I don’t write in my journal today. This is it. My Sunday. In all its inertness, aloofness, and passivity of limbs. I’ll go back to “The Lodger” now. 11pm.
They say the plunge into unknown depths is like love. It will bruise you if shallow or its depth will give you the most wonderful dive of your life.
After the initial screams of panic, muscle stiffness, being nearly blinded by the chlorine and awkwardness of being in a bathing suit died down (which nearly took a month), the swimming pool stopped being a thing of terror. I never thought myself to be hydrophobic until I was pushed into the a four feet deep pool and thought I was going to drown. I never knew how self-conscious I was of my body image until my first awkward walk out of the changing rooms for my swimming lesson. I never knew how my initial fear and pre-conceived notions held me back from trying out new things until I took my first dive after two weeks of climbing up and down the diving board.
My decision to take up swimming last year was one of the best lifestyle changes I ever made. During my childhood I swam in the pond (yes, a pond, not a fancy pool) at our home, especially during the summer holidays but it wasn’t too deep and it was more frolicking in the water than learning how to swim. Moreover, I was no longer pleasantly plump and bordered on being obese. Swimming seemed the perfect solution to lose the extra flab and cross off one item from my ‘things to do before I’m 30’ list. I browsed through nearly a dozen shops in search of a modest swimsuit and also the swimming cap and the goggles (which never failed to fog up). And the next day I was at the pool.
I took it up for fitness. A heightened sense of self-awareness, a calm mind and losing my fear of tackling the unknown were added bonuses. I still haven’t lost the flab entirely and at times the prospect of sleeping late seems more inviting than a frighteningly early morning swimming lesson but this is one activity which I will try to pursue as often as I can.
It’s a pain waking up at five in the morning for exercise and I pack my bag and head out to the pool half-asleep. But the moment I’m in the water relishing the slight shiver, breathing in the crisp morning air and floating in the crystal clear water, I’m home.
After a few laps I feel my body become lighter, the breathing regular and enjoying the the silky touch of the water on my skin. I don’t compete and rarely keeping tabs on the time taken to make a lap. I swim at my own pace. And within minutes I am not aware of the movement of my limbs. Just like breathing, barely perceiving. The mechanical strokes become almost meditative and my mind is free to ponder on my thoughts, often gaining new perspectives. I take in the beauty of the early morning, soaking in the warm sunshine; feasting my eyes on the blue water; it’s a state of pleasing serenity.
Then there is the joy of people-watching too. The pool is the meeting ground of a variety of people. There is the paranoid young girl flapping her arms since for more than a month at the shallowest end of the pool. There is also the “I-feel-I-am-God’s-gift-to-womankind-because-I-have-a-super-toned-butt” guy who strides leisurely around the pool looking very pleased at the beauty he exudes. The young lady of seventy who competes with her grandchildren, the professional swimmers hard on their training, the rowdy kids occasionally kicking me in the head in their enthusiasm to race each other, a giggling gang of fat funny females and few disturbingly attractive women who shine with the confidence that cellulite and stretch marks will never be a part of their lives, and lastly the instructors who have their own personal quirks; all these people are a part of my swimming experience.
I’m longing to go back into those blue waters after a prolonged break during the winter.
I love summer. While growing up, it meant my favorite things in the world. Days get longer giving me and my cousins abundant time to play out, those two blissful months of summer vacations, no school or college, going for a swim about ten times a day; ice-creams and mangoes and water-melons, summer specials for kids aired on television; lying on the cool, tiled floor for a long siesta; the sun shining bright on our beautiful garden, resting under the shade of a tree after hours of playing in the sun, summer camps and catching up on my reading.
Cut to adulthood. Summer means the following: prickly heat, sweat, dehydration, sweat, lethargy and exhaustion, sweat, loss of appetite, sweat, insects, sweat, humidity, sweat, and scalp nearly ablaze!
Cut to 28th April, 2009. I woke up early, very early; okay, midnight. Studied, surfed the net. The sun rose at around 4-30am. And by 6am, it was already quite hot. I dreaded thinking about the rest of the day. The temperature hardly rises beyond 40 degree Celsius in this region, but the humidity alone is enough to kill you. Brimming with optimism as I always am (?), I decided to start the day by exercising the old, flabby muscles and sticking to my fitness resolution. BAD idea! I nearly died of exhaustion despite taking all the precautionary measures to avoid dehydration and muscle exhaustion. It wasn’t anything strenuous; just the heat and humidity seemed to have put my heart pump on 5th gear and I was huffing and puffing in just 20 minutes!
And since I was completely drenched in sweat by the end of the exercise routine, I decided to take a shower. I stood under the shower and awaited the cold stream of water, but instead my skin got scalded by boiling water! I frantically turned the ‘cold‘ water dial, only to be showered with a greater gush of boiling water. The water tank on the terrace had heated up!
After that disastrous experience I spent a good one hour lying perfectly immobile in my room, when my mother asked me what I would have for breakfast. That’s another advantage of summer for the wafer-thin people whose diet consists of a slice of fruit for breakfast, a bowl of soup for lunch and a carrot or whatever for dinner. They don’t have to put in any effort to go on such an obnoxious diet. But I don’t want to go on a diet, never been on a diet longer than eight hours! But the heat had killed my appetite and I can’t even tolerate looking at my beloved carbs. I am on a lemonade and salad diet at present. Anything ‘heavier’ than that and my tummy does a somersault! Forced to diet, another evil of this season.
Then I had to drive my mother for shopping in the sweltering heat of midday sun. I noticed that the other drivers on the road were extremely temperamental and road rage predominated. The heat again, no doubt. After two hours of walking the streets and getting into what seemed like a thousand shops, I was dangerously dehydrated. When I panted all the way down to the last store, I noticed the doorman give me a strange look. I checked my reflection in the store window. I looked hideous; hair plastered to the skull, sweat drenched kurta, and the tan of spending weeks in the Sahara sun without sunscreen. It was a wonder they let me into the store. This is the aspect of summer I hate the most. Sweat is okay if it occurs while playing sports or exercising. But I sweat while walking just about 200m! And how I envy the girls whose sweat glands appear to have become extinct and who look fresh as a daisy even after hours in the sun! I could even hear a few guys tittering at the sight of me. But it was too hot to care.
I decided to buy a super size tub of ice-cream on the way back home but the store was out of my favorite flavor and had only butter-scotch, which I hate. Seriously, Murphy must be having a field day today!
I reached home only to be greeted by the sight of the neighborhood ‘aunties’, who found this afternoon to try and sell us cosmetics and insurance policies! Just the sight of them in their heavy silk sarees and decked in jewels from head to toe was enough to make me faint. All I wanted was to rest for sometime and sip on some ice cold aampana. But they refused to leave despite the pained expressions on our faces. It was six in the evening by the time I got to my room and decided to take a nap. Only to be attacked by insects who always manage to get in around this time of the year, despite the netted windows.
And it’s only April. Four more months to go!
Photo Courtesy of http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1210/526448338_6257f2452d_o.gif