Touring for an activity, be it sports, music or business often leads one to the most curious places in the world. Though these travels are not specifically for leisure, they make for some very memorable experiences as the adventures on these trips mostly come as a surprise in the midst of a pre-occupied state of mind owing to the intended activity of the tour. I mean, one moment you are warming up for a race and the very next moment, you’ve got a cow on the rink. Trust me, I’ve seen that.
I’ve been into inline speed skating for quite some time now and touring for sporting events started off when I was rather a wee baby. Roller skating isn’t what you would call a mainstream sport, at least in India, so the locations of these sporting events are rather remote or unique. The whole idea of winning a race is a different story involving graphs and technical strategies but these competition venues serve for some of the most unique experiences only gained unexpectedly while on tour.
So, without further ado, Imma show you three of the highlights from my roller skating competition tours. Onwards!
1. Ostend, Belgium.
This one is the only international competition I’ve attended and also one of the first trips abroad. It happened when my team decided to participate in the Flanders Grand Prix in the year 2009.
I remember the symbol of the event.
Honestly, every detail of this trip isn’t imprinted in my memory considering I was six at the time but the things I do remember always make up the highlight at dinner table conversations.
This seagull for instance. I clearly remember this guy perched outside my hotel room window and I also remember feeding it honey. Seagulls were quite common as our hotel was next to Ostend Beach where we’d go for a morning jog every day.
That is me(in the white jacket) petting a puppy. A lot of people in Ostend would walk their dogs on the beach pavement at the same time when we’d warm up and the puppies would obviously get curious with a bunch of kids jogging through the morning walkers. This curiosity would prove to be brilliant as I do adore animals and it would be a fine opportunity for me to go and pet the pooch while it gave me a quizzical look.
I am known to befriend the animals while on a competition tour as this post will prove. After all, an opportunity to pet a pooch should never be wasted.
Right, now, let’s get back to the sporting field.
This is a picture of my age group before a race, PC my mum. I’m hidden here but you can see me in the back row, second from the left.
I didn’t win anything in this event but truth be told, I don’t think I was aware of the racing. The whole idea of the foreign tour was a big surprise in itself and participating in an ‘international event’ was all the glory I could dream of.
Here’s a picture of midget me chilling somewhere.:)
This is me talking to my dad during water break. I’m probably convincing him to get me a dog….An effort that is still very much active.
This is the Indian Team that participated in the event at the Ostend Beach after the competition.
These are some pictures from the city and the Ostend Beach. I would like to visit again with a fresher memory and no preoccupation.
This is a necklace with my name on it that I got made from one of the street shops. I remember choosing the cat and also the chocolate shop we went to after that, not to forget the free samples on the counter. Till this day, Guylian is my favourite chocolate.
Here’s to international trips and pups, I guess:)
Not to forget seagulls.
2. Virar, Mumbai.
This place has a full range of memories, some good and some not so much.
Today’s post is on the good ones.
I played my first ever National Level competition on this rink. Consequently, it was also the first time where I attended a Training Camp for competition which is mandatory if you are selected for the nationals. The hustle was hard, with each training beginning at five in the morning in the winter and one thing very overwhelming was the homesickness.
Often, when I go for an event in India, albeit out of my city, I get this staggering wave of home sickness. I mean, in India, the location for these events is pretty remote and often travelled by road which makes the distance more glaring and that adds to the whole feeling. It takes me the two days to get out of it when I remember that my mum travels with me and home is where mum is, right.
Virar is a district in the city of Mumbai, rather on the outskirts and the view of the journey looks something like this.
The track, however is a bright glaring yellow and not much fun to skate on in daylight.
Evenings. however are way better.
I mean, that yellow is brutal. And to make things interesting, the races are always held in the afternoon and afternoons in India are like being on the sun itself cause the angles of the rays fall perfectly to make this rink radiate fumes. However, there’s a 1000m race to run so off we go.
This is me in the flat we rented. This was one of the days where the homesickness was settling down. This flat was rather comfortable except it had no kitchen so the neighbour made our meals which added a bit to the whole ‘missing home’ vibe as I need my mum to cook but it was quite a learning experience of what its like to leave the nest when the day comes.
As they say, playing a sport is one of the biggest teachers in life, it toughens you up.
Now this is a place I keep going back to. To be honest, I first though this place was imaginary.
Nandurbar is a very small village in the state of Maharashtra in India. So small that it often doesn’t appear on maps. I’m far from my non-believing phase now cause I’ve been here four times and I do consider this as my second home.
No I don’t.
This is the entrance to the village. A sight I often see at eleven in the night when the car reaches the place after a ten hour ride.
The road trip to this serene village is a rollercoaster. You pass a gazillion number of small villages, some consisting of no more than six huts and some of the villages are not modernised by which I mean the moon is the only source of light barring the flickering street lamps. But like all rollercoasters, this trip is fun at first but when you’ve done it four times, you can only pray for a flight service to this place. However, I believe, everyone should do it at least once.
This is a rocky hill along the way. #naturalwondersinrandomplaces
These are the only two hotels in the village. The one on the left is a more comfortable option but in competition season, it is always full as the whole skating fraternity of the state piles into the village and that is the very time some couples in the village decide to get married. Indian weddings are a huge affair and sometimes, they take up the entire hotel leaving us with the second option, the lodge on the right.
My homesickness went through the ceiling in the VT lodge. We reached at around midnight and the first thing I saw was a huge spider at the gate. The rooms were just constructed and some parts of the hotel was still under construction. I remember crying on the first night as I missed my plush toys but I had a week worth of racing ahead of me and there was no going back. However, the experience in the hotel was made way better by a friend I made there.
Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Pencil the kitten. This wee baby fell asleep beside me in the restaurant on the first few days and on my last day, it came to get petted and even licked my thumb and let me pick it up. Seeing the cat used to be my energy fuel to carry on for the first few days. I really should have brought it back home. Nevertheless, the competition helped too.
I told ya I befriend animals along the way:)))
This is me, with the bronze medal for the 100m sprint, an event I love. I was especially happy as I had my favourite event on the last day and after this, it was destination: Home Sweet Home:)
Talking of the village, Nandurbar is famous for its chilis. This is how a chilly field looks with freshly harvested chilly drying in the sun.
It is also famous for quilts and dairy and my mum ends up buying a year worth of butter from here. Only to come back the next year for more.
This is the skating track and the road where the races happen. The rink is in an army school and a lot of kids participate representing the school. The village is really growing as a roller skating hub for skaters from small villages and other remote areas of the state.
On a lighter note, once a cow entered the road at the time of a race and a bunch of stray dogs strode onto the track in the middle of a race. This happens only in India but the whole process of shooing them out is worth a watch as they DO NOT budge.
No place in India is complete without the tricolour.
And that is a wrap!
Until Next Time!
Happy New Year:)