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Born to be free

Adventure sports aren't always about seeking adrenaline. For many, it's a way of breaking free from the shackles that bind and limit us

travel Updated: Aug 15, 2010 12:08 IST

Rayna Aranha, 34, can easily
qualify as the poster girl for
adrenaline junkies. Unlike colleagues
with home loans and
sizeable savings, this
Bangalore-based IT professional admits
to not having the 'right' bank balance
for her age, but that's only to be expected.
Aranha has bigger things to tackle,
like life's several neglected fears that
add up over the years with the potential
to leave us incapacitated -- fear of
heights, fear of depths, fear of the
unknown, even motion sickness.

For Aranha, there's only one thing to do when faced with such a fear -- take up an adventure sport that brings her face to face with it.

"I have motion sickness, and the best way for me to beat my inhibition is to take the wheel and go," said Aranha, who learnt driving at 13 and soon began to take road trips across the country.

It was on one of these driving trips that she met the group of people who introduced her to rallying. "Rallying is a hard sport to be in, not to mention expensive, but I enjoyed my two years of it thoroughly," she said. "It was a now or never moment for me, but I knew I didn't want to get chained to a desk job, "she said

It was a similar decision that Badal Doshi -- currently India's second ranking Super-Cross champion -- took in 1994 as a 16-year-old. "I come from a Gujarati family -- we're meant to make money," he joked. "My parents were very unhappy that I chose to pursue something where you spend a lot money, but make very little," said the Navi Mumbai resident.

But the 33-year-old MotoX and rally champion, who represented India at the Asian Scooter Grand Prix in 2006 and 2007, has no regrets.

"I eventually had to help out in the family business, because even though I was bringing home the trophies, I was making no money," said Doshi.

Whatever money Doshi made, he'd pump back into his sport. In the past 17 years, he has participated in over 150 events, garnered more than a 100 wins, and visited "every city between the Himalaya and Tamil Nadu."

While for Doshi, extreme adventure sport was a way of following his passion in the face of parental displeasure, for 38-year-old entrepreneur Arachana Trasy, it offered a muchneeded break from her hectic work schedule. Trasy, who owns an entertainment design firm, went skydiving in Australia in January.

To drive home the point, she rented a Harley Davidson and rode 45 km to the skydiving institute, where she underwent a rigorous training of 'knee bending, shoulder tapping, hand opening instructions and exercises', before being flown 25,000 ft high for a jump.

"You jump and freefall at a speed that you've never been at in your life. You're so high up in the sky falling with no control -- the feeling is astounding," she said.

The freefall may have lasted four minutes, but the experience gave Trasy a high that lasted for days after.

Sports commentator Charu Sharma, 50, was one of the first Indians to climb Mt Meru in an Indo-Swedish expedition in 1986. And while Sharma has been an avid mountaineer since college, driven by "the incredible attraction of the topography, the weather, the scenery and the loneliness" of a mountain range, his passion for mountaineering is not to seek adventure.

"One of the first things you realise when you attempt a climb is that you may not return. In that context, I've made some of the best friends of my life," said Sharma.

"And once you return," he added, "You have a greater appreciation of what you left behind."

"Mountaineering is way of breaking free from the small unnecessary things we get caught up with in our everyday lives. It's a great way to get rid of the notion that we are indispensable," he said.

First Published: Aug 15, 2010 12:08 IST