Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Real Spiderman


With Bare Hands
The True Story of a Real Life Spiderman
By: Alain Robert
Published by: Jaico
Pages: 306
Price: Rs 350


With limited mobility of his hands, smashed bones, and close brush with death (twice), one can describe Alain Robert's escalation of Petronas Towers, Taipei101, Sears Towers, Shinjuku Center Building, Golden Gate Bridge and several other urban landmarks across the world as, “incredible.”
Or perhaps not as Robert thinks that his urban escalations provide him with a different but respectable source of livelihood. And, since he is passionate about scaling cliffs and skyscrapers, a broken bone or two do scare him, but not enough to tie him down to a sedentary lifestyle or job.
For those who do not follow adventure sports, or are not acquainted with the rush of adrenaline, the first few chapters of autobiography, which describe the Robert's transition from a rock climber to an urban climber and difficulty ranges of cliffs, might be a little confusing. One also can't help but wonder, “why risk one's life?”, and “why leave natural cliffs in search of urban summits?”
However, as the autobiography progresses, Robert reveals the limitation of rock climbing as profession and how urban escalations chose him. As for being a foolhardy risk taker, Robert's description of preparing his slippers, coating his hands with magnesia powder and taking note of climatic conditions dispel the notion.
Yes, even with all this preparation, Robert had to cancel a few of his escalations or live them mid-way because of personal fears or climatic conditions or legal tangle. But, he has always returned to complete these half-finished tasks and has succeeded admirably on his second and sometimes even on third attempt.
Written in chatty style, Robert has often used the “F” word to express his frustration, joy and exasperation. Sometime comical, but mostly poignant, Robert has also thrown light on his cat and mouse encounters with the security, police, judicial system and the attitude of authority figures to human rights and dignity.
He also mentions his struggle to stay rooted to his values and mores and not be swept by the media hoopla and being feted by the who's who. That's the reason why Robert decided to scale broken down buildings in Rossigna, flavela (slum) in Brazil. He did it for the kids who befriended him on the streets of Brazil.
And, as for his fellow rock-climbers who accused him of commercializing his skills or lacking pragmatism and maturity, Robert says, “Well, perhaps I am not the one for falling in line. But never have I encouraged the undoing of modern society, nor have I wished anarchy to fall upon it. I merely use the liberties differently, but without playing the social misfit or the rebel. If I can succeed in building the life about which I have always dreamed, to have stuck to my guns and to have followed my dreams, I will have succeeded.

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