keep it all very exciting - I figured. Conveniently they forget to mention the hike to the starting point. Well, no big deal! Its just a kilometer and a half to the top of the mountain from where we start zipping. But hang on..its 1.5 km where the first km is all vertical, that too under the gruelling Rajasthani summer sun. And on a path that would give the Registan desert a run for its money. So after the first ten minutes, I'm gulping water like a camel. The flying fox folks - the British company that operates the zipline tours had given each of us a bottle of water, anticipating the need of the hour. After the next 10, thoughts are racing. 'Why am I doing this? What do I have to prove? I'm sure I'm never doing this again. Why cant they operate a trolley like the ones they have on the ski slopes?'
Uh oh..what is this?! Is this water leaking from my bottle? S##T, I only have 1/4th bottle left now. How did that happen? Water is important. And leaking water is not good..followed by flashes of James Franco drinking puddle water in "127 Hours" running through my brain. I definately dont want to be drinking water from an Indian puddle! Calm down, calm down! I said to myself. I fastened the lid of the bottle and that took care of the leak. After that point, I decide to concentrate only on the entertaining banter of the college kids..that encompassed everything from hair straighteners to their sex lives.
And so we reach the top...the cool breeze already starting to soothe my nerves and my dehydrated-self. We rush through the instructions and practice to get to the first zipline. The sight of the first zipline, about 350ms horizontally and vertically, from the highest point on the mountain makes me skip a beat. My nerves have started getting the better of me..and I ask George - 'What if we stop midway?' George is in full form now , 'Then there's only 2 options you see..you can either cut the chord and jump, or you can take the opportunity to build some muscles by manually crawling the cables'.
I remember and miss my son and husband, not knowing what the next hour will entail. I decide I'll go last..at least I'll learn from watching others. They all zip through, some willingly and some unwillingly. Finally its my turn. I'm more mentally prepared now. I can do it. And there I go...the jitters vanishing as I flying through the cable, like a dove in the sky. Its actually enjoyable. I start seeing the other end now..Oh cool! And suddenly I remember..George had asked me to brake. So I put my other arm on the cable and start braking. But George is shouting..'WHY ARE YOU BRAKING?' I dont understand. But I'm completely stopped now with still 50 meters to go. I quickly understand and realize that the braking was not supposed to happen until his signal.
Well, I do use the opportunity to build some muscles after all!
Lesson #1: If you can conquer your fears, you can make it. If you cant, you dont.
The next one is more tricky he says. Its the longest and the steepest and with the current wind direction, almost a 90% chance that we wont make it all the way to the end just by gravity. I'm determined that I dont want to build any more muscles. I wont look good with bulging biceps I figure. I decide to use my first trick and let a couple folks do it first. Both of them dont make it. I ask why. George says, 'they are not keeping their bodies inclined enough so as to use their body weight as a counter balance to the wind direction'. Oh okay, I keep that in mind. Its my turn now. This time my motto is to follow the rules, even if its from the smart alec George. And viola, I do use my body weight effectively this time to finish exactly at the finish line. (Finally, all those extra kilos on my body found some use!)
Lesson #2: Follow the instructions and keep faith.
The next zips were just pure fun. Felt like a monkey jumping from one end to another.
Thanks to my BB, I could capture pictures of the fort from above..the never seen footage is for your viewing pleasure! :)
And more thanks to my stark supporters, my son and my husband. Without their cheering, shouting and clicking pictures for 2 hours, it wont have been so much fun.
Lesson #3: Enjoy the ride. Thats most important.
Btw, for all the eager souls: If I did it, you can too..Its lot of fun if you can endure dust, sun, and cowdung smell, hike a mountain without complaining, and just let it go when George asks you to. And would I do it again? Only if they start running a trolley for the hike up the mountain. :-)