[Bir Tibetan Colony, Himachal Pradesh, India]
May your Festival of Lights be as bright and cacophonously loud, as riotously festive and friend-filled as ours here in the Himalayan foothills.
Aside from Diwali–the biggest holiday in the Hindu world–this past week saw the closing ceremonies for the pre-PWC competition, my first 50+ kilometer cross-country flight, lots of disappointing weather (providing lots of quality time spent in front of the computer), the finalization of return transport to Nepal, and the onset of homesickness (for Pokhara, in case you were momentarily delirious and thought I meant the U.S. of A.).
All that computer time gave me opportunity to edit a handful of photographs and create an image gallery for this last month of weather-watching, relaxation, paragliding milestones, and general enjoyment of life. The material benefited greatly from my off-landing in Palampur and the pre-PWC closing ceremonies, which provided great opportunities for candid, local-flavored interactions in addition to the usual sky-bound imagery. You can check out the pictures here.
Turns out the closing of the pre-PWC competition was a huge event here in Bir, with well over a thousand people gathering in and around the landing zone to watch the completion of the race and to get good seats for the evening’s awards ceremony. I had some fun backstage joking with performers and shooting video, and was surprised how, more than anything, the whole thing resembled a rural US county fair. This resemblance held right down to the food carts, which were overloaded with loads of unhealthy, delicious, deep-fried tastiness.
The very next day my glider and I set an aerial course for Dharamshala. We made it over 50 kilometers before a full bladder and some navigational uncertainties encouraged me to set down in a field near a large river. Instead of Dharamshala I had landed in a tiny satellite village to Palampur, and was immediately swarmed (and adopted) by a hive of the local village kids. Even more so than riding through town on a bicycle, making an aerial entrance via paraglider guarantees one’s momentary role as Center of Attention; the whole village took pains to help me find my way into town and to the bus station that would get me back to Bir. Kids helped me fold my wing, taught me secret handshakes, introduced me to parents, led me by the hand along shortcuts through fields, and generally made merry with the tall, non-Hindi-speaking stranger who landed amongst their crops.
Since then the weather’s been a bit bitchy and unreliable, and I finally pulled the trigger on my return to Pokhara, which commences this coming Friday at midnight. If all goes well, I’ll be sleeping in my own bed again by this Sunday night.
Have a great week, friends.
Love and Kisses,