With the near-intolerable heat wave having passed and the Internet being out of commission, what better time to go for a dip to cool off and get some exercise in the bargain? Those who prefer roughing it go off to the beach, but those who are members of one of the various clubs in Karachi, tend to head straight for that cool, wet refuge of the upscale, the local club swimming pool.
Now, I wouldn’t know about the men’s timings, but having ample experience with the ladies’ timings, I could picture the scene: rowdy kids and mums to the ratio of 5:1 respectively, one instructor/lifeguard/authority figure and myself in the middle of it all, trying to get a bit of a swim amidst the madness.
Luckily, on this beautiful day, as I arrived, there seemed to only be two other people in the pool. Gleefully, I changed and jumped in. Much like the local public transportation, which waits till I’ve haggled and entered a Rickshaw to appear around the corner at last, the horde of mothers with a billion kids in tow arrived just as I was in the middle of my first lap in peace and the oh-so-blissful quiet. Midway, I could see blurry figures enter through the door, figures too tiny to be adults. Upon entering, most children will invariably let out a shriek of delight, or perhaps as a warning to the other occupants to clear the way. If their mothers did not haul them off to the changing rooms first, I have no doubt they would cannonball straight into the pool following that first shriek.
Unfortunately for us all, the little ones grossly outnumber their maternal adversaries and a mother only has two hands. Invariably, one of her smaller and slipperier charges will wriggle loose and half slide and half run out of the changing room and towards the edge of the pool to dip their feet in the water as soon as humanly possible. If one is lucky, the mother will have managed to get the youngest and slipperiest charge to put on his swimming trunks first and you will not, upon coming up for air at the edges of the pool, be greeted by a junior nudist. The mother will, having gotten bathing suits onto the rest of the children, hurry outside, half slipping herself and threatening dire consequences if the little one does not immediately return to the changing room and put some clothes on. Once the little wriggler is in her possession, she will smile indulgently at the rest of us, assuming the rest of us feel as generous towards the child’s antics as she does. Unfortunately most do. Matrons will smile and young maidens will grin, hoping their own children will not embarrass them as such eventually, and the somewhere below the surface of the water, I shall be cursing little children everywhere for having it in for me to the degree that they must rush straight for me when they’re playing “little nudist”.
Of course there is the inevitable delusional mother who insists her son should join her in the ladies’ timings although her son is approximately 11 years old and no longer permitted within under the rules. By the far (deep and scary) side of the pool, there will always be a cute pair of kids, scrawny as they come, who are apparently Olympic champion swimmers. They frolic about, effortlessly doing laps lengthwise instead of the easier and shorter breadthwise and cause many an overweight aunty as well as jealous twenty somethings who still have to use nose plugs to glare at them as they do backstrokes, breaststrokes, back flips, and many other fancy tricks. The rest of us continue working on moving our feet and arms at the same time shamefacedly while being held afloat by the swimming instructor.
Finally, though, we come to my favorite swimming pool pests, the children who must dive into the pool with a belly flop that would make Flipper proud and splash a great deal of water on all and sundry, then climb right back out of the pool and start their run up for the next belly flop. Each time they take their run up, they must yell to their mother, who would be on the other side of the pool to watch and God help us all if “Mama” isn’t paying attention, because they will scream their heads off till she does. Once assured of Mama’s undivided attention, they will go for the big dive once again. Now one may wonder what the big deal is for someone in a swimming pool to get splashed. The big deal is even if you’re in a Jacuzzi and someone throws a glass of water in your face, it’s not very pleasant, despite the fact that one is already wet anyway.
However, as a closing note, do not let my grouchiness stop you. Now is the perfect time to just have a good time frolicking in a pool with friends or family. Just make sure your kids keep their clothes on.