Category: India, 2018

Cave paintings and kabadi

October 16.

Breakfast with the French group, who have definitely warmed up a good deal to me. Babbu and my driver, Tinku, pick me up, and we set off for Old Kanker and walked around, seeing several temples, and cows, then happened in on a school with kids praying and singing the national Anthem. I met briefly with a couple teachers and the principal to say hello.

Afterwards we drove up to the top of a mountain to view the city, then to another area, with a temple and a lake from which women were gathering water. The walk down over large, uneven rocks was sufficiently unnerving that I asked for Babbu’s hand. The return, walking uphill, was considerably easier.

After lunch back at the palace and a rest, we drove to an area with rock paintings. Once again, traversing the uneven rocks was a challenge. Tinku found a large, sturdy stick, though, that I used as a walking stick on the way down, which helped a lot. I generally find these ancient paintings to be not all that great or interesting, and this was no exception. The view from the cave was nice, but not worth the trip.

In town on the way back, we encountered some young men who were about to start a game of kabadi, a popular Indian local sport. All of the players wanted to introduce themselves to me and shake my hand. I was given a chair and seated on a stage overlooking the game with the director and other officials.

The game consists of teams of about eight, standing on opposite sides of a dirt field, divided by a white, chalk line. A player from one side runs over to the other team and tries to touch one of their players, typically by kicking them with his foot, and then run back to his side of the line before he can be tackled by the other team. The player who is trying to do this can use only a single breath and repeatedly says a word to show that he is just using one breath. Any unplanned and very unusual treat.

After the game, more handshakes with players and requests to be photographed with them. On the way back to our hotel, we shared the road with herds of cow and goats, and with bicycles.

I had a very good dinner conversation with Jai, learning about all the diverse businesses that he is involved in. I also learned about his family history. After independence, the kings were no longer kings, but were encouraged to stay home. Later the kings were stripped of their powers, but invited to remain as heads of their villages. Most agreed to do that, but not Jay’s family. His father did not run for election, as most kings did. They did not want to get involved in corruption or beurocracy. Jay no longer has particular governmental functions, but the advice of the family is widely sought by people in the area and they are asked, to come to officiate at ceremonial occasions. All of this takes quite a bit of time, but the family is happy to do it, and supports the community in other charitable ways as well.

Jai’s older brother, Jolly, returned from Delhi and joined us. He was friendly, but very different from Jai. Jai is debonair, dapper and sophisticated. Jolly is chubby (look who is talking about chubby here) and appears much simpler. He’s in charge of their agricultural activities and of food for the hotel. Biblically speaking, Jolly seemed to me the Cain to Jai’s Abel. Admittedly, my assessment is based on rather scanty evidence.

The palace here is divided into two wings, one with rooms for guests and the other occupied by Jay, his brother, Jolly, their mother and families. It is quite an interesting and unique set-up and an interesting place to spend a couple days.

We had heard earlier in the day that there was to be a dance contest at the place that we went to. I was not scheduled to see this and it was late at night, starting around nine, but I convinced Babbu to take me. Before getting to that festival we came a spot where dancers were doing religious Bengali dances, whirling bowls of smoke in each hand. This was fun to watch and provided very good photo ops.

The dance contest we went to featured children performing their routines in front of a huge crowd on a very large stage, with loud music blaring out. There was a table at which five judges were seated. One of the judges, on seeing me, instructed those sitting behind her to give up a chair and she seats me at the judges table. At one point, the MC makes a joke about me being up there as a judge that I can’t understand, but it amuses everyone.

On the way home, we stopped at Babbu’s house, where his wife, kids and neighbors are doing one of the dances that was done at the palace last night. Babbu tries to convince me to join in, but I tell him that I only judge dances, I don’t do them. But Babbu’s wife convinces me to join-in, and it proves to be quite fun.

Today proves that there are some advantages to an old fart traveling alone. None of the highlights of my day, visiting at the school with the teachers, my participation in the kabadi game and my serving as a judge at the dance contest would have occurred if I had been traveling with a group. It always seems to be the case that the highlights of a trip are the unplanned contacts with real people.

One final word. I have not mentioned how much I like the way Indians greet one another, by putting their hands in front of their chest in prayer mode and bowing slightly to the other, saying Namaste. It’s really a lovely way to show respect and connect with your fellow human beings. It’s a way of showing respect for the god within each person you encounter

4 comments to Cave paintings and kabadi


    OK finally the last message from you did get me to the blog…

  • Kathy Hornsby

    Quite the time, Arnie! I can see you as the dance judge. As always, your clever comments crack me up (unimpressive cave paintings, complex art work…) Looking forward to the next entries and following your adventure.

  • Kay Osborne

    All good, especially the photos of the children. I can picture Arnie at the judges table and just love, love, love the image. He fits in at the head table everywhere he goes.

  • Eve Levine

    I love that greeting as well! Wonderful experiences! Love the photos!

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