Persistence, dedication and will power
With the winter blues still looming on the horizon and the whispers of the warmth yet to tease us, this calls for reminiscing on last year’s summer, and all it brought. I embarked on a journey to Bangalore, for a month-long intensive badminton training program. With six hours a day of physical activity, six days a week, I cannot stress how much of a learning experience this summer was. And how absolutely incredible.
I arrived after an excruciating 22 hours of travel by car, train, flight and the metro. Known as the Silicon Valley of India, Bangalore is booming, with academic opportunities expanding exponentially. The weather is wonderful, the food is fantastic and it’s one of India’s liveliest cities.
As multi-cultural as it may be, Bangaloreansspeak a diverse range of languages. The multitude of options range between Kannada, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and English. So if one desires to learn a language, it can be hard to choose which. I’ve learnt Kannada is a good choice, but people can generally speak English. If all else fails, sign language worked pretty well for me.
Bangalore swarms with monstrous traffic in various modes of transport which can be taxing. I took the metro to travel around, trying to be conscientious to my wallet, but the crowded metros hardly have space for a 5 foot 4 girl to stand. Intimated by the chaotic and cacophonic roads in the first weeks, I was proud when my friend told me how I “crossed roads like a true Indian.” It’s a great skill if you can master it.
One of the highlights in Bangalore when it comes to food is the dosa, which is like a crispy, savory pancake made from rice flour. Being an Indian and a foodie, I was ashamed that I didn’t know more than 40 types of dosa existed and that I hadn’t tried them all. I made it my mission to try all variations in my month long stay. Needless to say I failed, but hey that’s one reason to go back.
As for the training, Prakash Padukone Academy is an incredibly well-reputed institute where players stay for months and years in hostels, honing their skills. Parents completely uproot their lives to move here for their children and some players even drop out of school. Day in day out, they practice passionately and obsessively for the slight chance of making it into nationals, and if everything lines up, internationals. One of the players I met had been training at the academy for about two years, and the 17 year-old’s goal was to make it to the head academy within the year, and into the Olympics by 2024.
It amazes me how much long-term planning excelling at any sport requires, knowing that the road to success is extremely constricted and that it largely depends on variables outside control and plain luck. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything, because even though I learnt so much about badminton, it was eye-opening in terms of how vital persistence, dedication and will power is.