A few years of my life has been spent in the dusty town of Kota, and that’s where I cliff jumped the first time in my life. It was the days of my youth and teenage carelessness, when even to reach the stars seemed possible and easy. We did not even need to reach the starts then, they came to us. To tell you about Kota; it is a well laid town located in India’s desert state of Rajasthan, and the town is rather a heavenly sight compared to all the surrounding dryness. Kota has a lot of ancient architecture marvels, giving it a certain old world and forgotten charm. The Chambal River crosses the town and its arid and old-looking valleys make Kota all the more nostalgic.
Though I was there to study, I spent more time in the streets hanging out with friends who were always ready to bunk classes. We roamed a lot, exploring new and old secrets of the town. The most delighting part of the town was the Chambal riverside where natural beauty combined with old-world architecture became the perfect spot for us to spend our jobless time; trying out cigarettes, teasing girls, splashing the water, gossiping with strangers, and occasionally, pulling someone’s legs. As I write this piece now, remembering those days definitely brings a soothing smile upon my face, and I can only wish that those zestful times of my teenage youth never ended.
In the year 2006, on the auspicious day of the Hindu festival of Holi, I and my friends discovered a new way to waste our time. That entire day we played Holi; painting each other’s body with bright and sad looking colors for that is all Holi is about for any young guy who grows up in India. The festival had infused us with gusto, and moreover, participating in the Holi ritual of drinking bhang; which is crushed marijuana mixed with milk, had left us high beyond our imaginations. Naturally, the day sped by quickly, and I do not remember much of the fun that took place. It was late afternoon when we found ourselves next to the Chambal River, standing on a cliff which was about fifty meters high. A few of us started contemplating whether a jump to the river below will be foolish or brave, while a few thought it would be complete foolishness. And then, out of nowhere, it was Dipankar, the bravest one, who undecidedly took the great leap, jumping to the bottom of the cliff and crashing with the water in a thunderous sound. I guess this is what adventure is all about, to not think and jump towards fear or excitement. We were all relieved to see Dipankar survive, though none of us had any immediate plans to repeat what he did. As for me, I was standing at the very edge of the cliff, looking below at the river, when one of the guys behind pushed me, and it all happened. I found it to be a leap of faith, when for a few seconds, time stopped and worries disappeared, and all that was left was a moment blissfully paused in time. It was all over as soon as it began. I was in the water and I looked up victoriously. I thought it to be bizarre that I did not want to kill the guy who pushed me. The ecstatic jump combined with the fresh natural water of the Chambal River had subdued the anger inside me. Instead, I went running uphill and repeated the same ‘Alive is Awesome’ experience. That entire afternoon until the sun had set in a magnificent orange sky, all of us had cliff dived more than a dozen times, and never got tired of it.
After this, we spent a sizable number of our high school days indulging in this newly discovered adventure. The best was the summers, when the scorching sun heated Rajasthans air to temperatures beyond forty Celsius, the Chambal came to our rescue like an oasis in a desert. We kept finding new spots along the Chambal River where we spent a lot of weekends jumping from cliffs like lunatics. But it was fun. It was good teenage days when everything seemed possible.