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Monday, November 15, 2004
I didn't go paragliding!
I was out of town during the Diwali weekend, when those who do not want to breathe the fireworks in, leave Mumbai and head to the hills. I went to Panchgani.

Panchgani, a four-hour-trip from Mumbai, along the Mumbai Pune Expressway till Pune, and a 100 Km from Pune, is a nice and cool hillstation. On the way to Mahabaleshwar which is overrun by tourists, Panchgani is a little village with its own sweet charm. The air is cool, the sun hot, the flowers large, and the oaks silver. And every vendor at Parsi point, Sydney point, Tableland, Baby point wants you to taste his ice cream and pay only, only if you like the taste and by one. If you are weak-willed, your intestines would be frozen solid from all the ice cream you woudl have tasted by the time you are finished with all the points.

The points are nothing but places from where you can get a good view of the rivers, lakes, valleys and hills. If you stop the car by the wayside and scramble down on one side a few feet, and its your own little point. I did not, and hence failed to have my own Mathew point.

Panchgani means five hills. There are five hills, which are actually table lands. A table land is a pleateau, and there are five of them here. Together, they are supposed to be Asia's second-largest table land.

Panchgani seems to be a favourite for paragliders across the country. Many foreigners seem to land up here, and we went to watch those who were on tandem flights, carrying a passenger in a chair-like harness, similar to the one the pilot has.

While one can normally run down a slight slope and take off, the tandem flights seem to be taking off from a cliff, where the instructor runs downs 2-3 steps with the passenger and the rising air just picks up and billows the glider and shoots them right up in the air. It looks scary, but I suppose if I see it twice, it wont look that bad. However, once in the air, its entirely about what you want to do. The sport is as safe or dangerous as you make it.

I frankly did not have the balls to do it. But then that's the challenge... Pick up those things you know you can do, but do not currently have the balls to do it, insult yourself for not doing it, get all hassled, and then go it.

I have started insulting myself already, and I guess in a month's time, I will be ripe for a ride.

posted by a correspondent @ 12:23 AM    
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