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Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Ultimate Jump

"So looking forward to it?", The bus driver asks. She is warm and cheerful like no other bus driver I have met. Somebody responds with a loud NO. Everybody laughs nervously.

"Trust me. You wouldnt regret it." She says. "Or", She adds thoughtfully and almost without a pause, "You wouldnt live long enough to regret it." Sheepish expressions infectiously spread through the coach. I remain untouched.

The base is littered with bravery quotes. I like the one that says - Be brave or at least pretend to be. Nobody can tell the difference anyway. They are playing old school. Pink Floyd's Time graces the Ether with its cold shivers. It makes me think about a lot of things. Almost everything.

Phil is going to be my partner. He is an Australian but has been in Queenstown for a good three years now. I tell him that his is a nice way to make a living. He says, "Yeah. Great view from office." He is being modest. You simply cant get a better view.

We are cozy and cramped within a twelve-by-four-by-four feet place with no windows. There are nine of us here. I am comfortably perched atop Phil's lap. He asks me to move my bum towards him. I readily comply. At this time, he is the most important man in my life.

I am hanging outside. I am trying hard to maintain the arching shape of a banana - my hips pushed out, my head pulled in and my legs curled behind and in between Phil's. He was right. The view from here is magnificent. It is noisy, though. He flashes his fingers in the form of a count-down.

5 - 4 - 3 - 2 -

I am feeling a lot of things at the same time, albeit like a teenage girl going through her puberty. The first three seconds bring along the exhilaration of the fastest acceleration I have ever experienced. I also feel like the weightless soul liberated from the earthly bounds. More than anything else, for the first time ever, I feel ahead of myself. Phil flips me over and I look back at the cargo plane receding back in the skies. He taps me on the shoulder. This is my cue to spread my limbs and so I do. I could have tried the Superman posture but I prefer the tradition. Breathing is hard to come by. I cut through thin air like rejection through vanity. Phil's second tap confirms that we are now traveling at top speed. We do a little twirl. Phil asks me if I am ok. I am dizzy but I am incapable of uttering any words. My silence, apparently, encourages him. Not good.

About a minute passes by in an eternity. The ground is taking more defined shapes now. Phil does the count-down thing again. I feel a tug and a jolt. For a fractional second, I am moving back up. But now I am only gliding. Phil points to the sun. I look up and notice the halo around it, caused by the freak combination of my vantage point and clouds around it carrying just the right amount of water vapors. The halo is big, like at least having five times the diameter of sun.

A few sharp turns make me dizzy again. But this time, I am able to ask Phil to slow down. He does. He also passes me the sick bag. Just in case.

The last tap is my cue to lift my legs. We are going to land on our bums. That is how Phil likes it and I am not about to start complaining. Not this late.

0-100 kmph in 3 seconds
Top speed of 200 kmph
Free fall of 3kms in just about a minute
Parachute-breaking to bring down from 200 kmph to 10 kmph in just 2 seconds.
Fully environment friendly; the only side effect is one less human which is actually probably better for the world anyway.

The Ultimate Jump.