Forty goal posts of all types, short bamboo posts one side, red folded up tunics or plastic shoes the other, created boundaries stretching from one end of the beach to eternity. Within the twenty-odd match, three hundred men and boys in bright colours; blues, reds, yellows, greens, all the colours of every football team in the world, fooling about kicking twenty balls in all directions. Inevitably, many footballs ended up bobbing about in the Arabian sea salvaged by the youngest and the strongest. It is more a football festival of colour, of play and comradeship; it’s a Sunday and it is all good-humoured. The players understand their own pitch and apologise for the inevitable intrusion onto someone else’s sand; I am thinking if only we could all live with such friendly understanding!
In two weeks I start walking from Kanya Kumari. What thoughts I am having. Oh Lord, there is still so much to be done. And next week I hope to meet three fit willing donkeys.
In Santa Cruz Basilica, the choir master slouched in frustration in front of the altar, his Cat Steven guitar strung about his neck, it’s wooded chipped body resting on his loin cloth, already trying to teach his choir of cheery hopefuls ‘winter wonderland.’ – ‘No, No! Goodness Gracious No!’ He shouts at them to ‘STOP’, releases his fingers from his guitar, which drops about his loins, the neck pointing down like a rock star, and infuriatingly raises his hands waving them in desperation to…‘STOP! Why will you not sing up? Sing up, sing in harmony. They…’ he means me and the other five in the congregation, ‘..want to hear you sing, SO SING!’ The old choir master collects up the neck of the guitar with a frustrating ‘tut tut’ and starts strumming again like a scout master standing about a bonfire. ‘They want to hear passion!’ he shouts with his fingers closed together in a pinch, and sings again ‘Walking in a winter wonderland…..’ I leave before the choir master finishes, and very much in admiration of his tenacity. When Christmas arrives and he brings on his choir, he will be so proud.
It is humid and overcast, at least it is not hot.
By the time he had been on stage for fifteen minutes, certainly no more, sitting cross-legged, his red silky shirt was wet with sweat. Each play of the notes evident across his delicate face, he was no youngster, twisted out from his pulsating lips the difficulty of the instrument; and the pain of the Gita. This man played the sitar as two instruments, giving tempo with one set of strings, flicking his fingers across the lower strings to set up rhythm for his thump, with a small metal pluck like a needle attached, played the lead from the second higher strings. But what do I know? Nothing! I am a true listener, and when rifts flow in harmony, then I can understand it is a beautiful instrument. When they don’t it shrieks at the audience! Like the young girl next to me who placed her hands up against her ears. In my ignorance, I could have joined her. The tablas player is a master. Even I could hear this. And I loved his rhythmic hands and his swashbuckling fingers moving like a secretary would an old-style typewriter. Something was ignited within him; it was true joy. Of that I am certain. Except the sitar player kept the tablas player in a subservient role, only occasionally allowing the tablas player to rock. When he was called to do so he was a wonderful refreshment to the music and then it sounded very rock and roll. I loved what I heard on the tablas before he disappeared silently into the background. Don’t believe me, I don’t believe them – the sitar player was called Mr David, the tablas player Mr British. If true it is amusing, and if they made it up? Like Madonna or Prince, who can hold it against them?