Wow!, I have returned to the desert; but here only in body, my spirit remains in India. I absolutely loved it. Feb.22 , finished my day shift, went home and made sure I had everything I needed stuffed in my backpack. Was midnight when I arrived at the airport for my flighlynn with hanuman to Bombay. I was already tasting the flavor of India as there were hundreds of Indians awaiting the same flight. My tall blonde head got me to the beginning of all the lines, and soon i was on the plane, the only one I might add, while the rest of the passengers embarked. Thought the big bird was going direct to Bombay,but had a short stopover in Dahran.
Sleeping for 4 short hours, I awoke to bright sun and was peering down on land. Thick looking air, fields spreading to the horizon, and loads of shacks interspersed throughout. As we descended over the Western Ghats closer to the city limits, there were nothing but shanty homes over every conceivable spot of land from river edges to cliff precipices. Was amazing, and of course garbage strewn everywhere.
Even upon approach, were shanty homes all along the runway!!! First stop as per usual was the duty free store, Haha, need I say more. I had some american money I needed to get exchanged, $200.00 got me over 8000.00 rupees. My little wallet was bursting at its seams! Our correspondant Sanjay was at the airport to meet me, nice guy. Proceeded to his place where his driver drove me downtown (2 hrs away) to where my hotel was booked. It was hot, humid and very polluted. There were hundreds of rickshaws, mostly auto-rickshaws, buzzing down the streets, and more first class taxis, all black and bright yellow english minis, that had AC. Traffic flowed like syrup, kids darted in and out of traffic selling and begging, or chasing dogs. What a sight. We got to Colaba district where my accomodation was going to be. I wasn't sure what to expect, and my first impression was dismal. I had to make my way down this crowded dirty alley, find a small door looking like all the rest and climbed 3 flights of stairs. I was shown my room, it was four white walls, two windows with bars, two single beds and a small washroom. I honestly didn't feel like hunting around for anything else. I took it for the two nights until I was going to meet up with Jonathan. I had a shower and a nap before psyching myself up for exploring. I grabbed my lonely planet and my camera, and off I went into the crowded streets. Where i was going, was't sure. it was still early afternoon, and after walking down the streets and checking out all the vendors and their goods, decided I would hop a taxi and go to a well known antique bazaar known as Chor Bazaar. This was truly amazing, all old wooden furniture from huge old doors, and mantle peices from the old colonial mansions, to wall sconces, and candlesticks. Alot of stained glass peices too. I wanted it all and dreamed of some of the interior decorating I could do,but my better half (logic) got the best of me. I continued to wander the streets. Both interesting sights, and such poverty and squallor. Its difficult to see it and understand it. But its a way of life. Beneath the grime and dirt are smiles. Its a way of life they have accepted. Its our self-indulgent, used to excess, eyes that couldn't possibly fathom it. Its really quite humbling to a large degree. I finally chilled out, and began to embrace the sights, sounds and smells. All the while snapping fotos of interesting faces, and street life. was fascinating. With stomach grumbling, found my way to the Leopold cafe for a tall bottle of Kingfisher beer and some nan bread and cheese, and curried veggies. DELICIOUS. Weren't many americans around, tourist season not quite begun.
Next day I took a boat out to "Elephanta island", where sacred temples were carved out of rock. These were carved out about 1500AD, beautiful. Mostly carvings of SHIVA. One of, get this, over 300 million gods worshipped in India. Isn't that amazing. With so many different religious beliefs, they respect and live in harmony. Unlike the rest of the world where different beliefs have caused war. All around outside the caves were little monkeys running around and playing. Quite aggressive little things, whatever you do, don't reach for your pocket or your bag cause they'll think its food and come after you. Freaked out a poor Italian lady, but being the old battlax she was, fought them off. Haha. Some more excellent photo opportunites. Next morning was up and off to the airport and met up with Jonathan. That evening went out for a nice dinner at Sanjay's Rec club, very nice, never did really make it to a meal, just appy's and lots of drinks...ended up in a club and danced the night away to Indian techno music. Haha was great. With a foggy head at 06:00, we were on our way to Kamshet in a loud, suspensionless jalopy jeep. Bombay never seemed to end, finally got to the country side and made it to "Golden Glades": where 'peace, bliss, and happy landings' prevailed. It was beautiful. And as the days went by, it became even more beautiful. India has a way of doing that to you. We were soon settled into our own house, with a rooftop terrace with incredible views of the lake in front.
The first couple days we went over alot of theory, equipment, and did some ground handling. There is alot more to it than what you think! We progressed to running down slopes and doing leaps and bounds, feeling the take offs and landings. Early mornings and late afternoons we would be off to another site, by noon go back and relax as the winds would be to unstable in the heat of the day. The last few days we would end up on higher and higher hill tops, becoming more and more intimidating. But I was also anxious to actually get up there on my own. I had already done a tandem and that was great. Finally the time came, I was harnessed up, done my checks, and was waitng for the right winds. Steady 12-15mph winds are perfect. As I fought to overcome my overwhelming feelings for self-preservation, my body lunged forward. My chute inflated, and I tried my hardest to run and get some forward speed. Just then a gust of wind came and lifted me high into the sky. What a feeling. From intense loud rustling of my wings to complete silence, and soaring. I had one huge silly grin on my face I tell you. Pure bliss. We had radio communication, and he directed me for turns etc, and eventually I landed and nice soft feather touch landing, just like he said!!!
Now I couldn't wait to get up again, and stay up. During our tandem flight, we had caught some thermals and soared to over 3500 ft. There were birds flying beside us, wondering who this new big bright bird was.
Ultimately, you follow the birds as they are the real masters of the sky. There is nothing quite like it. An overwhelming feeling of oneness. I felt like a champagne glass with champagne bubbling up through my body. "Nirvana Adventures" is truly an appropriate name for the company!! My last day, we went to higher hill yet, and again, I was off, this time, had lost radio contact, but still felt comfortable with my wings, and soared along the cliff side and managed to catch a few thermal lifts. It was a beatiful flight, and unfortunatly, that was the last, for now that is.
We had also spent one afternoon on a cliffside rapelling down it. That too was a great adventure. The entire vacation went way to fast, in my mind I am still there, sitting on the rooftop terrace, watching the ladies wrapped in their brilliant saris walking by balancing big brass water jugs on their heads; then the old man dressed in white on an old wooden 2-wheeled wagon pulled by his sacred bull with painted horns. If I had to describe India in two words: colourful and mystical..
I will definitley be returning.
Another great holiday, and now I am thinking about the next. Will keep you posted. Hope all is well with everyone. Again, this letter has gotten too long, until the next time.
Love - Lynn...