Crash like a Swissgyptian

3 days to go from an Skiing novice to effortlessly gliding down the slopes and crashing into any conceivable object in sight is quite an achievement .. or not, depends on how you look at it. But before we get too far ahead with passing judgement let me share with you some revelations i have had in the last 3 days, since i started my skiing lessons.

1. Those Skis aren’t evil : While they may look so to a novice with all those sharp edges, dangerously curved sides, scary inscriptions like ‘Speed demon’, ‘Race carving’ complete with fiery and devilish motifs etc…. i can assure you in this case looks are deceptive. The scary clicking sound the bindings make as they clamp onto your ski boots – which sound very close to the devil smacking his lips as he waits for his prey to slide into his open mouth is purely a coincidence. The way they will automatically start to move towards a direction unintended by you as you stand on a slope with an incline greater than 0.5 degrees is completely down to your lack of control rather than them answering to their master’s call and pulling you into the dungeons lurking below the pretty alpine slopes.

2. The T-bars on the Ski lifts are not fishing hooks laid down by the devil: Yes at first glance the ski-lift, with its never-ending rows of contraptions that look like two-sided fishing hooks tied to a giant fishing line laid down by the devil himself, can be a bit intimidating. The slight smirk given to you by the man handing you the T-bar at the beginning of the ski-lift is not a sign that you are done for – It’s just that the poor man stands there everyday for 6-8 hours every day in sub-zero temperatures, and his features have permanently frozen into that look. The huge tug that the T-bar will give occasionally as it pulls you upward is not the devil yanking his catch off the snow – it’s to keep you focussed on the job at hand, rather than you drifting off and enjoying the views of the pretty alpine vistas or the swiss beauties gliding down the slopes in their bright ensembles.

the devilish ski lift T-bars

3. The ski instructors are not devil’s assistants : Again the classic case of looks being deceptive. They do dress up in red from head to toe – but that’s just their uniform as ordained by the ski school. The helmets they wear is not to hide the horns on their head – it’s just for safety. Their eyes look every shade of orange, purple and blue – it’s only because of your and their ski goggles playing tricks on your vision (being partially colour blind like me doesn’t make it easier). When they encourage you to slide down a slope that looks gentle to them but like deathly hallows to you – they are not trying to cripple you. They are trying to get you to grips with the concept that skiing means gliding down slopes, not just standing there on top of the slope and shivering with a mixture of cold and fear. (BTW .. Don’t tell my wife I even had these unkind thoughts about them, she finds all of them very cool and good-looking)

4. The orange cones placed on the slope are not targets to be knocked over : This is difficult one to grasp, but worth a shot anyway. Those bright little orange cones placed on the slope are meant for little kids to do a slalom run around them. It is great fun and very tempting to whizz over the snow at full speed straight like an arrow and watching every single one of them fly in different directions. But think of the hapless kids who are now standing there confused not knowing what to do and the poor and heartbroken ski instructor who painstakingly placed them with unerring swiss precision watching his hard work being destroyed.

5. It is more fun to be standing-up rather than lying face down on the snow: While this may conjure up all kinds of unwarranted images and ideas in your head, the point is simple – You paid a fortune for the skis, boots, lessons etc.  Now show some courage and ability to master a new skill. Learn to stay upright on the snow for a few seconds, make use of all the technology gone into your gear and enjoy the sensation of being able to gracefully glide over the perfectly frozen snow, leaving tracks that the whole world will follow …. before a sharp turn beckons, gravity and panic take over, you forget all the techniques and land face down on the snow, only to watch 4 yr olds speed past you while grinning and waving at you!

…. Now having read a fascinating discourse about the secrets of skiing, I am sure a question must have popped into some of your inquisitive brains – Why am I not utilizing my newly acquired knowledge and skills and enjoying wafting down the sun-kissed slopes rather than typing into this GRS? Well the answer is quite simple …. I did master the mythical art in a short span of two days, made numerous practice runs, turns, stops, traverses etc (don’t believe me? ask my wife). But on my first run down a real blue ski slope, having negotiated the most difficult parts, a pole standing in the middle of the slope wanted to make an acquaintance with me. I obliged and met it head on, and resulted with a sprained/mild hairline fracture on the little finger on my right hand :-( So here i am sitting at home listening to Buddy Guy belting out his blues on my Cadence Amayas.

But fret not, in a week i shall be back on the slopes… till then, a happy new year to all.


Walk like a Skigyptian

Having come back from a day of ‘Skiing acclimatization trip’, i truly feel like a skigyptian … that is to say an egyptian mummy being thrown onto a ski slope and being asked to do the walk made famous by ‘The Bangles’ song (I wonder if this new word is worthy of an entry in the Modern Cambridge English dictionary)

My feet still feel like they are bound by the huge ski boots that easily weigh the best part of a 100 kg each. I must make a very funny figure clad in infinite layers of wind/snow/water proof clothing (all in black – topped by a white beanie cap making my face looking like the famous Mr Potato head), trying to guide myself down a prior-to-beginner-level-and-fit-for-only-4yr-olds slope of a gigantic length 10 m. Those some german made ‘liquidmetal’ engineering marvels fitted under my shoes (normally referred as skis)  have a mind of their own, as at any given moment they are pointing at an angle of 45 degrees to the general direction where i want to go. Judging by the numerous times i ended up in positions on the snow that could have made any Yoga instructor proud, i am convinced they are designed by der Teufel (the devil) himself. Now whoever said skiing was fun?

But i have only got myself to blame. Having been here 5 years and procastrinating as a typical Indian proudly does, i haven’t bothered to acquaint myself with the mythical art of gracefully gliding down the pristine alpine slopes. The feeling isn’t helped by a snow-sledging accident resulting in a broken collar bone earlier this year and the fact that my lovely wife and kids waft down the slopes looking every bit like born skiers.

Hmm … things better change. So starting tomorrow, i have enrolled myself for a full week of skiing lessons and practice. If I live to tell the tale, I’ll be back with more updates and hopefully triumphant news of your’s truly having conquered the pistes (german for ski slopes) in a few days time.

Till that time wish me luck …..