When Udai was about two years old, we had had our full of Gurgaon’s malls. We barely ever go unless to eat or buy something specific. This Friday, we decided to try the ice skating rink at the Ambience mall in Gurgaon. And we weren’t disappointed.
It’s well organised and wasn’t crowded. You need a pair of socks and you can either carry your own or buy them. The ankle sorts won’t do, you need the regular longer sports socks. You rent skates and you’re all set! The hour plus experience costs Rs 400 plus taxes per person.
The younger kids (they allow kids above three) had a ball! We rented a penguin for them (rental Rs 150), essentially a life size doll with handles they can hold on to so they don’t slip on the ice. Aadyaa promptly went off careening all over the place! Was a treat to watch. The rest of us started with holding the edges and taking tentative steps on the ice. Scary to feel that loss of control but exhilarating when you learn to let go. Udai turned out to be the best of us despite never having ice skated before. He was on the go in about ten minutes and skated the entire hour, picking up speed and improving his control as well. Rahul and me had tried this some twelve years ago in Houston, so we got the hang of it after a bit. I tried to spin around in place and fell on my bottom, which is also a part of the experience. A bunch of young boys skating with us seemed to be having more fun bumping into each other and falling than trying to keep their balance!
All in all, an active and fun outing. Highly recommended for those who like to try new things and don’t mind falling! Don’t worry, there are efficient marshals skating with you who help out and pick you up when you crash. Do carry a light jacket though even if you go in summer. It’s chilly in there unless you are really skating around. It’s good exercise and I thought it was worth the money for a healthy fun family experience.
Udai watches the Olympics coverage for a short while every single day, he alogisde my grandmum they make an endearing sight! He is fascinated by the wide array of sporting disciplines he is discovering for the very first time. In the nation obsessed with cricket, we are still restricted to a few sports even from the spectatorship point of view. Tennis, golf, football pretty much does it beyond cricket.
I have caught glimpses of the Olympics as well. My favorites have always been gymnastics, diving, swimming and track events. The rest of it is by the way and I cannot really sit through a game of badminton or hockey if its on the telly.
In that sense, I think I have become jaded as I age. As a child, I watched sports or anything new in fact with total fascination. There were lots of questions and I remember my dad answering many queries about how scoring is done, why specific countries are so good at something (Gymnasts came from the USSR in our time. Period.) and others are not. Why this, how that..it went on. And many of the kids and adults around me were involved in the spectacle of the Olympics (or other similar sporting events) despite getting restricted coverage on Doordarshan!
Today, we live in a medal tally culture. I find Indians are interested only in the sports where we might stand a chance for a medal, no matter how slim the chance is- shooting, badminton, wrestling, boxing, tennis, hockey..that’s it. Considering how slim the chances are, it would probably make more sense to enjoy the Olympics for the spirit of good sport, as a way to celebrate what human bodies and minds can achieve- impossible speed, incredibly flexibility, wonderful grace, immense strength and the attributes of discipline, focus and utter dedication that a sportsperson must have.
Udai and me spoke about this and I feel bad that I missed this opportunity to follow the Olympics in detail. To search for new role models, to get inspired, to wonder, smile and learn together. I was too caught up in my life, else I could have given my child and myself a special experience. Maybe its not too late to ask him about what he thinks when he watches the Olympics everyday. Maybe its not too late for me to learn, through him.
Watching sports and great sports-persons always amazes. Tonight, as we watched the Great Fed and Murray battle it out, amid bouts of rain at Wimbledon, we talk about sports as a talent, as an attitude. Yes, certain people are immensely talented at sports. I have known those with great accuracy, great body coordination, great stamina, great focus, great instinct, great reflexes and all sorts of combinations of the above.
The two men in my life I have known best- my dad and my husband have had, in addition to a smattering of the above talents, had that other ability that, in my opinion, really makes or breaks a sports-person. The killer instinct, the ability to be so keenly competitive that you fight for every single point as if is a matter of life and death. Interestingly, these are two gentle and civil people. The killer instinct manifests itself through intense strategy, rarely via aggression. The strategy disarms opponents, but players who can match their intelligence throw them off their feet and offer real challenge. Rahul appreciates the same ability in an opponent, I’ve seen the pleasure he gets out of playing when evenly matched and how easily he tires of opponents who are as skilled but less cerebral in how they play their sport.
Now me, I’ve never been much of a sporting person. Even at things other than sports, I get too complacent too soon and give up easily when challenged beyond my comfort zone. I wish dearly I had more of a fight in me. Back at school, we had a classmate called Shariq who was our house captain. He pushed me to try new things at sport. I did reasonably well at stuff like shot put and discuss, but what he discovered in me was a sort-of talent for long distance walking! The first time I competed, he ran many laps with me, ensuring I didn’t slow down or give up. So I’m hoping (not in sports, but in life) maybe I’m one of those slow and steady sort of winners. I’m hoping the tenacity and long-term stamina that I think I have can make up for the lack of the killer instinct! Someday…