A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

I believe I can fly..

Posted by Pepper on February 20, 2012

I believe I can touch the sky. And I did. With my bare hands. We went sky diving! And it has been one of the *most* remarkable experiences of my life.

Let me start from the beginning. I have always wanted to do it, but I kept waiting for the right moment to magically land on my lap. Until I realised, the right moment will not come to me, unless I call out to it.  This was one of those things I wanted to cross out before I turned 30. Well, I knew I had another 4-5 years to get to it, but since we decided to move back to India, I decided, the ‘right moment’ should be created now. The time was ideal. And so the plan was conceived, a month ago.

I told my parents about it. My dad asked me, “Are you crazy? You want to fly thousands of miles in the air and then jump out of a plane? Why would anybody want to do that?” My sister gasped and asked me if I was serious. My mom, well, she told me she won’t let me do it. She said these were ‘cheap thrills’, and I must value my life. She sounded extremely worried. So I did the next best thing, I decided to keep the plan a secret from her. I would tell her only after it was done and over with. I convinced dad and sis to keep it away from mom too.

The next thing we needed to decide was the height at which we wanted to dive from. We could do the lowest one, that started at 8,000 ft. We could do 10,000 ft, we could do 15,000, or we could do the highest one, 18,000. Both Mint and I decided to dive from the highest point. That would give us the maximum amount of time to free fall. We made up our mind and made our bookings a few weeks ago.

From then on, I could feel the excitement, underlined with some nervousness. I kept imaging how it would be to just drop from the skies. To just fall. To hold on to nothing. To keep falling. We would be free falling for 1.5 minute. That seemed like a very long  ‘dropping down’ time, after which, the parachute would open. I started watching different sky diving videos everyday and the excitement went on building up. Some days ago, I told Mint to come and watch the videos with me. Instead, the guy decided he wants to see videos of different accidents, fatalities and deaths caused by sky diving. And so he did. Since I was around, I ended up watching all of that too. It was really not something I wanted to watch or think about a few days before I jumped. What can I say, that guy is an idiot. His explanation? “I like knowing about the different possibilities”. Whatever.

The big day arrived. We had been warned of bad weather. If the weather didn’t permit it, we wouldn’t be able to do our dive. The next available appointment was after a month and a half. We wouldn’t be here at that time. This was really our only chance. So I prayed to the weather Gods fervently. They had asked us to call in the morning and check before we left. I woke up in the morning with a horrid stomach ache. I didn’t want to be dealing with stomach cramps on that day! It would ruin the experience. Mint told me we would call it off, but I stood my ground. I told him I would take a pill and deal with the ache, but if we could, we were going. We called them up and the lady at the other end didn’t sound positive. She said the weather wasn’t very reliable. Flights weren’t taking off yet. We could come over and take a chance if we wanted to, but she couldn’t guarantee us anything.

We decided to take the chance. The drive was a little over an hour. As we pulled in, the nervous excitement returned. We were told to expect a few hour wait once we got there. So I was very unprepared to go right away. We hadn’t eaten a thing since morning. I had packed some idlis for us, which we thought we would eat while waiting there. But what do you know? They said we were in luck. They rushed us in the moment we got there.

We were asked to sign a bunch of papers and watch some video. I knew what the papers were all about. We basically had to sign away our life. I didn’t want to be reading the detailed clauses, so I chose to sign without reading it. Who wants to read about the morbid possibilities moments before you jump? I signed every section blindly, until I came to the last bit, in which I had to copy a statement in my own handwriting and sign it. It said the the same thing , that I was aware that sky diving is an inherently dangerous sport and that accidents, injuries and deaths are not uncommon. And that this action may result in my death and I take full responsibility for it. Writing it down on my own did make my hands shake for a moment, but we got done with it anyway.

Before we knew it, it was time to be strapped. It was going to be a tandem jump. My ‘flying partner’ came up to me and introduced himself. The video girl was shoving the camera in my face, asking me how it felt, was I excited, nervous, etc. I am extremely conscious in front of the camera, so I kept shifting my gaze, fidgeting with my hands, and answering her questions awkwardly. No wonder I look stupid in the video.

As we walked to the airplane, another wave of nervousness hit me. Was this really happening? Was I going to be boarding a plane that I would jump from? I realised all of a sudden that we hadn’t eaten a thing. Would jumping on an empty stomach be a good idea? I didn’t have time to rethink. We were whisked away into the aircraft. I saw Mint enter after me, and I made it clear to him that I was jumping first.

We took off. I could see the buildings becoming tinier, the people disappearing, the landscape blurring. Each time I thought, we are going to go higher than even this! Those folks told me to make sure I am breathing while we jump out. The oxygen levels are already  low on that altitude. A lot of people forget to breathe because of the adrenaline rush. That can be dangerous. I made a mental note to keep breathing.

And then, the door of the airplane opened. I looked out of the window. We seemed to be at a very big height. I looked out of the open door. I could see nothing but the vast sky. And then those folks tell me, ‘Only people who’ve taken the 10,000 ft dive will jump out now. You guys have to go a lot higher, so stay here and watch them jump’. I gulped. If this height was only 10,000 ft, what would 18,000 ft feel like?

Once those guys jumped out, they closed the aircraft door and we continued to go higher. After a few more minutes, it was time for us to be ready. I was going first. My diving instructor told me to give Mint a quick kiss before I jumped, and so I did just that. The three of us – my diving instructor, the photographer who would be going down with us to capture my feat and I, positioned ourselves at the door. They slid it open and I looked down.  All I saw was the vastness of the sky. There was no time to question my decision.

We stood there, dangling from the door of the aircraft for a minute. ‘Ready’, he asked me. I gave a slight nod. He counted to 3, and said ‘GO’. And there! We were tumbling out of the plane. We did a few somersaults in the air. Looked at my photographer and gave her a ‘thumbs up’, and continued to fall. There is no way I can describe that, so I won’t even make an attempt to do it. It was pure magic – just falling from the sky, in the sky.

The speed at which you are plummeting down to earth is crazy. And yet, it doesn’t feel like that. It felt like we were floating in the sky. It went on for a little while, and then I saw my photographer drop down and wave a good bye. That is the only time I realised how fast we were going. After a bit, he opened up the parachute. That is when we slowed down.

Once the parachute was opened, we had the power to steer in the direction we wanted to. That made it a lot more fun. He let me handle the parachute for a while. It was extremely thrilling. He asked me if I was up for some crazy flips in the air. I said ‘Yes!’. And so we did those, I don’t know how or what we did, but it was like the most exhilarating roller coaster ride you could go on. Only that this was real stuff! We were mid air, doing crazy things like rotations, sharp turns, flips.

He told me how to position my legs before we landed. I did exactly that, so our landing was very smooth and totally bump free. I ran out in the open field after landing, unable to believe I had experienced something like that. And there, I saw Mint landing a few minutes after me, with the same indescribable smile on his face. I ran up to him. We hugged. We kissed. We grinned. We jumped.

That’s me saying Hi, before entering the flight. Or was it bye? Just in case I never saw anybody again.

On my way in.

Before we jumped out. He asked me to leap out the moment I saw 3 fingers. That’s him saying ‘one’!

And we’re out.

Falling.

And falling. Upside down this time.

And after a long time of falling, a tiny parachute opens.

And we’re a speck in the horizon.

And finally, after all that adrenaline rush, we come back to earth.

And he congratulates me for having done it!

And there, I see my darling boy coming back to earth too. We finally unite with a ‘Yay! We did it!’ kiss.

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81 Responses to “I believe I can fly..”

  1. Wow!!!!!

  2. Sig said

    Ah shit. My heart leapt into my mouth as I was reading this because I know pretty much what that feels like – although I went bungy-jumping on my honeymoon and have always wanted to sky-dive. Congrats on being so brave and letting go in the sky – it’s an amazing feeling!

  3. Bhavani said

    Woooowie awesome Pepper!!!!! What a description…quite thrilling….glad u did it….could feel ur excitement…

  4. AWESOMEEEEEEE!!!!!!! Am so proud of you for taking this plunge!! 🙂 can I see the video?!
    And S says the exact same thing about watching the accidents ka videos!! About how one must know both sides of the coin blah blah 😐
    I have hinted/told S long time back that I wanted to skydive on my birthday (which is next month). I hope he remembers!

    • Pepper said

      Yes! I am not sure about uploading the video. But let’s plan to meet and I’ll bring it with me 🙂
      S says that too? These guys! 😐 I would want to know both sides of the coin, but only after I am done with my jump.
      Maybe you should drop another hint, now that your bday is only a month away. Plan it now, cos these places get booked a lot in advance 😀

  5. Pal said

    Wow, wow, wow!!! It must have been superb na..I have goose bumps when I read thebpart where u jumped….I wanna do this too someday in life. Never had the chance and always wanted to do it with my hubby. But he is scared of heights…Even looking down from the Singapore flyer so don’t think I’ll ever get him to go anywhere near 18000 ft. Gosh but I live in hope, this looks like a rush that should *NOT* be missed. Congrats u guys 🙂

    • Pepper said

      I am scared of heights too. Really. I could never look down from the terrace of my 7 floor building in Bombay. So this was a huge step for me. Hope you guys get to do it soon 🙂

  6. Ganesh said

    Thumbs up! Awesome write up.

  7. Roxana said

    How totally awesome, Pepper! I have a terrible fear of heights, so I’ve been wanting to do this to get over it, for a long time now. But I don’t trust the facilities here – I am waiting for an overseas vacation to come up – this one tops my must- do!
    So very awesome – I read your post with a teeny adrenaline rush myself – fabulous stuff!

    • Pepper said

      You are a girl after my own heart. Heights scare me too. Which is why I thought, it’s more important that people like us do this. And yes, I don’t trust the safety standards in India either :(. Now go and plan that overseas vacation soon!

  8. Anu said

    AMAZING!!

    Am really happy and excited for you.

    Warm wishes

    Anu

  9. vethal said

    I was smiling all thro out…well done..some dreams 🙂 fulfilled. beautiful. was with u thro out as if I were experimenting it. marvellous !!!

  10. R's Mom said

    OH MY GOD!!! *Falls at feet*

    I will never do this EVER in this lifetime of mine!!! you have loads and loads of guts Pepper and your Mint!!! I dont know what else to say…*Falls at PepperMint’s feet(s) all over again*

    • Pepper said

      Lol RM! Your comment is giving my ego a big boost. Why won’t you do this ever? You’ll be surprised by your own capabilities if only you give yourself a chance!

  11. Archana said

    Pepper, Did I tell you I am lightly jealous of you now?This is on my to-do list too. I am so awed that you did not chicken out there. I would have surely chickened out on board 🙂 I really like the yaay we did it kiss pic. The background blues, the reds make is so pretty!

    • Pepper said

      I expected myself to chicken out on board too. I surprised myself by being so calm. I guess you are at such a big height, that it doesn’t matter. You can’t see a thing from there. Maybe peeping out of the Empire state building would be scarier, cos you can actually see the tiny cars and buildings below you. I don’t know.
      Thanks!

  12. Kanthu said

    ‘Yay’ for you. this post made me want to Skydive even more. Hope I do it soon, also the bungee jump..:)

  13. RS said

    Wow! That sounds absolutely amazing! 😀 Hubby wanted to do that too while we were in US but I was/am scared sh*t of heights!

    And the pictures gave me goosebumps! Girl, I bow down to thee! I can never do something like this in my life! And you ticked it off well before 30 eh? 😀

    And, waiting to tell you – Welcome back to India, its not all that bad… (Catching up on all the old posts now)

    • Pepper said

      You know, the pictures and videos give me goosebumps every time I see them too 😀 I think I feel more nervous when I see the video than what I was when I was up there. Lol.
      I know India isn’t bad! Well, thanks for the welcome!

  14. Sowmya said

    Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. hAAthi said

    Oh wow! This is something that is on my must-do-before-I-die list..Now im extra inspired 🙂

  16. Aparna said

    Amazing!! You don’t sound like u were scared at all! I would have fainted right then and there 🙂
    Good that u had this out-of-world experience 🙂

  17. Ashwathy said

    WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW!!!!!!!!!
    I was in indescribable awe after reading that one!! You have captured all the emotions brilliantly !!! 😀 😀 I could feel the exhilaration myself!! no seriously!!

    I’ve always wanted to sky dive as well as bungee jumping… but don’t know if I am up to it. 😐 I went with a guy who was going for bungee jumping. By the time I got onto the trolley (or whatever they call it) and went spiraling up to the height from which he was supposed to jump… I was already feeling dizzy!! 😛

    By the way there are lots of flying schools and sky diving happening in Pune, very close to where you’d be settling. My bro is settled there….so I’ve been wanting to plan something like this myself. Anyway…

    Fabulous write-up and pics 🙂 I still can’t get over it !! lol

    And hats off to that photographer/videographer whoever…who jumps along with you….and yet captures the beauty of the journey. That’s a lot of effort!!

    • Pepper said

      Thank you! *Big grins on my face* 😀

      I didn’t know they had sky diving in Pune! This is news to me. Let me look it up. But you know what, I always hesitate when it comes to doing such things in India. I don’t fully trust their safety measures. That is one reason we did it here. Maybe we are stupid, but right now, we don’t have much confidence in the Indian way of things. We’d rather do such things in foreign lands. I feel much safer doing it in the US, given their high regard for safety.

      Yes, totally, but those photographers come at a big premium! We paid a lot of money (more than double of what you pay for a jump without a photographer) for a professional photographer to jump with us. We were the only ones in our plane who went for those. So if they charge you so heavily, I am glad they do their work well 🙂

  18. RK said

    I had goosebumps reading this! U guys are brave to do this! WTG!

  19. it is one of the most exhilarating moments in life! i have been trying to put words to my sky dive experience but havent found the right words! where did u do it?

  20. garima said

    Congrats Pepper,what an adventure,You guys have guts.

    I had goosebumps reading it…I dont why but am really feeling proud of you.
    Great job dear very courageous..And you actually wrote and signed that document??*Mouth open and re-reading that line*

    Btw how did your mum react when you told her about the adventure?

    • Pepper said

      Thanks much Garima! My mom was a lil mad at us when she found out. She let go of it later on, telling me I am not supposed to do any such thing in the future.

  21. bikram said

    Excellent what a feeling it is. Wanna do it again..
    I will

    One of the best things I ever did.. Beautiful pics…
    I did when I had gone to Australia.
    Bravo kudos well done…
    18000 yayyyyy I did at 14. Hmmm got to do 18 now….

  22. Harini said

    wowww girll!! You are very very brave. I dont think I hv it in me to jump off a plane and fall down towards the Earth… Again awesome braveness!! Kudos 🙂

  23. Insane!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂 🙂 I don’t think I’ll ever have the guts to do something like that! 🙂

  24. Smita said

    wow!!! must have been one hell of an experience!! I dunno whether I have the guts to do anything similar!!

    I am sure when you were falling down you must have felt at the top of the world and a liberated kind of feel!

  25. scorpria said

    i have goosebumps!!
    it’s on my list too…skydiving, not having goosebumps. 😀
    congrats! awesome.

  26. Richa said

    Oh dear God you jumped from a plane! Bravo!

    So happy you did what you wanted. 🙂

    And on your decision to move back to India I would say that was very brave of you to do. Very few people have the heart to give up all the rosy comforts of being in a foreign land and returning to their roots..their family. All the best!

  27. Saritha said

    Wowwwwwww……..

  28. Anusha said

    Awesome account Pepper !!
    I am a scared cat when it comes to adventures sports or rather any kinds where heights or water is involved 😦

  29. You got my adrenaline pumping too..just the narration of it all. Whew..!! You guys are cool!

    I jumped from 18,000 feet too, many years ago..and still think it is not comparable to any other feeling ( adventure) in anyway. And girl, you got to do flips and somersaults in the air…fantastic! My diving partner never offered them 😦

    Which center did you go to?

    Oh, once done, how did your family react to it? 😀

    • Pepper said

      You are awesome AHK. You are the ‘done it all’ girl 😀
      We went to Hollister. Where did you go?
      My dad and sis were very excited and have been pestering me to share the video. I am asking them to wait till I get to India 😀 My mom was quite mad at me for doing it, but she has come around now. Phew.

  30. Meenu said

    Awesome Pepper and Mint!!!!! It must have been truly remarkable! I can ride the meanest of roller coasters but then sky diving is one thing for which i haven’t mustered enough courage till date. But every time i see my friends or cousins doing it,i feel soo proud. Their excitement is infectious and i can see the same excitement in your post today! Wishing you guys more of such happy times together!

  31. Shamim said

    Wow Pepper + Mint, this is awesome! I too want to do this someday, it looks dangerous yet so exhilarating!! Congrats you two daredevils! 🙂

  32. Seema said

    That must have been one helluva experience. I have this is in my to-do list too. You have captured your feelings so beautifully in this post. I am so happy for you that there were no weather glitches that day and you finally made it. A big bear hug to the two of you. Proud of you two 😀

    • Pepper said

      Thanks Seema! And it’s on your to do list too? Awesome! I really hope you get to do it soon. It’s such an ‘out of the world’ experience 😀

      • Seema said

        I had gone on a paragliding ride when in Goa almost a decade ago. It was such a wonderful experience but it lasted not more than 3 minutes and the height at which we were sailing in the air was not too high. I loved the fact that you chose 18000 ft. I guess I would have done that too – making the most of it.

  33. It is indeed a great experience. My husband and I did it 2 years back and had to sign in 60 different places. I was lil scared in the begining and there was no way out. My husband was sitting behind me in the plane and we kissed each other and I jumped first. The initial fall was tooo good and and my partenr let me handle the parachute and did some dancing in the sky. The video was hillarious and made me decide to lose some weight on my face. I had a super cool borrowed helmet with some crazy stuff stuck on it ( davidindigolimadeltaoscar) (decode it 😉 ) Its definitely a great experience once should go for and if i get a chance i will go for it once again.

    I am glad u got to do it. How about bungee jumping !!!

  34. Pepper, the way you’ve written this made me feel like I was the one who sky-dived! I could feel the trepidation, the anxiety, the exhilaration during the jump and finally the happiness.
    Man, that was one super awesome post!

    I don’t think I am brave enough to attempt any of these adventure sports. Almost always start feeling claustrophobic these days 😦

    But, reading this made me feel like I went through it- I mean,WOW! Super stuff Pepper!

  35. Lovely narration, Pepper..was exhilerating to just read about it! Cool, you got one thing off the “Before I turn 30” list

  36. Tanishka said

    Wowww…. Sounds just amazing….

  37. Waw girl, this is awesome. This is one of my dreams,I really wanted to do this. I hope I can..

  38. Comfy said

    D skydives. He has a licence and all that (no tandom jumps for him 🙄 ) and is after me to jump with him. I keep telling him bungee jumping once was enough adventure for me.

    He is still working on me. We will see who wins in the end 😛

    You make it sound so interesting. Glad you got to do it 🙂

    • Pepper said

      Woot! D has a sky diving license! He does solo dives? WOW! I am very impressed. Mint has been telling me he wants to acquire a license too, cos doing it solo will be a different thrill altogether. I feel too scared to let him go for it. 😐
      I support D here. Go with him once. Will be awesome to go tandem with him 😀

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