The hall was huge, huge enough to accommodate a 1000 people and it was filled… the stage was buzzing with activity. In front were 10 chairs, 9 for the judges and last one was for the man to hit the dong placed in front of it. Behind the judges were a row of chairs for the audience. on that day there were about 700 people in  the hall, majority of which were participants of all age groups, starting from 5 to 21 from all over the state. 

This was in a small town of Karnataka, I don’t even remember whether it was Mandya or Ramnagara… it was 1995.

Our small flat was on the 3rd floor of the building which had totally 6 flats on 3 floors. My father would start panting by the time he was 2 floor where he would atop to get some breath and then somehow he would climb to the third one where he would stop at the last stair and gasp for breath before walking another 3 feet to ring the bell. His gasping for air was getting worse month on month and the strain was visible  whenever I climbed with him. I wanted to do something but I didn’t know what could it be. One day along with the morning newspaper, a pamphlet of a yoga center dropped on the floor. I picked it up and as I read through it, I felt that yoga will help my fathers condition. I convinced my dad and enrolled him to a class which would start at 5am in the morning. To ensure that he attends it , I too had enrolled so that we could help each other wake up on time, we had to leave by 4:30am to reach the yoga center. 4 months down the line, even with irregular attendance , my father’s asthma had subsided. He would now climb to third floor smiling and talking normally, the day I noticed that for the first time, I smiled happily. 

One of those classes our yoga teacher who must have been in his 60’s asked me, if I would like to take part in a competition…. And I presumed that this was for the certificate from the center, that it would be a competition of our class, I uttered, Yes !! I was enrolled. A week later, our yoga guru informed us that our names have now been enrolled and that we should practice sincerely. And then he dropped the bomb, that this was state level competition for which bus has been arranged to travel to the venue. I started sweating. I had stage fear. To go and present as an individual on a stage in front of hundreds was just not what I was ready for. I gave him a couple of excuses why they would not be able to participate. But then he was a Guru… I guess he had seen it all and yet it was his lovely smile hidden behind his white beard, which oozed of genuinity, respect and simplicity that I failed to convince him,  a failure I’m glad about when I look back. To give you a mental picture, he was just like chacha Choudhary. Saboo was on Jupiter.

The day arrived and we reached the venue. The excitement was in the air…. More Excitement is here in Part 2.