"How's India?"

Hobson-Jobson, an Anglo-Indian Dictionary (formally titled Hobson-Jobson: A Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases, and of Kindred Terms, Etymological, Historical, Geographical and Discursive), is a dense, acrobatic tome detailing the crosspollination of colonial English and vocabulary from the subcontinent. So, with over 2,000 of these definitions at hand, it’s a marvel that when the e-mails appeared, asking “So how is India so far…?” I seemed to lack the right words.

Read More

Home & Himalaya

My new definitions of “cold” includes:

  • Sleeping with socks…mittens…jackets (over four other layers)…hats…a sleep sack…and four blankets…and still shivering.
  • When you wake up in the morning and the condensation from your breathe has frozen on your blanket.
  • When you can’t drink out of you water bottles because they are solid Nalgene-cubes.
  • When you can’t tell if your red and purple toes are frostbitten? Or bruised?
  • When you try to conquer a squatty potty that has frozen over night. TMI? Maybe. Life hazard? Definitely.
Read More

The dangerous games we play

Over the years I’ve seen friends and teammates and roommates suffer from disordered eating. I saw them starve themselves and heard them put their fingers down their throats in the name of sex appeal and sundresses. But me? I love my meaty haunches and am proud that yes, I inherited my mother’s impressive linebacker-sized wingspan. My calves are thick but they’re agile and man, pedicurists may reel in horror when they see my feet, but those tiny fast twitch muscles have served me well over the years. I’m an athlete playing a bulky sport: I wasn’t chasing aesthetics, but achievement. But that vein of perfectionism — maybe it’s reaching a superficial goal for one person, or a peak performance for another — runs deep and dangerous. In this singular battle, our cruelest opponents can prove to be ourselves.

Read More

Schoolyard ruckus

By the end of the session the girls were asking us if we would come back every day, and saying that they loved rugby AND that next time we came they would be ready and waiting for us. “We’ll even be 15 minutes early!” exclaimed one of the girls (and those familiar with IST, or “India Standard Time”, it’s somewhat affectionately called) knows that this is the highest-of-high compliments.

Read More

Player profile: sitting down with Bhagya from Orissa

Bhagya’s demeanor takes a turn for the serious as she tells me in a matter-of-fact manner, “If girls are playing rugby on field, they are so confident in themselves. They talk, they communicate with each other, they run and they are damn strong. Because we are confident on field, we are [confident] off the field. If anyone pressures us,” — and then she finally laughs — “we can tell people that we play rugby.”

Read More

The geography of bliss

I think a lot about the notion of home, of movement, of complacency and consistency. I think a lot about the transience and longevity of relationships. I think a lot about the people I meet along the way, the ones I’ve kept, the ones I lost. It’s a bittersweet thing: Though I’ve had the opportunity to find so many good souls along the way, I’m always leaving them.

Read More

Kolkata for the Kids

From the back of his motorcycle I watched as Kolkata roared by with its wide avenues that held running rickshaw wallahs and shards of crushed clay cups from the tea stalls on every corner. The balmy humidity was the sort that left you rubbing a film of sticky soot from your forehead and black crust from your eyes. You could smell the rot in the Ganges and the salt in the air by the port. Pooja celebrations and freshly washed yellow Ambassador cabs simultaneously made their ways down the street.

We were greeted by goats chewing on cigarette packets and a remix of the Venga Boys’ Boom Boom Boom Boom playing on a set of loudspeakers.

Read More

Then end? …nah

Then end? …nah

I’ve been putting off writing this blog for a few weeks now — the whole business of it all seems a bit too final for my liking. I’m not ready for any sort of au reviour, I bid thee adieu, sayonara, ciaocito or the likes… to India, to this blog, or to this experience as a whole.

Read More