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Month: January 2015

Paddling Blind

Paddling Blind

Time to read: 5 min

One of my favourite poems ‘On his blindness’ by John Milton ends

Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.

A friend of mine, Sandeep Mhatre, had buzzed me when I last checked into Karanja. A 17 km paddling trip that was one of these flights of fancy. I’d returned home to powai when he’d seen it but I promised to meet him saturday morning.

Waking up at 7 today, I have to say it took a long time to get on the water. A few days back, I’d lost my right eye contact to a wave while re-entering my kayak(subsequently, I tried in vain to get back in). So I broke a new case open, got my glares out and was ready to hit the water by 9. A good warm up and I hauled my kayak down to the water. The plan was simple. Cut straight across to Uran following the flames. I sent my spectacles and my contact lens box with a friend who would join us in Uran. 100 metres in, I felt my right eye twitch. I felt my contact travel down my cheek and fly into the water. Good luck finding that again.

I had two options. Head back to the club house and open another contact lens box or paddle to Uran. So began my 8.5 km trip with one eye. Now, I know it’s probably romantic thinking of an eye patch and a wooden leg, but the ground realities are that when your kayak is being washed by waves on starboard and a nice morning wind is slapping your right cheek, the depth perception of two eyes is a good thing. I had to veer off quite a bit, and like Frodo & Sam, make a circuitous route to the eye of Mordor. (Flames of Uran) It made for a fun trip and my brand new waterproof earphones, that Saurabh kindly gifted me for my birthday, dubstep blaring, was a bit of a distraction keeping me from hearing the waves. I changed course and made more for Karanja, planning on hugging the coast when I got there. It meant a bit of headwind and I learnt to make peace with that. Little by little I corrected my course till I was staring right at the flames. Keeping them to my right, I carried on, past the dargah, across a line of rocks and in between the fishing lines. An old couple on a rickety green boat was making for shore. As they saw me, they enquired who’s boat this was. As my reply went – mine, they asked me where I came from. I said Mandwa, and got an incredulous question back – is there a motor attached. I said – No. Bewildered he went – Chappu? I wished them a good day, and paddled on past the broken jetty that was our decided point to meet with Sandeep.

Landing at Uran
Landing at Uran

As I disembarked and walked my kayak to shore, I was happily reunited with my spectacles. I swapped out the lens and sat to admire the stretch I’d just bested. While Sandeep couldn’t meet us, his brother Sanjeev and his wife, Anita had brought their boys, Dishant and Mohit, down to the water. I took Mohit out on the kayak and he loved the way it ran on the water. He looked a natural taking my club carbon paddle and even stroking the water. A passing wave rattled him a little but only for an instant, and when we finally took him out of the kayak, he had the paddle stuck in his right hand. #startingyoung

Sanjeev, very graciously took us to coffee to a lovely place overlooking the water and it was a welcome break, talking about NDA and sailing and my upcoming trip. It was an hour well spent. I wanted to cast off, since the afternoon wind wouldn’t be in my favour and I didn’t intend on being stuck in the sun for any longer than I needed to.

Coffee table at Uran
Catching up

I set off and skirted past the fishing lines, pulling my rudder up in the ones I couldn’t avoid. It seemed to be going well enough, when I realised my right eye was leaking. I contemplated washing it out, but thought it would probably pass given time. I was wrong. As I waded deeper into the water, crossing into the channel, the irritation got worse and I found myself keeping my eyes shut for longer durations of time. The glare off the water was immense and very soon, I could keep the right eye open just for a few seconds. Again, I found myself paddling blind in one eye. There were a few things in my favour though. For one, the water was calm. Secondly, the wind hadn’t picked up considerably. Mid channel it was anyone’s guess where the waves were coming from, but I kept the pace. I barely braced, but corrected my course multiple times. Starting with Gull Island to my starboard, I ended up crossing it at port, something that was necessitated by a series of rocks on it’s east side. Past the island, I figured I needed to correct my course further, and the ferry from Bombay helped a blind man remap Mandwa. When I was past Gull Island, with a couple more kms to go, the glare was blinding, and with just my spectacles(spectacle to be honest) I had a tough time keeping an eye out for sudden waves. When I arrived at the jetty, I was a little more at peace. I rushed ashore and washed out my eye. It felt so good, I even did away with my PFD and did a km run within sight of shore.

I’m not one for standing and waiting, but paddling hard over Land and Ocean without rest seems just fine.

Post over land and sea
Post over land and sea
The delight of being on the water

The delight of being on the water

Time to read: 4 min

I woke up later than I intended to. The sun was way past that time that we ignore each other’s existences.

I turned and I felt my back throb. I reflected on last evening and decided a prolonged evening out is not for me anymore.

I felt the laziness kick in, and just as I was about to spur myself to leave it in bed, dad yells out – “Mom’s made methi for you. You better have lunch and go.”

Foiled. By mom’s marvelous methi. We can take a moment to reflect on how beautiful a thing it is. When I make my big debut on Masterchef, I’ll make a methi so fine, people won’t need desert. And then I’ll shrug it off and say “You should try my mom’s.” (End of digression.)

I’d luckily purchased and packed a host of healthy food and groceries for Mandwa. And after a nice sumptuous methi lunch, I set off on that 3 hour journey to training. In the attempt to get there, I take a rick to Vikhroli, a train down to CST, a bus to Gateway(Why, because buses are cool) and a ferry to Mandwa. In the middle of all this, I manage to make time for a pack of popcorn freshly made, and a medium glass of sugarcane juice from Gupta’s (that most awesome of sugarcane juicers). In my ‘oh-can-we-just-get-there’ morning melee, I hadn’t accounted for the punctuality of our ferry men, and I had to grumpily acknowledge the growing heat of a Bombay afternoon. (Safe to say, despite the Starks and ravens from the citadel, summer is coming)

The ferry ride was mostly uneventful, apart from a couple that were conspicuously dressed to match, in their white shirts and black trousers and black shoes. I wouldn’t have paid too much attention if not for the copious amounts of chips they were so eager on tossing to the passing gulls. One can only imagine a more health conscious seagull taking much issue with our penguin draped friends. In a fit of rage, I can picture him / her hovering precariously close to penguin man’s face and saying – “I say old chap, I do hope you’re feeding your children better than that.” Flap, flap, flap.

Sea Gulls flying past the oil rig
Sea Gull Health Inspectors take flight.

Seeing as how this didn’t really happy and these hapless gulls lapped up all the Balaji wafers offered up to them, I felt it was time to get down to the task at hand. Offloading my supplies I trudged down to the club house. A chance encounter with Randhir Behl was a welcome break to my otherwise slow day and after exchanging notes on our plans for the remainder of the weekend, I got down to changing into gear.

I must, at this point, remind you about the state of my muscles and the soreness it felt. I returned to trudging and picked my kayak from it’s housing. With a heavy foot, I pulled it down to the water. Did my stretches. A few muscles that had had the snooze button on, were rudely awakened. I took the kayak in, assembled my paddle. Eased into it, and gave it a few strokes. My Suunto didn’t kick in for the first 500 meters, and that’s when I felt it.

A rush of wind coming from just beyond the jetty. Smack on my port side. A wave splashed right along the side of the boat, and dragged me a good 5 metres wide. And just like that I was awake again. And I was paddling. Sometimes, all it needs is that first jolt.

Kayaking into the sun
Sunset, Kayak and a touch of wind

I did roughly 8 kms of paddling, quite a bit into the wind. It was a quick sea and it let me know that I needed to have my wits about me. In the distance I could spot a bunch of sailors enjoying the wind. I could agree with them, if not for my rude awakening. I paddled till the sun had had enough of me, brought the kayak 100 metres off the beach, and did my capsize training. 10 successful reentries and a jug full of sea water later, I called it a day and hauled my kayak back to it’s home.

From Mandwa, on my 5th day, this is Kaustubh Khade, Paddling Hard.

Dolphins at Mandwa

Dolphins at Mandwa

Time to read: 5 min

Today was the first day waking up at Mandwa. I’ve been, very kindly, put up as a guest at the Bombay Sailing Association Club house by the gracious and extremely affabale Randhir Behl. A long evening of kayaking yesterday, aggravated by a heavy wind and rocky waves, meant I woke up with a touch of soreness. Since no one likes waking at the clock, I snoozed till 8:10.

I stumbled out of my room and was greeted by the extremely caring attendant, or mama, who enquired about my breakfast. I was happy collapsing into the chair and awaiting a double omlette, I downed a cup of coffee laced with a strong dose of sugar. Good morning world.

Kayaking into the sunrise
Into the sun

Passing past Battery Park, I waved to the circle of friends I’d made the day before. And headed to pick up my kayak. The good natured Sridhar helped me take my beauty out of the housing and I took it straight down to the water. I had an idea of what I wanted to do today, and a good warm up after, I was in the kayak paddling away. The waves were kind today and after a few practice drills, I set off for the fishing village just off the cliff at mandwa. And what a glorious sight it was. The sun was out and it paled everything that the mist hadn’t already conquered, but through it all, one could see the outline of an army of fishing vessels. Anything else would be a gross understatement as I stared at 20 big fishing trawlers. But only for an instant. Then I was gone. It was a good route with a 2 km downwind stretch that let me test out my kayak. Heading back I got the headwind, but it was quick going and I had no complaints as the sun hadn’t set the air on fire.

On the run back, I was plagued by fishing nets. Not wanting to jump in and have to release it from my rudder, I chose to paddling through the minefield of bobbing thermacol. Pulling up alongside one, I found that I was not the only person avoiding it. 10 metres off my kayak, a grey creature emerged, took a deep breath and dove back in. As always, everything stops for dolphins. And I slowed to watch him do it again. He, like me, was looking for a way out. Every now and then you find a kindred soul in another species.

I made a couple of runs and ended the morning session with 15 kms in just under 2 hours. It wasn’t my fastest and I found myself bracing in the downwind conditions. But it was fun. A couple of seat adjustments and a deeper seating meant I was more in control.

Lunch was very welcome. And I dug into the rice, dal and bhindi that made me nostalgic about Kolad. I wolfed down on it, and it helped that the moushi had asked me twice over the amount of rice I’d requested. (My own estimations of how much rice I eat, were grossly exaggerated) So I ate as much as I could, and took a walk down to the jetty. My friends from battery park were in the process of leaving, so I took the time to say goodbye and headed back home.

A group of very bubbly women had recently checked in to the club house and I set about welcoming them (including agreeing to take one of them on the water in the afternoon). I then retreated to my room to catch up on some rest. My body had been asking for it. A quick nap and that alarm I’m getting so used to loving, chirped.

My clothes from the morning were sufficiently dry and I picked my kayak and dove into the water. As the evening high tide swung in, I found the going more fun. The evening wind was strong and my short forays were met with much resistance. I clocked another 7.5 km and then brought the kayak in for my capsize drills. The water was a lot calmer than yesterday, so I enjoyed a fair amount of success. All in all, I spent about 2.5 hours on the water. Then I hauled the kayak back and decided to call it a day.

The evening has been kind. And I’m finding out how much I adore a hot water bath. There is probably nothing sweeter after spending 5 hours on the water in various degrees of being soaked to the bone. I polished off my rice and moushi produced some fried fish that I used as desert.

An old sailing friend, Muruggan Nadar, is holding a beach party it would appear, so I’ll sign off and see if I can soak in some of the bonfire. From Mandwa, feeling good, this is Kaustubh Khade Paddling Hard.

Every smiling face

Every smiling face

Time to read: 7 min

Yesterday I wrote about how sport helps transcend boundaries. Today it played out before me in spectacular fashion.

I woke up early today to attend the MagicBus session. I was a little nervous and my perennial stubble / beard was the first to take a hit. A dear friend of mine,  Siddharth Menon, architect, sports lover and humanitarian, was accompanying me to see the kids. Reaching Dadar with 25 minutes to spare, we were hopelessly lost much to our and our hosts despair. We finally found the distinctly red Sai Swamy Vayam Mandir and seeing the white tshirts with MagicBus emblazoned on them meant we had arrived.

First things first, I was surprised to see it wasn’t a closed room the children were in. They were merrily gathered in the open field that is Shivaji Park. While a whole military parade practiced for the upcoming Republic Day, 21 children listened intently to their bubbly, confident and charismatic mentor, Manohar. Sandhya from MagicBus welcomed me and before I knew it I was part of the circle playing a curious game of Introduce Yourself. It took just one Dabaang-inspired-move to get everyone to join in and chime out my name. As I laughed at the hilarity of watching 20 small kids turn up their imaginary collars and strut to the center of the circle saying – Hi my name is Kaustubh Khade (in imitation of me) I realised that in that small act, I’d already been accepted. Everything after that ran as smooth as a hot knife through butter.

In the circle with the kids
The Inner Circle

Manohar was running a small game to gauge the kids attentiveness and from the screams of delight, it was going very well. Barely had Sandhya started on telling me about the program that our attention was diverted to a much more pressing issue. The kids were sorted into teams and were about to start their practice game for the inter-zonal MagicBus football tournament. It was naturally of paramount importance to play for a team. And old friendships were turned into rivalries as Sid was chosen to play for the blue team and I was playing for the whites. As any game of football this one was particularly important and I was chided early by my young captain for letting Sid past me( a cheeky nutmeg I inquired very sternly about later). I hate letting any team down and I resolved to do better against sid later 😉 The excitement was palpable and my side found its feet very fast. Some deft passing and clinical finishing from our forwards put us 2-0 up in no time. As anyone in football will know,  goal celebrations are everything and I was blown away with how inclusive they were in my team. Everyone high fived everyone and I would be lying if it didn’t melt my heart when the smallest girl on our team, would smile the shyest smile, run over with both hands in the air for her high fives. Everyone contributed and our defender Jyoti made me smile a proud smile when she cleared a clear run from the opposition and then asked me – ‘was that good?’ More than you know Lil one.

Everything was a blank slate. And all that mattered was the moment. Falling on your knees, shrugging it off and getting back to the game became commonplace. The team urged me to attack and score some goals, but I chose to play the playmaker role, lest the blues feel cheated in practice. There was a time though when the build up play left me with the ball in front of the keeper and I lobbed it in. And I turned to look for my team, and they came rushing in. Much excitement followed. And all the familiar feelings of winning as a team came rushing back.

As one team came off to make space for the other, Manohar ran the kids through the technicalities of the game and what constitutes a clean game. There was much happening, and I was caught between the kids repeating after their mentor, the engaging game going on, where Sid was conducting his side’s defences, and Sandhya’s effervescent answers to my many questions. I was immersed and it felt good.

Me with the kids, trying to answer some questions
Manohar Conducting. Kids Engaging.

Right after we played some team work games and while we all played for points, one could clearly see how teamwork and understanding and taking defeat magnanimously was the purpose. Everyone laughed and discussed strategy and played their part. When our white team lost, the victorious yellow team shook hands and were taught to say ‘well played’. If everyone in real life were like this, the world would be a better place no?

While Sid was busy discussing the details of MagicBus, I was busy being dragged from one group to another and playing with the children. I would not have known we had spent 2 hours there were it not for the phone calls and list of emails I’d so easily ignored. Right after the program, we boarded the MagicBus Bus. Sandhya and Manohar kept us both engaged with stories on how long the program has been run and the impact.

The bus took us from Dadar to Dharavi, a place I’ve known for a while now. The idea was to visit the homes of the children and meet the parents. And it was a very rewarding experience. MagicBus also organizes for football tournaments for the parents of the children and we met with 4 mothers who’d played this year. Talking while washing the dishes, taking time off sewing or house hold chores, we met a very bubbly and alive set of mothers who clearly enjoyed being associated with MagicBus. While the first mother we met spoke forcefully about her matches and having to fight to win, another regaled how her son was now practicing football at the Sports complex just opposite their chawl. We were told that the water lasted 2 hours in the morning and it explained the rush of people washing and cleaning; and that the tiling above the gutters that ran between two houses (that sufficed as a road) had been built in light of the elections. The open sewers that emptied into the ‘khaadi’ had resulted in 2 dengue deaths and hygiene was a constant problem. To be faced with such reality was to open one’s eyes to the Pandora’s box we so often neglect in our daily lives. As a testament to the mothers though, not a single one spoke about it. All they talked about were their children, and how they enjoyed MagicBus. How the tournament was a welcome change in their lives. How MagicBus would come to individual houses to ensure children stayed regular and learnt their lessons. There was much to be happy for, much to stay in the program for. Dropouts are at a minimal and children are transitioned from the learning phase to the livelihood phase. The mothers were thankful and I sensed a great satisfaction and pleasure there.

 

Induced smiles from a parents stories in Dharavi
Induced smiles from a parents stories in Dharavi

One doesn’t have to ponder too hard whether a program this inclusive and engaging can have long term effects on a community. Will the next generation in Dharavi learn right from wrong by learning to respect one another on a playing field? Will the shy girl on the field find a place and be loved as we did when we won? Will they be humble in victory and strong in defeat? I believe so.

As an end note, there is much and more that we are fortunate enough to have in our lives. In conversation with the children, mothers and the staff at MagicBus, a lot of joy can be brought in the little things. The white t-shirt and black shorts with the MagicBus symbol depicts a symbol of unity and hope here. I urge you to support the cause. Please come forth and visit the centers. Find out for yourself. So I request you to visit the page – www.ketto.org/kayak4acause and be generous.

When I was being introduced, one of the MagicBus staff said – he is helping raise funds for the cause. I feel a great sense of pride in it. I know you will too.

The bus!
The bus!
All aboard the bus
All aboard the bus!
Rolls Training

Rolls Training

Time to read: 3 min

Day 3. Rolls Training.

Pali. 04.01.2015

Blue Pyranha Play Kayak
Weapon of Choice: Play Kayak

The day started well with a slow breakfast at our not so favourite haunt. A good poha later, our merry band headed down the Unhere road in quest of the ‘dharna’ that’s the elusive beauty of Pali. After a good deal of going the wrong way and providing ample amusement for the villagers going about making their pukka houses in the heat, we found the misleading turn just-yonder the temple.

Finally after a bit of running around, we arrived at the foothills of that most august of dams. And the wonderful overhanging valley. It served as a fitting end to a day with the best of company.

After that it was back to business as usual and a drive down to Kolad saw us arrive shortly before lunch. I’ll admit a touch of sunday laziness kicked in and we took a leisurely lunch that is soon becoming our staple diet here. Rice, dal, bhindi and roti. And a laddoo I was most glad to donate to the eager crow. While we lazed awaiting the water levels to rise,we were subjected to HS’ brand of humour. One that we are all beginning to fall in love with again. Shortly after it was time to get our feet wet. As I skirted up, the others got ready to take a couple of sit on tops out on the water. Rajesh, my exceedingly patient and terribly talented kayak instructor was ready to save my drowning behind, and in all honesty, and at the cost of sounding immodest, I didn’t let him early on in the day. By the time I was into my 30th roll of the day, I looked comfortable doing it. I felt I was doing a better job of sticking to the kayak right after finding myself in the drink. A couple of the drills from Day 2 rally helped and I found myself more at ease at looking at the world upside down from under the water. I found myself taking my time even after Rajesh’s customary tap telling me it’s time to roll. The sweep of the arm was longer and I felt I carried the blade along the edge a lot better. There was still a fault in the distance between the arm and the ear and the angle of the blade on the water, but towards the end of the day I found I as cutting it a lot closer and had to lean and push back a lot less. The kayak continues to resist my lower body and mishearing Rajesh’s concerned statement that ‘it’s small’ provided amusement for the juvenile company I’ve been keepinmg this weekend.

We ended the day with some tired shoulders and arms, and it was a good decision. I left content in the knowledge that I could do a guitar roll unassisted. Mahesh’s comforting words that I had achieved a lot in the span of 3 days were welcome.

Tomorrow we graduate to the eskimo roll. And perhaps, back to basics.

PaddleHard.

Pain

Pain

Time to read: 3 min
Trypewritten article on Pain
Journal Entry

11.01.2015

Pali, Maharashtra.

PAIN.

An hour into training I hit it. That moment you get hit by that feeling. I started the day spectacularly, with some quick rolls. I was out of the water instantly after toppling. And I braced on. Things were going smoothly when I missed a roll. Unable to get the paddle back I surrendered to the river and Rajesh had to swim in to toss me over. All the spectators on their weekend office trip, who till now were delighted to see me disappear and reappear with only the pretty blue hull of my kayak to show for it, stood a little quiet now. I shrug it off and get back into position. Tilt left, turn right, go under. Position the blade, take a moment to breathe (or not) and sweep. Air, light, boom, Water. As Rahesh rushes to position himself under me, I realise I missed again.

As I grab some air, and wipe the water off my face and eyes, I ask myself, What gives? Undettered, I reposition and fall back in. Same result. The quiet spectators make way for worried spectators. And I’m struggling.

It’s called Pain.

My hip was sore. And my knees ached. The toes that had found some allowance in that baby kayak were being asked to clear out, and were seriously considering it. My shoulder would hurt if it felt something. And I was back to sq. 1.

It holds true for nearly every sport I’ve tried. At sailing, for a week I had no gloves and a broken jam cleat meant my hands chafed every session. During the races I felt no pain. At archery, the first few sessions my left arm knew what the bow string tasted like. When Oscar changed our technique while kayaking, my calves cramped. So, Why do we do it?

Why am I spending a sunday afternoon trying to repeatedly drown myself when there are other pursuits? Why should I endure back pain tonight? Or put myself back in that tight kayak tomorrow morning?

I can’t honestly say. I guess on some level it’s a reminder that you are doing it right. Your first steps in anything tend to be like that. And after that first fall, first taste of ddust, first mouthful of river water your body becomes more ready.

The first time I kayaked a distance I was hit by a gust of wind heading back, and it put me off balance. I was 2 Kms off shore and there wasn’t a soul in sight. In our lives we experience pain and we shy from it, avoid it even. Take a day off working out, or give up an activity altogether. This, when it might be the very thing we need. In the basic way of looking at it, aren’t we All born off pain. Kicking and screaming we’ve made it this far. And we have a long way to go.

I took the kayak to the launch site, squeezed my severely cramped legs out, let the water out of the kayak. Took a breath or two. Got my feet back in and execute the rolls to perfection. We start at 8.a.m. tomorrow.

PaddleHard.

Cricket and the sport we all love.

Cricket and the sport we all love.

Time to read: 4 min

Driving down to Pali for training, one has to pass by a myriad of small farming towns. Having picked up some kerosene in a bottle, I was heading home to setup for an evening of bbq-ing. The road to Pali is a lovely drive, mostly devoid of traffic and almost always picturesque. So I was surprised when I was approaching a town, I had to slow down for what appeared to be a blockade of two wheelers. While navigating through it, I asked myself what could have caused the major holdup in this most remote of places.

Cricket.

I saw in the distance what could only be a semblance of a field on top of a flat, barren plateau cut off by the winter remains of a rivulet. And a beaten path that looked good for off-roading. Yet an army of bikes and a handful of cars had parked themselves at the pink and purple gates of a welcoming sign that read – Sudhagad Premier League 2015. The boards were alive with pictures of local politicians that were unmistakably orange.

Walking through the gates, you could hear the excitement ring loud through the voice of the eager commentator, who was speaking 19 to the dozen on a patchy mike. The well adorned VIP enclosure had a stand for the VIPs and acted as a player enclosure for the two teams on the field presently. The host of trophies that played centerstage to the enclosure were well protected by a bust of Shivaji Maharaj himself.

I’d walked in right on time, as the ‘Rising Stars’ were about to take to the field against the ‘Sai Fighters’. With the fielding team on the dry red dusty field, the two rising stars taking the field both touched the ground on the field line and then touched their lips in prayer for the game.

After that began the most enthralling and redeeming game of cricket I’ve seen. Everything about this spectacle screamed of the romance of cricket that amidst all the media and marketing and scandals seems to be lost. With teams like – ‘Veer Maratha’, ‘Deshmukh Traders’, ‘Sai Fighters’ & the ‘Risings Stars’ here were a bunch of people who called it as it is. The fielder on the edge of the circle scoffed at energy drinks and taunted the other team for suggesting it. They played with tennis balls and everytime someone hit a lofty six 2 or 3 barefooted kids scampered into the rocks or the bush to retrieve it and keep the game in play. The track, let alone the field was uneven and you could often see fielders jump in the air to account for unnatural bounce or sudden turning balls. The boundary itself was roughly etched out in ‘chuna’ and black round rocks from the rivulet had been painstakingly painted white to make it clear. The DJ was the rockstar of the event and interjected with Sunny Leone songs everytime there was a 6 or a wicket. The commentator was a jolly good sport, who at half time switched to hindi and explained his first half coverage in Marathi as a bet he had placed with someone that he could do the whole gig in the local tongue. *much laughter ensued*. There were no sponsors to boast of and even the plain wooden bats bore no MRF. Midway through the chasing innings, one of the bats broke on impact with the tennis ball and more bare bats were rushed to the center. No one wore padding or gloves, both batsmen and keeper and the batsman often used the red soil to dry his hands before an attempted 6. As the sun came down hard, the camaraderie was spectacular and both teams were in a jovial mood. But most of all, was the simplicity and understanding of the whole event. Batsmen would walk over to the middle to exchange the one good bat they had on the pitch, and on every wicket, you could spot the crotch guard being exchanged between incoming and outgoing batsmen. Not an element of pretense. When the final runs had been made off of a spectacular 6 with 2 balls to spare, there was pure joy and pure anguish on the field. Within minutes the presentation ceremony was done and the man of the match was given a medal. And it was on to the next match.

It really begged the question, where is real sport being played in India. There was much joy here. And every moment from the spectacular catch to the horrific miss was cheered and jeered as only a village people could. In earnest.

Sudhagad Premier League
Sudhagad Premier League Welcomes you.
Trophies for SPL 2015
All the bling. And Shivaji Maharaj
Old man and the Sea. Of umpiring ineptitude.
The man who could judge run outs. But not an umpire
The Music setup
DJ Sudhagad
Man of the match receiving his medal
Man of the Match
Power Generator.
What powers its all. One Generator in an empty field.
Crowd in the stands.
What an audience in Sudhagad looks like.
Fielder on the lines for Sai Fighters
Sai Fighters on the edge
The entrance to the stadium of right.
Entrance to the SPL 2015
Batsmen taking to the field
Batsmen taking to the field

 

A Great start to the new Year

A Great start to the new Year

Time to read: 3 min

I have to say that 2015 started off well. Apart from the obviousness of waking up on a cliff overlooking a beach hearing the waves come crashing down, there have been some great early decisions. For starters, I spent the last 4 days in Kolad learning safety techniques for capsize or very simply, rolling.

It’s been a tough few days and I can’t remember when my body was this sore, but the outcome has been good so far.

The idea came from Pradip Patade, a constant mentor and coach, and he put me in touch with Mahesh Sanap at Wilder West Adventures. You might know them if you’ve ever been rafting in Kolad or the Kundalika. They basically run the show there.

While the rafting is what I’d predominantly gone there for previously, they have a great property that serves as a place to learn river kayaking, take jetski’s out for a ride and learn your basic scuba too. The owner, Mahesh was extremely helpful and recognized the expedition and it’s adventurous nature right away.

Day 1: It was fraught with uncertainty and I was a little worked up with my resistance to being in the water. Despite having a good control over my breath underwater, I found myself panicked in the upside down scenario. I can’t say I drank anything less than 3 litres of river water that first day and frankly felt the expedition stood on the edge of a blade.

Day 2: I started with a new instructor. Rajesh, I’d say is a pro. He was doing things with his kayak that I couldn’t pull off on a dance floor*. I found my feet in the water and realized I’ve nothing to be afraid of here. Slowly, but steadily I was getting better at the stroke and pulled off some assisted rolls by the end of the day. My consumption of river water was remarkably less and I felt I’d seen the world upside down a lot more today.

Day 3: Rajesh was prompt in his instruction and we did some great drills. My confidence and morale was boosted by the friends who’d come down to join me kayaking on the water. (Needless to say they had a good time running around the lazy stream in the ideal afternoon conditions) I found myself bettering my guitar roll and by the end of the day, I could do my own rolls. Here’s a snippet from Day 3 –

 

*This analogy is misleading as I have two left feet on any dance floor. So here are some pics of what I’m talking about.

Flips
Fear of water? What water?
Staying out of the water. Kayak style
Dry as a summer day in the desert
Hip movements
It’s in the hips