Not quite 3 weeks in Auroville… Projects are moving along, routines are beginning to take form, and for me one big thing missing in part of my routine was becoming apparent… volleyball… I had spoken with Martanda about the opportunity for volleyballl and he was like yeah… Many people in the neighboring villages play… Well, I had waited long enough..
“Martanda, I need to play volleyball….” “Where can I play volleyball?” Martanda, has an answer to everything and many times it is the answer you want to hear.. So I get a phone call from the Great Martanda when he tells me that a group will be playing volleyball on Tuesday from 5pm until dark… and that they will be expecting me, and they also play Fridays and sundays. WOOHOO!!!! I was going to be playing volleyball after about 2 weeks…. So Tuesday comes around, I make my way down the dirt path and onto the tar road with big trucks, tractors, other cyclists and cows… towards a village on the outskirts of Auroville… Its about a quarter past five, I make it to the court (partly covered with dirt) neither a sand court, nor concrete court… just a court with a net….
I wait… and wait… and wait… Text Martanda to double check I am at the correct location. Well, I was there, but no one else was… I was rather sad, I was so looking forward to playing… But no luck that day… So a few days pass and we continue with various projects, seminars, and meetings and a really bad case of athlete’s foot had developed on my right foot… It actually hurt to walk… I could not put the ball of my foot or my toes down. But I continued on to meetings, tours etc… Martanda’s first suggestion is amputation… then he reasons with me and says I should try this natural treatment; the leaf of the neem tree…then use tumeric powder as an antiseptic… Well what the HELL!! Its local, Kalsang backed him up.. So I grabbed a handful of leaves from the neem tree by the Tibetan Pavillion, let them soak in boiling water… then I was to soak my foot in it, once the water was a tolerable temperature. I really don’t know whether it was the neem leaves or just the fact that it was extremely hot water that I couldn’t feel my foot anymore… then I mixed tumeric powder with the water and neem leaves… and covered my foot.
For the following day or so my foot was yellow…. And the pain was still there. Saturday morning not even out of bed I had the great pleasure of a visit by the Great Martanda… He walks up to my screen window and asks me if its time to amputate… My neighbor did not find that very amusing, and I told Martanda I would not give him the pleasure of amputating my toes… So we instead opted for a trip to the clinic where I did get some treatment on it, betadine and antisceptic cream… it looked pretty bad… I attended that afternoon’s seminar about organic gardening in Auroville… it was more like a recruiting session…. The person who runs the place really was trying to recruit us to come help work from 0630 to 0930 every morning… planting etc… no one was convinced though.
Here is where you learn how stubborn I can be… that afternoon, though still in a bit of pain I went to play a game of Ultimate Frisbee with some of the locals… Yes the first few rounds were tough… but after a while the pain in my foot was gone… and I had a great time… I was looking forward to Sunday morning; from what Martanda and Catherine said – Sundays were the days to go and play volleyball… So, I got a good night sleep, and a good breakfast that morning. I get to the grounds about ten minutes past nine… No one around. I wait for a good 20 – 25 minutes, and still nobody. I send Martanda a text… “What is going on… Twice I show up to the courts and there’s no one there…” So I head back to camp… in a very foul mood, might I say… Martanda’s response: “ OUCH getting a taste of India… Welcome, Welcome” because apparently 9 AM India time is anytime from 9 am on… Then around 10:20 I get a phone call from Martanda telling me that they are at the courts… so I give it one last shot… so I show up to the courts and finally get to play a few games (India village style) of volleyball… no real rotation…. Just front row and back row… I of course was asked if I could set.. What is it with guys… always expecting the girl to be the setter… I guess it only proves how men can’t be the decision makers… since as the setter you decide who gets to hit… So I get to be setter… occasionally making a dig and a few attacks… All in all it was a great morning. After the game, Ashok, one of the locals and I start talking about our volleyball obsessed lives and once the word was out that I coached… he brings up that starting monday they were organizing a volleyball camp for the youth of the village and he wanted me to give them various drills and even asked me to come and coach.
Monday afternoon, after one of the many seminars I made it back out to the court where its me and about 12 young guys… It was rather interesting… coaching…. With a language barrier (a form of field research). Fortunately when coaching many times you have to demonstrate and body movement is pretty much universal so the translations were quite efficient, and I feel we got a lot done. I had support from some of the guys I had played ball with on Sunday, and we finished practice with a round of “Kings of the Court”. These young guys were very open to learning and we had a lot of fun, so much that they even got me to wake up a 0600 the following morning to come do conditioning with them. Unfortunately with my schedule and various seminars I was unable to make it back.
So the week went on, no volleyball from me, so I apologize to all, if I wasn’t the best company to be around…. But volleyball is a form of stress release… Sunday morning again got up had a good breakfast and off I went to volleyball. This time there were about 4 different teams from neighboring villages. Volleyball is quite a popular sport in the villages… there were even some younger kids playing on the badmington court. Today’s games were quite intensive… Ashok, myself and others from Kuilayapam, a neighboring village a several good games, the first one with me at setter, then I moved and played more backrow, just as fun… and way more efficient. Unfortunately time in Auroville has passed by rather rapidly, and if time permits on Tuesday I will be able to play one last round of volleyball in Auroville, before my return to freezing Paris.