LIVE THE ADVENTURE
This time round, we aren’t jumping the WR-V nor are we drifting it (well, not entirely true) but we go out to meet a couple of guys who can jump up and over not just the WR-V but buildings. This is parkour, baby!
We aren’t venturing too far away from the city in our WR-V to get our dose of adventure. It’s time for parkour
FITNESS IS EVERYWHERE. EVERY TOM, Dick and Harry is on a Keto diet. Every school kid is bench pressing 200 pounds. Don’t like lifting weights or find it monotonous? Then there’s Crossfit for you. But what if you want to take the workout outdoors and not limit yourself to the confines of four walls? Outdoors does not mean driving 100km away from the city but just outside your apartment! If you are Jason Bourne you’d already know what we are talking about. Yes, parkour is here and we are on an urban adventure. I might not have the correct gear or skills (yet) but I do have the perfect set of wheels to go hunting for some parkour specialists.
Over the past few months we have taken the Honda WR-V canoeing to an eco village and also raced a downhill cyclist down a mountain. The WR-V is an urban SUV which is nimble enough to zip around in traffic during rush hours and tackle your favourite mountain roads during the weekend. It may just be the perfect car to not only ferry our parkour buddies around, along with their kit bags. But first, let us delve into the sport that we have only witnessed in Hollywood flicks, TV series and Red Bull TV.
When I first met the guys from team MYOW, we were waiting outside a 12-storied building. While photo boss Gaurav and I were chalking out the plan for the day, Deepak, Mayur and Todo were discussing climbing to the roof of the building. Not via the stairs, but scrambling up the pipes, windows and balconies! Todo even said that it’d be a lot of fun coming down. I ask if he’s serious, and he is. I mean this is Spider Man stuff right here. They’re ready to scramble before Gaurav calls a time out. He’s the sensible kind. These guys might be professional parkour artists featuring in a lot
DEEPAK, MAYUR AND TODO WERE DISCUSSING CLIMBING TO THE ROOF OF THE BUILDING. NOT VIA THE STAIRS, BUT SCRAMBLING UP THE PIPES
THE WR-V, WITH ITS WIDE BENCH AND MAN MAXIMUM MACHINE MINIMUM PHILOSOPHY CAN EASILY ACCOMMODATE THREE ADULTS WITHOUT THEIR ELBOWS HITTING EACH OTHER
of Bollywood flicks and television soaps (Google ‘Aladdin Parkour’ if you are interested) but our Gaurav has no interest in dealing with his neighbours screaming at the sight of three guys climbing up their walls. Before they sneak off, or up, Gaurav packs them into the WR-V in search of our urban adventure.
You see, seating five adults in a regular compact SUV is a tough task. But the Honda, with its wide bench and Man Maximum Machine Minimum philosophy can easily accommodate three adults without their elbows hitting each other. Todo immediately asked me if the WR-V comes with Bluetooth connectivity. Thanks to the user friendly UI, he connected the phone within no time and the excellent sound system started playing a Jackie Chan track. “These guys seem to be pretty hardcore.”, Gaurav whispers into my ear. Todo was already fleshing out a plan to jump out through the sun roof before we strapped him with the seatbelt. So much energy! Where does it come from, I ask Deepak.
Parkour it is, he says. Derived from a French word, parkour incorporates military training methods to tackle obstacles, without using anything other than your own body in the fastest way possible. You may jump, run, roll over, crawl or move around however possible. It is not just limited to physical abilities though. Parkour makes you think logically through a maze and pushes you to believe in your body’s capabilities. Deepak says that jumping and back flipping at ground zero is no problem but jumping off buildings takes courage. The basic idea is to learn the Art of Displacement to get from point A to B quickly, and without hurting yourself. And the best part is, you can practice it anywhere and everywhere, be it footpaths, pavements, public parks, mountains or even a football field. But does it have enough followers in India? We thought we’d let Deepak shed some light on the situation.
Deepak Mali is the inspiration behind most of the parkour artists in the country today. His Instagram posts are flooded with comments filled with keywords such as Superman, surreal, unreal and wow. Deepak has been practicing the art of parkour for the last 16 years. Making a human flag by hanging sideways on a wall while beneath your feet is nothing but a 500 foot drop, jumping off buildings, back flipping over water tankers, jumping over boulders at Nariman Point in Mumbai, Deepak has done it all and done it in style. In fact, Mayur and Todo are his students and call him ‘sir’. Mayur tells me that after his studies, he left everything and headed straight to Pune to learn parkour from Deepak. Deepak too is a software engineer but has left his well paid job to follow his passion. And it has been a great journey, he tells me. In the early days, people were sceptical about the sport. Things however have changed for the better and now almost every metropolitan city has a parkour group. In a country that is obsessed with cricket, it is still difficult to make people understand that jumping off buildings and footpaths can be termed a sport. But Deepak is finding out ways to activate parkour as much possible. What if they don’t let you, I ask him. “We always find our ways. Sometimes we say that we are setting up Wi-Fi in a building. Sometimes we say that there is maintenance work
to be carried out,” he says. However, having trained NSG commandos and even cops, Deepak is well respected in the forces and that scenario hardly ever arises.
45 minutes in the comfortable cabin of the Honda and we are at the shoot location. Gaurav asks Todo to show what can be done with the WR-V. Todo simply runs a few metres, take his stance, asks Gaurav and video boss Alameen if they’re ready. Once they give a go, he runs like a cheetah, pounces over the hood of the WR-V, and simply rolls away, performing a backflip mid air! We are spellbound and he has only just started. You see, the bunch of us at evo India have seen calisthenics being performed by cars. But human bodies? Never. Especially with our limited abilities, skilled only in using the right foot. Next up is a wall flip. Deepak is up for it and within a second, he has jumped over seven feet, performing a dolphin like manoeuvre in air, his body exploding energy like a tightly wound spring. Wow! This is something that cannot really be expressed in words and you must watch it live (or on our YouTube channel) to understand what the human body is capable of achieving. All this while, the WR-V is equally awestruck letting the artists do their job. Suspension articulation shot required? No problem. Taking a sharp U-turn? Done. After an hour of vaulting and arm jumping, my dearest colleagues challenge my fitness abilities. With my 84kg frame, I can barely move, forget flipping mid air. Deepak says that a hand stand is something I shall be able to manage. I do give it a go, only to notice Alameen pointing and laughing at me. My world turns upside down but not for long. Before I realise, I’m back on earth and it’s time for revenge.
I suggest that we go for a drive with Alameen sitting in the passenger seat and MYOW boys at the rear. Seat belts strapped on and sun roof opened, we park the WR-V and wait for the traffic to pass. I slot the slick shifting box into first, let go of the lightweight clutch and put my right foot all the way down! The WR-V moves, and it moves quickly. The 1.2-litre petrol motor, like all Honda motors, is rev happy and quickly gets to the redline at around 7000rpm. Shifting through the cogs, we have already reached 100kmph. We are on our favourite road which leads to Lavasa and corners here are plentiful. The nicely weighted steering wheel gives enough feedback and we are slicing away through corners like nobody’s business. The front-end is darty which helps me change directions quickly and the high ground clearance of 188mm allows me to go flat out over ruts and potholes. While all this is happening, everybody is sitting with their eyes wide open. There is no music playing. All we can hear is the squealing of tyres. And the passengers you ask? Nobody utters a word.
While we, the evo India team experienced the art of parkour, our friends from MYOW got a taste of what is ultimately the Thrill of Driving, or being driven around in a thrilling fashion to be precise. And that is what this is all about. To find adventure, you don’t really need to step out into the wilderness. It’s just around the corner. Or maybe, right in the middle of the corner. ⌧
THE BUNCH OF US AT EVO INDIA HAVE SEEN CALISTHENICS BEING PERFORMED BY CARS. BUT HUMAN BODIES? NEVER
These stunts are performed by trained parkour artists in a controlled environment.Please do not try to do these stunts or replicate their art at home or without proper training of supervision.DISCLAIMER:
Above: Backflip as they call it, requires a lot of synchronisation. This image: Todo is able to jump across the WR-V, thanks to its car-like proportions
Top: Handstand on a car’s door? Checked. Above: The Honda is fun round corners despite being a compact SUV