Saturday, May 2, 2009

Some notes about Democrats and Basketball

On Friday night I went to a foreign democrats meeting held at a beautiful hotel in New Delhi. The occasion was an analysis of the first 100 days of the big “O” conducted by a panel consisting of a UK NPR reporter, a BBC correspondent, a Time magazine writer and a reporter from the Hindustani Times. The food was quite good, top quality, 5 star hotel kind of stuff.

It was a very stimulating evening. I met a number of Americans, including one young lady from New York. Clara is here doing an internship with dalits/women’s rights and will be returning to the States in June in order to attend law school at Fordham, University of Michigan or Columbia.

I started talking about my love of markets and Clara smiled and asked me if I knew of a farm called Cato Corners in southeastern CT. Of course given my work in southeastern CT I did know of Cato Corners. Clara had been working summers at one of their farm stands in Brooklyn and was hoping to go back this summer and do the same.

This points up the smallness of the world. How I can be literally half way around the world from my home state of California, or Connecticut for that matter, and talk about someone that we both know, even though I had never met Clara before.

Would I have ever met Clara in the States, most likely not, but I met her in New Delhi. Will I ever see Clara again in my life, most likely not, although given the magic of the universe, maybe. But, that is not the point. The rather strangeness of it all, but yet naturalness, is something that certainly warrants some thinking about.

Another person at the democratic affair told me about how he recently read an article in a local newspaper describing how a three year old in India insisted on going to a village and talking to his “wife”. He then proceeded to talk all about his life with her. The individual that I was talking to told me that he now believed in this kind of stuff, i.e. I assume some type of reincarnation.

Are we meant to connect with specific people on our life journey, and have we seen these “souls” before? It brings up an interesting question, whether life is somehow “programmed” or whether we are all just free spirits making things happen as they will.

I’m not really sure about this, as I would hope to have a lot of free will, to determine what happens, but of course, we all have certain doors that we can choose to see and knock on, enter or keep closed. We can place ourselves in situations that seem far beyond any fences that we’ve posted for ourselves. We can seek to go well beyond our fears and truly live extraordinary lives and meet someone like “Clara”, who we may not meet in our home countries, although she is from our home country.

Here’s the entirely other piece as basketball, and my passion for this sport, continues to be prevalent no matter where I go. (And why wouldn't there be a connection given the big "O's" playing of b-ball) It turns out that the Delhi Democrats Chair is the Boys Basketball Coach at the American Embassy School (AES). Once we got onto this he told me that he might possibly have an opening for an Assistant Coach. Sam introduced me to JD Walsh, a 6’8”, former University of Maryland basketball player, who now runs coaching camps for children all over the world, including Palestinian and Israeli children.

On Saturday I went to the AES for my noon basketball game. Upon arriving there was JD doing a basketball camp. He actually ended up playing with us for a few minutes and I was able to try to guard him on once occasion. After leaving the AES, I went to the YMCA, where I was able to swim and then coach.

This was the third Saturday that I’ve been able to coach around 40 children in basketball. The head coach is a wonderful man and is allowing me to really help the children. Typically I run a few drills and then get to spend some focused time with the girls and younger boys.

Being aware of gender issues I was able to divide the children up into five groups in order to do some stretching. I left it to each group to decide who to put in the middle to lead the stretching. I noticed that there were only boys leading. I then asked the groups to change leaders and stated clearly that they must be led by girls. After some hesitation all girls were leading the stretching. A small thing, but nonetheless a way to start breaking down gender barriers. I’m very sensitive to this entire issue, thanks to my life experience and a VSO focus, but I feel that I can subtlety, though very concretely, do something about this through basketball.

There is also the guy on the Delhi list-serve Yuni-net, who recently sent out an e-mail about wanting to watch some of the playoff games with others! He is a Boston Celtics fan, no matter, it would be fun to connect with other NBA types.

I’m intent on making basketball more a part of how I live my life, a team approach, a teaching and learning experience, a dance that brings people together to not only like one another, but to also respect and love one another. It is all amazing stuff and can happen by walking through doors at posh hotels in New Delhi in order to realize how great the big “O” really is.

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