Friday, September 29, 2006

womens' wrestling

Now that is something one does not get to see very frequently anywhere in the world. However, here in Mysore it is an annual event now as part of the Dasara celebrations.

There was a rumour circulating about the wrestling but I had to check it out for myself. After an early morning recce yesterday, which established a start time and entry arrangements (it is free), I assumed it would be heaving and so some of us got there early. Wrongfooted, as was evidenced by the empty stadium - only the police were early, including 4 women constables in khaki sarees, all of whom (except the women) were brandishing the power sticks otherwise known as bits of bamboo - we then loitered in the shade as best we could. The right hand side of the 'stadium' (capacity c. 1500) began to accrue a few newspaper-hat clad spectators and then, shortly after the appointed hour of 2 o'clock the first bouts got underway. Kites, of both types, circled overhead (and over the bare powerlines) in the clear sky, almost like vultures. Ready for potentially rich pickings to the untrained eye, but down below it was all about hand and foot speed, keeping the centre of gravity low and surreptitiously bitch slapping your opponent as hard as possible. The mens' bouts were pretty even and consequently lasted upto 15 minutes but when it came to the women, most of whom were probably around 16 or so, the bouts were over quickly. Technical levels were pretty mismatched across the regions in this national level competition for the women. But there was drama. With the Keralan VS Varamasuty looking like making it a cakewalk over the vastly underexperienced Bombay rookie LL 'lioness' Ganapathy from early on in the bout the tables were unexpectedly turned, and the crowd shocked into stunned indifference, when 'lioness' managed a throw on her opponent, which looked suspect from my angle and resulted in a hefty blow to the upper abdominal/lateral rib area (possibly bruising the Anterior Serratus muscle). VS managed to recover and put on a few holding moves before taking her revenge with a lightening leg swipe cleanly flooring the lioness. In a scene not remotely remeniscent of gladiator VS then hobbled to the edge of the mat having been declared winner but obviously about to collapse and give a bye to her next opponent. It's definitely the school of hard knocks for these girls.

Having got my India experience in for the day, and with everyone else I came with having already headed to the pool some 90 minutes earlier, I was totally sun blasted and decided to leave. On my way out though I bumped into more yoga people, sat with them and ate a coconut ball sweet thing or two before going 4 up with them in a motor rickshaw back to the leafy environs of Gokulam.

Go wrestling!

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