A very long time ago — nearly a decade, I’d reckon — Meena and I were really bored in Switzerland, so we decided to jump out of a plane, much to our parents’ intercontinental horror. (We made the mistake of telling them before we actually took the plunge, and had them stressing via phone for hours.)
I’d like to say that this was a youthful indiscretion, a move made by an earlier, younger and perhaps stupider incarnation of myself. But I can’t. Because a few days ago, I took a similar leap of faith — and this is despite the fact that I have a toddler and no life insurance.
I’d like to blame it all on my brother. See, during our two-week Hawai’i adventure, he was celebrating his 28th birthday. And to take stock, he decided to put his life on the line and jump out of a plane at 12,000 feet. After all, what better place is there to do that than Hawai’i? Veteran skydiver Navdeep, who’d jumped twenty-plus times during his days in the Army, said he’d join him. So how could I resist reviving the latent dare devil in me. It’s been a while since she was roused, but I couldn’t help it. I just couldn’t let them go without me.
This time, though, we played it smarter. Knowing the flack and outright resistance we’d get from our parents, who were on the trip with us, we decided to leave them out of the loop until after the fact. So we told them we were off to Chinatown for a morning food tour, knowing full well no one else on the trip would be interested in such an outing.
I have to confess, I’d given a sleeping Kavi about a zillion kisses before I left. At 7 a.m. on the morning of the 26th, the day after Christmas, we jumped on a shuttle which took us to Skydive Hawaii, some forty minutes away in the North Shore area of Oahu. As we signed our lives away on Skydive Hawai’i’s incredibly thorough waiver form — the footer on each page boldly reminding us that skydiving could lead to injury or death — oddly, none of us were nervous. Just excited. That waned a little bit as we waited more than four hours to jump, but in the end, as we donned our gear and our small but sturdy Cessna aircraft climbed to 12,000-plus feet above the Pacific ocean, it was so worth it.
We flew for a good 15 minutes, the fresh Pacific breeze washing over us through the open door of the air craft. I didn’t know it before I climbed in, but I’d be the first to jump. And I wasn’t even anxious. My tandem diver Lyle and my photographer Rod and their pals were cracking jokes and rough-housing, and when I wasn’t busy gaping at the incredible view, I would turn back to look at Navdeep and Tarun, who were not far behind me.
Then it was time to make the leap. I had done this once before — in the Alps, no less — but if you’re gonna jump out of a plane at 12,000 feet and 120 miles per hour, Hawai’i is the way to go.
You can’t beat this view — the ocean roaring before you, Diamond Head and the other Oahu mountains in the backdrop, the outline of the Earth clearly visible. It’s moving. It’s amazing. It’s literally breathtaking. Yeah, you’re signing away your life to make the journey, but honestly, if you have to go, it’s a good way to do to it, soaring through the sky, the turquoise and cobalt blues of the Pacific below you as you float toward land again.