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Once You Become Fearless Life Becomes Limitless

We understand that it takes people with nerves of steel to indulge in extreme adventures, and The Grand Vacationist is all set to back them up!

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There are some of us who live by the book, following routines, long work schedules, living in our comfort zone while just wishing about living our dreams. The rat race.

Then there are those who live life on their own terms. The square pegs in the round holes. Mavericks who refuse to conform, who love taking risks for the reward of living their passions and dreams. They are the ones who make history. People like Nishant Patel and me, who have recently set records in the field of extreme adventure sports.

India has been known for its champions in sports such as Cricket, Badminton, Tennis, Wrestling, Boxing or Archery. However, it is yet to make a significant mark in the field of extreme adventure sports. Despite India's huge population and geographical diversity, the lack of an outdoors culture makes effective participation in adventure sports awfully low. Adventure activities too are mostly restricted to hiking, trekking, rafting and recently cycling. Higher risk, more exotic adventures that are popular in the West such as Flying, Sky Diving, Scuba Diving, Surfing, or Mountain Biking are still a long way from becoming mainstream among Indians.

But that's about to change.

Nishant and I, two adventurists in our 30s, have set our adrenaline pumping goals in extreme, and often crazy adventures, high and deep. We are both driven by the same sentiment: 'To stand in the fire of your deepest fears in passionate pursuit of your highest dreams is to rise to the realms of legends.'

An avid adventure sports lover and always game for unique challenges, I wanted to aim beyond the skies to test my limits. I managed to set a National Record with Limca Book of Records and India Book of Records as the 'First Indian Civilian to Fly Highest & Fastest to the Edge of Space in a Fighter Jet whilst Enduring Maximum G-Forces,' which is a dream and privilege for most people around the world and is still a prerogative of fighter pilots and astronauts. I flew from Russia in a MiG-29UB Fighter Jet to reach the stratosphere. In 40 minutes, I touched the Edge of Space at supersonic speeds followed by Top Gun style aerobatic manoeuvres whilst enduring pulverising Gravitational forces (G-Forces). Oh and I also got to fly this magnificent fighter jet for a minute!

I can still recall the technical and physical challenges I had to endure to achieve this feat. During the Vertical take-off I felt as if someone kept punching really hard on my stomach when the gravitational forces (G-forces) hit, it took the wind out of me and I felt breathless and was gasping for air for a minute. But when we tore through the sky at a speed of Mach 1.7 to reach the Edge of Space, it was quite magical to be rewarded with the Overview Effect - the deep blue/black sky with some stars above during the day, a thick white carpet of snow clouds below and an electric blue horizon. It was one of the best birthday gifts I gave myself, as I took this flight just two days before I turned 33!

I successfully set 3 records for any Indian Civilian: Highest Altitude Reached : 17.3kms (57,000 ft), Fastest Speed : Mach 1.7 (2,080 kmph) & Maximum Gravitational Forces Endured: +7G
As a Management Advisor, I have coached 4-Star Generals and Squadron Commanders of the US Air Force and US Army Aviation Commands as well as business heads of some of the top MNCs such as Delta Air Lines, L&T and BHP Billiton in orchestrating large-scale operational turnarounds. This adventure was the icing on the cake of my exciting career.

While I wanted to aim beyond the skies, Nishant decided to delve into the depths of the sea. An avid cyclist and certified downhill racing specialist, Nishant is also a Founder and Trustee of Equal Street as well as a Treasurer and Event Facilitator for the Australian Alumni Association (Mumbai Chapter) and has participated in many cycling events and races in India. These include racing with the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force from Manali to Khardung La as well as the Tour of Nilgiris covering some of the toughest slopes in the southern region of India on cycle. An adventure enthusiast by nature, he wanted to challenge his cycling to an unimaginable level, and hence decided to conquer some depths through 'Scuba Cycling in the Sea'. Though he was an amateur in the field of scuba diving, and without any formal Scuba certification, he developed and practiced the sport undersea at 5-7 meters depth in the Andamans and decided to take on this challenge even further to a depth of 30+ meters.

He became the first Asian and Indian to successfully set two records of 'Deepest & Fastest Scuba Cycling Undersea' at a depth of 32.7m (107 feet) in the sea, cycling a distance of 100m in just 6 minutes 47 seconds leaving behind a blazing trail on the seabed!

How did he do it? Nishant appreciates the guidance and support given by Sumer Verma and the dive team at Lacadives in the Andamans when he developed and practiced the art of Scuba Cycling. Besides identifying a robust cycle that required several modifications to achieve this feat at such depths in the sea, he first needed to get certified as a PADI Tec-40 Diver to be able to cycle at a depth of 30m+ depth. This was done in order to allow a safe longer bottom time to achieve the target, to cycle the 100m distance factoring in any currents, surface conditions, obstructions, the air tank requirements at such depth, and the atmospheric pressure that increases effort fivefold.

As a vacationist, adventurist and experiential traveller, such experiences enrich my life story. And it is this very combination that led me to launch The Grand Vacationist with equally crazy partners Nishant Patel and Rishabh Shah. The Grand Vacationist was born out of the personal travel styles of all three Founders that covers the entire travelscape from luxury experiences to extreme adventures and everything in-between, including cultural and gourmet indulgences. The Grand Vacationist, curates tailored vacations around the world focused on luxury, adventure and lifestyle experiences that enrich the traveler's mind and soul. Besides being the booking office for thrilling adventures such as the Edge of Space and Zero Gravity flight experiences for the Indian adventurists, we are also introducing new adventures to the world such as Scuba Cycling, and many such crazy ones are being developed for the near future. Nishant and I are also India's first formal Scuba Advisors and our scuba holidays division offers a Scuba Advisory Service for anyone who wants to start their magical underwater journey with the right advice and guidance from experienced Divers and Instructors or for certified divers to plan their Dive Travel around the world through our worldwide network of Dive Centers, Resorts and Liveaboards.

So what does it take to be a record breaker?
Nishant and I strongly believe, that it is not just the will to win that matters, but also relentless focus on preparations for that win that makes all the difference. "Success will be yours when you live your passions and when your desire for success is greater than your fear of failure."

Indians may not be known for being adventure enthusiasts, but one sees a definite rise in hobbyists, apart from the few serious athletes. A quiet boom in adventure travel and extreme sports is underway, which may be due to several factors such as rising disposable incomes, exposure to adventure sports in the West, and a new corporate culture spawned by the outsourcing business. Indulgence in adventure activities is rising and the Grand Vacationist provides the perfect platform to cater to this very segment of the Indians. What The Grand Vacationist also stands for, however, is integrity. We know that without certified, experienced professionals to guide and assist you, thrills can often become a threat to life, which is why we employ only the best instructors and facilities for our adventurers with zero tolerance on safety.

We understand that it takes people with nerves of steel to indulge in extreme adventures, and The Grand Vacationist is all set to back them up!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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opinion sports

Nishant Patel

The author is Founder & Managing Partner, The Grand Vacationist

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Mit Bhatt

The author is Founder & Managing Partner, The Grand Vacationist

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