JODHPUR – Zipping by The Blue City
My harness digs into my ribs as the wind whistles like a crazed teapot, about to simmer over. We’re all standing at the top of a creaking wooden launch pad on the edge of an ancient wonder, inside the embrace of Mehrangarh Fort, one of the most majestic works of architecture in all of Rajasthan and a shining amber star amidst Jodhpur ’s famed blue buildings. The sun is slowly boiling down to a rich caramel, casting its light across us all as we prepare to take a leap into the golden sky.
Sam, just one of the hardworking instructors here at Mehrangarh’s Flying Fox Asia, smiles at our small group of adventurers. He’s taken this jump hundreds of times before and he’s watched thousands of people take it for themselves. There’s nothing but amusement sparkling in his eyes.
“So… Who wants to go first?” he asks in perfect English.
A wave of murmurs ripples through our crowd. No-one moves.
Seconds pass. My toes twitch nervously in the loose crocs I’ve exchanged my sandals for.
Finally, a single silhouette steps forward. It’s my dad. My heart pounds as Sam clips him in and tells him to launch whenever he is ready. He jumps without hesitation and races across the gorge, reaching the other side in what seems like a split second. Then I go.
There are so many words I could use to describe that moment. Breathtaking. Spellbinding. Filled with ecstasy.
Nerves wrench through me as I take a deep breath, close my eyes, stretch one foot out into the waiting sky and then… and then…
And then I’m flying.
All my anxiety fades as the wind rips through my hair and I cascade down the cliff like a hurricane. Below, the vibrant blue buildings of Jodhpur dot the arid landscape and a shout of joy escapes my throat, bouncing across the rocky walls, echoing down into the city as I fly from one side of the fort to another. Zip lining across the fortress, I find a warm hand and a friendly laugh awaiting me at the other end. The moment I touched the ground I wanted to go again. Good thing there are five more zip-lines that await us, each with their own individual majesty.
In between the bursts of Zip-line thrills we walk the rocky outcrops talking with those around us, as well as chatting with the instructors and listening to their stories. As travellers, we have also been honoured to be listeners and we listen as Arun tells us about his life and how he quit his demanding job in Banking to start again. Originally his dreams were to be a professional cricketer. Indeed, he played 1st Class Cricket in India for many years but he explained that it was necessary to have a patron or sponsor to ensure your progress up through the ranks, something he didn’t have. So he decided he would make his mark in the banking world and after nearly ten years while attaining great success, Arun felt that what he was doing wasn’t impacting on people’s lives in a positive manner.
So with great courage and a leap into the unknown, he quit his job in banking with the unconditional support of his family who understood. He wanted to do something different, something outside of the confines of his office and something that inspired people to step outside their comfort zones, yet he didn’t know just what that was. One day he found himself at Mehrangarh’s Flying Fox Asia and offered his marketing and business skills to the expat owner who accepted. Ever since, his efforts have seen the business increase in customers by 40% and attain a super rating on Tripadvisor. I can vouch for why and Arun’s entire team made our afternoon one that I will never forget.
I can’t help but see the comparison in our own story and it warms my heart to know that there are other families out there willing to take a leap of faith to be happy together. It is not easy, but taking that first step towards what you are passionate about is everything!
Another two souls we connect with instantly are mother and daughter duo, Jacqui and Emma hailing from New Zealand. Their upbeat and fun-loving nature shines as bright as the burning sun and we chat and laugh with them during the experience.
Just as the sun begins to sink below the smog of the city we reach the final zip-line. This one stretches the longest, 300 meters of pure bliss as you fly back to the beginning. I savour every single moment. Sam catches my hand as I reach the end.
“Did you have fun?”
“Yes,” I say, a little pang of sadness stopping me in my tracks. “It’s one of the most amazing experiences we’ve had in India so far.”
Writing my blog always gives me the chance to revisit an incredible experience, to weave our life into words. It’s a time where I can be a little nostalgic behind the screen of my computer and reminisce as I stare into space, my fingers falling from the keyboard. Looking back on our Flying Fox experience in Jodhpur I can honestly say it holds a very dear place in my heart. A stunning memory frozen in time with a view etched into place that many travellers miss.
Sam, Arun and the team at Flying Fox Jodhpur made our time in Mehrangarh Fort very special and I’d like to express a heartfelt thank you to them here.
The harsh flash of the camera echoes through my eyes as we finish taking a line of group photos with all our newfound friends. Light-hearted goodbyes resound through our group as it slowly diverges while we walk up and out of Mehrangarh Fort. We watch as nearly everyone we’ve met disappears into a broccoli green Tuk Tuk. Then it’s just us and Jacqui and Emma. I smile as together we head towards the steep staircase we climbed from the city streets up to the Fort. While the sky may be turning darker and darker with every blink of the eye, our adventures for the day aren’t over just yet.
We traverse the central market place of Jodhpur, marvelling at the lit up clock tower that graces the courtyard. We criss-cross under the same lanterns our Tuk Tuk nearly crashed into earlier in the day when we were fresh off the train. We dive deeper into the alleyways, discovering a world of market stalls boasting everything from mountains of rich red spices to swathes of embroidered fabrics that stretch past a line of languid cows and temperamental chickens. Eyes bore into us, some curious, some friendly, some unreadable. When we first arrived in Delhi it was hard to ignore the hundreds of people whose eyes followed our every shadow. I can honestly say it was a bit overwhelming at first. After all, to be scrutinised is often part of someone’s greatest fears. For when you look at a stranger a tiny bit closer, when you see them without their disguise, unable to camouflage in a foreign place where you stand out like a sore thumb… you can often see the simple truth.
I catch the eye of a girl, only she seems to be a few years younger than me standing in the middle of the road. For a moment, neither of us moves. Then she smiles.
I smile back.
With too much to talk about and no reason to say goodbye just yet, we return to our hotel with Emma and Jacqui, where we climb the five staircases to the rooftop restaurant that boasts twinkling views of the stars and city lights.
Plates of steaming hot, spicy curries float from the kitchen followed by baskets of traditional Roti, charred ever so slightly at the edges.
The night grows old as we regale each other with our individual travel stories through India. The conversation turns from late trains to the people we’ve met and then takes a dive for the more serious. I listen intently as Emma speaks from personal experience about peer pressure, the harm that can come of it and the importance of never forgetting just exactly who we are.
World-schooling at its rawest… and finest.
Before we know it, the courtyard clock chimes midnight and like Cinderella, Jacqui and Emma must go. We walk them back a couple blocks to their hotel and say goodnight and goodbye. It’s always such a bittersweet experience making such precious connections with people on the road. You have maybe a few hours together, if you’re lucky maybe even a few days. But then you must part ways and trust that one day through the emails exchanged, you’ll meet again.
We cross the threshold back at our hotel and say our goodnights. That’s when the power decides to go out. Tiptoeing past the hotel owner asleep on the lobby couch, I close the door to our room and set the alarm for 5:30am. Our train leaves bright and early and tomorrow, another new day in our Indian odyssey begins.
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