Expect the Unexpected!!!
What started as a little outing, taking the 11 Manipur boys to a Sunday football (soccer) game, turned into an amazing experience that really demonstrated the warmth, the caring and the rich culture of Kerala
We took the city red bus for about 3 rupees each, and got off at the big park. The boys were taken upstairs to a place where they could get changed. We rested for awhile, as it was about 38 degrees. Then, we crossed the busy street, all hanging on to each other as we dodged motor cycles, bikes, buses, cars, trucks and tuk tuks, all blasting by at outrageous speeds.
The playing field was huge—a real professional pitch—sand of course—and littered with many things, including dog, cow and elephant dung!! Nevertheless, the boys, in bare feet were anxious to get out there to kick the ball around. A large tent structure had been erected, and of course, the music from the 2 large speakers let the world know that something was happening. Before long, Coach, from our school, arrived with a large trophy—one of many prizes including a huge gold trophy and medals that were put on display. I stood there for awhile, under the colourful awning, then coach brought me a chair to sit on. Some big boys came along, and I began wondering if these were to be our opponents—and yup—they were!!!
The game started, and our little team played really well!! Although they didn’t score any points, they made some excellent plays, and the large crowd that had gathered roared in their support. The game ended 2 to 0—but oh well—what is in the score, it is how the game is played!! One of our team was really too small to play, so he got the clip board and recorded the names of players who went in and out of the game—for a child who is just beginning to read and write, his note taking was excellent, and got every name down, spelled correctly!!
The second game began, and we all enjoyed the skill of the older kids. By this time, we were surrounded by older men, also sitting under the shaded area. We were told that they were members of the service club that was sponsoring the tournament. A very tall man next to me began to ask questions about our team, and who we were. For some reason I assumed that he was a reporter, because he began to write everything down. I asked Ross, our GVI boss, to come over and answer his questions in detail.
The teams finally finished, and a winner was announced. Team pictures were being taken, and the other volunteer was asked to go and take pictures, because she had a big camera. People thought she was the official photographer, because she was also sitting under the canopy. Suddenly, the man next to me asked for me to get in the picture—so I did.
Then came the tv camera, shooting me, and this man. At that time, I was busy scraping something off my sandal. The announcer went on and on, and then the man next to me got up to receive the honour—he was the honoured guest!! Then the other volunteer and I were given lovely flowers—and the pictures were snapped. Our names were announced several times!! And we appeared on the local tv news.
After that, our little boys were given lovely medals, and then we took them back to catch the bus back to the orphanage. The orphanage trumpet and drum core met us at the gate, playing the welcome home, congratulation song. There was a lot picture taking going on by a group of young men. We were invited to stand with boys for pictures. After that, we were invited into the multi-purpose room, where Father Sonny, the priest in charge, had arranged entertainment.
8 or 9 little boys sat on the stage with cymbals, drums, and a kind of organ, that you pumped with one hand, while he played the keys with the other. They began to sing old Kerala folk songs, and the whole audience, and the young men joined in. The young men were members of a football club who were visiting. One of their sponsors was a politician of the area who had given money to the team to support a charity—the orphanage was the charity. These young men were between the age of 18 and 25, most in university.
Soon, some young men were up there singing!! Then Father Sonny invited their dance team to perform. Look out Michael Jackson—you should have seen these little guys cutting up the rug!! They have seen too many Bollywood movies!! Then, the big guys got into the act, and the whole room erupted into a dance party. The music got louder and louder, and everyone sprung to their feet!!
More to follow—we went to the dining hall where I was invited to cut a huge cake the visitors had brought—again more pictures—and there I was in my dirty cloths, hat hair, and certainly not ready for the camera—but oh well! The football club served us all an excellent meal of rice and chicken, and the three of us hailed a Tuk Tuk to get home. It was about 9:30 PM.
So, what started out as a simple outing, turned into a most exciting and enjoyable time.
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