x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Skiing down memory lane in Dubai – just for old times’ sake

It won’t be long before I leave Dubai, so I’m trying to re-visit old haunts, and decided to go skiing.

The wind whistled past my ears as I whooshed down in a flurry of snow, the white spray fanning behind before floating wispily into the powder. A family sat huddled on the deck of the cosy wooden chalet above, where glowing lights winked lazily. Nice as it would have been to be flying about in an exotically romantic resort such as Chamonix, I was trundling about in the rather closer-to-home Ski Dubai.

It won’t be long before I leave Dubai, so I’m trying to revisit old haunts and decided to go skiing. It had been ages since I last went, though, so apprehensions were rife.

The minute I’d lined up to get my boots, however, the torrent of old coaches and old faces began, waving frantically and beaming.

It was all very heartening, as was the presence of a friend who had taken one Discovery lesson and had decided to manage the rest on his own. At least I wouldn’t be the worst skier there.

“How hard can it be, right?” Yash had asked. “I’ll just learn to ski myself without a coach. You can tell me if I’m doing it wrong.” Yash is an excellent sportsperson and had introduced me to sailing, which was much harder – skiing should be a doddle.

“Oh yes, I bet I’ll be a brilliant teacher,” I’d replied, puffing up, forgetting to mention that the place is bursting with 5-year-old skiers who are without exception better than I am. You often see six little kids skiing in a single file behind their coach, winding a sinuous path down the slope in perfect coordination. It’s preposterously cute, like a row of ducklings following Mother Duck.

Picking up skis and poles, we were soon at the top and zipping down the slope. Well, I was proceeding cautiously with shaky knees, euphemistically telling myself I was “warming up”. “Just follow me – up, bend your knees, straighten, turn,” I intoned in a mixed-up imitation of my coach in my first lessons taken aeons ago.

Yash took off like a bullet, hurtled wildly down and fell head over skis. He had also managed to lose his glove before he had even reached the top of the slope. “Man up, it’s not that cold,” I said doubtfully, as he fretted that his hand felt almost frostbitten. My bravado against the elements didn’t stretch as far as lending him a glove, though I did mumble: “You’re doing great!” at sporadic intervals.

The poor guy fell over a mean number of three times per run, but picked himself up with astonishing speed and was valiantly zooming towards another certain crash in no time at all. He skied much better when I gave up trying to teach him – whatever my calling turns out to be, a ski instructor is not it.

I hadn’t realised how fond I was of this place – the hordes of raucous teenagers in fluorescent gear showing off, the hiss of gaudy skull-embossed snowboards on icy patches, the camaraderie and warmth of fellow-skiers in a freezing environment. Dubai will be missed.

The writer is an 18-year-old living in Dubai