Monday, October 15, 2012

Skating on (thin?) ice


For a chap with the proverbial two left feet, I have an unnatural penchant for indulging in physical activities that require the sort of dexterity that I cannot even believably dream about. What is worse is that I simply refuse to learn from experience. No sooner than I twist my ankle trying to run down a flight of stairs than I rush into the skating rink.
The skating rink at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan had the honor of having me try my skills at cutting those figures on the ice that you normally see on TV. I was in Manhattan on a training program. This Botswana chap and that West Indies girl (of Indian origin from eons ago) were off to the rink – the former to learn, the latter to teach - and I accompanied them, to entertain as it turned out!
My first shock was when I strapped on those skates. I mean I have enough trouble walking without falling over when I have my entire foot on the ground and I was expected to walk to the rink on the thin edges of the blades under my feet. Teetering like the village belle walking for the first time on stiletto heels I just about managed to reach the rink and held on to the edge to avoid toppling over.
Russell – the Botswana chap – and I started of pulling ourselves along the side of the rink getting accustomed to the feel of the skates on the ice. After a bit of this using the arms to ‘skate’ on ice Russ decided to give it a go without the hand-holds. He teetered along for a bit caught his balance by holding the edge of the rink, then took his hands off to skate on for a few more feet.
Well! He was as much a novice as I was and there he was managing a few feet at a time. Time for me to show my own skills! I took my hands off and my feet shot off from under me and I was skating on my behind for a bit. In a flash one of the kids there – probably there for the purpose of helping bumbling guys like me – came over to check up on me. Once he assured himself that the local bone-doctor was not required immediately, he vanished into the melee of expert skiers.
For the first time I realized that one foot pointing North-east and the other pointing North-west could be an impediment to some sorts of locomotion. I dragged myself along for a few feet with both feet pointed as straight as I could manage it and took my hands off. This time I did a somersault and landed on my back. Back was the helpful youth in a flash checking about which bone was broken. None, as it turned out, as I gingerly tested each limb.
Back to dragging myself along and back to falling. In that hour or so that I spent in the rink I must have rung every change on how a person could fall. The glass windows of the restaurant adjoining the rink was choc-a-bloc with faces eagerly watching to see which way I would fall the next time. I am not too sure but I thought that there was even an enterprising chap going around taking bets on how I would fall the next time. Russ, in the meantime, had graduated to doing the complete circuit of the rink, gingerly all right, but without having to hold on.
One of the most lingering sights that will stay in my mind was that of a bunch of Indians exasperatedly waving at me to get off the rink. I was embarrassing them and letting down the country with my ineptness, apparently. I really love that patriotism but I wish that they showed such embarrassment for more worthy reasons – like, say, in civic sense in India or in quality of service wherever they worked.
I left the rink with sore arms and bruises in all mentionable and unmentionable parts of my body and with a lingering grievance. After all that entertainment I provided, I thought that I should have been paid rather than having to pay for the privilege!

36 comments:

  1. If it consoles you, I can be your uncle in this experience, had similar experience about a decade ago, and since then never tried it!

    Great writing yours, had lot of fun reading it! :)

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    1. No uncle, Sunil! This experience was in 1998!!

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  2. Just the thought of doing something similar will give me sleepless nights. Even if I manage to fall asleep, I will have nightmares of my legs moving in opposite directions at the speed of light.

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    1. That will happen only if you walk splay-footed like I do! Otherwise, it can be quite a good experience!

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  3. I learnt skating at school ( I guess till IInd grade) , but with wheels , not blades. Recently an ice-skating rink opened at Gurgaon and my feet were itching to be there. Though it had been more than 20 years since I skated, yet I was confident that I remembered the lessons I learnt in school. I went there, and came back with a bruised body, mostly because I was over-confident and considered that I could still go on even after a few small ones. :( I won't be going to that place ever coz it took two hard earned leaves, medicines and days of pain killers and moov-massages to get well. Also, I have a mark on my right ankle which I hate, thanks to their blades with bit me :(

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    1. Mmm! At least body-balance is not an issue for you. As for me, it is as much as I can do to walk without falling :)

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  4. The penultimate paragraph gives me some good ideas for my next I Me and Myself blog

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  5. Skating is one thing which I wonder if I'm ever going to try! Totally clueless when it comes to balancing myself. That I can cycle is good enough! Another great post from you.

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    1. Ah! I used to know how to cycle..don't know about now :)

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  6. Suresh, don't tell me the story is true..omg, one fall itself would have scared the hell out of me. You are courageous, bravo!

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    1. It is! It is! More foolhardiness than courage (Not to mention that I had paid USD 13 for the privilege and was not about to short myself on the number of falls it entitled me to :) )

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  7. I had planned to visit a new skating rink in Chennai this Sunday and now this post! I shall forge on with courage and hope I don't fall too many times :) Excellent post Suresh Sir - how many years back was this incident!

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    1. Forge ahead, Mahesh! At the end of the day you are guaranteed the satisfaction that you at least did better than me :) This happened in 1998.

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  8. Your falls always amuse me no end--& skating on your back!!!!!!!!!!!
    OMG what an innovation-you should take up a copyright on that one.
    You never fail to entertain Suresh!

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  9. Very nicely written :) Could really feel your emotions. As usual the humor is spot on.h

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  10. Hehehh...crazily, ice-skating is something I can manage. It's skiing that totally gets my goat! I have spent more time lying prostrate on the snow that standing or sliding on it!
    I could totally feel your anguish coming through! :D

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    1. I have never tried skiing yet - or I may not have been alive to tell any tale :)

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  11. Another interesting experience, CS. You are emerging the ultimate master of self deprecating humor genre.

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    1. Comes easy, TF, when you have so much to be deprecatory about :)

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  12. you have an amazing sense of humor.....super good tha

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  13. Thanks for an entertaining post, Suresh. I had vicarious pleasure in learning to skate through you. Unlike you, I have never tried skating, but like you, I am not very dextrous on my feet.

    In fact, a close friend of mine introduced me to his wife at their wedding reception as that Sudha who has the incredible ability to fall off the ground !

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    1. Hahaha! That has been said of me too :)

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  14. ha ha I went ice skating once...not in a skating rink but a small hill slope...The one where the skates are long like paddles and attached to your feet....Not sure if they are called by a different name and I did provide similar entertainment Suresh ha ha

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    1. Skiing, you mean, Jaish? I have not yet mustered the courage for that!

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  15. i am sure, i would have embarrassed the entire human race if i tried it. a fun read as always.

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    1. *Smiling from ear to ear* Debs back in action? Wonderful to hear from you.

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  16. I need not attempt skating but reading your awesome post i am rolling on the floor and laughing like mad!!!

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  17. you were right...one should have paid for rearing up to get bruises...well hats off to you for trying n not giving up on something which we are not familiar with...!!!

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  18. I think they ought to have paid you. Talk about exploitation! Disgusting... and so very sad.

    Dagny

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    1. And after I had bruised myself all over the body entertaining people :)

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