Saturday, April 05, 2014

E is for Extreme

We had some friends over a few days ago and somehow sky-diving came up in our conversation. A chill ran down my spine. Honestly speaking, extreme sports are not for me. I am the kind of person who classifies even roller-coaster rides under extreme sports. Not that I'm scared of heights the way Viv is (he can't look down 20-storeys from a balcony without feeling queasy), but I'm just scared of downward-moving fast-moving things over which you have little, if any, control. I'm the chicken that the simulated (yes, you read that right!) ride at Universal Studios scared the living daylights out of. I kid you not. They had this slide and because in a simulation you don't need laws of physics or something, it was impossibly steep and fast. I knew I was sitting in a chair and not really going down the slide of death, but I shut my eyes tightly. And I breathed a sigh of relief when it ended and I found myself alive. Laugh all you want, but I can tell you honestly that I found the mummy ride less scary than the Simpsons ride.

In February 2007, Viv and I were on our road trip honeymoon in New Zealand. It is a beautiful beautiful place, and Queenstown was my absolute favourite. Not because it's famous for extreme sports, but simply because of how scenic it was. We did go for the Shotover jet ride, which is a crazy jetboat ride through the canyons of the Shotover river. It was pretty scary but then there were a bunch of people with us and the driver really looked like he knew what he was doing, so I wasn't that scared. We also tried out the luge. Back then, Singapore didn't have the luge, so this was a big deal. And so was the open cable car ride which you had to take by yourself to get on the luge. So here they were, the three extreme sports that I was willing to try out in Queenstown.

That's me, fearfully raising my hand to wave at the camera.

That's me on the world's steepest roller coaster.

Both Viv and I drew the line at bungy jumping, but just before leaving Queenstown, we decided to drive down to the Kawarau bridge and take photos of people who were "crazy enough to jump off a bridge". So we went, we saw, but we did not conquer. Until Viv suddenly turned to me and said, "I want to jump." I was taken aback. I actually wondered if he wanted to jump on the spot a couple of times (but why??). "You want to jump?" "Yes!" He said. "Ok, go jump," was all I could say. "You?" he asked. "Hahaha." I replied. He understood. When you've been married two whole weeks, you understand each other without having to say too many words.

So, in front of my disbelieving eyes, my husband was getting strapped up and bound and what not, to jump off a 47-metre high bridge. There was only one thing to do. Close my eyes. But I couldn't. Viv had asked me to videorecord the whole thing. Damn.

I still remember his face as he ran up the steps after his jump. It was lit up with joy and love and I knew what he was going to say. That all he thought of before jumping off was me. "Did you record the whole thing??" he asked. Sheesh. So he watched himself jump off 282836464839 times until I reminded him that there was such a thing as the camera battery dying. I then asked him how it was. He told me it was very very very scary, and then he asked me if I wanted to do it.  "Erm, no thanks." I told him and we were on our way.

As we drove, I was unusually quiet. And then half an hour later, I said it. "I wanna jump too." "Seriously??" he asked. "Seriously." I said. "Okay, let's go back." he said. I didn't want to go back because that would take long and we were kind of on a schedule (two Monicas, you see) to get to the next city. So he looked up the map and found that we would be passing by Thrillseekers' Canyon, another bungy spot. So we stopped there and the guy gave us a few options, which included tandem jumping. I was still terrified and still not sure why I was doing this, so the idea of tandem jumping appealed to me very very very much. I was confident that even though he'd only jumped once, I could make use of Viv's experience and try not to die. And though he had told me that his jump had been terrifying, he agreed to do the tandem jump for me. (Now you know why I married him.)

So there we were, standing on the bridge, preparing for a 35-metre fall. Our ankles were tied together, and we were told to hold on to each other tight so we wouldn't separate and clash into each other mid-air. We clutched each other's waists, and held our right hands together, just like the instructor advised. My heart was beating so wildly, I could hear it on the outside. This was it. My last chance to back out. But I didn't. The guy counted "1-2-3-JUMP" and we jumped. If even one of us had hesitated, it could have been dangerous due to the tied ankles. So there we were, in a ballroom dance position, except that we were suspended in the air, upside down, and descending rapidly.

Okay, so the whole thing happens very fast, so there's not much to react to. The very first thought that passed my mind as we lost contact with the bridge was... "What the...?!" followed by "What on earth was I thinking????" It was the single most terrifying experience of my entire life. Of course, you're tied with the bungy cord but you only feel the pull of the cord at the end of your fall. Until then, it's a free fall off a bridge into a river. At some point, I realised that I was screaming, but it wasn't the kind of high-pitched terrified scream one would expect. It was a low-pitched guttural sound, which surprised both Viv and me. I suppose you discover things about yourself, such as alternate vocal chords, when you're not sure you're going to make it.

Finally, I felt the jerk of the bungy cord and I realised we were alive. But hanging upside down over a river with no visible rescue. "Where is the boat????" I asked. The boat appeared shortly and someone caught hold of us, pulling us into it. I sat up. Sitting up felt strangely wonderful. The boat took us back and soon, we were back in our car, driving off. I was very quiet again. (No, I wasn't contemplating jumping again.) I was just going through what I'd just done. I had just bungy jumped. Bungy jumping was never even in my bucket list. But I had bungy jumped and lived to tell the tale. So, from going over just to take photos of the "crazy bungy jumpers", an acrophobic and a tachophobic ended up joining them.

Later that day, I called my mom and told her that we'd bungy jumped. I think she heard it to mean that  we were going to bungy jump, and instantly in mother-like fashion said, "No. Don't." "Erm... Mom, we already jumped." I told her. She took a long breath, tried to remain calm and then said, "Okay. But don't do it again."

You bet, mom. You bet. I ain't jumpin' no more.

All I need to do now is to make sure Xena never finds out there's such as thing as a bungy jump.


Subhash Chandra said...

I wanna jump too!

Arun said...


Raam Pyari said...

I am so glad you are doing this marathon! I geta new post from you each day! They all seem to be well thought through and not the jaldi baazi ka kaam most of us resort to when doing marathons.

keep writing and i will be here every day :)


Anonymous said...

Bungy jumping used to be on my list, too. Then I took really, really, really, REALLY long to do the flying-fox in Bintan, and I realised there's NO WAY I'll ever be deal with anything that involves me making that decision to step off a ledge.

I'm really, really surprised Viv did it, though. He used to be scared of looking out our 8th floor window... I can't imagine what he must have felt looking down from that crazy height.

But yay, at least this is one thing you can cross off the list! Let's go skydiving together, what say? :D

Anonymous said...

Wow very brave. If I ever bungee jump I'll not eat the day before and take a change of clothes.

How do we know said...

make sure Xena doesn't find out there is such a thing as bungee jump? YOU WISH!!

Arun said...

F will be for Funny? Fanta? Fistfight?

me said...

sayesha, loved the last line in the post - A mommy speaketh !

- asha

Anonymous said...

hey Sayesha, did a post on my favorite blog. You may want to read...:) cheers...
And btw asking an old question..Is Xena your daughter's real name?

Sayesha said...

Do it! If you want to, you should. :)


Raam Pyari,
Thank you. :)

Sky-diving? Sure! Let's just jump off a plane without even a bungy cord and keep our fingers crossed that the parachute will open. :P


How do we know,
By the time she's all grown up, I think bungy jump will be considered child's play. I wonder what kind of extreme sports her generation will come up with.

Keep guessing. :)

Thanks. :P

Wow. Thank you SO much. I'm very very honoured and also feeling a bit guilty that I don't post as often as I used to. Hopefully this marathon will change things. :)

Subhash Chandra said...

I will when I go to newzealand with my kid in a couple of years. We'll do the tandem jump. I did go abseiling down the table mountain in Capetown last year. Immensely enjoyed the experience. Not the one hour trek around the hill back to top though. :D

Sayesha said...

Wow, you sure are one cool dad! :)