Thursday, 16 September 2010

My top 5 adrenaline jolting moments

In my truly weird life so far, there have been those moments where I've felt completely alive. So alive that it made me feel that nothing can ever harm me. Blissful moments that made my mind go astray and think of randomly useless things like wondering if I'd be electrocuted if I stuck my hand into that power socket.
Despite the array of suicidal thoughts that filled my head, those little moments when that lovely thing called adrenaline flooded my insides have been great enough for me to remember them.

#5 First cycle ride to a friend's place
It's not as much the place I was going to than the journey by itself. It was some time in 6th grade that my parents, in some unfortunate wisdom, gave me a cycle. As anyone that age, I fell down a million times, hurt myself so much that my dad banned me from using the cycle for a while. Some intolerable bugging later, I was allowed to take it back. But of course, I was banned from riding it beyond a certain point from home.
This particular moment came when I was riding it beyond the borders my parents had so carefully banned me from. Down a damn busy subway to a friend's place. The sandy subway, filled with big buses, zooming autos and whirring bikes portrayed quite a scary picture, but I braved it all, rested one leg on the low wall jutting out of the side walls and sped my way into the subway and thankfully came out the other side unscathed. So brilliant I felt that I immediately took a U turn and went again to the other side, process repeated some four more times. Quite awesome.

#4 That big eyebrow gash
My first big injury. Sometime in 4th standard, I was playing cricket with my usual buddies when the 'big' boys from the neighbouring apartment called me to play with them. Now this was some sort of a jaw-drop moment for me. Let alone that 'acceptance', these boys were in their 20s and playing with them was something to be priced then. So, to the envy of my usual companions, I jumped over the wall dividing the two teams and went over to the other side (ok, sorry!).
They only wanted me to do some wicket-keeping for a single innings as the usual boy had some parent related emergency. So there I was, in my embarrassingly short shorts and a new white vest (banian if you may). A couple of fumbles later, I gathered my first ball and it felt gooood.
But the moment my body decided to fill itself with adrenaline came some five minutes into the game. It was a rather weak and old bat that the batsman was using and given that we were playing with tennis balls, I was keeping quite close to the stumps. The bowler threw his delivery and in a modern T20-ish way, the batsman put all his strength into the shot which he obviously missed.
Now what happened next is Still a mystery, but as I gathered then, I was bleeding heavily from my left eyebrow, so much so that one side of my new white vest was a satisfyingly deep red.
I happily smiled, said I'm alright a million times to the big boys, jumped back the wall to my compound and walked back to my house holding the eyebrow with my left hand.
Six hours later, I was lying down on the nearby clinic's emergency table only to see the not-so-hot nurse sticking a tantalisingly big needle to somewhere close to my eye.
11 stitches, thank you very much.

#3 That ride from home to Satyam Cinemas
5 kms, 11 minutes at around 7pm. I'm not exactly proud of going that fast, but damn it felt good. Not only did I make it in time, I reached there faster than some of the people who lived closer to the theater.
I look back and all I remember is that mad rush of events which led to some eight or nine rear view mirrors, belonging to pitiable unsuspecting souls who still probably don't know what hit them, being smashed to pieces thanks to how close and how fast I rushed past them. The walk that I had from the theater's parking lot to the ticket counter (where my friends were supposed to be waiting for me) was the time I felt like I could punch a six-foot guy to the ground. Thankfully, conventional wisdom prevailed.

#2 2008 - Brazilian GP
This is still one of THE best races I've ever watched.
I was at home, doing a super fail of live blogging (I wouldn't recommend it, but you can read that post here) and all set to watch the championship decider along with my brother. I can not tell you how much fun it is watching F1 with my bro, but that's for another day.
For all those who don't know (shame on you, shame shame shame), Ferrari's Massa needed to win the race, McLaren's Hamilton had to finish anywhere below fifth for Massa to lift the title. The race had it all - crashes, spins, rain, safety car and amazing driving. And whoever watched this race can never ever forget the last lap.
As the race winded down to the final lap, Massa was 1st by a mile or so, Hamilton was down in 6th. My bro and I just couldn't control our joy and we were egging on Massa with all our heart (it was around 1am now, dad didn't take the screaming all that well, but even he understood how brilliant a moment this was). We screamed with joy when he crossed the finishing line, P1. Massa, the world champion! Bro and I high-fived so many time that our hands turned to a deep red. We were genuinely happy. It was somehow better than watching Michael Schumacher win the championship. As we were fist bumping and jumping with unabashed joy, some words echoing from the TV caught our attention and we almost stopped mid-air.
Karun Chandhok (yeah, he was commentating) said those unforgettable words. "No! NO!!. Timo Glock's slowed down, Hamilton's over taking him, he's 5th now. Lewis Hamilton is the champion, not Massa."
We stopped, the whole of the Ferrari paddock stopped, entire Brazil stopped in its tracks - Massa was Brazilian, had he won, he would've been the first champion since the great Ayrton Senna - BUT it wasn't to be.
Those 15 odd minutes was quite out of this world. I get goose bumps just recollecting those minutes. That transition from pure joy and blissful happiness to utter, heart wrenching disappointment hasn't been paralleled yet.
Steve Slater, a man who's watched F1 since the 1970s said, "That is the best 20 seconds of F1 I've seen in my life."

#1 Karting
At the risk of that sounding narcissistic and something like self-pleasuring, Karting is my no 1 adrenaline jolting experience ever. Ok, Go-Karting if you will.
Every single time I get into that plastic bucket seat and wear that helmet with a tissue separating my hair and a million bacteria and dandruff acquired from multiple heads, I can not help but smile like there's no tomorrow. My eyes narrow out, studying the corners and the chicanes, picturing myself cornering by touching the apex every time, making drifts good enough to make the tyres squeal and weep out smoke. The 10-year-old in me even imagines using anti-lock steering for crying out loud - for the uninitiated, that's turning left when you want to turn right, it's a counter for braking and results in some sensational drifts, given you control the throttle properly.
But as luck, fate, Murphy and my own limbs would have it, I do none of those. I take too much speed into the corners, most of the time missing the braking points and either go crashing into the tyre walls or brake too suddenly, lose all speed and bring the kart almost to a standstill. Yet, it is unimaginable fun to be doing that.
I know the circuit near the Napier Bridge in Chennai better than the back of my hand. I dream of riding that track in under a minute, the closest I've ever come (quite an astonishing lap to shed all modesty) is when I did it once in about one minute 11 seconds. That's my best time so far. It's 11 seconds shy of my target.
I will do it, someday. I will conquer my demons, re-run all those amazing driving I've seen on TV and redo it on that track to claim it in under a minute. Hmph!