Stories From The Camp: Cricket At 3,200 Meters
At TUTC, you experience India’s dramatic landscapes and also get an insight into the traditional fanfare of the region. In this article, Mabel talks about a game of cricket played by kids in the Lamdon School, Ladakh!
As our team starts to erect the shamiana, or marquee, little kids gather around and are observing curiously. Talking to their pals, they wonder who’s coming to their school. “A guest, maybe,” one thinks out loud, since there were no school festivities on the agenda. “What’s going on here?” a girl comes running to me and asks. She cannot have been not older than five. I told her that a guest is coming to visit them, and there is going to be a cricket match. “Hey, there is going to be a cricket match!” she shouts to her friends.
Lamdon School, close to The Ultimate Travelling Camp’s Chamba Camp, Thiksey, is home to 60 children from the far-flung villages of Ladakh. Guarded by gigantic barren mountains and the magnificent Thiksey monastery in the background, the schools offer surreal views of the snowcapped Zanskar ranges in the far distance.
The white markings of the wicket on the parched ground are visible from far away. Bats and balls are at the ready. As the two teams, one in blue and the other in red, gather on the ground, the spectator-lot of kids can’t stop hooting their appreciation. While the batting team warms up, the wall enclosing the school campus fills with even more spectators. Batsman Stanzin Namkha feels like nothing less than a Sachin Tendulkar or a Virat Kohli as he swings his bat and practices his strokes. The excitement builds.
Our guests, Christopher and Sarah Hollins, have been eagerly looking forward to this afternoon, and are pleasantly surprised by the size of the crowd of kids cheering for their preferred teams. During their itinerary briefing the previous day, as their guide mentioned “a game of cricket with school kids,” Hollins had gleamed with excitement.
The game begins, and the scorching sun does nothing to wilt the players’ spirits; neither does the thin air, up here at 3,280 metres elevation. Sixes and fours are hit, and wickets taken. One of the teachers, Mr. Tamchos is immensely proud of the students’ performance, and points out that the kids are extremely good, and spend at least two hours each day playing the game. And it shows!
Hollins can’t resist the thrill, and soon joins in. “We want a six. We want a four. We want a wicket,” the crowd goes mad. Mrs Hollins joins the group of kids sitting on the campus wall, with their feet dangling. Mr Hollins, a former professional player, goes seemingly easy on the kids. After an hour, both the teams are doing equally well. Some bowlers strike right at the wicket, some of the fielders drop catches. A few almost get the window glass, and some dive down in dust to stop the ball from reaching the boundary.
Team Red is the eventual winner.
Over sandwiches and iced-tea, the kids interact with the guests. Pictures are clicked, hands are shook and shortly, goodbyes are waved … until next year?
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