Meet Geetha Narsimhan who defies what should be done in your 60’s or 70’s. She is a mom, grandmom, a swimmer who took up swimming in her 40’s. An avid cyclist enthusiast, fitness freak, full of life, she is surely inspiring many to be in gratitude to life.
Geetha shares with Mums and Stories, “ I left India in 1980 so I have lived in USA for 40 years. My best memory of India is growing up in Telco Jamshedpur. A small town where everyone knew everyone, celebrating holidays like Navarathiri /Diwali/ Durga Pooja and Ramnavami with friends and the whole community. We moved to Tamilnadu when I was 15. I never got that community feeling ever again. Though holidays were with family,that sense where the whole town was involved in the holidays was no longer there. It became more commercial and materialistic . The innocence was gone. One never realizes how good you have it until it is taken from you. I miss those days.
I was always into sports such as badminton (HS singles and doubles champion) and track in HS but being a Tambram, athletics and sports were never seriously encouraged and was considered more as a hobby. After my move to USA and when my kids were little older in my 40s I got interested in Tennis and martial arts. I got into a car accident in 2005 which put a dent in both these activities. Other work related injuries happened soon after and I had to give up playing tennis (I went from playing singles mixed doubles to doubles, hard court to clay court … steady decline) and participating in martial arts. That was my biggest regret as I was one belt short of my Black Belt.
With all the inactivity I gained a lot of weight and got diagnosed with high BP and sleep apnea. I had done some yoga in college so started practicing yoga and joined a gym to lose weight. This led to an interest in lifting weights and swimming because the pool was there. In 2009 studied to became a yoga instructor and followed that to become a yoga therapist. I had my own yoga studio and a thriving private practice. It went hand in hand with my professional career as a physical therapist. I’m retired now. I love being active and enjoy many activities. I also walk and a member of a walking group and we hit trails and parks in our area every weekend. So I’m a jack of all trades but master of none.”
Talking about taking up swimming seriously in life, Geetha shares, “ When I was about 9 growing up in Telco I almost drowned during a picnic. I was rescued and needed CPR. This led to a fear of water. In my early 30s or 40s when my boys were young I enrolled in the local pool for swimming classes as I did not want them to grow up with my fear. I learnt to float and to swim using basic free style but I did not like going in the deep end. Plus my technique never improved so I always lacked the endurance to swim better. And If I could not stand in the pool I wasn’t going in that direction , so I only “swam” in 4/5 feet of water. Over the years this has led to missing out on some great experiences. Recently in 2017, my son and his wife took me to Hawaii for my retirement and I could not participate in snorkeling or swimming in the ocean to see the dolphins. I was so tired of living with my fears. That’s when I decided that I was going to sign up for proper swim lessons and to get over this fear of deep end. I am now swimming laps and treading for 2+ minutes. I recently got a bike and taught myself to ride a real bike. I wasn’t allowed to ride growing up as mom thought people would talk or gossip.
It is not easy as an adult to learn a new skill. Learning a new skill involves training and using muscles not used before.
People shy away because of what others might say or think why waste money and may not have a supportive partner. Thank god my husband has no issues with all my physical activities as long as I don’t bother him!!
Age is never a hindrance. It is just a number, it is the mind that tells you age is a problem. You calm the mind and anything is possible.
I highly recommend practicing yoga, pranayam and meditation to create a peaceful mental status. Then the world is at your beck and call.
On a serious note, finding the right teacher is the key. Someone who understands you and your fears and inhibitions, understands your limitation and speaks your language and I don’t mean literal language. I mean that the instructor is in tune with what you want to get out of that lesson. Communication from both sides is important too.
Geetha has had a wonderful journey. Talking about motherhood, she shares, “ I always loved babies and I remember when I was about 13 my mom’s friend had a surprise pregnancy and had a baby in her 40s. Every time she came to visit my mom would warn me ahead to not take the baby or carry her. Once she even threatened me and said I’ll beat you if you don’t leave the baby alone. I said I can’t wait to have my own babies!! I loved being a mom and I won’t say it was always rainbows and fluffy clouds kind of days. There were many ups and downs but in general my two boys were very easy going and didn’t give me a hard time. My husband worked crazy hours as an ER physician so the bulk of raising them fell on me.
Having kids who are not too temperamental made it easy I think. The only thing was they love to eat and could not feed them fast enough. As soon I came home from work I cooked dinner and planned breakfast packed their lunches etc. in US you have no maid or domestic help so it’s the chores that were harder. But as soon as they were old enough my boys were doing small chores in the house. They unloaded the dishwasher, cleaned their bedrooms and their bathroom and when they were teenagers they were taught to do their laundry and on weekends even made simple breakfast. They were good kids and are responsible adults now.
I am now a grandmother of 4. My older son has 2 (ages 5&1) and my nephew has 2 (ages 4&2). I enjoy being called Patty (grandmother in Tamil) and all that goes with it. I truly love making idli and dosa and baking brownies and cakes for them. My oldest grandson who is 5 loves to visit us and we visit aquariums,farms and museums. Someone asked me why you want to be called Patty. It sounds like an old lady. I said I love being called that and I have earned the title. I could sugarcoat it and ask the kids to call me a cute name but it is what it is. I am a patty and very proud and extremely happy to be one.”
Geetha loves dressing up in her sarees like she adores her fitness attire or others. “ For those living away from Motherland social media is a boon. Granted it is all over the place and with loss of privacy and hacking we have to be vigilant. But it has definitely made the world a lot smaller. I remember the days of Airmail or aerogram which took for ever to get here. Or a phone call only on important occasion. I am on FB a lot but not on Instagram or Twitter as much.
I have always loved wearing a sari. I got my first sari when was 15 for my sister’s wedding. But in all honesty living in USA it is not easy to wear saris especially in the winter. Snow, ice or freezing temperatures don’t make wearing sari very convenient. Nor can you wear and be comfortable on the subway. But now that I’m older and retired I am a lot more nostalgic. Plus visiting India 4xs in the past 2 years has suddenly increased my sari collection. Finding a lovely group of supportive women with a common thread love for saris has just made me aware how much I love wearing a sari. My husband calls it cumbersome and old fashioned and though I agree with him a little I cannot explain the love and fascination I have for this century old dress.
Whatever it is my mom is 89 and she lives 2 hours away. I had promised her last year that every time I visit her I would wear only a sari. Unfortunately the pandemic has stopped that but every time I take a picture wearing a sari I send it to her through WhatsApp. It makes us both very happy and I’m in my happy place.”