Saturday, March 21, 2009

Badminton days

I have been left in the lurch of the term that would best describe this short narrative that I am about to pen. As most of my posts are, this, again is the result of a latent thought of mine, resurging in a moment of weakness of the mind. A very abstract beginning to a post that it totally unrelated to what I have said so far. A lot of people have asked so many questions about my association with badminton and even if I were to make a very short story of this, it would at the very least, date back a little over a decade.

A short stick with a round end between which I could poke my fingers into successfully is how I identified a badminton racquet when I first saw it. I was about 10 years old at that time and every male member in my family owned one of these rotund headed object that I could not spell. I even remember having used it more than once as an instrument to try and catch hold of butterflies and failing unfailingly to do so. But, in the next ten-fifteen years my association with the sport did not grow in tandem with my ability to spell.

The ‘shuttle’, as it is christened in India, was always an elusive sport reserved only for the most deserving - financially. It is truly so, even now. I can remember myself waiting amongst a bunch of kids waiting eagerly for the gentlemanly elders to finish of their game so that we could get the used shuttles. Only the most scuttled shuttles were given to us by the ‘elders’ with a scorn on their face, a benediction that we accepted with little discernment of the intention with which this grace was showered on us. A fresh shuttle was a treat, something that we could aspire for only when we played the ‘tournament’ - an annual event that was held for the neighborhood kids.

Cost was not the only thing that we needed to brave while playing badminton. Since, an indoor stadium was still a fantasy, something that we had seen only in the television, we had to often play within a tornado (or one of its numerous relatives) that comes unfailingly every week end/holiday/whenever we were allowed to play on the open ground. We had to do so much math to calculate where the shuttle would land up when thrown up in the wind, that most of us ended up as engineers. Undeterred, we still played on, waiting for the D-day(deliverance day), when we had a brand new shuttle and a windless morning. When I moved into the 8th grade, I realized that racquets that came as an incentive with ’Boost’ (a health drink) were better that the ones that I owned. Any word that was uttered by us in favour of buying a racquet would evoke a tacit reply if we were confident of becoming ‘Mr. Padukone’. Oh, yes. This is the guy who is the father of Deepika Padukone who also was by the way one of the best badminton players produced by India. Coming back to badminton, in those days, Yonex racquet was like an expensive jewel, something that only those in the royal bloodline could afford to touch. I totally believed in the myth that if the mud-bloods were to touch a shuttle with that racquet, it would be blown into smithereens and I into sacrilege.

In country full of cricket lovers, Hidayat and Peter Gade are as common to the people as floccinaucinihilipilification to the english dictionary. I remember the days when I used to sit late nights to watch the Indonesian Open being re-telecasted during the off hours in DD Sports channel. It was during my early undergraduate days that I first played badminton in an indoor stadium and have been playing in one ever since. And it was after an year since I began to earn my living and a year ago from now, that I could finally bring myself to own a Yonex. Well, this might indicate why badminton, whether you like it or not is only for the affordable.

I was in for a shock, when I finally thought that my badminton has improved considerably. And my backhand in which I particularly took pride in, was beaten all ends up by a kid who was about the same height of my raquet. I realized, for me, perhaps, the resurrection in badminton came in a tad too late, when I have both lost the stamina and the time to pursue it as a passion. Little would I have imagined at any earlier time that badminton would one day become a sport that I would end up playing just for the sake of remaining active. Now, I think, I would rather pride in encouraging youngsters (my age and a couple of years lesser) to play more badminton. ;)