Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Girls at the Gym

One morning at the gym I noticed two rather young and relatively raw looking girls trying to give half baked or totally wrong instructions (in Maratthi, Hindi and a few words in English) to people who were working out. In an up market gym this was not such a welcome sight - people could be seriously injured. I wondered that is the gym really so hard up that they can’t even afford to get proper fitness trainers?

Youth always is very refreshing; no matter what form it comes in. These girls after they joined added more enthusiasm and warmth to the normally snooty atmosphere, they greeted everybody, made sure that everybody smiles and tried their level best to catch up with the various fitness jargons that they had never heard of before. The blunders still continued but they got better with each day. Their colleagues also mostly refused to explain the intricacies of how to set up the Smith Machine and the correct way to do squats but they learnt by observation.

One day I decided to find out that why they were at this gym and what were their credentials to be a fitness instructor. I struck up a conversation with the girls (called Suchitra and Pallavi), it was rather challenging as I had a tough time figuring out what was spoken in Marathi.

These girls were aspiring sportswomen and one played basketball for the state team and the other was into state level athletics. So I guess it made sense to have them around! We talked further and Pallavi made a comment about my 'I love Paris' T shirt and said that some of her friends had been there and they said it was very beautiful. She added that her friends had gone to represent India in some sports event and how she could not go as she didn't find a sponsor.

'Sponsor'? I asked, to which she replied that each participant has to find a sponsor for the team who will bear the costs - the one who doesn't find one gets left behind. Obviously it's all about the money rather than talent and ability. Suchitra too was looking out for a sponsor so that she could participate in some games in Nepal.

I was reminded about the fitness instructor at the gym in my previous organization (who also doubled up as floor admin) - he too had said that he was a national level football player but had to quit as he had no backing and had to earn a decent living.

I guess now I know why India has fewer medals at the international games; it seems that nobody can look beyond Cricket in this country. I was also reminded about Madhu Sapre's response to a question asked at the Ms Universe contest. She said that if she became the Prime Minister of India she would build more sports facilities to encourage the youth of India. This also cost her the crown as this wasn't an 'intelligent' enough answer! In retrospect I think she knew exactly what she was talking about ...

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