Thursday, November 29, 2007

Basic Skydiving Course (Day 3)

Monday, November 26, 2007

How come no one ever told me how PAINFUL it was going to be??? I was prepared for the fear, I was totally expecting to lose sleep with performance anxiety, I knew I would have to struggle with complicated physics. But this back breaking pain...why did no one tell me?

The word "arch" sounds like such an ordinary harmless thing. But for a student of basic skydiving, it is the beginning of a nightmare.

When the instructor yells..."ok! ARCH!!"... a bunch of people ranging from ages 17 to 50 (I'm one of them) VOLUNTARILY contort their bodies in such unbelievable attitudes, that I wonder, is my body even designed to keep up with this? Suppose my enthusiasm goes farther than my flexibility and something just goes "Crack!!" It's an alarming thought, but then logic says these people know what they're making us do. I hope.

My day begins at 0400hrs. I reach the dropzone at 0500 and along with some 50 trainees go for a short run followed by about 45 minutes of completely unreal stretching exercises. I have aches and pains in places that I did not even know existed in my body. I remember all my first year's anatomy classes because I can identify every muscle group that hurts with every movement. I used to think I'm fit.

But its all totally, totally worth it. I'm getting to know and spend time with some of the craziest people in the world. One of the loveliest things in the world is the face of a first time jumper when he's walking back to the hangar with his parachute on his back. Shining happiness. Unwipable smiles.

My instructor does not walk. Ever. He hops, skips or runs from one place to another. Even when he's on the earth, you feel that he isn't really there - he is a little bit in the sky. He moves around among trainees taking classes, planning manifests, pleading for more flying hours - everything with a maniac energy and always with a ten inch grin plastered on his face. It's like if you get to fly in the sky, then nothing on the ground can bother you anymore. These guys must've conducted this course so many times, tediously, repetitively. But it seems like its their first time too - they seem to be enjoying themselves so much! The chief instructor, the guy who doesn't walk, is one Lt Cdr Rajesh N. There are other training officers - Lt Cdr M Birajdar and Lt Cdr K Nishanth - both are terribly awe inspiring. And the guy whose job I find the most fascinating is Lt Cdr Karthikeyan - he jumps with a camera on his helmet and the pictures he takes have to be seen to be believed. Completing their team is almost a dozen sailors - instructors, writers and packers, who have one thing in common - this single minded focus and this happy camaraderie that persists through the long days.

We finish the day at around six in the evening. All I need is some food and then I want to drop dead.

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