Friday, 6 June 2014

Walk like a penguin, fly like a bird and emerge fearless like a lion

An account of fear before a bungee jump, thrill during the freefall and triumph after the jump

If you look down from the suspension bridge, 160 metres above the snarling Bhotekoshi River, the rocks on the bank look like little pebbles and the width of the river narrows down to an arm’s length. The natural beauty of the surrounding is astounding but the height is terrifying. Even the fearless daredevils get goose-bumps looking down from the jumping platform on the middle of the bridge.

In spite of the terrifying height and the narrow gorge, you are tempted to embark on the jump of the lifetime.  To win over the fear in your heart. Such is the atmosphere with scores of people like you lined up on the bridge for the death defying jump.

When I first visited The Last Resort, the only bungee jump destination in Nepal boasting of the world’s third highest natural bungee jump and highest swing, I could not muster up the courage to jump from the bridge. The height and the fear overpowered me. Like most people going there, I said, “There’s always next time, and I will surely jump.”

I was determined and the determination took me back to the resort. This time I stopped at the platform, looked down from the bridge and tried to get accustomed to the height. Still I was afraid. Then I saw hordes of men and women jumping from the bridge, some screaming to overpower their fear and some enjoying to the hilt. Slowly, the fear started fading. The man inside me was saying, “Yes, I too can do it!”

In the morning, I was there, again on the bridge. The cool breeze swept past my face and this time, when I looked down from the bridge, I thought I would definitely do it. I had accustomed myself to the height.

After having a hearty breakfast, I lined up for my weight. It was 63 kilograms and the guy attending the weighing machine marked “B 63” with a marker on my right hand. B denotes bungee and the numerical your weight.

Then we gathered around the jump supervisor who briefed on the safety measures. The first thing he asked was whether we had any history of high/low blood pressure, epilepsy, back pain, ankle sprain or any injury happening not more than six weeks ago. None of us had any of the medical injury record except a colleague who had had an ankle sprain three weeks ago.

“Once you are harnessed with safety ropes, walk like a penguin and fly like a bird,” he was briefing. “Listen carefully to the jumpmaster’s instructions and go for it.”

He had loads of instructions like “Tip-toe to the edge of the platform”, “Don’t look down if you fear from heights”, “Look front, get your instep out of the platform”, “Lean your upper body towards front”, “Spread your arms”, “Take a deep breath and jump”.

After the instructions, we slowly walked to the bridge, like the gladiators emerging for the final fight. One by one, our team members jumped as instructed by the jumpmaster. And looking from the far end of the queue, everybody’s jump was perfect. Nobody panicked – each mustered up their courage and jumped.

Starting from the heaviest, finally it was my turn.

When I was harnessed and waiting for the crew to pull the bungee cord to be tied around my legs, I tried to cheer myself up. When the filming crew approached, I smiled, did a “Thumbs up” and uttered, “I will try to do a perfect jump.”

Finally, the crew tied the rope to my legs and I tiptoed to the edge of the platform like a penguin. As I approached the edge, my heart started beating. But I was confident, nothing will happen to me. I will be safe.

Spreading my arms like a bird, I was ready to soar at the platform’s edge. Now there was no fear inside me. I was determined.

Before the jumpmaster uttered “3…2…1…Jump”, I had already jumped.

The freefall was thrilling. I went down for three seconds. My arms were spread and I was feeling like a free person and as fearless like a lion. I wished the fall lasted for two seconds more.

When I was pulled up by the rebound, I was afraid a bit. But the tiny shred of fear vanished when I was lowered again.

I was hanging in the air, almost 160 metres below the bridge waiting for the crew to guide me to a bamboo pole. With no more fear, I was uttering my heart out to the GoPro camera fixed to my helmet.

It was a triumphant moment. I had defeated fear.

I had emerged as a different person, just in a matter of few seconds. I was ready to take on any challenge.

It’s only your mindset and the company around you to get determined. I am sure you too will enjoy the freefall to the hilt once you get yourself ready for the jump. And emerge a winner over the fear. That’s for sure! 

Here’s the video of my jump, I am sure you will be motivated.

About The Last Resort and the bungee jump
A beautiful three-hour ride from Kathmandu, Nepal, The Last Resort is located on top of a river gorge close to the Tibetan border. For more information visit their website.

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