Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The jump of my life

110 ft above the ground. Tied by an elastic rope on the legs. A hooting crowd of about 500 men and women. And a brilliant Mysore palace in the front! There couldn’t have been a better setting for a ‘Bungee’.

I don’t really know when I first got interested. One of my earliest memories go back to a program called ‘Ushuaia’ (on the name of a South American city at the tip of the continent) on TV. There is just one word that you could then assign to it – Crazy. So it is, in every sense of the word. And as I do for all crazy things, I had to get interested.

Though bungee-jumping amuses mostly the brave-hearted, it is more amusing to see some not-so-brave-hearts going to test their limits. As it turns out, their limits are as shallow as a frying pan!

When you are being lifted in the crane-lift amidst hundreds of cheering onlookers, It feels as if a great stuntman is about to perform the most stupendous task on Earth. Confidence surges and you can even feel adrenaline rushing through your arteries – heavenly experience for the first timers! And soon you are there – on top of the world – literally.

It feels great. As long as you are not looking down, that is. The problem starts when you suddenly realize that this is not your house’s terrace, but of more than 10 times higher than that. What seemed confidence earlier if fear now. Howsoever many safety systems you wear, the first thought in mind is,” What if this rope breaks?

You would instantly realize that almost everyone in this world is interested in your jump to the ground. And the more dramatic the decent – the better it is.

The instructor in the lift asked me to stretch my hands straight outwards and bend down in a diving posture. Having analyzed the best position to jump with a friend on ground, I had little doubts as to what makes a perfect jump.

What I failed to reckon was that the perfect jump would necessitate a reasonable frame of mind. But when you are looking down 100 ft from a hanging lift, reason cannot not hold ground. Can it?

I moved a foot further on the platform, only to pull it back in absolute horror. It was damn scary. The worst thing was that the junta was getting crazier as I was getting terrified. To suppress my fear, I vigorously started waving my hand, kissing in the air and screaming at the top of my voice.

The instructor then tried to push me again. Just trembling down, I pulled my leg back again. It was only after taking two more deep breaths, that I could control myself to finally make the decision to jump – come what may.

Then I leaped in the air. Exactly as a novice swimmer would dive – leg first.

We noted on ground that it takes about 55 seconds of free fall after which you oscillate in the air for some time to come to rest about 2 minutes later.

It does not feel anything other than sheer weightlessness and racing pulse until you get the first jerk. You come to rest after a series of such jerks only to be happy about entering into the elite ‘I-too-have-jumped’ category. On ground, it did feel spectacular indeed.

It took me about half an hour to get full control of my nerves. It was only then that I could reflect on what makes ‘bungee’ ever so popular. It is amazing to realize the fun a man gets when he tests the limits of his tolerance! Only to know that he comes nowhere close to the ultimate while he always thought, he is doing the best.