Kids - impressionable, to say the least.
Remember the series on Jesse Owens and Nadia Comaneci, aired on TV? After the Jesse Owens series, out came our shorts and running shoes, and we ran and "trained" morning till evening. We played long jump, high jump, sprinted, marathoned, and what have you.
But the Nadia Comaneci series drove us crazier. Overnight, we turned into gymnasts. We were pretty convinced that by the year 2000, one of us would be India's Olympic gold medallist. We cartwheeled day in and day out. There were bars in the car shed, on which we hung and swung, and tried to perform great feats. We ended up with calloused palms, and nothing else to show for all our efforts. This fad died out as suddenly as it had begun.
Then there was this period when Tennis was a craze, but we had only a Badminton court. So we named ourselves after Tennis players and played Badminton. I was Jennifer Capriati, for some unknown reason. My sister had to be Steffi Graf. She was Steffi's greatest fan on earth at that time. She even had a lifesize poster of hers hanging in the room. This fad also passed quite quickly.
Then one of us got a cycle. Overnight, all of us had acquired cycles. We learnt cycling, fell, bruised ourselves, and then once we had the hang of it, we cycled all around the lawn, on the main road, other roads, hit each other, gave each other "Dubs" (pillion rides).
I had a problem - I couldn't get down gracefully from a cycle. I would brake, and then jump. In hindsight, I must have looked like a clown. But back then, I didn't understand why the boys would wait and watch me until I got down and then burst into laughter. Many days I went home in tears. I have no idea when I learnt to get down gracefully, but I did, pretty soon.
Oh, a word about my Avon cycle. My dad and I went to buy it in a street off Commercial Street, and ate at Woody's while it was being set up for me. I chose a green cycle. 700 rupees. Not your ordinary olive or bottle green cycle. It was a light green, which faded into white. It was very unique, and to think of it, funny. No wonder my father asked me half a dozen times - "Are you sure?" But in my eyes it was beautiful. Unique. Rare. It couldn't be missed. I didn't have to, like others, look for my cycle in the cycle stand. It just stood out. Even after I started taking it to school, I had no problems like the others - "I have parked it near the third pillar, blah blah". I would walk straight to it. Perhaps the others used my cycle to mark theirs - "I have parked it near the green cycle" - who knows!
And then it was skating season. Somebody got roller skates. And then all of us got roller skates. I bought mine at Olympic Sports shop next to Mac Fast Food on Church Street, off Brigade Road. 140 rupees. Mine had rubber wheels. Ahem ahem. Which didn't harm the surface skated on.
We skated mostly in the community center. I don't remember the learning process at all, but I seem to have picked it up pretty soon. We did nothing but skate all evening.
But I had gone crazy. Skating had taken over my life. I wore it all day long, and I mean all day long. I would have even gone to school skating if it had been allowed (I anyway used to get dreams that I was skating in the school corridors after school hours). My addiction was so bad that I never walked at home for a long time. I only skated. I wore skates while doing homework, while eating, drinking.
I even wore skates to the Indian-style toilet once. Really. Just to prove a point to myself. My mom told me repeatedly - don't lock the door, Shruthi. Careful, Careful. She stood outside, wringing her hands, waiting for the crash and the cry for help. It never came. I came outside, triumphant. I even washed the skates, because they had been in the toilet.
Another time, there were guests, and since I loved to serve tea in a tray, my mom made the tea and asked me to bring it out and serve. She had forgotten that I was wearing skates. I skated into the kitchen, picked up the large tray, with about ten cups of steaming tea, and skated into the living room, pushing the curtains aside with my elbows. The gathering fell silent. They held their breaths as I served them tea - one by one, one by one... only after the last cup was safely in the hands of the last guest, did everybody breathe.
Even now, I rate skating as one of the greatest joys of life.
Next: The Lawn