Saturday, 13 December 2008

Team Games and Furlongs

On Friday (today's Sunday), in the afternoon, the younger classes squeezed into the bus and set off for the "playground". When I say "squeezed" I mean twice as many people as there were seats, plus a dustbin of water and a bit of play equipment. It becomes stiflingly hot, particularly while the bus is stationary and being loaded, which always seems to take ages. The "playground" is a bit of bare sandy, smelly earth near Vizhinjam, close to the mosques (one quite new and perfectly good, the other even bigger and being constructed, presumably because Allah didn't hear the five daily prayers in the former. Needless to say, the people here are very poor).

I should have known it'd be hot. In the full sun, with no shade, my only protection was an exercise book which I used to keep the scorching rays off my scalp. The kids and teachers didn't seem overly bothered - and the clothes they wore didn't make much concession for the heat - but I was suffering. Normally Fridays are routine school days but this day we were having team games (for the Superman, Hanuman, Muscleman and Spiderman teams), and very competitive it was too. My team, Spiderman, had what I considered to be a few unfair decisions against it so we didn't do as well as I'd hoped. Still, my proudest moment was when we came 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the 400m race! One of the lads, who I'd formerly considered a bit of an annoying pipsqueak ran like the wind! It was Brilliant! I shall look at him in a new light from now on!

I think we've moved up the scoreboard but we are still well behind the leaders, unfortunately. My contribution to all this is the Spiderman posters. Teams have their own blackboards onto which they attach posters, pictures, written slogans, or chalked-on messages. They all change regularly but I decided to up the ante and took the initiative of extending our board vertically to that we can keep the better ones permanently displayed - all is fair in love and war after all! I was flattered when another team copied us the next day but now I have to find some other way of keeping ahead...

I have a plan - to make Spiderman badges for all the team. These can be red and blue with the simple Spider logo and a web background - hopefully easy to draw, photocopy onto coloured card, cut out and attach safety pins to. And I'm going to decorate our board with tinsel too! And maybe photocopy slogans onto coloured paper.

Yesterday, Saturday, I set off for Trivandrum by bus. Another sweltering day. It didn't seem quite right to hear canned carols, see a dancing animated Father Christmas, and all the shops selling huge stars and baubles. I got the tinsel and safety pins easily enough but I also wanted acrylic paints in decent sized tubes. I found I could buy 10ml pots or 5litre cans but there didn't seem anything in between despite spending ages hunting around and following leads. But one thing amused me which was, after asking for directions, to be told to walk down to Trivandrum Bypass Road, turn right and find the stain shop, one furlong from the turning. One Furlong! Surely those units were phased out years ago along with chains, rods and perches?! This in a country where the speed limits are in Km/h - even higher up the evolutionary ladder than the UK. I couldn't even remember how far a Furlong was but I guessed 220 yards (200m) and, would you believe it, I've just checked, that's absolutely spot on! My God, something from 50 years ago is indelibly etched in my brain!

Still couldn't find the paint though...

No comments:

Post a Comment