I have never had any inclination to try extreme sports. Honestly, I’m not even that great at regular sports. I run very rarely, go cycling sometimes, and, oh yes, I did drive a tank once. But none of this really equips you to let go of your inhibitions and bungee jump. The qualification that I thought you needed for a stunt like this was a self-loathing, living-life-on-the-edge, crazy personality – the kind of personality that I did not possess! So when I decided to spend a fun weekend in Bengaluru, I had no idea what lay ahead of me. My friends and I were spending time at a bungee jumping venue. They were all excited to jump, and I wasn’t even thinking about it. The jump master was a Frenchman, and while I thought I was practicing my French, I was gently being persuaded to try bungee jumping for the first time in my life. He gave me the usual spiel – how thrilling it is, how more people die crossing roads than die bungee jumping, how it could change my life, etc. The sun must have affected my judgement, because instead of coming up with some clever retort, I sappily nodded “oui oui”.

Faster than you can say “French fries”, I had signed the release forms, had my blood pressure checked, and was climbing up a tower strapped into what seemed like a straitjacket – what a fitting beginning to a crazy experience!

Let go of fear and fall
Let go of fear and fall

The tower was about 125ft high, with a cage encircling a very dizzy-ing flight of steps. It went on and on, like a modern-day Rapunzelian tower and I was in no mood to let down my hair! I thought the climbing was extreme sport enough, but the half-a-dozen loons climbing up with me did not seem to be bogged down by the situation. Finally, we hauled ourselves out of a little trap door onto a platform.

The view was gorgeous, a sharp breeze was blowing, and wonderful Bengaluru stretched out below us. An assistant described how we ought to spread our arms like wings, keep our bodies straight like arrows and simply tip over the side, face downwards, and keep our minds blank of everything but the act of jumping. He didn’t need to tell me that – my mind was completely blank already. I was clammy, nauseous and frozen with fear.

We lined up, and, of course, I chose to jump last. I needed every last minute available for prayer.

Everyone else jumped smoothly and gleefully. And then came my moment of reckoning. Someone tied the rope to my shaking ankles and gave me the speech – something about floating down like a bird, something about the thrill – I can’t be sure; I wasn’t really listening. I walked like a zombie to the edge of the platform and they started the countdown. 3–2–1–JUMP!… and I froze. I felt as cold as a corpse. I could taste the fear in my mouth, and it tasted foul. Tottering back, a shaking, sweating, crying mess, I collapsed onto the jumpmaster. The mystified Frenchman spoke gently and said it’s okay; I could just walk back down.

Courtesy Wanderlust Adventures
Take a leap of faith, or in this case, a leap off a box suspended from a crane
Take a leap of faith, or in this case, a leap off a box suspended from a crane

At that moment I felt like that was not an option for me. All the stereotypical ideas of letting go of fear and reclaiming your identity came rushing to me. So I stopped sniffling, wiped my eyes on the poor man’s shirt and went back. By now, it was drizzling. I remember one part of my unhinged mind thinking that the rain might hide the tear stains and another part wondering why anyone would want to do this for fun. I stood shakily on the edge again, and the countdown began once more.

This time I just shut my eyes and in expectation of redemption, I jumped. The kind of state I was in, I felt that a clumsy, ungraceful leap of faith would have been just fine. I wasn’t cut out for the the elegant jumps that you witness so often on television. But reality often betrays your expectations. I let go of all my fears and anxieties, and heard myself screaming as I fell more gracefully than I expected. Then I bounced up and fell again. Suddenly, it wasn’t petrifying any more! I tentatively closed my eyes, but soon realised that it was futile to miss out on even a second of this experience. Swing-ing madly above Bengaluru, I discovered an upside-down world. And I heard distant voices telling me to enjoy the view.

It was all over too soon. They slowly let me down on an air bag, and I just lay there for a while. A staff photographer came along and asked me to smile. I grinned like an idiot, as if I hadn’t just gone through the most life-affirming moment of my existence!

They say that extreme sports give you an adrenaline high. Thanks to that 10-second affair with fear and adrenaline, my whole day in Bengaluru was spent in an euphoric, endorphin-fuelled rush. And I can’t wait to feel that way again!

Courtesy Taj Hotels, Resorts & Palaces
Relax by the beautiful pool at the Taj West End
Relax by the beautiful pool at the Taj West End

WHERE TO STAY

At the higher end of the spectrum is the Taj West End (Tel: 080-66605660; Tariff: ₹24,500–2,30,000) with its sprawling grounds. At the other end of the city is The Leela Palace (Tel: 25211234; Tariff: ₹16,430–2,12,000), an opulent building with a shopping galleria, a nightclub and a spa. The Oberoi (Tel: 25585858; Tariff: ₹21,000–1,25,000) and Le Meridien (Tel: 22262233; Tariff: ₹9,000–20,000) are other luxury options. The Hyatt Bangalore (Tel: 49361234; Tariff: ₹7,000–14,000) in Ulsoor is a hip hotel. The heritage Villa Potti Patti (Tel: 41280832-34, Cell: 09870795619; Tariff: ₹3,000–7,000) in Malleswaram is a good choice. iLodge (Tel: 40402323; Tariff: ₹2,500–3,000) is a boutique hotel in Malleswaram. Hotel Pai Vice-roy (Tel: 26535400, Cell: 09900262033; Tariff: ₹4,100–5,500) is in Main Jayanagar.

WHERE TO EAT

One of the most well-known places to eat is Mavalli Tiffin Room on Lalbagh Road. It maintains its old-world charm and the MTR dosa is thick and wholesome. Vidyarthi Bhavan in Basavangudi serves close to 2,000 plates of dosas each day on weekends. The idlis served in Brahmin’s Café melt in your mouth. The Bengaluru experience isn’t complete till you visit one of the ‘Iyengar bakeries’. Khaara bread (spicy bread), fruit bread, Om biscuit, palya bun (vegetable bun), dilkush (a sweet dish), are the specials. New Krishna Bhavan in Malleswaram, offers dishes from all over Karnataka – mandya ragi dosa, Mangalore kotte kadabu, gokak jowar dosa and button idli, to name a few. 36 Chowringhee Lane in Langford Town is a Bengali restaurant. The choice of fish is stupendous. Karavalli at the Gateway Hotel, offers dishes from Kerala, Goa and Mangaluru.

FAST FACTS

When to go Round the year

Tourist offices

Department of Tourism, Government of Karnataka, No. 49, Second Floor, Khanija Bhavan, Race Course Road, Bengaluru, Tel: 22352828, Email: info@karnatakatourism.org, W karnatakatourism.org, karnataka­holidays.net

KSTDC, Central Reservation Office, Badami House, NR Square, Bengaluru, Tel: 080-43344334, W karnatakaholidays.net

STD code 080

GETTING THERE

Air Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru, Devanahalli (36km/ 1hr) is well-connected to all major cities and metros. BMTC’s Airport Shuttle Service (Vayu Vajra; Toll free tel: 1800-425-1663), with air-conditioned Volvo buses services the airport-city route

Rail The three major stations: City Railway Station, Yeshwanthpur and Cantonment are connected to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and many other cities by daily trains

Road Kempegowda Bus Station (Tel: 22871945; KSTDC Counter Tel: 080- 22356246) is near the City Railway Station. State buses run from here and from Shantinagar Bus Stand and Satellite Bus Stand on the Bengaluru-Mysore Highway throughout Karna­taka and to neighbouring states