Thursday, January 05, 2006

Pizzas and French Fries

Skiing is not an easy sport. No wonder people claim(claim? is!) it to be adventurous. Obviously, you need guts to keep getting up after falling regularly! As a part of the winter break, we went to Wooster in Ohio. It took us about 11 hours to reach Ohio from Rolla. So what may be the distance from Rolla to Ohio? People may presume it to be around 400-500 kilometers considering the travel back home. But to my surprise, we had covered 700 miles or rather 1100 kms in eleven hours. The roads are a revelation here. People back good roads with excellent road sense. I could never hear anybody honking off to glory under any circumstances. Coupled with that, there are four lane roads, two lanes in either direction. Off the two lanes, one is meant to be exclusively for overtaking. At any given instant, it is tempting to rip at more than the normal speed. No big deal about that if you are willing to pay 200$ regularly to the traffic cops.

Five of us to Ohio : Pankaj (The Initiator), Pravin (The PJ killer), Amol (The silent satan), Amit(The stiff dancer) and me(in the wild)!!
Car : Kia
Start Time : 8:30 am from Rolla

We set forth with last minute checkup of everything and packing off things that were required. We did the packing just half an hour before we left. Thank God! We do not spend much time in front of the mirror and wondering what we have to stuff in our bags. Everything is decided in a split second. The car sped along easily on the smooth I44 interstate highway, first to St. Louis. The one and a half hour journey was followed by a drive to Indianapolis(yup! The same thing! F1) and then to Columbus and finally to Wooster. Five of us in the car, four of them are Marathi speaking guys and one of them(unfortunately me!!) knew Kannada and Tamil but not Marathi. You can imagine my plight in such a situtation. My ears used to spring forth in attention as soon as I used to hear something in Hindi or English which were countable occasions. No wonder you realise why I was left in the wild. Our lunch or brunch was stuck to the confines of the highway dhabas (relax!!), which were the Taco Bells(Hell!!!), subways(bus bus!!!), Mac Donalds (quack quack) and Burger Kings(burgers.....grrr!!).

We reached Wooster in the night. Thanks to the time difference, we were one hour late. Pankaj's cousin, Kishore (remember he is Pankaj's cousin, so he too knew Marathi...booo hoooo!) welcomed us in a plush, clean and comfortable apartment. It was a revelation to see such a place after our lovely homes back in Rolla! He had prepared Chole, which was gulped with bread and some rice. A late night show of Munna Bhai MBBS and we were snoring after a really tiring journey. Oooops! I missed out on a very important info! Pankaj was fined by the cops for not obeying Ohio state traffice rules. What is that? If a cop is behind you, you got to stick to the next lane on your left. But unfortunately, we turned right and the cops had their final say and we had to pay!! 99$ is no joke!!! Imagine paying five thousand bucks to cops back in India. It will be a lifetime membership to break traffic rules then. But then, it does not work that way here!

We got up early the next morning. 10:30 is early here in the US to sleeping thugs like us. Any destination within the US is never complete without the aid of google maps and mapquest. They provide information about the various highways and exits. We reached our skiing spot by 1 PM I guess (I am not aware of the exact time). Each of us registered for a beginner's lesson for 29$ inclusive of the skiiware. I didn't understand why we had to go for a beginner's lesson. I thought we could have jumped in directly for the advanced step (just kidding!!).

We never knew of the number of falls we had in store for the rest of the day. We started with some lessons. Lauren(how can I forget her name!) could easily manipulate her way in the slopes. She taught us about Pizzas and French fries. French fries to keep the skiis in parallel to accelerate your movement down the slopes, while pizzas are created by forming wedges to create a braking action. She did it with ease and easy it is which is what we thought. And then the drama of the day started. Each of us fell, fell and only fell. Of course later in the day, Pravin and Kishore made up for some fine skiing. I still remember Pravin skiing down from the top, breaking the nets, reaching the concrete flooring with a thud that no one of us will ever forget. That was damage at its best! I too had my share of moments. I collided with Pravin when he was a solitary soul in the entire area and I just couldn't change my direction. Amit was learning and learning and learning. His slow paced skiing was taking place in intermediate steps. He would get stuck to a spot before taking the mentally strong decision to ski again. He too suffered my wrath, as I almost collided with him.

Both of us couldn't do anything as both of us were struggling to change directions. Pankaj and Amol too did not make great headway on the skiing front. We skiied till almost 9:30 PM and none of us wanted to return back. But finally, we did, and ordered pizzas(the real ones!!) on our way back home. But no movies that night as I hit the bed almost immediately. I heard the next day, that the guys were having a hearty laugh about my fall the whole night!!

Our bodies woke up to pains seething through all parts of the body. We had to drive for another eleven hours! We managed to reach Rolla in the night after almost one hour of fighting our way in St Louis. It was a real mess as we missed one of the exits. But then, overall it was great fun with pizzas and french fries. Hopefully we would get to skii more in the future.

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