The dream and love for flying. 
Living you dreams – Story #5. We all have dreams but only few of us give wings to those dreams and let it take a flight. Today’s story is about a dreamer who believes in living all her dreams and is an inspiration to women, to mothers who have let their dreams take a backseat.  

The inhibition four-seconds before the jump from the airplane, the forty-second trance during the free fall and then the moment of truth. The canopy opens at several thousand feet above the ground and it is all beautiful and peaceful thereafter.  The wide blue expanse of the sky, the eerie silence in the air and the serene view of the world below. One is transported into a different space and a unique experience. 
What sounds very picturesque needs a lot of passion, determination, planning, practice and above all, the love for flying, the love for being in the air. Our today’s story is about Monali Jain, a mother of two, a bay area tech leader and angel investor, a philanthropist, a dreamer and a lot more. 
She candidly shared an interesting anecdote during our conversation, which forms the backdrop of this story. She learned to ride a bicycle at the age of 28 and then proceeded to learn to ride a scooter (the razor’s that kids ride on). The idea was to have fun with her daughter but life had other plans.
While riding the scooter one day, she injured her ankle. The doctor told her she would never run again. She could not run a marathon but she could skydive, he had quipped. He did not know she would pay heed to that advice so seriously. Over a four-week period shortly after that, she planned and did her first tandem skydive. She does not remember much about jumping out of a plane or the free fall the first time but she distinctly remembers the experience of floating in the air. She instantly knew she wanted more of this. 

A shot from just before the first solo skydive. 
Thus began the love affair with flying. Not an easy sport to take up specially for a parent. The risks are high and Monali is very aware of that. She waited many years after the first jump till the kids were reasonably independent. She took hang gliding classes in the interim and is today a certified hang glider. She also took up a traveling job for a year to familiarize the kids and her spouse with the idea of living on their own, in the event they had to. That is not an easy thing for any parent to practice with their kids, preparing them for their own absence. 
Before you have an opinion at this point, we should take a pause and think. Should being a parent, being a mother make us restrictive?  By restricting ourselves, by giving up on our own dreams what are we in turn instilling in our children? Parenthood cannot be the end road of dreams. By dreaming and living our dreams, we raise our children to be logical, strategic yet allow them to be fearless dreamers. Monali is an exemplary example of that to her daughters and many who know her. She is a fearless dreamer, she chases her dreams but she meticulously plans the path that leads to her dreams. 

A few second after the jump from the plane and few seconds before diving solo. 
“I love being in the air. You are transported from this life where we are all running at a lightning pace to a place where everything is calm, quiet and almost at a standstill. It is beautiful.” 
It must be. We can only imagine. 

Solo in the sky 

Monali recently went back to train for sky diving formally. She felt this time, the time was right. It takes immense practice and rehearsing everything umpteen times to get there. “You rehearse so many times that you trust your muscles more than your guts,” she tells me. After performing multiple tandem jumps and she did her first SOLO sky dive last month.
When not sky diving, she is a doting mother, a techie who serves on the boards of many interesting startups, an active hiker (she has hiked the Kilimanjaro) and she runs the Monali Jain foundation that helps make education available to girls in the most remote parts of India. Her energy is infectious and her dreams are limitless. In a few months, she aims to be a certified skydiver. And when she takes that flight, we will share and celebrate the experience here at Chatoveracuppa again! 

If life consumes the most of you, take a moment today to dream that forgotten dream again.  Give it the wings and take a fearless flight. Your flight may take off or it may not, you may soar high or you may not, but you will never ever regret giving up on your dream again.

Written By : Piya Mukherjee Kalra based on several telephonic conversations and email exchanges with Monali Jain. 

Pictures By : Monali Jain