Wednesday, January 03, 2007

My Experiments With Swimming

My first swimming lesson was in the river flowing nearby my house. A giant rubber tyre around my waist, surrounded by a dozen expert swimmers , I waded bravely into the unknown. Surprisingly enough , I floated, that is for the first few days while I had the tyre fitting snugly around my waist. The fourth day , my self appointed guru decide it was time for me to strut my stuff. Egged on by his inspirational speech, I dived head first, without the tyre ,into the moving water. Have you heard all the bullshit that our bodies are naturally buoyant and you just have to keep still and you will float up like a cork. I believed that for all of five seconds. Five seconds passed and I was still going like an express train towards the bottom of the river. Then all reason deserted me and I started thrashing wildly about and opened my mouth to scream for help. Now opening your mouth is not such a good idea, especially when you are about 10 feet under water. The fresh river water rushed into my mouth. Mercifully by this time my guru had decided I wasnt in prime form and dragged me to shore. No sooner was I on dry land than I ran home for dear life.

You would think such an experience would put me off swimming for the rest of my life. No Sir. We , from the land of Thachholi Othenan are made of sterner stuff. And accordingly I was back in the ambala kulam (Temple pool ) for my next lesson ( with a new guru, the previous one having been fired for his below exemplary performance). For those who have read my old posts , the new guru was none other than bade bhaiyya.

Now this ambala kulam was very well suited for the purpose. It had steps all around , so one could actually swim very close to the steps and get to safety whenever peril threatened. As an added precaution bade bhaiyya was standing on the steps with a thorthhu (towel ) which would be lowered into the water whenever I needed it to grab and climb up. My lessons in the ambala kulam lasted for all of two days.

The first day, bade bhaiya was talking to an old friend. He had the thorthhu lowered into the water. I was of course swimming , blissfully unaware, that my guru did not have his full attention on how his eager pupil was faring. I accordingly swam as far as I could and reached for the thorthhu. Bade bhaiyya felt a gentle tug on the thorthu and let go , laughing at his friend's joke. Imagine my sense of pure disbelief, when I plunged to the bottom , thorthhu and all. When bade bhaiyya finally finished laughing, he could see neither me nor the thorthhu . Luckily for me , and for you dear readers, the kulam water was very clear and a tragedy was averted.

But 'Never Say Die' is our family motto. The next dawn saw us back at the pond , early enough so my guru wouldnt be disturbed by any old buddies. I was swimming along the steps as was my wont when Vasu Namboodiri, the temple priest ,came to the pond to say his prayers. He saw me swimming and obviously expected me to stop splashing when he neared. You will excuse me when I say that thrashing my arms and legs was the only way I could keep my head above water, and I had no intention of stopping for Swami Aiyyappan , much less Vasu Namboodiri. To cut a painful story short, I splashed water on the devout priest and he cursed me "Nee oru kalathhilum gunam pidikilla" ( Editor's note : Loosely transalated as 'You will never be saved') . Of course I was under water while this was going on , and the curse was clearly explained to me by bade bahaiyya when he had got over his fit of laughter. Ironically enough, exactly one week later I got a job offer through campus selection and a new phrase came into being in my village , 'Namboothiri shapam upakaram aayi'. ( Editor's note : A pun on how Urvashi cursing Arjuna in the Mahabharata actually helps him when he has to spend one year disguised as a woman)

But that was the end of my swimming lessons. The end had more to do with the fact that none of the expert gurus was ready to risk his reputation enrolling me as a pupil. Added to this were pointed comments to the tune of 'For you vellam ( drinks ) is better than vellam (water)'. However, Iam willing for one more throw of the dice. The vacancy for a swimming instructor is therefore still open. Any expert swimmer may apply via the Comments section.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It was a good one