Get-together yesterday

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– The sharp staccato clacks of stiletto boots on polished tile
– The animated chatter of friends long not met
– The buzz of a crowded mall even on a Monday afternoon
– The clatter of pins knocked down by a bowling ball inexpertly sent down the lane; more often, though, the steady rolling that accompanies a gutter ball
– The blare of an arcade basketball machine counting down the seconds, the clang of balls bouncing off the rim, the swish of a rimless throw, the indistinct blur of points and misses lost in the intensity of the game
– A quick, friendly “You’re good” mumbled by an onlooker
– The rustling of a crowd gathered around the Dance Maniax game
– The whoosh of the MRT on the commute home


Sweat trails down my forehead as I start my fourth game of arcade
basketball. I’m slowly figuring out a technique: how and when to
breathe, how to spin the ball to dispel the excess force I put in due
to excitement, how to adjust my direction or velocity. The rewarding
swish of several consecutive baskets thrills me. For a confirmed
computer science geek who was never fond of basketball in school, this
is a discovery – I may not have been as bad at hand-eye coordination
as I thought.

Breathe. Ignore form. Ignore time. Nothing exists but this ball and
the basket. I don’t need to impress anyone by jumping or twisting or
pitching the ball with a certain style; I just need to relax, breathe,
and let the ball go. Slow down. Better to have a few balls go in than
have many attempts fail. Learn control. As I become accustomed to the
game I will be able to go faster. Till then, better to learn how to
control the ball.

I go to the arcades for physical exercise. Dance Dance Revolution for
agility: this gives my feet a workout I can’t match elsewhere. Dance
Maniax for fun and for more coordination: buffering future moves.
Basketball is a recent addition, discovered recently when I saw Eric
playing and – competitive streak! – I challenged him.

One of the most euphoric moments I had was right after a particularly
strenuous DDR and basketball session. I was so tired, I found it only
natural to speak slowly and in a low voice – although I shifted into a
childishly high voice from time to time. That was fun. I felt
profoundly relaxed.

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