Sprint ’09 – The SP Jain Xperience

Recently I spent 3 days competing in sports events at a reputed Management Institute in Aamchi Mumbai – the SP Jain Insti of Management Research. Normally, this wud not be sumthin to put up on my blog, but it being Mumbai, and the event having its own special place in our calendar, I must blog about it.

Being with our train journey frm Ghazi station. We turn up at 6 10 am at the station – to an empty platform and very sleepy faces. Each one of us has woken up at 5 am or so, and waited for their turn to ride in the car to get to the station. The train arrives, almost 45 mins later, at around 7 10, and we hop onto it – bags and baggage and kits and basketball. We find our way into the 2 compartments that we have been allotted and settle down as the train reaches Delhi, where we are joined by some more of our teammates.
The first leg of the journey included, in my case, sleep; since I hadnt slept in the last 3 days. So my story will begin from around 3 pm the next day, when a lot of distance has already been travelled. Our compartment is more or less busy wid their packs of cards, and books. The other compartment, however, has Mooch Man and Goldfish to entertain them. They extract stories of a certain Brother from other companions on the journey and retell the stories with loads of Mirch Masala (spice, for the non-Hindi folk). Cut to Ratlam station, where I get down to grab us some food, and return with 2 plates of food and one badly scraped knee. I overlook the knee as a nothing and join the other compartment at around 8 or so in the evening. Stories of the Brother and certain escapades of the Goldfish keep me occupied for the night. We reached Mumbai at roughly 5 30 in the morning, and while the rest of the team hopped off at Borivali to head off directly to SP Jain, I carried on until Dadar (yes, the very famour Dadar station) to take a pit stop at my Gramdmom’s. I awake next morning, to some lunch and take some time off to meet my best friend, my Mom and spent some time with my Naani (that’s Hindi for Grandmom). I take off in the late evening to meet a few friends for dinner at an amazing place in Andheri “Salt n Pepper”, and then reach SP Jain at 11 15 pm, 15 mins after their 11 pm ‘curfew’ for girls.

Coming from IMT, where life literally begins at 11 pm, a 11 pm curfew was something not a single soul in our team could come to terms with. Apparently our throwball team was thrown out of the court at 11 pm sharp n made to rush back to their hostels, as a curfew was in progress. They recount of the home team begging for their throwball before 11 pm at the risk of getting locked outside their hostel. With great difficulty, our team co-ordinator JayDee agreed at a 12 pm deadline for us, and I reached the hostel on the bike of a daredevil biker friend of mine. In the room, I realise that our first match is scheduled for 7 am the next morning, and since the SP Jain team will be up for practice at 6 am, we need to be up for practice at 5. It wasn’t until 3 30 or so that I fell off to sleep, but I think waking up at 5 am to cries of “Jaldi chalo humein jaana hai” (Hurry up, we have to go) was worth the hour of sleep. 
We reached the courts to find it locked and get some dozing watchmen to open it for us; obviously a 11 pm deadline also came with a 7 am deadline, or so it seemed. We tried, for the next hour, to get our players’ services to cross the net. Now, I must admit, having played throwball and volleyball before, I had no trouble with it. But a few teammates were coming to terms with the long court, the net and the ball. A half hour, and many failed attempts later, we changed tack and just got them to catch the ball and throw it back, and strategised the match such that they dint have to serve much at all. We were joined by the SP Jain team at roughly 6 30 am, and we got off the court to witness their near perfect practice session. A dejected team meeting later, we came up wid some rough strategy to plug our weaknesses, and started the wait for the referee. Ref bhaisaab turns up at 9 am; well after another match has been concluded and we have had some breakfast after a long wait.
Aah, breakfast – an affair that I must relate in full. For some reason, the event management team of this sports fest had realised that athletes are guzzlers by default, and had developed a coupn system for food. Armed with our breakfast coupons, we reach the tent to find Idlis, Sambhar, Chutney (South Indian baked delicacies) and some bread n butter. Much to our surprise, we were refused ne food beyond 2 Idlis (roughly the size of quarter a pancake) and 2 pieces of bread n butter and one tea/coffee. Ne athlete on this planet will vouch for a heavy breakfast, our team had a lot many ppl who had an appettite far beyond their limit. One teammate Shrek decided to make the most of the limit rule – since we were allowed onli 2 Idlis, 1 cup of Sambhar, 2 slices of bread n butter and one tea, he noticed no limit on the amount of Chutney; we found him arrive at his seat with a mountain of Chutney and a big grin on his face. 
Post breakfast, we took to our game, and took a beating in the first set. We began the second set, with grim determination and a throbbing pain in my right knee. We were down 4 – 10, and I took my serve. Not meaning to boast here, I sumhow succeeded in getting us to a score of 14 – 10, which is set point in our game of throwball. With an unlucky stroke of luck, we were unable to get the next one point we needed to bag the set and lost the game despite a hard fought second set. Me, I merely sat down, with shooting pain through my feet, and dejection at defeat when we could have fought back a little harder. Some consolation and a shower later, I took of with Baddi Ma’m to practice for Badminton. Even with a slighly hurting knee, we were lucky enough to get past our opponents in the knockout rounds, and reach the finals of the Badminton Round Robin, which were to be played the next day. In the meanwhile, our famed Basketball team took a hit, and got knocked out in the tournament. The defeat hit a lot of the players really hard, and it hurt me to see them look so sad when I knew they could have played much better. Our cricket team, on the other hand, was doing really well and found its way to the top 3 of the Cricket League. Our volley and football teams were unlucky not to have played a single  match in the first 2 days, thanks to walkovers. A very tiring day 2 ended with me catching up wid some more friends for dinner, and a stayover at an apartment nearby so that I could be back for my Badminton match at 7 am. My activities at night shall be described as “fun time with friends” and I can say for a fact that I did not sleep more than an hour that night. A friend with a bike, and little sleep, offered to drop me back to the hostel in time to get to Andheri Sports Complex for Badminton practice. I reach the courts at 7 in the morning to find the first match of the round robin league in progress with SCMHRD (Acronym for Symbiosis Centre for Management and Human Resource Development) playing SP Jain, and beating them. Scheduled to play SCMHRD next, my knee which was already in pretty bad shape now, was acting up even more and my very tense partner geared up for her first match in the league. After she lost her match, I decided to play my match to force a doubles match in the least (in the Davis Cup format, 2 singles matches are followed by a doubles match if both matches are not decisive in favour of one team). Midway thru the match, after a lost set 1, my knee seemed to give up on me, and I was barely able to move around well on it. The braveheart that I am, I took the call to continue the match into set 2, and lost gloriously; and developed a pain beyond none that I have had before. Needless to say, I ruined my chances of a good match against SP Jain, which I reckon now that I could have played well and won had I not taken the cavalier decision of playing set 2. One lost singles match, and a lost doubles match later, I hobbled back to my room, thanks to my trusted friend (the early morning biker) who had stayed back to watch the entire debacle unfold. And while this was wat I was playing, our men’s badminton team also made it to the finals, and secured themselves a 3rd spot, and our swim team Mr. Goldfish, Mr. Brother and others brought home some more medals. 
Cut to 1 30, when I return to the complex, rested, medicated and tired, for my TT match. My partner, a good player herself, won her match. But my broken spirit and knee led me to lose my match, and the doubles that followed. MDI-Gurgaon got a virtual walkover from me, considering that the match I played was unarguably the worst I have ever played in the last 6 years. Alongside this, our athletics team bagged some medals for us in the points tally.
Back to the hostels post TT, and I decided to call on medical advice for my foot. One painful examination and dressing later, I return to see our boys beat MDI-Gurgaon at Football. Sometime between then and the end of the IMT-NMIMS match, I sleep more more and wake up to learn that our team has drawn the match. We get ready to leave, since the schedule has been planned keeping in mind exact train timings and match fixtures. We rush to Borivali station, this time in Mumbaiyya autos (3 wheelers), manouvering thru the famous Sunday night crowds of the Western Suburbs of Mumbai. 

A hop onto the train and we analyse how well we’ve performed. Even with no seeding in 2 events, we’ve ended up 3rd on the overall points tally, behind SP Jain (no surprises there) and NMIMS (which also bagged the Basketball trophy). Our volleyball team bagged a very commendable gold, thanks to some amazing smashes by our Punjabi dude, and great blocking by Shrek. Our football team ended second, when NMIMS lost to MDI, and our cricket team ended 3rd after a good fight. Happy that most of us had done our part in the events, we settled down in our compartments, with Brother in the other compartment and Mooch Man and Goldfish in our compartment to entertain us some more. This time, our compartment took to playing  Poker, while all of us girls retired for the night after very tiring days. I wake up next morning at around 2 pm to find our entire bunch of ppl fast asleep (into round 2 of their sleep cycle). The next few hours were relatively uneventful, unless u count Nicks recalling his encounter with the street urchin who took his leg for a pillow. We got off at Delhi station, bag baggage and kits, to hire a bus for our insti. One unevenful hour later, we arrive at the campus, just in time for dinner (Notice that I am hungry now, since I havent mentioned food newhere in the last 6 hours or so). After a ritual warcry outside the Mess announcing our arrival back on campus, we head off to our rooms to rest, and assess the damage that we may have sustained.

Phew. That was a lot packed into 3 days. And it was fun – all of it; the bruised knee, the games, the losses, the wins, the nimbu paani, the sheer exhileration of playing. Tho I must admit that my foot stings as I type this out, it was worth the entire fun, the pain and the lesson that Ratlam station has some bad luck attached to it (reference to the movie Jab We Met starring Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapur). 

I shall now hit the bed, in the hope that the many medicines that I have gulped down will at least have some effect on me, and make my foot a little better. Besides, 2 days from now I shall be part of IMT’s own sports fest – Chakravyuh, where I will play TT, Throwball and Tennis, and hope to make an additions to the team’s points tally. I must rest now if I am to remain in ne shape to recall the (mis)adventures of Chakravyuh. I sign off, with thanks to all the ppl who made Sprint a fun event.


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