Jai Daga, Head IT – Infrastructure and Operations, Viacom18 Media Pvt Ltd, loves the adrenaline rush and wants others to experience it too. By Shweta Gandhi
Jai Daga loves his dose of adventure—whether he is on a holiday with his family or relishing travel time with his close pals. Ask him what he’d like to try next, and Jai is quick to answer: “Mountain biking, bungee jumping and driving through sand dunes!” He lives for stimulating thrilling life experiences. Not only do they rejuvenate him, they also teach him important life lessons that are helpful in the work space. “These activities have helped me to take initiative and walk unexplored territories. It has increased my appetite for risk, and I am now mentally prepared when showcasing my ideas to top management. The best is when the out-of-the-box project is a success—it gives me a kick,” he says. This is evidenced by the fact that he was recently recognised as a Media Icon at CIO Power List 2016. Here he tells us about the top five adventure sports he feels everyone should try out at least once!
1. Skydiving in Miami
“You can live the dream,” says Jai, “just like I did.” His first reaction to skydiving was no different than anyone else—fear and apprehension gripped him. “I didn’t sleep the night before. My friends and I were so excited, we stayed up all night talking about it,” he reminisces. However, when it was finally time, he just had five to ten seconds to decide. “And then there’s no point of return. You just have to jump and see what happens.” Skydiving has helped Jai in his professional life as well. “If I’m taking a stance, my team is also getting affected by my decision, and I have to thoroughly think through the decision, just like I did when skydiving,” he says. But once the decision is made, what follows is pure exultation. “The feeling of success once you’ve finished it is indescribable!”
2. Adventure Segway in South Africa
“This was a snap decision that we took. We had 20 minutes to learn how to use the Segway and balance ourselves on it, or risk embarrassing ourselves!” says Jai. What followed was a team effort, wherein Jai and his mates manoeuvred their way through the adventure track on high speed. “When one of us lost his balance and fell, the others helped him get up. That taught me the value of comradeship,” he says. “It was a fun-filled experience and didn’t require a lot of training.”
3. Scuba diving (lessons) in Mumbai
Jai’s passion for swimming prompted him to learn scuba diving. “I underwent a two-day training session in Mumbai, where we would swim 30 feet under water, complete with the proper gear, oxygen cylinder and fins,” he says. Despite knowing how to swim, he was initially very sceptical. “Adjusting takes time—the first 30 minutes I spent underwater with the gear were really scary. You can’t talk apart from using gestures and hand signals, and you need to learn how to breathe using the cylinder,” he explains. Striking a balance between all these crucial factors takes time to master, and taught Jai how to keep calm when tackling multiple things.
4. Snowbiking in Milwaukee
“This was way back in 2004 when I wasn’t so much into adventure sports. My friends told me about snowbiking and I decided to try it out,” says Jai. What came next was a hair-raising ride in the snow, in the middle of the woods. “We were wearing the gear, riding our bike across the snow-filled forest and the temperature is at freezing point,” he recalls. “There came a point when I was snowbiking alone, and it was a moment of sheer bliss. It gave me a lot of confidence that I could do anything!”
5. Paragliding in Panchgani
Four years ago, Jai was on a family vacation, relaxing with a cup of tea in his hotel room, when he learned about the paragliding services the hill station offered. “On the one hand, everyone was telling us it was so dangerous; yet, on the other, here I was convincing my wife to take a chance and go for it,” he says. They finally did. With a short training session, Jai and his wife flew in the skies with a pilot. “It was a different feeling, keeping pace with the wind. The only issue is the landing as you have to be really particular and not hurt yourself. But once you’ve tasted the freedom, you’ll be jumping for the next opportunity to paraglide!”