So this isn’t the first time I have tried skiing.
The first time was in Gulmarg,Kashmir where after a couple of hours on the ice I was taken aside by my instructor and told very softly in Hindi.
Maydam. Agar aapko kisine puccha ki kisne apko skiing sikhayi krupaya karke mera naam na lena. ( Madam if anyone asks you who taught you to ski please don’t mention my name)
Clearly he thought I was beyond salvation.
Determined to prove him wrong I am now in Bansko, Bulgaria outfitted quite professionally in freakishly tight ski boots and heavier-than-me skis.
The coach insists I carry the skis on my shoulders while walking ensuring that my right shoulder now is permanently a quarter of an inch lower than my left. As I trek up the slope – I am imagining a whole new chapter of my ski history. I am imagining getting my balance just right, and flying down the slope in perfect harmony with nature as the coach watches his star pupil, fascinated. The air blowing through my hair and my body graceful as a swan.
The image lasted 30 seconds.
I fell while standing.
I hadn’t even started down the slope.
I think it was right about then the coach wrote me off. But anyway.
The other coach with another group was patiently teaching them to start with one ski and showing them the ropes gently and step wise. For some reason our coach felt we don’t need that. We were born to ski.
So he just gets us into our skis and says – Slowly. Lean forward. Keep skis parallel.
The first real fall I had should have been recorded. As I took off from the start position I leaned in determinedly and the moment I started to pick up speed as usual I panicked and leaned back. Then in slow motion style – better than Neo could ever do it in the Matrix – I bent backwards and stayed there defying gravity. The ski boots hurt like hell but they also help you do the matrix move beautifully.
After that I spent the better part of the hour on my back and then proceeded to watch, humiliated, one by one – every other member of the group sliding down the gentle slope in style. A few even mastering gentle turns.
Finally the coach realized he must focus his attention on the ugly duckling – the swans were doing fine – so he comes back to me with a vengeance.
The next 30 min was mainly about him yelling pizza pizza. And the moment I would fall he would catch up and yell- Spread your legs wider – wider – Pizza…
Exasperated I thought to myself – Hello Mister… quite forward you are… I am Bharatiya Naari haan.. this is not how we do things there…we have just met!!! First you will have to follow me all over town on your two wheeler, then ask me to do Fraandship with you, give me corny archies cards, buy me overpriced flowers, and finally come meet my parents. Then Maaaybe!
And moreover I ain’t spreading nothing for of all things – Pizza!! The least you could begin courting me with is Champagne and strawberries!!!
My expression didn’t really get the message across because he still spent the rest of the lesson yelling the same thing. Finally he led me to the edge of the slope. I thought he was going to take me back to the basics. Tell me a few tips. But he just got me out of the skis and pointed me in the direction of the restaurant bench. And said – Lesson over and then left. I lay down my skis – picked up my shattered pride and limped over to the bench to sip ice cold beer while I watched the rest of the group get on just fine.
As I watched 5 year olds ski past me – it finally dawned on me that I had lost the most important blessing of childhood.
I couldn’t ski because I couldn’t let go.
I couldn’t think past falling.
I wasn’t comfortable with losing control.
I was frightened of leaning forward .
It was easier to lean backward.
But maybe its reversible.
Maybe being fearless isn’t so tough.
Maybe we need to stop worrying about every stupid little consequence of every indulgent action and just start focusing in the moment.
Open up your mind and Close your eyes.
Stop worrying about –
Just Spread your legs wider and eat pizza.