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Swimming with Sardars


It’s my passion…I meant swimming.

Am hydrophobic. Period! It’s not something which grew overnight but comes from a person who almost drowned not once but thrice. First when I was about 5…luckily was clinging to mom as people pulled her out of a deep trench……courtesy some Govt. construction in Ranchi.

Then in 10th a cocky not wise version of me decided to jump in Ganga (yes I grew up in Patna) with 4 friends all of whom knew swimming minus me believing that Ma Ganga loves her children…God was that actually me? Moronic!

The safest bet was swimming pool. I mean what could go wrong. A lot! I jumped at the deeper end if the pool which happened to be 13 ft. It was a party and how hard I tried to convince people that I was actually drowning……most people were logically dead and couldn’t differentiate between an act and actual situation.

By now water had occupied the same fear status as ghosts under the bed.

Finally Pune was where I learnt swimming and can swim almost all the styles. Phew…learnt from an ex-Navy and National Swimming champion. Wanted to make sure I get it right.

Of all the twists and turns in life I finally landed in Mumbai. There was this Sher – e – Punjab Gymkhana of the ferociously proud Punjabis…and trust me the race has evolved in such a manner that every third girl is Preeto (even I was friends with one Preeto before she moved to Kaneda). Never call out this name loudly in a Gymkhana for a million darjis will ask for a zillion explanations of which Preeto are you calling to and you better have the person in sight.

Now I am 5.10ft by which is 2 – 3 inches more than the average Indian height of 5.7 – 8 and by no means puny. However once in water I feel dwarfed. Sometimes I sit at the bottom of the pool (yeah can hold breath) and just stare at these gentle giants. The scene is very similar to a program in Animal planet where they show Elephants swimming in water, its magnificent, how effortlessly they swim. Their body just floats the movements are slowed down as if watching a Hindi movie kissing scene in slow motion with oversized caps. It’s peaceful……gulp gulp gulp running out of breathe, need to surface. We have dual vocal chords what a waste …we could have used dual breathing.

Going underwater in a pool full of Sardars isn’t risk free for when I surfaced three sardars lets call them papaji 1, papaji 2 and papaji 3 jumped one after another ewwww it looked more like a gorilla attack with water splashing all around. I moved to a corner. Papaji 1 even tried a reassuring smile while Papaji 2 went to do pull-ups with the jumping board. So much aggression I felt he is possessed. Papaji no 3 wanted to just flex his muscle and kept jumping, I lost count after 10. Try looking at a fully bearded sardar from the front…they look more like walrus especially with the splashing and sound.

Next to the pool there a small soapbox often used for playing housie. A bunch of “village housewives” will gather who can’t stop talking about their car, house, darji, kids, bangles the list is endless.

After finishing a couple of laps I head for the restaurant Saanj ka Chulah which has red tables and the religious music of Daler Mehndi. The food is okay but tandoori and rum rules. One begins to drift in the “spirit fullness” and think about life, friends, home. Something is wrong a kid on the next table is making faces (where do such kids come from?) while the younger one starts to howl. Am yanked out of the blissful state and decide to leave. No one else seems to be bothered guess it’s a part of their everyday life.



Love to cook and eat, can't stay without exercising, being a good observer body reading comes naturally to me,

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