(Please read the previous post to get the background)
So, there I was, walking towards my ski instructor, well adorned with my paraphernalia and embellished by the fall that had hurt my self confidence more than my limbs. He took us to a beginners area to teach us the basics. It was a rather flat area where for the first time ever I put on my skis and felt my feet losing their power over movement. The ski instructor demonstrated to us how to practice walking, sliding, jumping and braking. A non-beginner might dismiss this off like one shrugs off specks of dandruff from their collars. But neither was the snow anywhere close to dandruff and nor was I anywhere close to a non-beginner.
So to me, it seemed like a never-ending series of unattainable tasks. How unattainable you ask? Extremely, I say. When we were practicing walking, I was sliding and falling; when we were practicing sliding, I was only falling and when we were practicing braking, I would continue sliding till my fall broke my motion. Oh and I forgot about jumping…are you kidding me, as if I would even try something like that!
Long story short, I just could not get myself to do a simple act of moving a few meters without going down. I was more horizontal than vertical. I loved the snow so much that all I wanted to do was to lay down in its cold loving embrace. But my instructor wouldn’t let me. He would keep urging me to go on. In his heavily German accented English, he would have a lot of useful tips for my other better group mates. But for me, he had only a few things to say:
“Asmeeeta !!! Get up!”
“Asmeeeeeeta !!! Don’t be so stiff, loosen up!”
“Asmeeeeeeeeta!!! Don’t lean back!”
“Asmeeeeeeeeeeta!!! Look where you are going!”
You guessed it right…each sentence brought a higher level of concern and with it, a greater level of exasperation. My moves and falls were so rhythmic and coordinated, that together, they were orchestrating a dance of their own. I think a keen observer could have predicted my next fall based on the number of steps I took forward. While it was a no brainer and an effortless task for me to fall down, but getting up from the snow was a different ball game altogether. How should I explain getting up after the fall….Hmmm, I don’t know…I never climbed Mount Everest before!
After about two and a half hours of frustration (mind you, only mine and my instructor’s…others were doing just fine), we had our lunch break. It was such a relief. It was as if a thirsty person in the Sahara desert gets a chilled Weißbier, or a geek lost in the middle of nowhere gets a free wifi.
Second half was no better than the first, only this time, we went to an actual slope. Two of our group mates were promoted to the higher level group. Since ours was the beginner’s group, they could not send me back to any lower group. Well, there was a beginner’s kids group, but they were so much better than me! So the instructor and the rest of the group mates were stuck with me. I don’t think my group mates minded me though. They were really sweet and nice, and moreover, looking at how I was doing, they must have been feeling really really proud of themselves.
The next three Saturdays were more or less a carbon copy of each other, give or take a few. I made some progress, but nothing worth mentioning. There were a couple of facts that I learned about myself:
- Me and frictionless surfaces don’t go together
- Me, frictionless surfaces and slopes were my worst nightmare ever
- Me, frictionless surfaces, slopes and speed were any alchemist’s worst nightmare ever
Then there was this T-bar. To put mildly, I absolutely, decisively, conclusively, unconditionally, hated it, detested it, loathed it, despised it and abhorred it. It’s a disgrace to the skiing community, if not to the entire human race. I fail to comprehend how these developed countries still continue to have such ancient means of transportation, and that too after charging us so much money for skiing.
I think I should just stop ranting now and explain what a T-bar is. Simply put, it is an inverted T-shaped lift bar that takes the skier up the hill. To get on to it, one has to precisely position oneself with skies positioned parallel, one has to stand with knees slightly bent and as the T-bar approaches, hold onto it and lean against it gently without putting too much weight or sit on it and simply let it pull you upwards. OMG, for me that’s too many things to remember. To cut a long story short, I simply lost count of how many times I fell from the T-bar.
Every time I fell, the entire ski lift would be stopped for safety reasons, so that I could safely get out of the way to prevent any further injuries to myself. To save me from the embarrassment, sometimes, there were other people too who fell down from the T-bar. But they were mostly small children. And that didn’t really help boost my ego. But to be honest, I was so desperate that I did try to take solace from the small children falling off the T-bars.
At this point of time, many of you might be thinking that I am the typical drama queen incarnate and that I am some empress of exaggeration. But nothing could be farther from the truth. What I wrote above really happened… all of it.
I remember on one of the Saturdays, we were skiing down a slope that was a bit steeper than the usual. Half-way on the slope, I was so paralysed with fear that I used all my might to stop myself from sliding down. In spite of my instructor’s constant encouragement to let go, I refused to budge even a centimeter. It was as if my skis were stuck to the snow. I just could not move. I was petrified. My entire body became like a rock in an awkward tilted position. I still remember how every muscle and bone in my body hurt. But my fear of sliding down the slope uncontrollably was so great, that I could not move an inch.
And then I decided, enough was enough. I somehow gathered courage to remove my skis, left them there and just sat down on the slope. I said out aloud “f*** it”and I sat down on the snow. And as I sat down, my body felt numb and all I could hear was my heart beat racing.
How did I eventually get down the slope, you ask? Well, after I got control of my being, I took some deep breaths and then I finally decided to have fun. I slid down the slope on my bottoms like a child. And boy, that was fun. Other skiers watched me in amusement, but I didn’t care. I was having so much fun. And after I reached the bottom, I laid down on my back and made snow angels !!! I was so happy and relieved !
That night when I returned home, I told myself that something needs to be different. Being raised in a middle-class Indian family, quitting after paying money was simply not an option. So the only choice I had was to get better at skiing, not just falling. And better I became.
From that Sunday till the next Saturday, I changed. It was as if I was not the same person anymore. And the next Saturday, when I stepped out of the bus into the Austrian Alps, for the first time in my skiing life, I knew that I was going to have fun. And boy, did I have some fun!!!
You guessed it…to know more, you wait more!