Sunday, February 7, 2010

Roller Skating Uncle

Like India, elderly people in SIngapore are referred to as “Uncle” and “Aunty”. However, unlike India there is no term out here for the not-so-elderly but older than you people which we frequently use as “Bhaiya” (Brother) and “Bhabhi” (Sister-in-law) or “Didi” (Sister). So like you guessed right, everyone elder to you becomes an uncle. At my venerable age, I am an uncle for half the population of Singapore already.

So the venerable me decided to learn roller skating (Inline). I have had a lot of time to kill in the evenings and rather than spending it with my computer or roaming around aimlessly I thought I enrich myself with a new skill. And to prevent it from being just another new year resolution, I started my classes in the last week of December, to “technically” not make it a new year fad.

First day of class I reached the venue 10 minutes early, clad in my shorts and a t-shirt. I saw a lot of kids around me, but since it was being conducted in a park, I wondered the kids must be out to play while their adult parents learnt skating with me. To my horror however, when the instructor assembled the class I figured that most of my classmates were up to my knee, and the tall ones I could use as my walking stick. Most of them had ages in the single digits while some of the older ones had a very respectable pre-teen double digit age. I swallowed whatever little ego I had left and lined up for the class.

The first lesson was very simple, “Wear your skates and standup without falling down”. The instructor showed it to us, and the kids around me did it in a jiffy. I, however could barely lift my bum of the ground without wobbling away to glory. Like you guessed by now, I became the apple of everyone’s eye. From the instructor to my classmates, everyone paid attention to how I did it, and my every move was monitored by a dozen pair of eyes. And so was my rather clumsy fall. I bet no other kid in the history of the class had so much fun laughing at someone on the first day of the class! In no time, I had a fan following which cheered me saying “Uncle you can do it!”, “ Uncle don’t lose hope!” and  of course some smart half-pants tried to help me by giving strategic advice on “What I was doing wrong!'”. I guess criticism comes by birth, you don’t have to teach kids how to criticize!

Well, when you can’t do something that you desperately are trying to do, your natural reaction is to become grumpy. So grumpy I was, and angry I was with all those single-digit-year olds. But luckily, I didn’t give up. After many attempts and many falls I finally could catch up with them. That reminds me there are two ways to fall while skating – the graceful way – in which you decide to fall cause you figure you are out of control and land on your palms and knees safely, and – the clumsy way – in which you wobble and fall on your bum.

Now I have been learning to skate for over a month. I can now wobble around like a mannequin on skates and I am the grumpy-old-uncle-with-a-sour-bum who falls at the drop of a hat. If my classmates were any older they could have had a flourishing business by betting on how many minutes before I fall next!