Just like any other family, Mayur Toshniwal’s also always asked him to focus on studies, rather than find a balance between sports and academics. Young Toshniwal therefore spent his hours pouring over books.
“Honestly, I was always inclined towards sports, but could never achieve anything in it. I remember whenever I spent more time than that was allowed playing outside, I was reprimanded at home for not being serious about a career,” reminisces Toshniwal, now the MD of Future Supply Chain.
To meet his professional responsibilities, in 1996, he shifted to Mumbai. Back then, he worked with Asian Paints and a good job got him a good house in a colony where swimming and tennis facilities were available.
Initially, he would step out for a stroll in the evening and watch ace players at their game at the squash court, and some swim in the pool that was next to the court. “Their play inspired me. I started pushing my son to go swimming. I told myself chalo try karte hain (let’s try this), bought the cheapest racket, since I was not sure how long I would stick to squash. And, that’s how one thing led to another and I made a couple of friends at the squash court. They helped me learn tennis,” he says.
Toshniwal is humble about his achievements in the court, saying he has become a decent player and slightly better than some of his friends too. But, there was no coaching that he ever took to learn squash, and barring the days it poured heavily in Mumbai, he practised every morning.
And so started his journey of playing at the court every morning for one hour at 6 am for six days a week. He says that any sport is addictive. “To begin with, I was not really a bad student, and hence, did not take a lot of time to pick up. As I said before, I was always playing something or the other because of my inclination. In a matter of one and a half years, I had learnt the game well. That was the time, when no matter what happened in office, how caught up we were with family or work, all of us reached the court at 6 am, every morning.” He also remembers how his family used to exclaim, “What is this new madness?"
He also participated in a few matches, but does not recall winning anything big. Along the course of learning and beating people in a match of squash every day, he also made lifelong friends. But, sadly, their carefree mornings of a good game did not last for long, as he was transferred again, this time to Gurugram. He made a shift to Delhi NCR in 2003, and that was also the time when squash took a backseat for couple of months. It was only towards the end of 2003, that he started playing again.
This time, he had more responsibilities on his shoulders, unlike his days in Mumbai, and not every morning is devoted to squash now. “I believe these days, not many are into playing only one sport passionately. Around 18 years ago, there used to be long queues every morning of squash enthusiasts, now it is only me and my friends. Nevertheless, this is something I will play for life, it keeps me agile. And, as I am diabetic, squash automatically becomes a crucial part of my life,” he says.