Sharmi on the Trot

Travelling, Exploring, Eating…

Archive for the category “Sports”

How I Lost It… The Sedentary Lifestyle

“It’s high time you do something about yourself,” said my mother. “People will never believe that you were a sportswoman if you tell them that.” This was last December.

“What is wrong with this pair of jeans,” I said to myself. This was in the first week of January this year. It seemed my favourite pair of blues had a mind of it’s own and at that point of time, it didn’t want to fit me right.

Later that month, panting, I managed to get into the last metro. I had to run from the top of the stairs with a very good chance I could fall and slip thanks to the soles of the flimsy slippers. “Since when did I start to pant after a run?” was my question to myself as the metro made its way forward.

And that’s when it hit me. I was literally living in denial. And I had been living in denial for some years now. It was easier to tell myself wearing loose fitting clothes was the in-thing than to take care of myself.

The motivation was to get back my fitness level, to start with a morning routine which did not only include re-runs of Castle and Homeland.

I don’t believe in crash courses nor do I believe in taking the easy way out. I had to start from the very beginning. Since right eating consists about 90% of a good healthy system, it meant no more binge eating or late night pizza deliveries. I love cooking (as evident by my recipe posts) and thus began a healthier approach. Less oil, more of proteins and cutting out empty carbohydrates. Who said healthy eating is bland? I love that I can create new recipes just thinking outside the box. The biggest boon — eating a good healthy breakfast, which I used to skip on most days.

Who can say no this homemade shammi kebabs with stir fried veggies for a healthy supper?

Who can say no this homemade shammi kebabs with stir fried veggies for a healthy supper?

Then started morning jogs and runs. If you have been out of it for some years, it’s not fun in the beginning. Not by a long shot. Let’s just say the aches and pains gave me motivation to continue. A simple yoga and core work out (thankfully that is still strong because of millions of sit ups and push-ups behind me during my formative years) can work wonders. Just try it.

I began to feel healthier and stronger within a couple of weeks. Losing weight was never the goal but to get to a healthier, active lifestyle was. Of course that I was buying dresses two sizes smaller put a smile on my face. But the biggest smile came when my mother saw me after some months and said: “Now, you’re beginning to look like the athlete you were.”

There is still a long way to go before I can achieve the fitness level I used to have but hey, I’m getting there.

Entry for: How I Lost It blog contest on

Reminiscing about Roland Garros

The second Grand Slam of the year is underway and I could not be more excited! I doubt I’ve mentioned what I do when I’m not travelling or cooking, but my day-time job is of a sports journalist. And where would my specialisation lie? Tennis of course!

Guess what that is!

Guess what that is!

I don’t think I can remember a day when I haven’t heard the word tennis. Some statistic, some gossip, some childhood memory, some obscure video or book simply an article about a player. Associated with the sport since I was about four, it’s been a long long journey… from the courts to covering from the other side… it never tires.

Beautiful day isn't it?

Beautiful day isn’t it?

Anyway, getting back from all the rambling, I can’t help but feel nostalgic because last year this time I was roaming about the street of Paris, eating crepes sitting on the banks of Seine, admiring works of art at the Louvre… But among the few days I spent falling in love with the city, I took one whole morning off to visit Roland Garros. And when you have an all-access pass (well, somewhat) how can you not enjoy the second Grand Slam of the year!

Which way?

Which way?

Situated in the suburbs, it took me a while to reach Port d’Auteuil, the stop for Roland Garros on line 10, from where I was putting up. About a 15-20 minute walk away from the metro station exit ‘Roland Garros’, you come across many people who love the sport as much as you do. I met this rather determined old lady with a walking stick walking towards the Stadium. “Je na parle pas L’Anglais,” she smiled pointing towards the entrance. With a mattering of broken French I figured out she’s been going there for over 20 years now.

Flags in the sky!

Flags in the sky!

As the roads began to get crowded, I knew I was getting closer. The little tennis ball and racquet stickers on the side walk act as guiders. I was told to waltz in and ask for the pass kept under my name. They turned out to be the florescent wrist bands which are reserved for player guests among others. That was fun!

When you walk into Roland Garros, you realise just how small the area is. I mean I knew it wasn’t as big as Wimbledon, but for years what you’ve seen on television and when you actually stand there – there’s a major difference. But there’s no dearth of atmosphere. The air is charged with excitement, fans move about carrying large tennis balls which will be shortly filled with autographs, tennis officials looking smart in Chanel-inspired outfits giving instructions – it’s everything a Grand Slam should be.

Roaming about

Roaming about

I made my way to Bullring or Court 1 to catch up on the matches. The stadium is so tiny that you feel the red clay is at your feet (Watching a match from the player box does have its perks!). It was a gorgeous feeling. First up was India’s very own Sania Mirza partnering Bethanie Mattek-Sands. It was a good match but I was longing to look around the stadium. Before I knew it, it was time to explore.

That's Court Suzanne Lenglen!

That’s Court Suzanne Lenglen!

I played tennis thanks to my grandfather. Since the age of four, I had heard tales of the importance of Davis Cup, how the French Musketeers surprised the Americans in 1927, the exploits of the likes of Helen Wills-Moody, Bill Tilden, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson… I heard it all. And I would dream. Dream of one day witnessing it all. The replica of the Davis Cup stands tall as you walk to look for souvenirs. I tried to imagine how things were in 1928. Very different to the giant screen or children slurping on ice lollies I’m sure.

Yes, I'm feeling a bit smug!

Yes, I’m feeling a bit smug! (notice the wrist!)

The little florescent wrist band allowed me certain privileges – like walk down the east tunnel entrance into Court Suzanne Lenglen over which stands the legend’s sculpture, barge into the players area (unfortunately Roger Federer wasn’t playing that day) and watch Serena Williams on the red clay. It was something I had been dreaming for a rather long time.

The bas relief of the legend - Suzanne Lenglen

The bas relief of the legend – Suzanne Lenglen

Apart from the three stadiums – Philippe Chatrier, Suzanne Lenglen and Court 1 – the rest of the 17 courts are open to the public. After a quick bite and a Roland Garros photograph (I was such a tourist!) I went to the open courts to check up on proceedings. Since this was the second week of the Slam, the juniors were showing off their calibre on the red clay. There’s something so magical about the clay sticking to your white socks, I mean it feels real. Yes, this is the French Open.

Court Philippe Chatrier

Court Philippe Chatrier

It was Serena’s defeat which suddenly triggered this memory. Well, I did see the American live in action last summer! Anyway, after a whole day of fun, frolic and laughter (and learning new French words) it was time to head back. But somehow as I walked back to the metro station with the canopy of greens sheltering me, I knew I would be back one day. I only wish it’s sometime soon.

The red clay against the blue sky - almost poetic isn't it?

The red clay against the blue sky – almost poetic isn’t it?

Zip, zip… zoom!

I moved a step forward, to the edge of the wooden floor about five storeys up. The couple next to me seemed nervous. Harnessed together, the woman squeezed her partner’s shoulder anxiously. The husband smiled reassuringly, “It will be fun,” he said. I looked to my right. A young guy, his face was radiant. “Let’s go for it,” he shouted.

I looked down. Barring the thick white ropes, all I could see was green. A canopy of trees overshadowing everything. Then, slightly afar, white sand leading up to a small man-made island on the sea shores. I really couldn’t wait. I wanted to zip across to the other side immediately!

Yes, it was my first time zip lining. I’ve always been an adreneline junkie, waiting to try something new very possible day. It’s the thrill, the first gush of excitement that grips you… it’s addictive, very addictive.

Sentosa in Singapore has something for everybody. While there recently, I had to try ziplining because my recent attempts to try it in India had failed. (Twice I’ve had to cancel my trip to Rajasthan because of work.) But not this time.

The only possible time I ever get scared is when I stand on the weighing machine! Never when I’m actually doing the stunt. Anyhow, weighed in, harnessed and standing on my tiptoes, I couldn’t wait to start zipping. Soon the safety door opened and I was suspended in mid air, my red sweater flapping in the wind. I gripped the rope once and as the mechanism started, I let go.

Cutting across the wind as it grazed my cheeks, I felt alive. My long hair kept blocking my view, of the greens — light and dark with specks of gold — but I didn’t care. I didn’t shout neither did I scream unlike the people on my right and left. I was at peace. The only fault with the whole experience was that it finished before it began! Once I landed on the other side (you can see the gorgeous spot in the picture below), my only thought was — when can I do it again!

A memento from Sentosa

A memento from Sentosa

Have you ever tried zip lining? 

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