Note: Most of what you are about to read was composed when my head was underwater so do remember that if you find something amiss.
I have started taking swimming lessons at a nearby pool recently. Now I know words like ‘pool’ and ‘swimming’ bring about images of itsy-bitsy swimming costumes and gorgeous women slowly rising emerging out of water with drops of water glistening on their bodies. Well in real life, its nothing like that.
On my first day I was wondering if I would stand out as I considered my swimming costume quite conservative. I used to call it a burqa as far as swimming costumes were concerned. I mean it reaches till my knees and it has sleeves for crying out loud! And also I am a little fat so I thought will I be sticking out like a sore thumb? Turns out I had nothing to worry about. The hour that I chose for my classes is one designated for children under 10 and ladies (the brochure’s language, not mine. There is nothing ladylike about flailing around in a pool that is just 3 feet deep), so most of the ‘ladies’ in the pool are middle aged mothers of these kids. All of them much, much fatter than me and in even more conservative swimming costumes than mine. I even noticed this one woman in a two piece that consisted of a shirt and a pyjama! And this was in swimming costume material. I am guessing some smart businessman has discovered a niche market for conservative swimming costumes for middle aged women (now won’t that make a good USP!)
Anyway, so I started taking swimming classes, for the first few days I just practiced floating and things like that. There is nothing that hurts your ego more than watching little 7 year olds splash past you while you are holding on to the bars at the side. I reminded myself that this is just my first week and at least they are with me on the shallow end of the pool so they haven’t progressed that far. Today I saw them on the deep end of the pool; little rugrats can probably read minds now too, its too bad you can’t kick them under water! There is one little girl that I like though, she has invented this little game where she throws her swimming goggles into the pool and swims to wherever they land. (I am thinking definitely an introvert)
As this is a public pool there is just one instructor and a number of swimmers so many of us keep coming in each other’s way sometimes avoiding a collision, which is bound to happen since this is Delhi and when people don’t give each other space on roads, expecting that underwater is too much to ask.
Remember how I said about the mothers in the swimming costume, they were all much fatter than me so I thought I had nothing to worry about. That was until THOSE THREE came along. These three are new girls who had arrived in the pool they must be in their late teens probably. Not only were they slimmer their swimming costumes are more… ehm, revealing, than the rest. I can just imagine what must be going on in the minds of the other women “kids these days, no sense of shame, is this the way to dress. I mean, I know this is a pool but still…” I know this line of thinking because I have a number of similar women in my family too. They can serve as good material for a satire some day.
When I caught myself staring at these girls I wondered at how perception matters. Compared to the rest of us at this particular pool, their costumes were revealing. But when you look at the costumes that are usually part of mass media, in Bond movies, or in pool parties in those model-y shows, these girls’ costumes would considered quite conservative and they would be looked down upon for that. Makes me wonder if there is any absolute or if all perceptions and value judgements are relative to the immediate surroundings?