Long, Boring Writing About a Short, Exciting Skateboard Ride

11:40 PM Friday, January 28, 2000

I just thoroughly scared the shit out of myself. A little tiny skateboard ride around the corner to Brian's house. There's something to be said about conquering your fears. Here's what I say: I'm glad that's over. Now it's time for fun. I shouldn't have done that while my blood sugar was so low. It gave me the shakes somethin' fierce. I was scared for a good 15 minutes after it was over. You see, I've experienced so much elation on a skateboard that I will put up with an initial skydiving-like fear to get to the point where I can use it every day. I haven't been that scared, well, since I tried to ride a bicycle in this city. The skate rush is about 100 times the bike rush though.

tourist panni   29196 bytes

It was Friday night and Ami called me over to eat dinner. I was interested in going out or something but this is actually a school night for my working friends and the debauchery is planned for tomorrow night. (Disco Dave is gonna get down in a little Fire and Ice.) Faced with the prospect of my Friday night amounting to a walk down the street, rice and dal, and a walk back, I decided to interject some fun into my evening. I had on my skateboard shoes, I looked at the board leaning up against the wall, I pictured all the sewers and roadwork patches on Babulnath Marg that I've been memorizing during my previous walks over to Brian's. (real skaters are gagging at this point that I'm being such a meticulous pussy).

I swear, if I get run down at 18th and Valencia in SF, well, then that's that. But to get whacked on vacation in a foreign country? I don't want to die here. I thought, "Should I take off this black long-sleeve and put on something a little more visible?" I thought about the fact that Brian may never get his rollerblading act together to be able to come with me, I thought about the last time I got hit by a car. I thought, "What would the neighbors think?" I honestly did.

I'm new to this area and I'm trying to keep a low profile, or, I *was* trying to keep a low profile. It's weird enough for a westerner to be living here without him rolling down the road on some never-before-seen contraption. I want to have a somewhat normal neighborhood life. That's why I declined to walk out of my house this morning with the camcorder whipped out and filming. Even though I was going out to shoot street scenes and even though about 15 miraculous never-seen-before-or-since mini-events happened within 2 blocks. I just wanted to walk and be terrifically unremarkable. That way, people know me as an average Joe....right.

Anyhow, I thought, "It might as well be now. It's Friday night." I knew I had to get it over with. I knew that just stepping on the first time would be the hardest. I knew that I would be riding down my street and everybody, I mean everybody, would stop what they were doing: ironing, sweeping, spitting beetlenut, carrying curd, praying, and look at me. I just looked straight ahead and pushed on down the street. Hmmmm smooth. Very Smooth. I could not look at a single person. It was just too much. I was trying real hard not to smile a huge smile. It didn't seem right to smile. How marvelously exhibitionist. I couldn't have flaunted my culture any more if I'd focused my board right on the head of a Shiva statue. This was me. I had to do it 'cause it's who I am but it was soooo goddamn weird (and I thought I'd done weird when I skateboarded during my lunch hour in the parking lots of ".com" business parks in Santa Clara).

Talk about a lot of pressure not to fall. I burned my vision into the pavement 15 feet in front of me, scanning for cracks or changes in aggregate densities or liquids. I hadn't realized the awkwardness that would be waiting for me, after 4 months of not skating, and in the pressure of the moment and the warped vinyl waviness of the road. Soon it was time to flow out into traffic and I wanted to see if people in cars would flip or if they would keep on driving in that same, "you best get your ass outta my way, I'm bigger than you" sorta way that they do here. I pushed at an easy pace down the road, which was amazingly hard for asphalt. I thought it was asphalt at least. It was like asphalt with no rubber in it. It felt like black pool concrete. My wheels went "zzzzz" instead of "rrrrrr". The cars flowed around me, I kept it straight and steady. The side of the road where I was eventually forced to had lots of dirt and the asphalt was sloping heavily into the gutter. I just felt really afraid. It wasn't until afterward that I realized that I was extra afraid because I was facing away from the traffic. Because I'm goofy-foot (right foot first) and the traffic is on the left side of the road, if I'm flowing with traffic, my back is turned to it. This is what regular-foot people have to deal with in the US but I don't. I really like being able to see forwards and backwards easily and even use my hands if I need to.

So I made it. I stand there on the median strip in Hughes Rd., waiting to get across and the security guards from the jewelry store stand up and start yelling and clapping. Cars honk even wilder than they usually do, I'm glad it's almost over. The ordinary people, families and what not, who's eyes I meet as I come to a stop in front of Kotak Kunj, couldn't care less. So what if the white boy rides a skateboard? Their calmness has a mild calming effect on me. Like when you put a blanket over somebody who's just been thrown through the windshield in a car wreck.

Speaking of which, I skate right past an accident at Babulnath Marg and Hughes Rd. on my way home. I decided to go on the opposite side of the road this time, going into traffic. I was actually enjoying it. And the lighter traffic afforded me some nice open stretches where I could snake some big carves across the lanes. Back home, the night nurse has to let me in because it's after 10PM. She doesn't speak any English but before she unlocks the lock, she looks at me through the gate, tilts her head a little bit forwards and holds up one hand to her chest in a half-namaste gesture. She always does that. I don't have anything that good to give back to her. I just say thank you real quiet and head up the stairs to my room.