Photo Courtesy www.Indianetzone.com
In the late 60s Anna was posted in Port-of-Spain, the capital of Trinidad & Tobago, an island in the West Indies. It was an island, and hence Anna thought it was critical that we all learn to swim.
|Trinidad District Map|
|(c) Phil Shaw|
Soon, Anna realised that it would be better for us to formally learn to swim vs splashing around. My younger sister and I were enrolled in swimming classes at the West India Club. We were taught how to float, how to hold our breath under water, how to paddle, how to swim freestyle and do backstroke. We even got certificates that stated each of these as distinct skills!
It's then that we graduated to the beach. Beautiful Maracas Bay.
|Maracas Bay, Trinidad|
Every weekend, when the weather was good we'd go to the beach, a 30 min drive from home. When the weather wasn't, we'd be at the club.
Soon the five of us, (Anna + 4 kids) became well known for being in and around water bodies (including running around sprinkler systems in the garden). Our parents friends started to ask Anna to take their children to the pool or the beach. They would even drop and pick them up. I now suspect that it was a way for many parents to get 3-5 hours of peace each weekend.
|Shark Sandwich at Bake and Shark|
Maracas Bay, Trinidad
Photo Courtesy www.amazing-trinidad-vacations.com
I think the maximum number of children Anna has taken out to swim has been 9. Each one a little younger than the next, so that when we stood in age order, our decreasing heights created a downward sloping line.
The story goes, that on one such occasion, when Anna had taken us all out to swim, a Trinidadian came up to Anna and asked him, in all seriousness:
"Mr. Murthi .... Are these all your children or have you left some at home?"
Now when Anna hears this line, he remembers the water and sun, the pride of children playing free, and his face lights up with a smile.