Look fear in the face…


Someone asked me the other day, “Don’t you have any fears?”
I said, “I don’t fear people or ghosts but I have claustrophobia.” For those who do not know the meaning, it is fear of closed places.

I would dread going up in a lift to higher floors. But I have been lucky, most often I find someone to go along with me. When I came to Mumbai in 1986 I was not able to take the lift alone. So I remember walking up to the 15th floor of Hotel President, when I went there for a presentation. People stared at me. I’m sure they must have thought I’m wired.

I didn’t want to stay in an apartment higher than the 4th floor but luck always favored me. I was allotted the 3rd floor. And when I bought an apartment I went for the first floor. I feel the need to be connected to the ground, and I don’t feel good staring into space. I have this need to be in touch with people and the earth.

To walk alone on corridors of a hotel terrifies me. Someone has to accompany me. ATMs are dungeons for me and I make mistakes whenever I go to withdraw money. I know it’s because I panic.

I remember as a child, I got carried away and went along with a temple procession and almost got lost. Probably that fear carries with me even now, and I’m not comfortable where the crowd is crazy, like a rock concert or an exhibition. The first time I dared to go in a crowd was for ANNA HAZARE. We walked in that crowd to give our support. And then it was not all that bad. I did many times after that.

When I wanted to try snorkeling, the instructor who took me into the sea was so patient, and I did it after a trial of twenty times. I don’t like to give up in spite of the fear.

In an airplane I get butterflies in my stomach when the plane is landing. But I love travelling.
I did a cave tour in an island with a small torch on my head. It was scary but I did it.

And then once I went into a submarine. At first, I stood outside all alone, because I was trembling and refused to go with others. Some naval cadets saw me standing alone, and they coaxed me into giving it a try. The ladder which takes me down through a narrow passage is almost as high as a three story building. With one cadet above me and the other below me I managed to step all the way down. I took a deep breath when I reached the last rung of the ladder. It was exciting to see how big it is under water and how our naval staff manages for months together in that closed space. All that they can see is water through the small windows.

I went parasailing, because my son pushed me to do it and up there it was exhilarating, but when I alighted my lips were white in color. But I love adventure. I have done white water rafting screaming away. And sat on sky coaster rides with my eyes closed, but I’m not sure whether I enjoyed it.

I went on the “360 degree turn” ski boat ride and I was scared. But when I saw a guy in fear, who wanted to sit in the middle I got the courage to sit at the edge.

However, I love life and so I have to face these fears countless times. I will not die never having lived, and experienced love and adventure because of my fears.

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