Paragliding sideways – it all went wrong
After so many wonderful peak experiences, the way of the world said one had to be bad, really bad
Throughout 2017, roomsXML’s national BDM Sasha Luckey completed her yoga teacher training, including a 2 week immersion in Northern India. She shares some thoughts on the real India.
Good and bad, life is what we experience when we travel
I chose to stay back from the paragliding excursion that day. I was two weeks of three into a busy schedule and was teaching a portion of my first-class to my fellow students as part of our assessment. We chose to sleep in, lounge around and have a late breakfast, writing out our lesson plans in the open air looking out over the Himalayas. It was one of the most beautiful and peaceful days I can ever remember.
It could not have been more contrasted to the experience a couple of my classmates had. Please note this is not my experience but my understanding of what took place that afternoon.
In the morning a group of budding yoga teachers had strapped in tandem with experienced paragliders and taken that literal leap of faith and sour in the thermals. This town is renowned for incredible currents that can take experience paragliders from mountain to mountain with a camp overnight before taking off again in the morning. This can go on for days on end. At the moment of the jump off the mountain, all of the trust is in the local guide.
A true peak experience in the highlands of India.
Two of the girls landed not too far from the local town, farewelled their instructors and walked in to get lunch and relive their amazing adventure. They finished their coffees and started wandering up the main road and look down a small alleyway.
Two of their instructors, who they just jumped off the mountain with, were literally bashing a young boy with stones. One of the instructors looked up with a rock in hand and made eye contact with one of the girls. A look of animal rage piercing the distance. The girls were petrified, unsure if the boy is still alive. As obvious Westerners, witnessing something that maybe they shouldn’t have, they just bolted and ran the couple of kilometres back to the camp.
Classes were suspended, poor ladies were traumatised with what they’d seen. A reliable source later informed us that this was a retaliation of a stabbing that occurred the previous evening during the clash of two groups of men. Not the usual occurrence in an otherwise peaceful town. It seems possible that the lucrative hang gliding business may have been targeted for cash. It’s an exclusive contract, and the way business works in India, it would have cost something to get, and exclusivity would allow for the charging of a premium. Particularly when you convert it to Rupes
Amazingly, the paragliders arrived back at the hotel that evening to attempt to sell DVDs and souvenirs of the day. Whilst none of the guys who came to the hotel were involved in the stoning, the inference was they were aware of it and the owners of the hotel said this sort of behaviour was absolutely inappropriate.
Even more astounding was the paragliders response; an offensive gesture and abuse. At that point the owners of the hotel made it clear that this company would never be used again or recommended again by that resort which is the prime choice for the Westerners who can afford to paragliders. They just lost their $500 day US contract. That’s enormous money up there.
I’m grateful I didn’t have this experience. But in a strange but simple way, given the amount of experiences that as a group we had during our journey, some of them had to be bad. In India that’s mostly bad belly, having some money stolen, feeling like you’ve been ripped off to later work out it was $2.50. But you seldom feel unsafe. I’ve never seen violence before. But it’s part of life. India does not hide anything; everything, good or otherwise is on display to be seen.
Life is what we experience when we travel.