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When IIM grads came tumbling down

Jeannette Marsh
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February 23, 2007

No, this isn't a morbid article about suicides in business schools, although the proponents of this activity could well be examined for suicidal tendencies.

Now I have done a lot of stupid things in my life, but jumping from a height of 150 feet voluntarily, with nothing but an elastic cord tied to my feet, must count among the stupidest.

Bungee jumping!

Who knew this quaint tribal initiation ritual would create such a flurry among my fellow students. Ever since news reached the IIM-Kozhikode campus that the Malabar shopping festival offered bungee jumping too, the adventurous were on the lookout for an opportunity to escape from our campus-on-a-hill to the city.

Finally, a day dawned devoid of classes and assignments and a horde of students bundled into jeeps. As excited and overactive as a bunch of kindergarten students, we chatted non-stop during the journey, trying to mask our nervousness with chatter.

We pulled up at Kozhikode beach and walked in the sand to the place where the bungee-jumping platform was set up. 150 feet high, facing the sea and attached to a crane, it looked innocuous enough from a distance. But like most scary things, it got scarier as I neared it. I started to seriously doubt my sanity when I stood beneath it. Like Jack's beanstalk, the platform seemed to disappear midair.

Taking heart from all the eager faces around me, I bravely tried to quieten the butterflies in my stomach. It was still early afternoon and we were among the first few to make it to the scene. Carried away in a tide of humanity (read over-enthusiastic friends), before I knew it, my medical test was done, the consent form signed.

I was next in line to be belted up in the safety harness -- a harmless looking contraption that was fastened around my waist so tightly that, for a moment, I thought I was transported to a medieval torture chamber. As if that wasn't enough, my legs were bound together with a thick belt and I was asked to board the platform, which had by now come down after depositing its previous victim.

While I was being trussed like a turkey before thanksgiving, a couple of my intrepid friends had jumped their way down to glory. I watched with my heart in my mouth as each jumped and bounced up and down in the air until they were gradually lowered.

It didn't seem too hard and nobody had splattered down yet, so maybe the idea wasn't as crazy as I'd first imagined. Now, it was my turn. I hopped like a kangaroo to the platform. It went up slowly, revealing a breathtaking sight. The sun was shining over the sea, making the waves glisten. All around the arena were raucous locals shouting words of encouragement. As the first girl of the day on the jumping-off bandwagon, I got more than my fair share of support.

Suddenly I felt brave and reckless. The feeling of flying high buoyed my spirits. At that moment, I could have jumped off the Eiffel tower. I moved to the edge, closed my eyes, let go of the sides and took a deep breath. Then came the slight nudge that sent me toppling down. For one exquisite second I felt like I was flying, and then came a terrifying stop at the end as I was yanked up and down until I lost all sense of direction and began screaming at the top of my lungs. This continued for what seemed like an eternity, but was just a few seconds.

When I opened my eyes, the sea and sky were upside down. Spinning like a top, watching the world spin with me was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. Spellbound, my eyes drank in the beauty as I was lowered to the ground. It took just a few seconds, but that memory will last a lifetime.

-- The writer is in her first year PGDM, at IIM-Kozhikode.

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