It was the second week of November, around the time when skies of the East Coast opened up, with cyclone Nisha threatening to hit the shores.
Pondicherry is an idyllic coastal city, known for its French culture and simple living. We visited this beautiful place recently to meet school authorities, explore their interest in hockey and thereby to introduce the One Thousand Hockey Legs project to them.
However, heavy rains lashed the city and the administration declared holidays for the schools. What a bad time to start one of our projects in southern India!
Or so we thought. But it out to be quite the opposite!
Rains and storms might have hampered the routine of students, normalcy of the city, but it turned out to be a godsend for us. All the schools we sought to visit were empty - empty of the usual roar and noise that make up schools. The students were not there, waiting mothers were not there, the small vendors were not there. But we were not concerned because the Principals and their staff were there.
Rains and storms, actual and contrived, gave the Principals time, and we got our appointments easily. When we met them and started explaining the nuances of our project, we exceeded the time given to us. But that hardly was noticed either by us or by our hosts.
We were really surprised at the positive response we got from each Principal. We met six of them and five agreed to subscribe to our hockey program in principle. We still have to formalize certain things with the State authorities so that the sixth school can also join the euphoria.
The principals not only listened to us, but contributed with more ideas that helped us evolve. As we met each of them, we improved our presentation.
We got a clear idea as to why hockey was played in the school, or why it wasn’t, as the case might be.
Although we have not come to a conclusion at this stage, we still got a clearer and broader perspective of the situation. Vital inputs we got from the principals, actually visiting the school campuses, interaction with educational luminaries and our meetings with the Education Department Officials brought us closer to ground realities.
We are now sure that the stage is set for the project to take its root in Pondicherry.
We know a few schools in Amritsar and Pondicherry is but a short walk. We know that a vast tract is yet to be covered. But as they say, the journey of a thousand mile begins with a small step. We have taken that vital step in Pondicherry.
It was a baby walk -- cautious, slow, thoughtful. In those joyous moments, the clouds, the waters, the storm winds were all forgotten - because, some seeds have been sown into the earth. They will grow - they have to.
Developing sustained passion for Hockey by introduction of Hockey to pre and early teenaged children and simultaneously promoting playing sport as a culture and tradition, thereby contributing to develop a sports loving society.