Back home I am good at sport. I’m better than most girls at hand-eye coordination, stronger and have more endurance than the majority. There’s also many boys I can beat at a few sports and even my bowling in cricket has been called ‘tricky’. I really love to play – whatever sport it is, it beats any other way to burn calories and get high. But in Germany it’s a whole new ball game.
When I went to play football with my classmates, I was even picked after the guy who had not even arrived yet! In all fairness I never was a footballer, so I let myself off the hook for my horribly embarrassing 90 minutes or so. I applauded my stamina for having survived pointlessly chasing after the ball (and thankfully never catching up to it). In the end I did manage to score one goal, but it just didn’t seem so spectacular since no one even tried to get the ball from me, even though I received right in front of the goalpost. I am not sure who was the more surprised when it careened through the keepers legs into the corner.
I always thought I was quite ‘natural’ at basketball. I had passable aim and I could bounce the ball around a bit. It was enough to make me quite the star of the one summer of daily basketball games. Unfortunately after I failed to find the target after 6 consecutive tries from the same spot, my faith was visibly shaken.
I consoled myself since I was never very good at sports that involved a ball (without a stick in my hand) so I made plans to play badminton doubles. I half knew by now that there was a very high chance of really digging my grave. Anyone who has ever played will know that missed shots in badminton can make you look like an idiot like no other sport can. But I felt quite reckless and was riding on my adrenaline high from all the sauerkraut I had for lunch. It will cheer all you cringing unbelievers to know that my hit rate increased exponentially over the 4 games we played. I mumbled sheepishly about the lack of courts in India and hoped they would feel pity and not exclude me next time. I am quite confident I can reduce my partner’s handicap so that we could even win!
I relegated myself to jogging and vowed to make a comeback when I was in slightly better shape. After all, I hadn’t really trained in about 5 months, so it was fine to be a little off. I set off to the lake to run around it a few times. A few minutes later when Nordic-walking Grandmas and moms pushing their strollers overtook me, I decided to go back to my dorm and eat some chocolates and wallow in self-loathing. I even let myself be talked into going for zumba, which I heartily dislike and scoff at, because it involves dance. There wasn't much self-esteem and dignity left to protect anyway.
Recently though I discovered the swimming pool. There its just me and the clear blue (I try to ignore the perfect 10 bodies and 6 packs). Being an ex-competitive swimmer in India puts me on a level where I can hold my head up high enough to breathe in a pool-full of recreational German swimmers at the SpoHo.