Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A weekend of firsts

What an incredibly busy weekend we have had! Usually, weekends are pretty quiet around here - Ajey's working hours are absolutely crazy, and he wants to do nothing more than chill at home - or maybe go have dinner with a few friends! But then once in a while, there comes along a weekend which moves along at a frenetic pace - every minute crammed with a different activity...

It all began Friday night with Quiz Night at Dulwich! I don't remember the last time I was in a quiz contest - it has to be way back when I was in St. Helena's school - so I'm going to count this quiz as a 'first'! It was pretty exciting - teams of 6, bring your own food and drinks, and answer questions about what seemed like everything under the sun! The categories were a mixed bag - movie trailers, famous faces, sports, geography, paintings, music, books - and the most of the questions were real head-scratchers! A really diverse team would be needed to do well - diverse in age, background and interests too! We finished 11th of 21 teams - not bad considering we had named ourselves 'Dead Last'!

Saturday was a big day for Manasi! Another first - she was going to participate in an Inter-school swim meet in Shanghai! It was hard to tell who was more anxious - after all, it was my very first swim meet too! Not to mention that a couple of days before the event, I discovered that Manasi had been accidentally entered in the wrong age-group for her events - she would be swimming with kids a couple of years older than her. Goes without saying that I over-reacted completely and hysterically - my nerves refusing to calm down even after the problem had been sorted! It didn't help that our school coach was totally unsympathetic - I expected better support from the staff at one of the most prestigious schools here!

The swim meet took place at the Shanghai American School (SAS), a good 3 hour drive from Suzhou. The school bus left at 5:30 am to make it in time for the first event - luckily, Manasi's first race was at 11am, so we could leave a little later! The SAS campus made me surprisingly homesick for Peoria - the school is set in a gated enclosure along with a golf course and an expat neighborhood. The houses were totally American in style - down to the siding and the picket fences! I could almost imagine I was in Weaver Ridge!!! The school is huge, a lot like the American school in Chennai! That was really weird - imagine AISCH relocated to a fancy neighborhood in Peoria - best of both worlds?? The meet too, was a much bigger deal than what I was expecting - over 700 students from about a dozen International schools were participating - not helping my nerves here!!

Although, after the initial furor had faded, what followed was an profoundly boring day! Manasi was to swim in 4 events - the actual race lasted barely a minute in each case - but the wait between events was interminable! Swimmers, parents and coaches had all been corralled into the gym - about half hour before the actual event, the swimmers were led down to the pool and assigned lanes. Manasi's name was printed in the wrong place in the program, which led to a confused discussion every single time her event was called! To her credit, she handled herself beautifully - it must have been quite intimidating for her! The huge pool, the lanes, the whistle start, the diving in - just so much to process! Ajey and I are so proud of her!

So Friday was for me, Saturday was all about Manasi - Sunday was totally Ajey's day!! A first - not for him, but for Manasi and me - we actually went to see a F1 race!!! Now, apologies to all racing enthusiasts, but I just don't get F1 racing. Grown men driving around in souped-up cars for an eternity - can there be anything more monotonous?? So why did I agree to go - I admit my motive was purely to check it off the list - F1 race, been there, done that! Besides, it was right here in Shanghai, the tickets - albeit expensive - were available, and we had friends who were ready to go with us!

How was the experience? In one word, LOUD!!! The drivers - are they called athletes, I wonder - took a couple of test drives around the circuit, but it was only when the race actually started that the force of the sound was felt! Our stand reverberated as the cars surged past, the roar of the engines completely drowning out the cheering spectators! And then they were gone - reappearing a few minutes later for the next lap! It was odd, seeing the race in split seconds like this - and with all the pit stops and other things, it was also really hard to keep track of who's leading! Few laps later, I sat down, earplugs firmly in place - cheering desultorily when what I thought was a Ferrari passed by.

In Ajey's words, F1 racing is the ultimate combination of the best in man and machine. Sadly, I remain untouched by this exalted sentiment. I still don't get it. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I went! Now I know that a live F1 race is just as - hmm, well, it's just like watching it on TV at home - and at home, you can actually have a conversation, and maybe even change the channel! OK, I'm going to stop talking now! Oh, by the way, Alonso won the Shanghai F1 - see, I wasn't completely tuned out! At the end of the day, I did get what I wanted - F1 race, been there, done that!!! And if Ajey wants to go next year - which I'm sure he will - he can go with my blessing and without me!!!

What a weekend! Exhilarating, but equally exhausting! Looking forward to some quiet times ahead - the adrenalin rush from this weekend of firsts is sure to last for a while to come!!

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