Growing up I was a big fan of cricket, like most Indians. I played inside our tiny rental home with my brother and whatever small space was available outside the verandah. In 4th grade, I joined a summer camp and first time got a coach. Eventually I started playing sub junior and junior cricket for my school and was delighted when they made me captain. I was totally in love with the sport. And it wasn’t just playing, I even enjoyed watching the sport for hours, even the Test Matches! I remember every time India toured Australia, the game would start around 5 AM. I would have the remote next to me and first thing upon waking up would be to check the score!
When I was 13, I got selected to join a boarding school called RIMC( Rashtriya Indian Military College) in Dehradun which is also my hometown. I was overjoyed, after 2 unsuccessful attempts, I finally made it.. The thing I loved most about the school was that they encouraged the students to play almost all the sports that were available. In my first semester I played a number of new sports. Boxing was the first one, I enjoyed it a lot until I started getting punched and my nose would bleed too much so they made me stop. Then we had Hockey, I enjoyed this one more. I played forward and the adrenalin rush on scoring goals was worth playing hard. Then my favorite sport, cricket. We won the inter house tournament and I got some prize as well. I also participated in Obstacle run competition and tried rifle shooting as well. The whole first semester had been a blast.
Just when we were getting ready for summer break, my friends wanted to go play this sport called Squash so I tagged along. The first time I saw the courts, it was strange. Players are pretty much hitting a ball against a wall. But something attracted me and I felt good when I held the racquet and hit around for a bit. I didn’t get too many chances to play because there were only two courts and there were always other seniors waiting to play but I had a desire to play more of the sport. Over the break, I convinced mom to buy me a racquet and I would just go to the courts and play by myself for about an hour every day. I don’t remember missing a single day of that entire summer break. When the next semester started, I did well in the inter house tournament and the school coach included me in the team as a backup player. I remember just enjoying playing the sport, not worrying about not being able to play in the team ( only top 3 seeded play the matches). Eventually I got into the top 3 for the school and over the next five years played in multiple tournaments all over India. Travel was a very fortunate byproduct of playing the sport.
Fast forward today, Squash is still my love, I really enjoy playing the sport and it adds great balance to my lifestyle. It’s something I look forward to and I continue to strive to improve and get better. These days I have to drive 45 mins one way to go to the courts but it doesn’t feel like a challenge at all. Sometimes when others don’t show up to play, I just play by myself and it’s fun. If I am having a stressed day or experiencing some negativity, I just go and spend some time playing in the courts and I always come out feeling amazing. I have also built great friendships on the squash court, few of my closest friends are who I played Squash with in boarding school. The sport has been an amazing blessing in my life.
What if I had only stuck to Cricket and not tried other sports? When I was all consumed by cricket, I could never have imagined that one day I would have to break up with the sport. I am so grateful to all the people who helped me pickup the sport. There is no other way to discover our passions and interests but to try.
It could be art, music, photography, anything. There are so many online courses to explore as well. You can create a category of your own. I remember learning about Jimmy Chin, one of the very few people whose pics I see on instagram. This guy had a passion for mountain climbing and photography. So he takes incredible pictures while he is climbing mountains! Pretty amazing. Life has so much to offer. Let’s not hold ourselves back, try something new, something different.