One of the lightest, healthiest sources of entertainment is something you would least expect – the badminton court. While play ought to be serious business, a lot of fun comes in from the antics and pretences of amateurs, belying the formal approach of more experienced opponents.
During training (not badminton- the months before I went to work as a ‘software engineer’) at Mysore, I often went along with a friend when she went to play. I was one of the very few spectators there, one amidst the hangers-around probably praying for somebody to sprain an ankle or fail an exam so they could usurp their spot on the court. To me, it was one of those few opportunities to view competition in sport- for no matter at what level games are played, competition and the will to win remain inevitably intense. The high ceiling, the nets, the green paint and the benches against the walls reminded me of the genuine athletes I’d seen jogging through the Port Stadium back home; not to say the people at the badminton court weren’t taking their stuff seriously enough, but just like every crowd, this one had its own set of jokers, pretenders, people who tried too hard where it just wasn’t necessary, and of course, the critics- and one undercover journalist.
I vividly remember one sweat-soaked person who plonked down next to me after a hard hour of trying, jumping high enough to give Yelena Isinbayeva the jitters, screaming loud enough to deafen Maria Sharapova’s shrieks, swinging his arm so vigorously it was a miracle the racket didn’t fly out of his hand or his arm out of its socket. He proceeded to ‘entertain’ me with the story of his life, his career, and a lot of other things that I honestly (and thankfully) don’t quite remember. I would much rather have watched him play, and if you think I’m not enough of a badminton enthusiast to say so, rest assured a true badminton fan would have felt that way had he/she had to put up with his stories.