Saturday, February 12, 2005

An Arab on skis

I wrote this back in 1998, after my first ever skiing experience. A sport that I really love doing now (whenever I can), and at the time never imagined that me, being from Egypt and all, would be able to do. I like to bring those thoughts back to life here (I think I'll be doing that everynow and then; bring back some of my old thoughts from the dead).

When they told me to go skiing with them, I said, I think I should give it a try. I thought to myself, let the spirit of the old days come back again. The days when I used to go caving, hunting, windsurfing and ice skating. Ice skating was the worst of them all. It turns out that skiing is even more difficult to learn, but its falls are softer (except when you're fast ofcourse). I was very excited about it, but I thought it would be a mess just like ice skating. I thought I would just try moving around for half an hour or so, and then just sit there watching everyone doing it. Read on.

The worst part of the day was waking up at 5am in the morning. We had to get there early to make use of the whole day. The day started out sunny and chili. It was actually sunny most of the day, even up there, except for a couple of hours of snowing. I even got abit tanned! Fortunately, I was able to get about an hour of sleep in the car. You can notice the expressions of amazement on my face as we were getting closer to the ski resort we were heading to. The view was great, and the skiers looked really good.

I reserved a ``Discover Skiing'' lesson. I had two hours to try it on my own until the lesson starts. My Italian friend, tried to teach me a bit. I tried walking with the skies, slowly sliding, standing, and stopping, but I was completely out of control. I was slipping in every direction.

Here comes Ron, my ski instructor, preparing for my lesson. The guy seemed to be a real local from the area who has never been out of it. He was a pleasant guy, and a good instructor. He asked where I was from, and I told him I was from Egypt. It seems that he never heard about that place before, so I had to do some explanation. I was the only one in the lesson, so I ended up having a private tutor. The keys to skiing are; most important is to snowplow well, to move your feet correctly and to apply the pressure on the right spots. Most of all, you must enjoy it, that's how you really continue on. One important advise, don't ski with jeans, they gave me a hell of a time.

It was amazing seeing those kids skiing right by you and having all that great time. I must teach my kids to ski. "A sport that they will enjoy for the rest of their lives", says Ron. The problem is when they live in a hot country, they'll want to go skiing often. Anyways, I started out in the flat area, got the basics, then slowly applied that to a small slope. Then I went through the whole slope and took the lift up again. Taking the lift is not that obvious. Not with your skies on atleast. Its amazing how you gain control and confidence so fast with more practice. The first time I'd go down the slope, I'd lose control and fall, the second time I'd just lose control but make it, and the third time, I'm a skier.

Finally, I'm on my own. Ron isn't there to teach me anymore, but I gotta remember what he taught me. Each time I go down the slope I decide that its the last time because I'm too tired, but I get on that lift, sit on the chair, get some rest, and decide that its too enjoyable and I just gotta go one more time. Nothing stopped me except the lifts' closing and us having to leave. Ofcourse, my companions were astonished at the skier I became.

The results of this experience? First, I became a skier, a novice, but nonetheless a skier. Second, tomorrow will be a day of sore arms and legs. But last and not least, I'm up to another ski trip next winter, and it must be more than just a one-day trip. Let's have some more fun.


haal said...

Must have been a lovely experience.

Your title is interesting though. You make it sound like it is odd to see an arab skiing, at least this is my impression. I am sure you know there are skii resorts in Lebanon (sure other places in the Arab world) where Arab-Lebanese ski. Maybe you meant an Arab-Egyptian, or simply an Egyptian. Or maybe it is just me being resentful to the term 'Arab' and confused by what it actually means.

Mohamed said...

Yes, I agree, I had that same thought when I titled the post. I know ofcourse, there are ski resorts in Lebanon, and in Iran too. I don't think anywhere else. Still, that doesn't make it common, that's like what, less than 0.1% of the Arab population? I was gonna have the title say "An Egyptian on Skis", but An Arab on skis sounds better:) I wanted it to sound like you heard it. If there's a stereotype of Egyptians that they're different (camel's, desert, tents, etc.), the stereotype of Arabs is even stronger. So the title says, yes, there can be an Arab doing that same northern activity. And it actually did feel so different, so unbelievable to me, during that first time, that me (being an Egyptian Arab) be actually skiing and sliding on the snow like that. That's just how I felt then. Call me a mo7des if you want, that's exactly what I was then!

praktike said...

Was this in Canada? I haven't been skiing in so long, and it's only and hour and a half drive for me. But hey, once that indoor ski resort in Dubai is finished you can go there! (or Lebanon).

Mohamed said...

I would love to ski in Lebanon, and Iran would be really interesting too. I saw pictures of Iranians skiing there, and it seems there's lack of "conduct police" (or whatever they call it) up on those mountains. Those who are repressed down in the city seem to be able get a breather up there.

Anonymous said...

I liked your skiing experience :), sounds like you had a splendid time up there in the mountains. Thin air hitting one's face (when skating skiing, rollerbladding)is so refreshing. Now, you made me want to go out and roller-blad(sp?) right away on the library platform--just afraid something other than the thin air will hit my face.