Saturday, March 1, 2008

Sufi Music & Soccer

On the three nights of the week when I am not in the office until 11pm, straining to communicate with my California counterparts in 1440 x 900, I attempt to create a life in between the maddening chaos of construction that is Gurgaon. On Wednesday I watched a fantastic free performance of Sufi musicians in Gurgaon. Sufi music draws you into its dream with the monotonous buzz and undulating dips of the tabla. You slip into a gossamer world of circumspection, and a series of moments veiled in mystery, until the lyrics, strong and poignantly flat, are emotive, and tell a tale that varies depending on your ear. The story is personal, and it relates to me.

On Thursday I ventured into Delhi traffic at the perilous time of 5:30. I made my way toward the US Embassy off Shanti (peace) road. The American Community Service Center boasts a fortified baseball diamond that looks more like a Marine barrack. In fact, you must pass Marines to arrive within its chain-linked walls. Inside, however, to the tune of 100 rupees, you can assemble some mates for a weekly football match. I've managed to find a Euro expat circle that plays each Thursday.

We played for over 2 hours under the lights. Representing Slovakia, Poland, Scotland, Italy, the US, and India, football became a common language across countries and ages. I realized an hour in that the throbbing in my calf after a hard tackle, the sweat down my face, and the bruises I had acquired on my shins made me, again, feel alive. I played one-twos with Martin, a highly-skilled 18 year old from Bratislava. As I received each touch, and sprinted down the flank, I remembered how much I missed one of the fundamental freedoms that India denies, namely, the ability to exercise outdoors. Though I failed to slot a few break-away goals past the Polish keeper, I had a Dennis Bergkamp 1998 moment when, as a long ball dropped in over my shoulder, I took it out of the air and volleyed it into the far post in two fluid touches without letting the ball hit the dusty pitch. We called a break, and an Indian guy bought me a gatorade in congratulations for my goal. The language of football, while spoken less frequently, still apparently works in India.


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Mukund said...

can u call me at or email at my wife and i just moved from bay area and i am DYING to find a good soccer game... what you described at the us embassy sounds perfect!!!