heels on fire: Football in Vadakancherry

Monday, May 08, 2006

Football in Vadakancherry

06th May 2006
Day 6

Rahul and I were merrily bobbing down the road making our way past a playground that seemed to accommodate both cricket and football. A group of curious boys stopped playing and called out to us to come and join them. Earlier in the run we had climbed down a ditch and up and over the railway line to chat with another group of boys who had wanted us to come to their village to play cricket. Tempted as we were, we declined that offer as the sun was at its zenith and we had a long way to go. India, they say is, consumed by cricket, but here fate presented us with an opportunity to play football (we realised later that Kerala is more football crazy than cricket mad). It took no more than an exchange of head wiggles (Kerala style) between Rahul and I to take up the challenge.

The small group of ten grew to fifteen and then perhaps to twenty five. Tired and hot as we were, Rahul re-found his silky football skills bedazzling all and sundry. The penalty shoot out was followed by a sprinting competition which was followed by an exchange of dialogue that would not be unsimiliar to a park discussion amongst boys anywhere else in the world. The kids wanted to be football or cricket stars. Everyone supported Brazil, but knew about the English captain, David Beckham. They knew the football results and players better than we did. They teased one of the boys about being a rickshaw driver. Clearly their true aspirations were all quite high.

A slightly older guy wandered up to Rahul and I, calmly introducing himself as Suresh. He looked cool in the heat with his striking green shirt, necklace, ear-ring and long haired good looks. Suresh is twenty-two years old. He explained that he was unemployed (an epidemic that seemed to plague the youth of Kerala) and confronting the dilemma of whether to leave Kerala to follow others in his family working overseas (Dubai was his option) or stay on and look for work here. He seemed to loathe the idea of leaving Kerala in search of work. Reading between the lines he was perhaps even a little frustrated by his situation but determined to find a way out.

Should he follow the well-beaten path of so many other Keralites, or would it be possible to stay and work in Kerala? Suresh's zest for life and willingness to want to make it in Kerala were an indication of the spell this beautiful countryside and its quality of life has on its people.

Alas, we had to leave the team behind. We truly appreciated the vignette of fun and insight at the end of a hot and hilly run.



At Mon May 08, 07:57:00 PM 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This makes real fab reading, what an amazing thing to do. I am in awe of your guys.

Bec from Sunny Swindon!

At Tue May 09, 05:39:00 AM 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What the pics and story dont reveal is that I managed to kick the ball and fall over on my backside much to the delight of all and sundry. Bruised ego, but worth the laugh.

Great to read you all out there.


At Tue May 09, 10:08:00 AM 2006, Anonymous Allison said...

Pete - reading every day and loving it! Keep up the good work -

At Tue May 09, 06:14:00 PM 2006, Blogger mommybazz said...

‘The kids wanted to be football or cricket stars. Everyone supported Brazil, but knew about the English captain, David Beckham. They knew the football results and players better than we did. They teased one of the boys about being a rickshaw driver. Clearly their true aspirations were all quite high’.

A bitter sweet symphony..

It’s is truly beautiful to see through your eyes how these cool kids dream of becoming football stars. At the same time it’s sour to see the general lack of respect for a rickshaw driver who at least in contrast to many others owns what he has and got accomplished. I see pioneers blood running through his vains unlike many others. The bitter part is not the teasing of the boys on itself, it’s unlike us what these innocent unconcerned little dreamers are not able to foresee yet. Possibly disillusion in the near future perhaps..

I see three phases represented in Petes tale. I see green leaves full of life nourishing big dreams, next I see great confusion and despair. In the final phase and in the end, in the line of the expectations I can well imagine a certain disillusion. This ‘negative spiral’ is not what any of us would wish for ‘Suresh’, nor for the sweet David Beckem wannabees (must acquaint David Beckem with his little Kerala fans..). Nonetheless given the facts and given the insights the paralysing ‘epidemic’ does not strike me as a big surprise.

Young and bright spirits; high aspirations v.s. prospectlessness (or what it appear to be)..

Is there a way out for ‘Suresh’? Should he run or should he stay?

The problem is clear and does not leave a lot to ones fantasy to be able to understand the bitter circumstances, to further come up with solutions however takes a bit more of each and every one of us.

Knowledge is power. We all from behind our screens simply have a lead over ‘Suresh’. I hereby challenge each one of you to brainstorm about potential lasting and durable solutions. It can be a small and simple solution, it can be one that might lead to add to the list of India’s development agenda.

It could be about an employment agency for Kerala to map and distribute jobs and earnings; a weekly paper with vacancy adds; a blackboard to nail on the village tree; A likeminded retired school teachers association or association of other retired professional experts .. It could be an example of another country.

Is there any India expert around to give us more insights and framework of the national possibilities and possible expectancies as well as the national bottlenecks and realistic as well as apparent boundaries.

Any India tax law expert to tell us more about small or perhaps huge gabs between the rich and the poor, the pattern of national fiscal thinking in the light of a social economic plan.

We now have a pretty idea of Suresh’ good looks. But no idea non whatsoever en never will regarding his potentials or any other child for that matter abandon to his fate with not the ghost of a chance.

Suresh as I see it represents the epidemic of Kerala, India as well as the pattern of thinking of most asylum seekers, - Indian asylum seekers in particular. That is, if one could speak in terms of patterns of thinking at all. As Suresh in fact did not really think a way out for himself, but in fact purely follows the example of others before him, simply because this way out visibly has the desired effect. A proved symptom suppression.

Should he go or should he stay in the light of durable solutions for Kerala, India?

In service of a durable solution I incline to answer, that it might not be such a bad idea and perhaps worth the ordeal and dangers along with it, that is, in certain cases and in some degree.

Saleh, a work colleague of mine in his mid fifty’s works seven days a week, 12 hours a day as a cook. He barely gets to spend any of his earnings. He’s looking forward to soon be heading back home. All the years of hard work up here was to support his family and to invest in college of both his daughters back in Indonesia. Both girls at present University college students. Lenny (22) ICT and July (20) medical science.

When I called Saleh up for further detail he surprisingly thanked me for the mini interview! Apparently the sacrifices made has been well payed off. Saleh is a strikingly calm character, but very proud indeed.



At Sun May 14, 11:21:00 AM 2006, Anonymous Sham said...

Its World Cup football and Malappuram,northern Kerala rises up like the Mexican Wave cheering and acknowledging the warriors of the foot. Though the games are played in far away Germany,Malappuram shifts its heart and soul magically to the German soil for the entire season. Its the way of the people of Malappuram and neighbouring Kozhikode(formerly Calicut, where Vasco da Gama landed way down history). You should really be in this area during the football season.Each person, young and old, male or female may have a team or a star close to their heart. They give you in depth analyses of the teams,each player, their performances, their chances and their pitfalls etc., based on all the information they have gathered from daily updates from the media for the past four or more years that will baffle expert commentators. The shops of Malappuram will be lined with the flags of the participating countries and their jerseys. Youth will flaunt the jerseys of their favourite teams and each game watched on the television, right through the midnight, will be a celebration. Each game will result in the thunderous joy of the supporters of the winner and profoundly tearful for those who carried the loser in their heart so long.Fans in Argentina, Brazil or Europe have their own national team to pray for.But here it is different. With the Indian team not part of the tournament, there are die-hard fans of most playing teams.Its like being in Germany itself with fans of all nations roaming through the villages, the roads,workplace,schools,colleges,restaurants,saloons and what not.It becomes the topic of discussion and sometimes heated exchanges in places where any two people are likely to meet. The Television becomes the playground and every man becomes a cheering crowd.Its a moving phenomena here during the season, spirited and emotional.


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