One in the hand… | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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One in the hand…

When in summer, the mercury breaches the 45-degree Celsius mark in Delhi, there is no greater luxury than a dip in the pool. The five star spots are well beyond the means of most and public facilities are scarce. Maj Gen GG Dwivedi (retd) writes.

chandigarh Updated: Nov 21, 2013 09:22 IST
Maj Gen GG Dwivedi (retd)

When in summer, the mercury breaches the 45-degree Celsius mark in Delhi, there is no greater luxury than a dip in the pool. The five star spots are well beyond the means of most and public facilities are scarce. Fortunately, for the defence services community, the officers' institute at Dhaula Khan has a small pool for a decent plunge. While highly popular with youngsters, elders also manage to squeeze in to justify a few drinks at the bar in the evening.


The opening and closing of this pool is marked by a popular event called the swimming gala. There are numerous attractions by way of games, music and snacks. The most popular are competitions as these carry fabulous prizes.

During one such event, as I made it to the pool side, competitors were getting ready for the 50m race. The pool being barely 25m, it entailed swimming to the far end, guzzling a bottle of beer and doing the reverse length. The winning prize was a crate of Kingfishers.

The field of eight appeared fairly competitive, most of the participants being in the twenties; but for one, who definitely was a senior citizen. I was fascinated with his sportsman spirit. Being on the wrong side of 40 at that time, frankly I felt a bit old to compete.

Soon the competitors were off to a flying start. While the seven participants were tearing through the water, the veteran was swimming effortlessly, to the applause of spectators. Whereas other participants having downed their beers were swimming back to the home end, the stalwart was merrily sipping from the beer, unmindful of the environment.

By now the next line-up was getting ready. The veteran had hardly emptied a quarter of the content. The organizer, anticipating undue delay, politely requested him to exit the field. With the bottle in hand, and a triumphant smile, he walked away gracefully to the loud cheer of the crowd. I watched him settle down at a nearby table, relishing his bounty.

Out of sheer reverence, I caught up with him to laud his efforts. He reciprocated with a firm handshake and signalled me to pull a chair. With a grin, burly silver grey moustaches lined with beer froth, he gently said: "The world is immensely competitive and everyone can't win. So participate, put in your best and enjoy the game without the tension of the outcome."

Summing up his life's philosophy, with a mischievous wink he added, "I realised early in the life that one in hand is worth dozen in the bush. Ironically, we go on to sacrifice even what we have, in the blind rat race, unmindful of our potential. At the end of the day, at best what can you be? Only a super rat! So to have real fun, compete with yourself."