Saturday, December 8, 2012

Physical Education - 7

 A school that couldn't raise funds for a thatched shed for an additional class room couldn't be expected to supply cricketing gear to its kids.

Indeed in the 1950s we, in our school in Muthukur, never heard of the word 'cricket'...there were no radios nor many national newspapers. The first I heard of cricket was in 1959 when I was at my University and there was a mass exodus of students and teachers from their class rooms when word spread that India was about to beat Australia at Kanpur...David and Goliath. I too joined my classmates to listen to a creaking radio in a paan dukan at the Out-Gate and participated in the perennial rounds of applause whenever Jasu Patel bowled his 'leg-breaks' without (me) knowing what they were. Apparently the newly laid pitch cracked up and Patelji was expertly bowling on the ditch on the ground, flummoxing the Aussie greats like Harvey, O'Neill, Davidson, McDonald, Lindwall et al.

I never touched a cricket bat or ball.

My HM Father managed to get the gift for his school of a Baseball Bat and Ball (this weird game doesn't need any stumps or bails or mat or pads or even gloves perhaps). And the whole of the US is mad about it. But we were British and despised everything American...America was considered an upstart. We heard of only Oxford and  Cambridge (because of their Dictionaries and Atlases) but not Harvard or Yale (but for its locks). So the baseball gear gathered cobwebs.

Forget about hockey, we didn't have funds for even footballs...the good ones were too costly and the local makes didn't last a day...the sutures opened up like in an abdominal hernia and there were innumerable punctures in the protruding 'bladder' (a term we read in our biology). And we had to take the damn thing to our cobbler first and then to the only cycle-shop in the after day.

So, what was the ball game that enthralled us?

It was Badminton. But not of the Padukone variety...that needed shuttlecocks which were prohibitively expensive and whose life was less than half an hour.

We played what is called: Ball Badminton. This is native to South India. I didn't see it played in Bengal. Instead of a shuttlecock, the thing that got hit was a smallish sphere known as 'wool ball' misleadingly. There was as much wool in it as gold medals have gold in is only the thin coating. Likewise, the wool ball had a core of hard rubber that had a coating of glued strands of yellow wool (profusely in the beginning). As the ball gets hit over a week, the wool wears out like a bald man loses his hair. After that, it becomes 'as bald as an egg', a Maugham-simile. Then it has to be discarded. I guess the thick covering of flying wool offers resistance to flight (like the feathers of a shuttle cock). As the wool gets peeled off, the ball acts like a stone more and more...

 Feeling sleeeepy...Good Night!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,

I am reading your blogs after a long gap (4-5 months) and as usual I am finding myself addicted to it as before! I have read today no. 1 to 7 of your Physical Education series in a single sitting! The way you have build it up in no. 1 and brought it to climaxes (well, there are sub-climaxes in every no., but the two distinguished peaks I am referring here) in no. 4 and 6 is more than marvellous!! Surely you have studded this delicious 'pudding' with precious 'cashew' and 'kismis' of your great sense of humour -----
"The twenty odd girl-students of the school formed a squad of their own...I don't recall the name of their squad, but certainly not Draupadi."

I am going back home now, have to cook something for dinner! After the dinner I have to finish no. 8 and 9! Otherwise they will haunt me in my dreams! :)