Life Hacks from Agony Akka Columns

Mental marathon

Illustration: Satheesh Vellinezhi  

Dear Agony Akka,

From childhood I have wanted to take part in sports and become great athlete or swimmer. But my family is not at all encouraging me. I used to come first in all the races on school Sports Day, and during my +2, I even got selected for inter-college basketball tournament. But I needed to attend coaching classes every day at 5 p.m., and my parents did not like that. When you will study for IIT entrance exam, they asked. Then I got chance for swimming coaching, but my mother said I will get pneumonia if I spend too much time in water. Like that I lost all opportunities. Now seeing Olympic games and the graceful and powerful sportspersons from all countries, I am feeling terribly disappointed. I wish I could also be there. I am sure I could have won at least one medal.

— Fully Offended & Unhappy Lad


Relax. You will feel better when I tell you that you are not alone. The country is full of aspiring and able-bodied and agile men and women who can do very well in all sports. But the country is also full of parents, bureaucrats and officials who are even more aspiring and able-bodied and agile. To get past them you have to have the skills of a hurdler from Krypton.

In other nations, people become award-winning sportspersons by only playing sports. If you do that in India, you will be a failure. If you want to be Usain Bolt, you need to learn multiple skills. ‘What is Akka saying,’ you are thinking. ‘I need to run, that’s all.’ And that is where you are very wrong. When I list all the skills you need, you will realise that JEE exam is easier.

First of all, you need to vastly improve the speed of your typing. Throughout your career, you will be required to send hundreds of emails and applications to various government departments and sporting federations and sponsors. So please practise typing for one hour every day.

Second, learn to supplicate. This is a stretching exercise to make your muscles and limbs supple and flexible. A successful sporting career means you have to constantly plead for things that you would otherwise get automatically in other nations. From shoes to training equipment to high-nutrition foods, getting each item involves repeating a specific asana many hundreds of times in many different government arenas. It boosts muscle strength tremendously. That’s why yoga is being encouraged these days.

Third, learn how to share. Whether it is special foods or socks, sweatshirts or financial grants, officials will want a bit of it. For example, if you’re going to Berlin for a competition, be prepared to have three or four mandarins accompanying you. It’s their only chance of going to a foreign country. Polishing your sharing skills will also come in handy during training camps. Invariably there won’t be enough beds or bathrooms or boiled eggs for everybody. You will need to share.

Fourth, learn how to say thank you. If you get a medal, you have to start by thanking the Prime Minister and work your way down. (You must also thank the PM for vaccine, 12th-century Hoysala temple and Amul butter, but you can practise that later.)

Simultaneously, identify one famous actor to play your role in Bollywood film. If you are Malayali, find Punjabi actor. If you are Manipuri, find Punjabi actor. This will ensure unity in diversity.

Then, last of all, practise running. Or shotput. Or whatever.

As you can see, it isn’t easy. And that’s why India’s Olympics motto is Pitius, Deterus, Trollus.

— AA

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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 4:51:05 AM |

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