Sep 15, 2017
A recent episode of CBC's Now or Never asked listeners to make their own Now or Never list. Its a checklist to help get things done. I decided to give it a try*. First question: "One thing I did as a kid that I’d love to do now is ". I filled in "Play". Few days later, I got an email from the show asking me to expand on that answer. Here it is:
As a child, playing occupied most of my time. When I wasn't playing (school, homework, tuition, chores), I was thinking of playing, or reading about it, or watching a game. Growing up in the 80s & 90s in India, football (soccer) and cricket were the two games I played the most both indoors and outdoors. I also played tops, marbles, flew kites, field hockey, chess, and others. Playing gave me pure joy. Scoring a fluke goal in football (school inter-class game), hitting a "full toss" for a "six", winning my first Chess game for school are some memories I still look back fondly. Of the hundreds of kites that I tried to fly on trespassed rooftops, I just got a handful in the air but it was worth the cuts to the fingers and the yelling I got.
Playing indoors is another memory I cherish because of the fun I had playing with my brothers and cousins. I got yelled at a lot for breaking things but I am grateful to my grandmother and parents for allowing us to play. One time, in an indoor cricket game, I was bowling to my brother Robert who hit the ball towards my father's plants behind me by the windows. One of the plants fell and I instinctively ran to it and caught it. Unfortunately for me, it was a cactus! My father was upset but didn't overreact (something I only truly appreciated after I became a father myself). This is one of my kids' favourite bedtime stories.
I also followed sports regularly on TV and magazines. Tennis (Sampras-era) and Formula 1 (Schumacher-Ferrari era) were the two sports I didn't play but followed regularly (cut-outs of Sampras kissing his Wimbledon trophy is probably still sitting in some scrapbook somewhere).
Watching Romario score a goal for Brazil in the Football World Cup, or Sachin Tendulkar hit a Six against Pakistan in Cricket, or a clean Sampras forehand winner, or Mika Häkkinen overtaking someone in F1 gave me thrills that words cannot describe. A couple of years ago, I rode the go-cart for the first time and I imagined myself in an F1 car trying to find the perfect racing line. It was fun.
The playing stopped around the time I got into university but the following didn't. Then came computers, marriage, immigration to Canada, making a life here, and I stopped following as well (except for the occasional "historic" game like Federer vs Nadal in the 2006 French Open final).
Things changed after my son was born. I started playing again with him (and still do to this day). He plays drop-in soccer at YMCA twice a week, started Shinny hockey last year and I enjoy watching all of it. Hockey is the only sport we both follow regularly and we do it with the same nerdy obsession like I had when I was a growing up. My favourite is the Leafs, followed by Penguins. My son knows all the jersey numbers of Penguins players and he will cheer against the Leafs just to irritate me but he likes the M, N, M (Awesome Mathews, Nylander, Marner). I can't wait for the NHL season to start.
*Online surveys are a pain but this was implemented using Typeform, the most pleasant online form filling system.