Would you get on that ride?
As that small car started to go up in the air, I could feel my thirteen year old heart beating in my mouth. Closing my eyes was as scary as letting them stay open. The giant rotating wheel was now rotating on its axle and then each car attached to the wheel was rotating on its own. Twenty rounds in one direction and then the next twenty in the other was how it worked. Slowly picking up speed and to an extent that the car would turn upside down while rotating. It was supposed to be the most thrilling part of the ride.
We were visiting the Fantasy Land in Mumbai. The famous Essel World was far away and the adults knew children would have as much fun at any amusement park.
We picked up this ride as a warm up to what was to follow. There were roller coasters, giant swings and a free fall too. My cousins were excited and this ride was a silly game for them. Standing in the line and waiting my turn, all I felt was fear. One after the other as people moved, it was our turn to get on the ride. My uncle sat with me. Once the ride picked up speed, I had squeezed my eyes shut and I slowly drifted into unconsciousness. I remember a slight commotion, the ride stopping and my uncle helping me out of the car. I knew I was out before the next twenty rounds had even started.
Once out of that giant wheel, I threw my fear out. The commotion was still there and now I watching what I had just walked away from. I felt relaxed and better. I was out of what did not let me breathe.
From that first ride to the next one in 2015 at the Ocean Park in Hong Kong, not much has changed. I am not an adventure seeking human. The adrenaline rush that many crave for is not my idea of fun. I try to avoid such parks as much as possible. Let’s accept that ‘amusement’ is not the right word for it. Have you walked in any park where the sign board reads ‘not for people with blood pressure’ or ‘you should have xx height to enter’?
Over the last few years, I tried two slow ones in Hong Kong and then recently a tilt in Chicago. When I watch people take any ride, I need to believe that it is not as bad as it looks. If it scares me, I am out. A snap of finger and I get to know it’s not my cup of tea. But if I can watch it and see that it isn’t as risky, then I am okay to play along.
Generalizing is not the right thing but as I think through, this has been my approach in life too. I can jump into tricky situations after I have had thought and analysed the pros and cons. If it’s not too pushing I will be in but if it takes my all, I am not. I keep moving the bar forward every time. So, yes I am not closed on an idea. Career risks, taking chances with the kind of people I meet, and life situations are same as getting on a ride where things will either be too high in the air or will turn upside down.
There is no magic potion but just that introspection and the belief that it is possible. Or may be not. At the Tilt in Chicago, I wanted to do it. Not that it was easy but I was able to see that the architecture would not let me fall from a thousand feet and the view would be stunning. I would be doing it with eight other people and that I am not in it to die.
I could hear my heart beating but it wasn’t pounding and I was right in anticipating that it wasn’t as scary as it looked.
Writing for the non-fiction grid at Yeah Write #354 this week.