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Monday, July 04, 2005

Swimming of Age !

You have all heard of the phrase "coming of age". Swimming of Age is what is happening in my life now.

To set the background for this story, it all started when I was five years old. Some astrologer, unknown to me, decides to tell my overprotective mother that her son will have a near death or deadly experience if he goes in the water. In spite of living 5 minutes away from the beach, I had to stay content with watching the waves and maybe putting my feet in knee deep water. Any deeper and I would have to deal with mom.

Life went on and in sixth grade when my english teacher started teaching us grammar from "Wren and Martin" (remember the big fat red book), she wrote "Swimming is a good exercise" and underlined swimming, (for the curious folks, she was teaching us "gerunds"). Having put a "note to self" in class that day, I rolled on the floor at home trying to force my parents to sign me up for swimming lessons. My father said "whatever your mom says" and mom said "NO".

Life continued to go on and I came to grad school in United States. We went to Lake George in upstate New York where me and my buddy Suresh went to waist deep water. Suresh didnt know how to swim either but he was optimistic that in case we slip and fall, the lifeguard will take care of us. He ventured a few feet forward. The point that I have to make here is that suresh is almost a foot taller than me. A tug boat went past us and suddenly i was nose deep in water! I grabbed suresh and in the process pulled him down. A few tense moments later we were both standing again. Maybe mom and the goddamn astrologer were right ?

A few more years pass by and I am a dad now. I decided that my toddler should not be "aquatically challenged". So I went to sign her up for swimming lessons. The class was called "parents and tots" and the swim center said "one parent should accompany the child in water. It is preferable that the parent can swim and that way the kid is encouraged to take to the water". I had my defence "I dont know how to swim", but my wife had two things going for her. She didnt know how to swim and she was pregnant. So, "yours truly" signed up for swimming lessons and I had exactly one month to learn to float.

I have gone for two classes and I can now float. But I did create a scene at the swim center where I lost my balance learning to kick and I surfaced gasping for breath. My teacher, a very patient woman exclaimed " you are in 4 feet water. Didnt I tell you that anytime you feel uncomfortable, all you have to do is stand up ? ". Now this may seem funny to you, but that is what I call "Swimming of Age".


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