Who packed my Parachute?

Are you a parachute packer? Become one!


My friend Vivek sends me some beautiful videos and stories. One story he sent me, is a story about a fighter pilot, who was required to para jump out of his airplane. Pilot asks a question, “Who packed my parachute?” For the pilot, parachute is the backup that is life and death for him. In our lives all of us have someone in the back ground who packs our parachutes. Not all of us are pilots and not all our situations are life and death situations. But day to day  situations arise where we need support.

In case of the pilot, his official back up system which has the safety person, who handles important function of packing his Parachute, performing this duty to perfection! I felt that “Packing the Parachute” is a metaphor for support system in our everyday life. In our lives, we also have parachute packers. They are always working in background and they are relentless and selfless in their work. Nature of this work is quite serious, this needs to be done consistently day in and day out. We think that practice sorties taken by Airforce pilots are very important for the safety of our nation but the parachute packers like those who pack the parachute, those who perform the maintenance of the Aero planes are equally important. The Airforce pilots are parachute packers for the nation’s defense!

In humans and other species, mothers pack the parachute till the baby is on its own. Only thing that changes is the duration of this initial support system. In birds it may be a few days, in humans it is till the child becomes independent. But in the mind of the mothers in humans, this support system lasts life-long! How does this happen? Why this is done? Such  support system is without any expectation from the child in return! Mothers have carried their child in the wombs and this creates an affinity that cannot be described, it cannot be explained. It is just there. Even when one becomes older, the mothers have a knack of knowing what is happening in your mind, if something is wrong with your health, when you need physical support or mental support. The mothers will leave everything else, to pack the Parachute for the child.

Unstinted support that is given is sometimes not known to us and is most unexpected. I have shared this story in a blog in March 2014. When a dangerous industrial safety situation arose in a factory, the plant was evacuated. The plant-in-charge and a colleague decided to inspect the situation. Things were brought under control by their actions. When the in-charge turned to go away from the danger zone, after finding things were under control, he saw 4/5 workers standing just behind him. He said, “I told you to evacuate, why did you come inside?” The reply was, “Sir, when you were in a dangerous situation, we were just behind you to help, if needed!”.


These are Parachute packers of our life. In our life we have friends, family and others who may not be close to you on day to day basis. These persons or group of people are just there behind you, just in case, if needed. How does this happen? What makes people think differently than others? Is it the love between two humans, not necessarily equals? Is it inborn in the people? In normal course your parents, sibling’s, close relatives and friends are expected to be such people, but there have been instances when this group of people have remained spectators. Your parachute packer, lurking in the background, raised his hand! 

Do we work on creating such support system? Is such support quid pro quo? No, it is definitely not quid pro quo! Such people are simply born that way. Like mothers, these people also pack your parachute because they just want to do it! Who does not need parachute packers in their lives? I feel that all of us, need such people in our lives. It is simply because money can’t buy everything. There are some situations where you may have financial where withal but that does not get support you are looking for; you may be two minds about the decision to be taken in a tough situation. You may feel lost in a situation; Parachute packers are there to you in the background. You go to them and they will help you. Or maybe sometimes they will come to help you without your calling them. 

In case of the Parachute packer for the pilot, parachute packing is his job, it is his work. But I am talking of those who support others on their own, because they just want to do so. I will share with you a story about a professional. He was a very smart professional in technical marketing field. He had exceled in his job and everything looked hunky dory, from a distance. One day he went to see a friend of his. They were good friends but did not meet regularly. Our man told his friend, let’s go out somewhere. They went and settled near a lake; the guy looked very upset and tense. He said, please help me I have an issue in my job. The problem was that gentleman had simply started hating his job; and going to office, daily,  was a big “No, No” for him. He did not have any professional issue, and he was not sure what caused this. He also said that once he felt like committing suicide. His friend talked to him for some time and helped him to decide to quit that job. He nursed him back to normalcy. The gentleman took another job and is very happy with his life for last 30 years. The person who did this is a close friend of mine. I asked him why this friend came to him? He is still not sure, but my friend spent almost 3 months in nursing that person back to routine; they have met only once after that episode in, 30 years!

Why was my friend approached in this situation? My analysis is that my friend is a great listener, he is a person with empathy, he is very sharp and can judge things in correct perspective, quickly. He is not afraid to call spade a spade! And most important is that during this critical phase took special efforts to find time for this gentleman who was in difficulty! Is that description of a Parachute Packer? I don’t know but my description should be at least 85% correct. Friends could you help me in finding balance 15% qualities which I could not define? I wish I had at least 50% of these qualities in me! Happy Parachuting!

So long dear friends, Al Vida!

Al Vida is a Hindi word meaning Goodbye! This year has been a bit rapid in the wrong sense! I lost three dear friends of mine to the almighty till today, 11th April 2017. I am not writing an obituary but I am writing random thoughts that come to mind when such deaths take place. I am now 67 and it’s not a big deal really to face that your friends or family are dying. I know the realities of life and know very well that one has to go at some stage. My first such experience was when I was in final year of school and I had lost a friend to destiny. I have written a blog on this event

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/he-is-gone/. That time it was a big shock!

In my grandparent’s time, he died at the age on 89, reaching that age was a miracle! Medical science and other allied sciences were not yet really developed and reaching the age of 50 was a great feat. Probably this threshold has already gone up to 55, then slowly to 60. My father and father in law both died at the age of 63. Celebrating 60th birthday was a great event then. People were considered to be at their prime around age of 40/45. Things have really changed now; almost 10 % of my batch mates from engineering college continue to work and are in reasonable health. Another maybe 50% are in good health though they have retired. People go for walks, treks, climb hills daily or hit the gym.

Now people are considered to be in prime around the age of 55/60 and I have known a few who have started new ventures after crossing 60. Definitions of old age are changing rapidly in India, the age bar for doing new things, new achievements has gone up! Besides improvement in medical sciences what has helped to raise the bar? New technology has brought people together. The isolation that older people had to suffer is now almost becoming history because we are in touch many people and many of the contemporaries are still around. This has definitely added to improved longevity.

I only feel sad that two of my friends who died, passed away almost instantaneously. Third friend was unwell for a few months. I don’t know the details about their health status for the period before they died. My other friend Suresh who was an Air Force pilot, flying MIG 27, had once told me. “Pramod, planes are as good as the way they are maintained. Except for one system, all hydraulics can be checked on the ground; only one system gets checked during flying. Similarly there is no sudden heart failure; there are signals which are ignored or sometimes due to diabetes the person does not feel the pain.” Had these two friends been a little more proactive in getting themselves checked who knows….

In this world time is the same for everybody. One minute for me is the same one minute to everybody. How we use this one minute is what matters. If we are day dreaming, thinking of future for ten minutes, we lose ten minutes from the current time which we could have spent better. Similarly if we had used those ten minutes to remember what we had done in the past, the net result would have been the same. It is the current time that is THE time!

Out of the three friends that I lost one of them was current time person. He would enjoy life to the fullest, whatever he was doing. He passed early morning. He had just come back from a party a couple of hours before he died. He had the real zest to enjoy the life. His son had shared the following on Facebook, sometime back. It is a perfect fit to my dear friend’s style!

The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity:

“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. Then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present. The result being that he neither lives in present nor the future. He lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies never really lived.”

My friend really lived life and it is not easy to be so zestful all through your life. Thank you dear for showing us the path how to live and in the how to go!  Goodbye, Al Vida, My angels!