The Khan brothers of LA Fitness Squash in Lake Success couldn't be two more different players and personalities. Haadi is the younger brother, tempermental, very talented, technically getting better each month, a fierce competitor, very smart squash wise, but his physical ability hasn't caught up with his squash intelletual ability. He often gets frustrated, yells at himself on court, and has on occassion directed his ire towards his coach. I've written before how he often seems to be battling some demon in his head and easily looses focus on the match at hand. Fayaz, his older brother, a second year student at St. John's University, is an aspiring lawyer and will talk anyone's head off about politics, religion, Entourage, his mind thinks in express mode and his mouth matches his head. He doesn't have the same skills as Haadi on the court, but he is as fierce a warrior as there is. He's been accused of giving up, being lazy, and not really working hard at his squash. But these days he's been so motivated and seems to relish the hard court drills I put him through. He knows at the end of those drills are his rewards to play points.
The two brothers are impossible to have on court during the same session, they can drive you crazy with their constant sibling rivalries. It's hard to work through this and focus on a lesson when every five minutes they're cursing and swiping balls at each other. And Fayaz does have a temper and has broken rackets, I'm told out of anger, but he'll only admitt he never knows how they break.
But this month is the holy Muslem holiday, Ramadan. A month of fasting from sun up to sun down. What has impressed me with these two young squash warriors is how they are at the squash courts 6 a.m. to train and play when they are fasting from food and water. They seem inspired more than usual and they never seem to lose their cool or tempers during these sessions. During these holy days they are to reflect on patience, God, and the positive energy in life. There are no demons to battle, no tempers to control, no slamming rackets or berating themselves -- this is a time for inner peace, and on the squash court it translates into a warrior like approach to the game. They are all business, they are focused, the ball and racket are the center of their hour, they transcend thirst when running court sprints, they transcend hunger when doing star drills, they transcend dissension when playing rallies. At LA Fitness there are many observers of this holy holiday, and the squash players all seem to work squash into their fasting schedule, but nothing like these Khan brothers, who inspire me and whom I admire for their dedication and discipline...they are afterall Khans, descendents of great warriors, and while not related to the Hashim and Roshan tree of squash champions, in their own way they are their own tree of squash players who bring together their love of squash and honor to their religion and culture -- a most profound purpose anywhere whether it's on court or off court.