Monday, July 23, 2012

Swimming like a stone


I have always loved water. The moment I see a waterfall or a stream, it is off with the clothes (Well! Not all of them!) and into the water in a jiffy for me. This idiosyncrasy of mine has lead to fellow-trekkers calling me anything from a Water-rat (on the few occasions when I had shed weight) to a Hippopotamus. Eventually, they settled for a buffalo, since that accommodating animal comes in all sizes and shapes like detergent packs. All these comments were like – er – water of a duck’s back for me and made no impression on my penchant for sullying the water with my presence.
As I said, I love water. Water, unfortunately, did not seem to reciprocate the feeling. Or, maybe, it loved me so much that it could not bear to part with me. Whatever may be the motive, at the slightest opportunity I would be sinking like a stone. This it is that has destroyed all my belief in the educational system. I was told about something called buoyancy at school – it never seemed to work for me.
It is not that I did not try to learn swimming. I did go once to the swimming pool in Neyveli. My friends left me holding the edge and kicking at the water at the 3M end and went off to disport themselves in the deeper end of the pool. Having duly kicked at the water for a quarter of an hour and ‘swum’ around in the 3M end for a few minutes, I knew I had mastered swimming. It was time to try out the 6M portion.
An instant after entering the deeper portion, I knew my belief in my swimming prowess was grossly misplaced. My swimming abilities seemed to work more in the vertical direction than the horizontal. In one of my brief visits to the atmosphere I managed to see the edge of the pool a couple of feet away. Thrashing around in the water like an animal caught in the trap seemed to get me no closer to that haven. Around the time when I had decided that I would be making my home permanently in the water concrete scraped my scalp and I made a desperate clutch at it.
“You do not seem to have learnt anything about swimming”, jeered a friend!
I was indignant. “I know swimming! It is only that when I start moving my hands and feet, I keep going down”
“Ah! So that is what you call ‘swimming’! We normal mortals call it ‘drowning’!”
That probably accounts for the fact that I never ever went for a second swimming lesson. The jeers and catcalls of that day echoed in my mind every time I saw a swimming pool.
I may have developed a phobia for swimming pools but that did not expand to encompass water in all forms. Getting into the water has always been my chief pleasure on treks – particularly the sweaty South Indian treks where the cool flow of water on the body is an indescribable pleasure after a tiring and hot trek.
The rapids on the way up to Sathuragiri are a great pleasure to see as well as to dip in. I was trekking with Vinod in the area and both of us being water-babies we were into the water almost as soon as we sighted the rapids. Vinod, unlike me, swam like a fish and he had taken off into the deep end of a pool of water.
I was at the other end feeling my way gingerly towards the mini-waterfall that was so enticing that I could not resist trying to stand under it. One moment I was in firm ground and the next I was in over my head and spun around by the current. I knew I was probably inches from safe ground but when the water spat me up, I could not see which way it was. The second time up allowed me even lesser time to orient myself before I was back in the loving arms of the water.
It seemed sort of silly to be dying because you were ashamed to call for help. So, the third time round I called, “Vinod!” and I was back under the water. The fourth time all I could manage was, ‘Vi..glug..glug!” and I was back inside.
The fifth time only my eyes were out of the water and I caught a glimpse of Vinod hunting – for me, as it seemed – at his end of the pool! Huh! It is probably a telling comment on me but, instead of having my entire life passing before my eyes, I could only remember the tale of the man who lost a jewel in the forest and hunted for it under the streetlights of his town because the forest would be too dark to search in and, so, he preferred searching for it where there was light! It seemed like Vinod was trying to save me from his end of the pool because it was inconvenient to actually come over to the end where I was drowning.
Vinod did come over and pull me out to safety eventually. I learnt that his rudraksh-mala had fallen in and he was hunting for it. God must have some sort of soft corner for me as he is reputed to have for all fools. Had it taken Vinod a couple more minutes to find his belonging, he would probably have come out triumphantly saying, “Eureka” to me as I peacefully floated by with all my cares drowned in a couple of lungsful of water! Or, worse still, he would have had to save me by giving me the kiss of life. To be kissed by Vinod! Ewww! I would rather be dead! (And, quite possibly, so would he!)
With water’s persistent attempts at translating me to a Higher Reality, you would assume that I stay safely at a distance from any water that is not safely trapped in a bottle. Not so! I still take the same pleasure in jumping into the water at the least provocation. Not for nothing do my friends and relatives doubt my sanity!

33 comments:

  1. hey Suresh! you float like a butterfly and sting like a bee;):)

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  2. Hey Amit! In this case I was the one who got stung :)

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  3. Good humour ! Looks like your love of water can take you to great depths :)

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  4. Hahaha! It does, Moonstone, it does! Up to now, however, the water has spat me back - with some help, sometimes :)

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  5. Yes, please do stay away from water because we want to be able to read your humour for a few more years! :D

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  6. Amidst all those who bemoan the fact that I was not drowned at birth, you are a ray of hope, Rickie :):)

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  8. @panchali: Sorry! I mis-clicked the mouse and lost your compliment. Thanks and enjoy your snorkeling

    @Ghazala: Thanks

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  9. Hi Suresh

    That was a hilarious post...I have no idea about swimming but absolutely love splashing in water in places where it does not threaten my life like a gentle waterfall etc...Enjoyed reading your post! And thank God your friend found his rudraksh on time :)
    Btw, you did your schooling in Neyveli?

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  10. I was brought up in Neyveli, Jaish! Thanks for the compliments.

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  11. Lively post about swimming and yes i do share similar experiences of vertical swimming and my friends used to jeer..gadabar neechal (for those who do not understand tamil.. it is crowbar swimming).Thanks for sharing

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  12. God such a a funny post!!!

    Everything was so perfect in this post.Loved it.... Eagerly waiting for next episodes.....

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  13. @Engram: Mmm! Wish i could even hv managed that gadaparai neechal :)

    @Ru : Thank you...the episodes start only from tomorrow.

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  14. no suresh dont give up , i lernt swimming on my own that too in late 20s today i know all 4+1=5 strokes , i love water as much as u do..heres the trick ,just leave your body loose on your back ,once u have mastered floating on the back no one on earth can stop u from learning to swim :)

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  15. I am nearly in the early fifties Alka :) Don't really think that my muscles will take kindly to any unaccustomed exercise :)

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  16. Suresh at his riproarious best! If you set off crackers of mirth with each of those strokes, you also coloured me purple with shame! Actually, I could envision myself gluging and narrowly missing the kiss of death! Consider me a brother of yours when it comes to loving swimming in waters of all kinds!

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  17. Thanks, Uma! We should probably trek together some time :)

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  18. hahaha Suresh, if there was a rating for posts, all of us would have given this one a 10 out of 10!! brilliant!!

    by the way, i wrote a similar post. there are many errors because i just started blogging those days. but as you have been appreciating all my crappy posts, you might like this one as well :D

    http://factsandnonsense.com/floating-encounters/

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  19. Hi Debajyothi! Wish I had had a generous Prof like you at IIM..would hv passed out with straight A's :)

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  20. :)
    I'm sure drowning was no fun. But this account of it, surely was.

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  21. Glad that you found it funny, DN :)

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  22. Swimming is really great, to relax you as well as an exercise. Good to know that you have not left swimming, but do be careful.

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  23. I actually still do not swim, Sabyasachi! I only wade in water whenever the opportunity arises.

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  24. Suresh:

    You missed a significant point.. Vinod must have been wearing his contacts. Without them he is legally blind. Bless his contacts too .... Good one.

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    1. I would have but for the fact that I knew that he was wearing it all along...after all he was not likely to be groping his way on the trek :):) maybe I should thank God for the fact that it was not his contacts that fell off :)

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  25. Maybe you should learn swimming :) It will stand you in good stead when Vinod is not around :)

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    1. Or when Vinod does not find what he has lost in time? :) Thanks but i stay out of water nowadays :)

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  26. Hahahahahahaha this totally cracked me up! I could picture the whole scenario with Vinod looking for his rudraksh mala. And yes, maybe it's time you learnt to swim. It's a necessity for a trekker. :P

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    1. I find that I can make do with a swimmer in my vicinity - provided he is not busy hunting his rudraksh mala :)

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  27. Literary or literal? You must have some affinity to water as it kept Spit(z)ting you out. I am no Phelps myself, having never had the good sense to learn. I was kind of determined to do so but having read your adventures I am not certain that would be the prudent thing to do.   Self-deprecatory humor at its rip-roaring best!

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    1. Thanks, Ramesh. This was literal - it all happened :)

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