Monday, July 11, 2005

The Icewoman Cometh

Blisters on both ankles
Purple bruise on left elbow and palm
Throbbing arms and legs
Sore backside
Battered tailbone
Shattered pride

These are some of the things that happen when the searing heat and super-efficient a/c’s addle ones brains, so that without a second thought about ability or experience, one ventures forth to ice skate.

Ice-skating in the desert isn’t as incongruous as it sounds. For starters, this is Dubai – city of dreams. Second, if you can come up with the 3rd largest indoor ski resort in the world, organizing a spot of ice-skating is, as they say back home, left hand’s play . So when K suggested ice-skating on the weekend, all I asked was ‘where’.

There are two ice skating rinks in Dubai; we settled for the one at the Hyatt Regency. My teenage cousins had come along as well. There were a few skaters gliding gracefully on the shopping gallery enclosed skating rink. Most of them were kids, I noticed with surprise. There were also a few girls in tunics and headscarves skating as demurely as they could.

A mild alarm bell went off when we were handed the skating shoes and I saw just how slim the blade was. The idiocy of the enterprise began to slowly sink in. Sensing my hesitation, K and my cousins insisted on escorting me to the rink.

‘It’s really easy. Just like rollerblading,’ said Cousin 1.

My eyes widened.

‘You’ve never rollerbladed?!’ exclaimed Cousin 2, giving me a look usually reserved for dinosaurs.

Embarrassed perhaps, to be stuck with a fossil, Cousins 1 & 2 whizzed away, leaving me clutching the handrail. K seemed comfortable on the skates as well. My feet struggled to find a foothold on the slippery ice. The likelihood of spending an hour or more perched on the handrail seemed a distinct possibility.

‘Come on, Lee’, said K, grabbing hold of my elbow. I took one step. And then another. Arms outstretched, body swaying unsteadily. Many many years ago my parents would have noted such movements with pride and gushed, ‘She’s learned to walk, our baby.’

Even with K’s helping hand, it was impossible to walk evenly, forget glide. Kids darted around me insouciantly. One little girl who couldn’t have been more than five years old pirouetted gaily while her parents beamed approvingly. The galling injustice of it all swept me off my feet. ThUD!

When the stars and tweety birds had cleared, I saw my cousins and K, looking down at me.

‘Why do we fall?’, murmured Cousin 2.

‘So we can pick ourselves up again,’ continued Cousin 1, helpfully, harking back to the crummy dialogue in ‘Batman’, a movie they’d dragged me to the previous Thursday.

If falling down was graceless, picking oneself up was equally ungainly. I almost tossed K over my head when I tried to pull myself up the first time. So I tried going on all fours, and after a bit of trial and error, figured a way to hoist myself up. A few shoppers stopped to observe the spectacle. I brushed off the ice crystals from my jeans, wore my nonchalant face and set off again, arms outstretched.

To be continued

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