When my friend from Kerala came for a visit, we decided to go swimming in the community pool, in a sort of reliving the relaxing times we had in Dubai.
The Club has begun charging a monthly pool maintenance fee of Rs500 (Dh26), but it was a minimal charge and worth paying it as trying to swim in Bengaluru city is not easy as there are very few municipal pools.
My friend was a guest, so we paid up Rs100 (Dh5.18) for him, and jumped in like two kids who go stir-crazy in summer.
This is an open, unheated pool and the weather in Bengaluru this time of the year is mostly cool, cloudy and dreary like wet and drizzly Britain, so the water was ice-cold.
We would go swimming in winter in Dubai and a group of Chinese expats, who were also having fun in the pool, said swimming in cold water is good for the heart.
I looked it up later and found that it helps provide immunity to diseases, melts the fat around the heart and makes you burn more calories.
A few minutes of shivering and suddenly the skies opened up and it started pouring as if we were in a tropical jungle, and our non-fogging goggles started fogging up.
This south Indian city, which is high on the Deccan Plateau, gets two monsoons; the South-West Monsoon, from June to September and the North-East Monsoon, from October to December. Despite a few hiccups in the past years, the city gets a lot of rainfall and that is why it is still green and lush.
Despite living in a state that has tons of lakes and rivers, my friend is not a good swimmer, maybe because of the fear of snakes. They swim out whenever there are floods and hide in homes, and hospitals register an increase in snake-bite cases.
You also can’t swim in the lakes because of the ‘sand mafia’, which sends out groups of people to dig out sand in the night (for making concrete and construction purposes), leaving huge holes on the bottom that are unsafe for swimmers and are also an ecological disaster.
I tried to learn to swim in my hometown after fooling around in a municipal pool that had no lifeguard and had nearly drowned. My aim was not to drown during a trip to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on a ship that was ferrying elderly pilgrims and young men on a job-hunting adventure.
The ship’s engines failed twice, once far away from the coast of Yemen, and I thought I saw sharks swimming in the clear blue waters and realised there would be no chance of drowning if the ship sank.
Swimming is not taught in schools in India and many Indians do not have this skill. It is a good exercise, and helps relieve back pains and strengthens dodgy knees and squeaky joints.
A few minutes of shivering and suddenly the skies opened up and it started pouring as if we were in a tropical jungle, and our non-fogging goggles started fogging up
Even after two summers of retaking beginner lessons in swimming in Dubai, the fear of water was still in the back of our minds and did not allow us to get into the deep immediately. We were blowing bubbles in the shallow, till we realised the water in the pool was just neck deep.
Then, when we saw this diver who was swimming with a snorkel and going past us like aquaman, we just had to buy it and so the next day we visited Decathlon that has opened in north Bengaluru.
Sports are fun, but buying sports equipment is also more fun and relaxing. I even bought a pair of dumbbells, because an expert on YouTube said swimmers need to build stamina and muscle.
— Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi
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