Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dalhousie Part 3

June 8, 2010
Coaching in Dalhousie. What an opportunity. The Kakar family is friends with Guru Dylan who is the owner/principal of the Dalhousie Public School, a fairly prestigious institution. At a number of parties I had mentioned to him that I would be happy to coach basketball if he liked. At papa’s party yesterday he again said, “yes” and I said that I would come on Tuesday.

I walked to the b-ball courts around 3 PM and it was about a 20 minute downhill walk to the school. I talked to a guard who didn’t speak English, but a teacher happened along and I was able to tell him that I was there to coach. I saw a b-ball on the court and went down and started shooting. After a number of minutes the students started arriving and watched from their hostel balconies. They cheered when I made a shot, and then many of them flooded onto the courts. I thought that I would try to organize them into some drills but there were just too many children, very excited, to see a westerner, especially one who they mistakenly thought might be a former professional.

Around 4 PM a few of the physical education staff came to the courts and lined up the approximately 400 boys. There are six houses at DPH and they each have a b-ball team and these were the boys that I worked with. I took them through a number of drills so that I could see the quality of play. They were surprisingly good.

I taught them the “lion” defense drill and they were very loud, no embarrassment at all. Incredible energy! After we finished, I told the children that I would come back tomorrow. As I was leaving many asked for my autograph on paper, on their hands and on basketballs. So very funny!

This little activity again reminds me to always ask. People can always say no or do nothing about the request, but if I don’t ask then I won’t find so many opportunities. I need to remember this in my basketball school of life.

June 10, 2010

The issue of class has come up more than once for me in India. It’s especially noticeable in Dalhousie where you have the more affluent both younger and older crowd, military officials, but also the servants, laborers, tea shop owners, etc. The two crowds mix but in a very “know thy place way”. Fortunately I can mix with both, although I’m not sure that I’m very well accepted by some of the older, more traditional affluent Indians, who focus quite a bit on the fortunes of their children and how much money they have. This isn’t that different from any other country, but for me it does stand out given the number of people living in poverty, the work that I’m trying to do and my somewhat na├»ve idealism.

I have difficulty with the “formality” that I’ve come across. Again, maybe this is not that different from anywhere in the world, but to see it firsthand, in so many cases, causes me discomfort, i.e. people are treated differently depending on their perceived societal rank. There is fussing over some and the talking down to others. I wonder if some of this is a holdover from colonial times, where some Indians moved to fill in the gap left by the British?

I know that the reality is that this is not only India, that this type of “class” based society is found everywhere in the world, even in the so-called socialist or communist countries. There are always some that are much better off than others, no matter what type of system is in place.

1 comment:

Sheila said...

Mike, Love your posts about your time in Dalhousie. Re Indian's filing the Raj gap - have you read Kiran Desai's Inheritance of Loss? If not, do. It is one of the best novels I've read that is set in India.