A return to the roots

Its a Saturday evening. It had been raining heavily till some time back and I was on the football field doing what I've always loved best. Btw I'm still in college (keep those dual degree jokes coming :P) and its way better than I imagined it would be 6 months back (Bangalore days) when I was slogging away on weekdays and getting hammered with equal vigour on weekends.

A big part of this happiness has to come from things that are now back in life. Anyone who’s grown up on a generous daily diet of football will know how much that sport becomes a part of their identity. It becomes your daily evening fix. Most of us will never know what soldiers truly mean when they describe camaraderie on a battlefield or get those writers who wax eloquent about the sense of understanding and belongingness of people brought together by a common cause. But if you’re someone who’s played football with the same of set people day in and day out growing up, then you certainly have come close to experiencing all of this. And then things started going South…

I had my first shoulder dislocation in 11th class. Once it had been put back in place, I had these awkward 3 weeks where the affected arm was firmly plastered to my chest to prevent the shoulder from moving. That meant that the arm would stay under any piece of clothing and that in turn meant man boobs for those 3 agonizing weeks. That however didn't affect my daily dose of football much. Sure, balance was an issue but at least I was still on the field and part of the game. And then some months later, the other shoulder popped. This time around it was very much on the football field itself. I'm not sure where a dislocated shoulder comes on a pain-scale but I imagine its like being in labour the entire time till your shoulder’s put back in place.

That pain, the fear of experiencing it again, makes you slowly apprehensive of doing even little things you normally wouldn't have given a second thought about. Reaching out to any thing that lies in your 3 to 9 o’ clock range? Are you sure you just don’t want to just turn around completely and pick that up? Reaching out for that thing on the top shelf that’s just in stretching range? Umm.. Better get a stool or something. But despite all these precautions, the shoulder kept popping over the years till I lost keeping count of each (should roughly be 10 times each shoulder by now) and football slowly died a very natural death. It had reached a point where playing football and a subsequent shoulder dislocation had become so intertwined that people no longer paused the game to see what happened. They knew I’d just go to the side, pop it back in place myself and retire for the day. With every dislocation, your shoulder becomes looser and its a less painful experience fixing it yourself. So the physical pain is reduced. Mentally however, your confidence takes a beating time after time.

Evenings were suddenly a void spent ‘looking’ at the lucky ones who actually got to play the game. Random net browsing, trying to read books.. All efforts to try fill that void. But nothing ever came close to a true replacement. And then this semester happened. Well nothing major happened for the longest time. Suddenly however, things have all picked up pace in the last month or so.

It began with a decision to start going to the gym every morning (special shout-outs to Thakur and Markandey). Like every other physical activity over the past 5 or 6 years, the gym was another familiar territory that the shoulder dislocation monster had pissed on and marked its territory. Nonetheless it was the last vella month in college and I decided it was worth giving a shot. I’ll cut to the chase and skip to 16 gym days later. With proper technique and efforts, the shoulder seems to have finally stabilized. Its been around 6 football days without incident now and I'm almost optimistic that I can stop counting!

With football back, the world seems like a brighter, more cheerful place! That’s not the only thing that seems to be going for me either. There was an abundance of time this semester and I have spent a considerable part of it reading up books, both fiction and non fiction (and sleeping. A lot!). And then there’s this other little thing that’s slightly embarrassing to admit. I had never ridden a geared motorcycle until now. Its roots lie in a deep seated belief coming from both parents that 2 wheelers are a sure death warrant that needs to be avoided at any cost. The result was that 4 wheelers came to be accepted right from the summer after 10th class but riding a bike still remains an activity I have to perform incognito. Nonetheless an opportunity presented itself and now riding a bike is one thing that can be removed off the bucket list. The main purpose of this sem was a thesis and I guess I have managed some average work there too. Could've done a lot more if I had started working properly on it a bit earlier. But that’s fine I guess (hope).

I’ll be packing my bags and leaving for home soon. The purpose of this post is also to signal the fact that I'm now available for football again and all those people who gave up on calling on me after hearing years of sustained NOs, please do get back now.. I’ll also be back in Bangalore by mid June and I can’t help but feel optimistic about everything the way things are shaping up. Onwards and upwards people! :)

PS — I've been inspired along the way by a lot of these body transformation photos over time of people who work out. I'm maintaining a log of similar sorts (mainly because I might be way too narcissistic about these gym gains). And so with immense sheepish embarrassment and a small tinge of pride, here’s what 3 weeks of gym looks like —

And why does it have to be black and white and have Instagram like filters? Narcissism but obviously!