Go down a (daring) waterslide
It’s literally a coffin. A vertical capsule with just enough room for a standing person, and a beating, ominous countdown. 3. 2. 1. The ground gives way. You’re gone.
The bucket list has stretched out its arms and dragged me in. I knew I’d have to do a lot of the tasks along with Yash through the year, and it seemed like a fun, adventurous project. I’m not one to chicken out of roller coasters or haunted houses, and least of all, water rides. I’ve battled the open-to-sky, 90-degree-ish bumpy drops, even one that ends with zipping through a shark tank. Maybe I’m getting old, but standing in that chamber for the longest three seconds of my life, I was, to put it mildly, terrified. The Liwa Loop at Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, I didn’t sign up for.
Himadri’s in line before me, and Ansh before her. They’ve done it before and warn me not to watch them, but I think it’s easier if I do, and confirm that they survived. Rookie mistake. Himadri’s standing straight up, hands and legs crossed, almost expressionless, waiting through the countdown. It blares. 3, 2, 1. This next bit is hard to explain — I could use ‘Poof!’, but before you hit that exclamation point, she’s vanished. Standing up. Soundless. I should have been able to hear her scream, right?
Here’s how it works: The slide is six flights up, and forms a maddening loop. You stand tightly crossed in the claustrophobic capsule, a guy turns a key to lock you in. The countdown begins, and before you can shut your eyes, the floor disappears from underneath you. You’re free falling for several seconds. I almost chicken out, Yash and Akshar behind me. Half our crew is sitting this one out. The guy laughs at me (with a rather evil tone, enjoying this a little too much), pushes and literally locks me in. 3….This is what petrified feels like. And looks like. I’m pleading, banging on the door. 2…He grins. I realise there’s no way but down. I quickly cross my limbs, glue my eyes shut. 1…Heart pulsating louder than the countdown. A siren. A scream. Speed. Darkness. And a tidal gush of water.
I’ve zigged and zagged and bounced and dashed, as has my adrenaline. It’s over before I know it. It’s a rush of excitement and relief that I can’t quite describe, but I’m still anxious as I wade out — Yash is behind me. I hear a scream, and the feeling in the pit of my stomach gnaws loud. A big splash — I hear later that he tried to escape too — and here he is. Massive grin. “That. was. AWESOME.”