Blast From the Past – Sports Days

I was never a major athlete but I loved to take part in sporting events. I was on the basketball team in school, dabbled in athletics, table tennis and even was on the House volleyball team albeit to make up the numbers.

More than the inter school matches which were by far few (and us dainty darlings were trounced by the corporation school kids) the inter House events were one of the most memorable part of school for me. Staying back in school post classes for matches, races and relays, being able to traipse around the place in short, juniors and seniors (boys that is) cheering you on if you belonged to their House, the competition, the cat fights, the adrenalin rush!

Oh I miss all of that! We compete everyday with people at work, but behind that there are multiple considerations, of a livelihood being earned, of trying to balance work and life, of “fulfillment” being sought at the workplace. We don’t compete just for the sake of competing. It stops being a fun activity, at times it stops being healthy.

Winning these events won us medals and cups and certificates. We beamed and walked up to get these little baubles on Sports Day, proud and happy in front of our parents and indeed other parents. I even took pride in the fact that I was a regular on the choir that sang the prayer and the national anthem! Winning the overall shield was an icing on the cake and the House members shared such a unique bond…a bond that transcended age and sex..where the only common link was the House one belonged to! It was thanks to these events that I met my really good friend as well! We held “meetings” and conducted them with such seriousness and in full earnest that only teenagers could invest in such seemingly unimportant things. Who was to be on the team, who was to be given the boot, the politics was there but largely most people got to participate considering the small size of the school.

One of my heart’s secret desires was to become a captain of my House or even the school! And I stood a very good chance of this happening if not for our move to Madras and I had to change schools in Standard XI when the captains were typically nominated. After my change of school, I found it very difficult to garner that loyalty for my new House, I did take part in the events, but my soul was not there.

My very last Sports Day at this wonderful school was washed out. It was the first time I was supposed to take part in a 100 metre race, the only event that was held on the Sports Day (all other events were spread out over a 1 month period prior to the actual day) and I was a bit nervous about it. But it never happened and the year I left the management changed and they actually stopped holding inter house events (it was almost like the Taliban banning everything under the sun) and other extra curricular activity. That maniac of a principal was thankfully removed a couple of years later and the tradition was revived.

At times I wonder if that part of me is still alive somewhere in me. That girl in blue shorts and a yellow t shirt, running around dribbling a ball, defending baskets, “terrorizing” the opponents with my long hands that could tap the ball away from opponents, the girl who tried out every event including shotput (yeah thin me – almost fracturing my wrist in the process), the girl who surprised everyone even herself by taking part in a high jump event after there was a last minute drop out and placing third, free spirited and happy.

Nowadays we play Scrabble and Battleship.

Rainbow fairies

Well I’ve put in another poem from the childhood days…this one from when I was very little!! And the line I remembered was “Old father sun looked out and said” and I ran a google search and found it! Well I don’t know the name of the poet unfortunately..and that reminds me of a funny thing. As a child I came across loads of poems that were “Anonymous”.  And I didn’t know the meaning of the word and thought Anonymous was a guy who’d written all these poems!! 😀

Guess I remembered this poem because after we came across this, my mom would say “Never mind my dear” whenever she attempted to console a crying me!

Rainbow fairies 

Two little clouds, one summer’s day,

Went flying through the sky;

They went so fast they bumped their heads,

And both began to cry.

Old Father Sun looked out and said:

‘Oh, never mind, my dears,

I’ll send my little fairy folk

To dry your falling tears.’

One fairy came in violet,

And one wore indigo;

In blue, green, yellow, orange, red,

They made a pretty row.

They wiped the cloud-tears all away,

And then from out the sky,

Upon a line the sunbeams made,

They hung their gowns to dry.

Matilda

Have no idea why but was suddenly reminded about a poem that I had read while at school…I didnt even remember the poet’s name..just the first two lines, then did a google search and was really thrilled to find it! I used to really annoy my mom my deliberately reciting it in that sing song manner that a lot of kids use to recite poems…this poem really lends itself to that 🙂

Ok I’m off to recite it to her again!!

Matilda
By Hilaire Belloc

Matilda told such dreadful lies,
It made one gasp and stretch one’s eyes;
Her aunt, who, from her earliest youth,
Had kept a strict regard for truth,
Attempted to believe Matilda:
The effort very nearly killed her,
And would have done so, had not she
Discovered this infirmity.
For once, towards the close of day,
Matilda, growing tired of play
And finding she was left alone,
Went tiptoe to the telephone
And summoned the immediate aid
Of London’s nobel Fire-Brigade.
Within an hour the gallant band
Were pouring in on every hand,
From Putney, Hackney Downs and Bow,
With courage high and hearts a-glow
They galloped, roaring though the town,
“Matilda’s house is burning down”
Inspired by British cheers and loud
Proceeding from the frenzied crowd,
They ran their ladders through a score
Of windows on the ball-room floor;
And took peculiar pains to souse
The pictures up and down the house,
Until Matilda’s aunt succeeded
In showing them they were not needed
And even then she had to pay
To get the men to go away!
. . . . .
It happened that a few weeks later
Here aunt was off to the Theatre
To see that interesting play
The Second Mrs Tanqueray.
She had refused to take her niece
To hear this entertaining piece:
A deprivation just and wise
To punish her for telling lies.
That night a fire did break out-
You should have heard Matilda shout!
You should have heard her scream and bawl,
And throw the window up and call
To people passing in the street-
(The rapidly increasing heat
Encouraging her to obtain
Their confidence)-but all in vain!
For every time she shouted “Fire!”
They only answered “Little Liar!”
And therefore when her aunt returned,
Matilda, and the house, were burned.

Margazhi, Mylapore and memories

Having in the heart of Mylapore as a child, all the hullabaloo in the papers about the “magic of mylapore”, the music festival attempting to create a hype and recreate that magic catapulted me into that time when there was no hype, no need for all the publications to draw the attention to the so called culture, no advertisements, no obsessive sponsoring…there was the real thing. I was young, really young, around 4 or 5…before I was packed off for the mandatory paattu class…so my recollection of that time is not very vast…quite hazy in fact…

I remember waking up early in the mornings, finishing up my bath and waiting in the  balcony…all bundled up to fend off the “pani”…then they’d make an appearance…the old men singing bhajans…I’d dutifully and solemnly take my fistful of rice….empty it into their sombus…and fall at their feet….now why I found this so fascinating is really beyond me…but I would faithfully do this…every single day that those thathas made an appearance..I did not understand the significance of this..but I followed the routine pretty strictly…we then moved away and this childhood memory faded until a couple of years back…when I was the lazy lump and the only reason I was up at 6 am and in Mylapore was to attend my CA classes..and I saw a bunch of thathas…with their clanging instruments… Obviously these men were some twenty years younger when I had my first brush with the bhajana ghoshtis and were possibly working at that point…and after their retirement have decided to do what their fathers and uncles did…I was fascinated that the tradition is still living!

Another memory I have is that of travelling by bus number 21 from the Devanathan street stop in Mandevali to Luz corner to do all our shopping…my world started and ended there…my trips to school near Mount Road were routine and did not hold too much of a novelty…but these trips to Luz Corner were real treats….Of course came the occasional trip to Parry’s corner to visit the tailor with my paati and uncle…these were ultimate for me for it meant such a nice long bus journey…instead of getting off at Luz, the bus took us all the way to the terminus…and we had to take a little walk to reach Shumm Tailors where my uncle would be measured and cloth given to the guy to create his magic! I tagged along happily and was rewarded with a cone ice cream for being a good little kid!The Allen Sollys and Louis Philips have taken over now and the fancy ice cream pubs have invaded…but that childish fancy that these trips held for me will always be a part of me..

Fresh vegetables, rich colours, plenty of haggling, holding patti’s hand tight and carrying a tiny bag, we’d walk up and down South Mada Street, long before these vendors were cleared for encroachments, long before broccoli and bell peppers made an appearance in our supermarkets…we would take a cursory glance at all the vendors and check on whose vegetables were the freshest and settle on one of them to start the process of haggling..great drama would ensue and paati would act as though these were the worst of the lot…she’d throw the vegetables back and declare that she would never buy from him..and he’d match her…saying that she was damaging  her vegetables and that single act of throwing a tomato would wipe out his entire family…a lot of fun later we’d walk back laden with all the loot..I still find buying vegetables therapeutic and will never say no to a trip to Suriya Sweets and Greens!

Oh to be 4 again! Why do things change so much?