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10/17/2016

Between mythology and reality: how much violence!

It’s Tuesday. It's Dussehra. A sweet festival celebrating the victory of the god Ram over the Demon Ravan, who had kidnapped Ram’s wife, Sita. Our society had organized a small commemoration for the occasion. We arrived during the battle of Hanuman, the monkey God, painted in red, terrifying, as much as his comrades or enemies with giant moustaches, all of them fighting. I took baby Samurai close to the stage (the only place where there was a little room to sit) but with these monstrous costumes and super loud music, he got scared and I couldn’t blame him. What an explosion of violence!

image1.JPGThen we moved away from the speakers and their noise pollution and patiently waited for the ‘highlight’ of the show: they were to set fire to a giant demon (at least five meters high), and to his brother and son! We sat on the grass, the ground was a quite sloppy. I was holding Baby Samurai tight in my arms. The demons were on our right, a few metres away, behind a safety rope. I was looking at the crowd on my left, quite absorbed in studying all these people who never get out of their luxurious villas. And then, all of a sudden, a massive explosion. I turn my head and see this giant statue on fire, burning debris flying everywhere, people running, and, to add to the confusion, bombs continue to explode. I panicked. Completely. I grabbed my little one and tried to get up. Failing to do so, I fell, and started to get out of there crawling. When I finally spotted my favourite Indian! I yelled at him to take the baby, used his help to get up, took my son back, and while sobbing of terror, I run for our lives!

Once we reached a safe place, the last demon was going in flames and crackers and it was still so loud, I had to block the ears of Baby Samurai. And this circus was finally over. It is only the presence of the nanny (one can not be weak in front of the staff, right, Madam) that kept me from screaming and crying my distress. Half an hour later I finally stopped shaking, took a look at my injured knee and started to relax.

8 years ago, during my first Diwali in Mumbai, a jerk had exploded me a firecracker thirty centimetres from me, leaving me almost deaf in one ear, and so vaccinating me against Diwali in a big city. Since then, I have always made sure I would be in a remote area of India during that time of the year. And now it is going to be the same during Dussehra!

The scene shot by my neighbors (not busy fleeing it):

10/10/2016

The third eye

Next time I will write about topic more serious than toilets, it’s promised. I could for instance speak about the upcoming war between India and Pakistan (the former bombed terrorist nests (modestly so-called “surgical strikes” and the latter denying this ever happened); or the Dassault deal to sell Rafales in India; or the fights over water of South Indian states; or the idolising fever for Jayalalitha, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu (an alcoholic lesbian (or so they say) who has been admitted in a hospital mid-September and disappeared ever since); or the mosquito-induced epidemic of dengue and chikungunya; or the pregnancy of Kareena Kapoor. But this will be for later!

For now, I would like to spend some time on mother-in-laws, or MILs as they call them. But not mine, I would rather avoid a family scandal! (Just joking.) Rather about two incidences I happened to witness. India,mother-in-law,MIL,privacy,intimacy,couple

The first time it was a the gynec in Gurgaon. A young woman came out of the doctor’s cabin visibly upset. Her husband followed her and took her to a more discreet corner (on which I had full view, don’t accuse me of eavesdropping!). And who follows? The mother-in-law! And the father-in-law who tries very hard to take away his wife. But no, she goes back to the couple 2-3 times before finally giving them some space. You might tell me “But who goes to the gynec with their parents??” Bah, quite a few Indians actually. A baby is definitely a (extended)-family matter and it feels like (to me) that the mother-in-law is actually the one having the baby!

The second time it was at the airport, at the departure gate. A young couple is getting separated and they are both in tears. And who is standing there, two feet away (I am not even exaggerating), looking at them? The mother-in-law! And they hug, and they cry and she stays there; it lasts for quite a while. When I comment on the scene to my husband, what do you think his answer is? “Where do you want her to go??” Well, if she absolutely has to go to the airport, she could go get some chai no? And give them some intimacy, privacy. Priva-what?? Ah np, it’s true, it is not part of the Indian vocabulary ;)

08/29/2016

Indians at the Olympic Games

On the occasion of the football World Cup, I had written a small post on the scene of football/soccer in India. Since then they created an Indian tournament with local teams and a few soccer Grandpas, international ex-stars, coming to lend a hand. Some clubs also finally understood that if the Indians are really crappy at soccer, on a global scale, it could be because nobody has actually ever invested in this sport; and that there are hidden talents, even if only statistically, when you take the size of the population… For instance, Paris-Saint-German has an Academy in India with programs especially in Gurgaon and Bangalore. So as FC Barcelona, Liverpool and Arsenal (source).Million Dollar Arm cricket movie.jpg

It reminds me of this movie I found very moving, Million Dollar Arm (a coach of American football who goes and recruits players in India through a cricket throwing ball selection to make them American football superstars).

But the topic of the day is actually the Olympic Games, just to be a little trendy. India sent this year 118 participants to Rio and harvested 2 medals. And not the least medals, in my humble opinion, since they were both won by women. And BAM. Silver in badminton and bronze in wrestling. The fact remains, however, that India totals 28 medals in the Summer Olympic Games since 1900, with 24 participations – the same number of medals that this machine of Phelphs got for himself this year alone! I don’t even speak about the Winter Olympics... 9 entries and 0 medal.

India,Indians,sport,olympics,olympic games,football,soccer

India,Indians,sport,olympics,olympic games,football,soccer

Source: Wikipedia

The topic of the moment in India is to understand why Indians are doing so bad at sports. I hear a lot of the absent sport culture, about parents who do not encourage their offspring to pursue sports, that there are not enough subsidies or enough money to make in this field and not enough sports facilities. And nobody says anything about the heat. And that maybe, after generations spent their lives sweating like pigs to make a living and put food in their plates, they don’t feel like chasing a ball for fun? (and anyways they may have become too fat for that)

India,Indians,sport,olympics,olympic games,football,soccerThat said, this is a big generalization to say that Indians are bad at sports. Maybe they do not shine in the Olympic Games, but since they do nothing like anybody else, they also have a whole series of local sports*. Some involving being dragged in the mud by a Buffalo (Kambala). Others fighthing while playing rugby and touching each other (Kabbadi). There are also rowing races boats and canoe and a lot of sports related to archery, wrestling and stick fight, like Kalari in Kerala. Even, at the time of the Vedas (more than a hundred years B.C.), “men of stature and circumstance were expected to be competent in chariot-racing, archery, horsemanship, military tactics, wrestling, weight-lifting, swimming and hunting. The guru-shishya (teacher-pupil) relationship has always been an integral part of Indian sport from time immemorial. Indian sport reached a peak of excellence when Buddhism held sway here.” Less known, these sports have somehow survived and would deserve some attention, if not a Olympic spot! (Bad luck for Indians that cricket and polo were discontinued in the Olympic Games)

india,indians,sport,olympics,olympic games,football,soccerIt is also a big generalization since it seems that India ranked 3rd in the Special Olympic Games of 2015 – a competition for athletes with mental disabilities from 8 to 71 (different of the Paraolympics where competitors have physical disabilities). India gathered 173 medals! The best athletes are not necessarily those you could expect ;)

* Source: http://sports.indiapress.org/