Let’s have an adventure
‘A healthy mind is found in a healthy body’ is a conventionally held statement that has been culturally communicated to most of us. However, owing to commercialization of life-styles and even sports, a very few can afford to spare time to indulge in, at least, conventional sports such as hockey, cricket and football. Generally, from school to university level, students – the best of the youth- were institutionally engaged in such healthy and productive activities. Those golden days, I must sadly say, are over. These days, the sports situation is so pathetic in Pakistan that even our culturally rich-in-sports educational institutions no longer offer much to the youth. Hence, the latter’s (over-)interest in online applications, of which online-games is a part, should not surprise us.
Keeping in mind the above, this writer along with his teacher and fellow students (Dr. Ejaz Hussain, Ms. Samina, Mr. Saqib and Mr. Tauseef) has established an Adventure Club at Iqra University to provide modern sports platform to our students in particular and the youth in general. To transform our idea to explore Pakistan, on one beautiful Saturday morning, we set out for a thrill seeking adventure called paragliding, cliff diving and jet skiing.
The day started just like any other summer day with the sun scorching even at 8 am , the time when all participants were supposed to reach the university for the briefing on the events of the day. From Islamabad, it was almost one hour drive to Khanpur. I must admit while driving there many of the things that came across my mind, but one stood out: as soon as one gets out of the city limits, one gets overtaken by the feeling of freedom- and it gets even better when one starts seeing beautiful landscapes and rural people living amongst themselves that gives rise to another aspect that people living there are also part of our country.
Having made to Khanpur (K-P) after driving on a bumpy road from Taxila onwards, one cannot help but feel sorry for provincial and local, if any, government. It lacks basic infrastructure. With little investments, I am sure, this place, Khanpur, can be a tourist heaven-and a constant source of economic output. But surprisingly, despite poor facilities, l saw people from all major surrounding cities and towns coming here in summers to cool off at the dam, and in winters, to enjoy the citrus fruit of the red blood kind – oranges.
In the midst of all this thought processing, we reached a nearby locality where we met the team of professionals that were responsible for our safety in that paragliding event. There was a local “dhabbha” where most participants helped themselves to parathas and doodhpatti. Though the standard of hygiene is to be compromised, indeed, if one takes it as part of the adventure.
Without further ado, we headed for the hill where the event would take place- that is 15 minutes drive far out from Kahnpur proper. It was a mellow place without much human interaction. On one side was the hill, on the other, a storm drain, and the center was a flat landing place for the gliders. Nevertheless, the place seemed like a glider’s heaven. So, as we started to prepare our gear and take the climb, the sun took our gliding a little too seriously that most of us would just dip ourselves in the nearby canal water. But the paragliders showed strength and eventually started taking flights. From the excited faces and thrilling bodies of (male and female) participants, we, the organizers, gained confidence in our youth’s potential to excel in such modern sports.
Having successfully done with paragliding for four hours, we packed up and headed for the next bit of our trip that was the resort where we were to be offered a meal and refreshments. Upon our arrival back in Khanpur we came across a beautiful landscape which was surrounded by hills and blue water, amazing I must say. The resort was named “Gandhara” after the old civilization that dwelled in these areas a long ago.
This resort, that we selected after much deliberation, offered good food, drinks, proper resting areas and most of all a great landscape with lots of tourist activities. So after having lunch, most of the group was rather sleepy and dozing off. However, the adventure was not yet over. Cliff diving and jet skiing, again two very adventurous types of sports, were on the card.
This is the bit where it really got exciting. The majority was interested in both the activities so the preparation started accordingly. Life jackets were compulsory to avoid any mishaps and, to my surprise, the boat men were very capable life guards as well. Slowly, we made our way to the cliff that I must say was ca.30 feet height. Many mustered up the courage to go first but eventually a few, which included our women, tried a proper jump. On a hot summer day, it was a great feeling to stay in deep blue water. After getting back to the resort, we ended our adventure with the jet skiing. Interestingly, a couple of female students took a solo drive- ‘amazing’, everybody nodded.
Last but not the least, what can be generalized from the aforementioned experience is that Pakistani students and its youth is quite capable to engage themselves in even adventurous modern sports. However, the governments at all levels must invest in infrastructure especially in natural resorts such as Khanpur. Given our experience of travel and stay at the latter, it would have been much better hand Imran Khan-led K-P government thought of improving road conditions, constructing subsidized resorts, regulating prices and maintaining law and order at least in such naturally and culturally rich places that may attract foreign tourists too.
The writer is a student of M. Phil International Relations at Iqra University Islamabad