Home / Features / Feature-Hyundai i20 Adventures-Reaching for the Skies

 

One of our staffers takes his fear of heights head-on with the Hyundai i20 for company

Hyundai i20 Adventures

Story: Joshua Varghese
Photography: Sanjay Raikar

Everybody is (or, at least, was) scared of something or the other. Fear is a factor common to the apex predator and the puniest creature in the food-chain, but that does not disrupt the pace of the world, does it? Every day, all creatures across the globe are overcoming personal terrors in their own way. So, when presented with a chance to attempt an adventure activity, I chose one that would help me overcome my trepidation of heights: paragliding. Jumping off a cliff with a large piece of nylon fabric should do the trick.

Hyundai i20 Adventures

Now which car do I choose? Something compact to sift through traffic yet comfortable and quick enough to make the drive out of town enjoyable and stress-free. The Hyundai i20 then. This stunner of a hatchback from the Korean giant’s stable has been among its bestsellers over the years and it is largely because of the attributes that I chose it for. In its latest form, the i20 retains everything that made Indians love it and sports enough kit to make it significantly better than the previous generation and claim the top spot in its segment.

Hyundai i20 Adventures

Calls were made, plans were set, and, on a lovely morning, I took off for the meeting point with the 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system displaying the route and the Bose sound system playing my favourite tunes straight off my phone using Android Auto. The i20 is without doubt a quick car. The 1.0-litre, turbo-petrol engine develops 120 hp and a peak torque of 172 Nm and they are put to good use with the smooth and seamless seven-speed dual clutch transmission. After a short but exciting drive, we arrived at the meeting point and were joined by the ace paraglider pilot, Sachin Kashinath Jadhav. With 15 years of flying experience under his belt, Sachin is a professional pilot who flies for Paragliding Mantra. He briefed me about the basic rules and etiquettes of flying. Furthermore, he also underscored the advancements in safety the sport has made over the years and it helped reduce my anxiety about taking to the skies.

Hyundai i20 Adventures

The paraglider’s canopy is nearly 40 feet long, plus the harness and cables, and the whole thing folds into a massive rucksack. The i20’s cavernous boot swallowed it up easily and we did not even have to remove the parcel tray. Since paragliding literally involves jumping off a cliff and since we had to trek through a forest to make it to this location, we had to park the i20 and do the rest of the journey on foot. Within 10 minutes or so, we were at the jump location. Sachin refreshed the rules and procedures once more before kitting up. Donned in safety helmets and a linked harness, we took our positions at the edge of the cliff and jumped right off it with a running start. The feeling of weightlessness from the moment my feet left the ground until the canopy caught air was momentary in reality but to me it felt like an eternity. The emptiness in my gut only fuelled my terror as my brain drew out each micro second inventing a thousand new scenarios, all of which ended with yours truly plummeting towards the ground at full speed.

My overthinking was interrupted (thankfully) when the canopy caught air and suspended both of us 800 feet in the air. The terror that was coursing through my being a split second ago was replaced with the comforting feeling of relief. Soon, I was mesmerized by the forest that lay many hundred feet below me and by the scenery that stretched away in every direction. Spotting our i20 was easy thanks to its dual-tone paint job. Come on, we check on our cars whenever we can, so it was only natural to try it when I had the best seat in the house and the stylish red-and-black combination stands out even better seen from the air.

Hyundai i20 Adventures

As someone who spends a lot of time flying from one place to another, I am no stranger to aerial views, but to see the land stretched out below me while being exposed to the elements was another ball game altogether. Can’t press a button to call for a beverage here. Less than a minute had passed and I had settled in, admiring the view and relishing the experience as Sachin deftly steered the glider towards the mountainside and began slow “figure of eight” manoeuvres using the hot air along the mountainsides to gain altitude or using “ridge lift” in paragliding parlance. The mountain was 800 feet tall and we had ascended another 150 feet at least using ridge lifts. Sachin then proceeded to climb further using “thermal lift”, lift generated by pockets of hot air. Then it was my turn at the controls. Sachin had already explained how to fly earlier and I did my best to follow his instructions. Soon, yours truly was a pilot for a few minutes, banking into corners and executing figures of eight in the air, looking in the direction of the turn, shifting body weight accordingly, and occasionally even looking down without panicking.

  Hyundai i20 Adventures

Just before landing, Sachin performed a couple of acrobatic manoeuvres too. He folded the edges of the canopy and made a rapid beeline for the ground. After what seemed like a lifetime of screaming, he deftly brought the thing back to solid ground. Then it was just another short trek to the car and we were back in the i20’s cabin, cocooned in a strong chassis along with the latest in terms of safety and entertainment.

Hyundai i20 Adventures Hyundai i20 Adventures

Coasting in the air at nearly 1,000 feet with the wind in my face should have triggered every nightmare I ever had about heights, but it did not. What it did do was something entirely unexpected. Shortly into the flight, a sense of calm washed over me and I began to appreciate my time up in the sky. It was at that moment that I realized what lies on the other side of fear. There is a new horizon beyond the realm of nightmares and terror and it is worth exploring, my friends.

Hyundai i20 Adventures

Before leaving, I opened the sunroof to catch a glimpse of other paragliders and then it was a gentle cruise back home with the engine humming away in a contented manner, synchronized with my thoughts and new outlook on life. If getting over fears is this much fun, it is high time I made a list of the other things I fear, provided, of course, that I have the trusty i20 at my side.

 

About the author: Joshua Varghese

 

Would gape at fast cars. Still does but now has a chance to drive some of them. Hates driving in traffic but makes up for with a spot of off-roading or the occasional track outing. Insta: @motoknight

 

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