So this Serendipity tribute video had me all buzzed and gung-ho about ice skating. After all, I too could run into a beautiful Caucasian chick while skating, sparks could fly and who knows a lot can happen in the city of lonely hearts. I tried enlisting support from a few friends about the ice skating by extrapolating on the super khewl factors etc. Their response was a big NO. After stretching my persuasive skills to the max I was able to get four of them to chip-in.
I wanted to kick some serious ass on the ice. So, I spent two hours watching videos from expertvillage on ice skating. After two hours I was feeling all pumped up like a JNTU grad who’s about to take a final exam fully knowing what’s going to come in the paper. I was all beaming and smiling as the five of us boarded the A-train.
We reached The Pond at Bryant Park. The huge lines of people was a bit disappointing because my star effort would go unnoticed in a multitude of people. And when you have been in New York City for an year standing in lines for indefinite period is something you get used to. Me, Summi and Sasi were discussing about the lines at Thirupathi and yadagiri gutta as to how a sea of people would run a marathon once the gates flew open. Tired of waiting in the line we try the desi thing of joining the line in the middle and sneak our way to the inside. Angry glares and knuckle cracking from the Chinese and African American guys was a deterrent to our plan. So we went back to our initial positions in the line. After a 45 minute wait we were ushered in.
After a quick swipe of the credit card we were ready for super fun time. The snow skates were bulky and heavy. I chose a size 9. They fitted perfectly. I stood up and felt all wobbly and collapsed on the bench pronto. walking on skates is tad simpler than walking on stilts. So after a bit of effort and walking around on the concrete floor I gained confidence and walked towards the take-off ramp. The ice rink was being cleared of ice so we had to wait for some time. people around me were talking in all excited and hushed tones. many were firs timers like me and their enthusiasm was palpable; there were a few experienced ones who stood complaining about the delay. After the stray ice was cleared from the rink the barricades flew open as many people glided on to the snow. I was reminded of a scene from the Harry Potter movies wherein many magicians and wizards suddenly apparate in the ministry of magic office.
So we were waiting at the ramp anxious, and biting the ungloved fingers nervous about first time on the ice. We saw the number of people behind us impatient to glide on to the ice. So we had to step out. I said Jai Bajrang bali and took my first step; after all that guy in the expertvillage made it all seem so easy. when both the feet made contact with the ice all of sudden I lost balance and wham-bham. I got up. Steadied my self. wham-bham, fell again. I stood up. skidded on to the railing. Held on for dear life. Saw many first timers around have the same crash landing like me. I took a few bold steps. Inch by inch. Both hands tightly gripping the railing. Afraid to loose balance or control. Slowly picked up momentum. Felt like leaving the railing. Left the railing. wham-bham. Got up on the knees. Held the railing. Beads of sweat started to appear on the forehead. Inspiration quotes start bombarding the numb mind.
“ only when your are not afraid to fall can you start to skate” / “the secret of getting ahead is getting started” / “sometimes you gotta run before you can walk” etc etc.
The inspirational quotes pump me up and I begin to skate again. Taking one step at a time trying to propel myself with my left foot pushing the right one forward. They say the secret to skating lies in balancing your center of gravity. I sucked at kinematics and dynamics anyways so issues here. Slowly bending my knees. Gaining balance and confidence. skated for some distance. The tight fit of the shoe crushing me. So I go in and exchange them for a bigger size, 11. With new shoes and renewed hope stepped on to the ice again. wham-bham. Damit. The white chick on the other side of the railing looks at me and Lol’s. I hurted. She goes ahead and clicks a pic of me falling on her nikon coolpix. Damit ! I realize that I have landed on my kneecap this time rather than the usual bottom. It knee hurts like hell. And even the hands are numb without gloves to cover their nakedness from the ice. Brushing the ice from my trousers and jacket, and steady myself against the railing. The pain in the knee takes sometime getting used to. I see small kids half the size of my thigh skate freely and zoom past me. A few expert skaters do the flips, the circling, the back skating tricks trying to impress the unimpressed chicks who dismissed them as show off’s.
The knee showed a few signs of abatement of pain so I picked up some courage and skated. As I was skating a thickset young dude wham-bhamed before me and I din’t know how to stop my momentum I crashed into him. Boom. Two staff personnel rushed to the rescue. The picked us up. They made sure we were ok and left us to continue. The guy into whom I had collided into told me his name was Steve and that today was his first time too. I too nodded in agreement. We both decided to help each other. So with me holding the railing ( I wouldn’t give up my vantage point) and Steve holding the other free end of the hand we waltzed beautifully on the ice. After completing one circle. We switched positions and with Steve holding the railing I skated holding the free end of his hand. After skating half the circle I gained confidence again and told him to let go off my hand. He obliged. Wham – bham. The guard was quick to come to my rescue. He looked at my shoes and said that they were a size too big causing the imbalance and suggested me to swap them. I went to the counter and got a size 10. They were a perfect fit.
The new shoes again brought a new renewed hope. I glided on to the snow like a magician doing the prestige. I was skating like a pro and gained good momentum. I completed three rounds of the entire ground and was reaching into the inner loop of the mass of skaters when suddenly out of the blue an tall heavy build African American guy rammed into me from behind. I felt the wind being knocked out from my body. My ankle lay twisted like a jelly-o. For a moment I felt I was loosing consciousness. The people around me had stopped skating to look at me. Some one called out a to a guard. Time started to go in slow motion. I could see the faces of the guards in their orange jackets descend on me. I could hear voices in my head. One guard kneeled down and untwisted my ankle. A searing shot of pain ran up my legs. Pain. Pure agony. Excruciation in its purest form. I lost all sensation from my right leg. The things around me started to get blurry and hazy. I never knew when the guards hoisted me on their shoulders and deposited me on to the railing. I tried to gain foothold from a now non existent right leg. Inch by inch nearing the safety enclosure. Before I could step firmly on to the carpet Wham-bham. That precise moment ended my short lived ice skating career. I was left with an almost broken ankle, a crushed knee cap, a sore back, a roughed up bottom and worst of all a shattered ego. I limped on to the bench. Got rid of the skates. And like a soldier who has been retired from active service sat on the bench to watch the others skate.
I learned a few lessons from the whole experience :
1. What looks easy/good when done in a simulated environment/ or by someone else is not necessarily going to be easy for you.
2. when the people around you are also facing the same troubles as you are instead of trying to bask/gloat in the glory of a personal achievement try to help them out.
3. Team work is vital when thrust into a new situation.
4. Trust. I saw many kiddo first timers hold the hands of the parents and skate away shedding all fear and inhibition knowing that they are always holding on to the steady hand of the parent.
5. Don’t try to show off when you have nothing to show.
6. People who you thought will keep holding your hand for ever will do so only for a short amount of time (until their patience wanes that is) so be prepared to be let off at any instant. You are on your own learn to fend for yourself.
7. You are skating good and you think you are great. Watch out ! there is someone on the horizon who’s gonna run you down to the ground without any purpose or reason. Life is unfair. deal with it.
8. what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.
So, I limped backed to the subway in great pain. And climbing down a fleet of stairs was a real test of endurance. Swiped the card. More stairs. endured. Reached Sunny’s place. another flight of stairs. endured.All exhausted and hungry. Sunny showered dose of TLC. Rubbed on all possible tiger balms etc. some abatement in pain. Right leg is in the limbo. But at least the ankle is not broken. Hot spicy aloo curry and roti and watching the Angrez movie made me forget the pain for sometime. Had a discomforted sleep dreaming of angels and daemons and the skeletons in the closet. Woke up to a rainy Sunday afternoon. Saw Kal Ho Na Ho for the nth time sipped hot chai (again courtesy of sunny; I love this guy !) and limped my way to the station. Stopped at Summi’s place to drop off the camera. Summi was making hot bajji’s. Plonked one down the soar throat and left. Walking in the rain looking at closed shutters and blinds in the surrounding houses. Reminiscing about the time spent in India. If I had been at home now how mom wud have let me watch unlimited tv and try to feed me chicken leg pieces at the same time.
Reached the station. Another big flight of stairs. Another test of endurance. As soon as I swiped my card there was an inkling of the arrival of the train on the platform above. Had to make a dash. Pain raced along. Managed to get my right foot the injured one on the doorstep when it closed with a wham and I gave a heightened yelp. The door opened again. I stepped inside. Damit it was the Far rockaway train. Got down one stop before my house. Waiting for the next train at the station.
Stood in the sparsely populated station with rain drops falling gently on the roof tops and the asphalt. Rain has an awesome cleansing property to it. The bird dropping on the railway tracks was being washed away slowly. A few humming birds and sea gulls were flying around playing and rejoicing in the rain. A solitary Star Spangled American flag was flying in the distance on a rooftop. The halogen lamps and the incandescent lights that lit up the station were vying with each other to outdo the others brightness. Graffiti covering the walls asking for a fresh coat of paint. The old man in the red jacket, standing next to me blowing smoke from his pipe into the air. The young girl fidgeting with the knob of her umbrella. The befuddled tourist trying to understand the complex map of the New York subway. The song “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” is playing on the w580i. I am mesmerized by the beauty of the moment.
Makes me think about all those people who have lost their legs to accidents and landmines. How tough it must be for them to go about doing their daily chores. Do they ever point their fingers to the heavens and blame the person sitting above the clouds for their misery ?
On an other given day when I got on to the Far Rockaway train and got down one stop before I would simply walk to my home covering the distance five blocks in ten minutes. I wanted to do the same now. But I remembered what some sportsperson had said about pushing the limits of the body and dropped the idea. Another train loomed large on the horizon and I heaved a sigh of relief. But damnit this too was the A train to Far Rockaway. This could not be happening; that too today ! I cursed the MTA. After another thirty minutes of wait my train arrived. Got on to in pronto and arrived at my destination. Another flight of stairs. Damnit. Reached home. Finally !
Damnit ! another flight of stairs to reach the first floor. I couldn’t take it any longer. Called up my primitive toddler crawling instincts from the repository of my brain and crawled up the stairs on all fours. As of now ‘ stairs’ have been added to my list of ‘things I hate’. Collapsed on to the floor mat that makes up my bed now (had to discard my king size bed after bed bugs decided to make it their home when I was away in India). Got hold of the laptop and started typing.
Gotta be on the job tomorrow morning at 9 am sharp. Dunno how I will make it. Fingers crossed. Toes curled. In God I trust and gundu saale i hate.
P.S. Thanks to the roomies for the understanding and help . Adi for the Myloxin cream and chicken curry. Anwesh for the egg curry. Sailsh for his wise cracks. And Rohit for scooting to CVS pharmacy in the rain to get the bengay cream. One Love Brother…One Love. Peace. V