Monday, October 17, 2005

Sports Day

Happiness is a funny thing. Sometimes it sneaks up on you. Saturday afternoon I found myself forming the base of a human pyramid, laughing hysterically, and shrieking “hurry up and take the picture, we’re dying!” And it occurred to me that I’m happy here in India. I complain a lot in my blog about the monkeys and the food and the mold, but really—this is a great place to live. Fabulous people, awesome scenery, good job. If I could import Josh into the picture I’d be content for quite a while, I think.

But why was I part of a human pyramid, you ask? My friends and I were being silly and photographing our house pride at Sports Day. Sports Day is another one of those fun time-honored Woodstock traditions. It’s a track and field competition day where all the middle school and high school kids compete in a variety of events, earning points for their house. The whole thing takes place down below dorms on the track field and spectators and students waiting to participate fill the stands. And since it’s a boarding school, all of the teachers and many of the staff show up to help, cheer, maintain order, and even compete.

Upon arrival at the sport field (to the sound of the band playing Eye of the Tiger), we divided up and sat according to house. The mighty Merlins, all of us in our red t-shirts, were positioned at one end of the field. The house showing the most school spirit is always awarded an extra 20 points and—of course—the Merlins won. Monty, the crazy Irishman I’m going on Activity Week with, led us all in rousing Merlin fight songs, playing his electric guitar with his amplifier in his backpack. We belted out “We Will Rock You” and other well-known tunes, such as “My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean,” which had been tweaked to:

My Merlin flies over the ocean
My Merlin flies over the sea
My Merlin flies over the ocean
Oh bring back some medals to me, to me!

And the kids waved Merlin banners and held up “Merlins Rule” signs and did victory laps around the field bearing the Merlin flag and generally had a ridiculous time.

The races themselves were fun to watch because the kids really put their all into the day. The boys especially took the competition very seriously and there are some great athletes out there. The best race was saved for the very end of the day—the staff-member 4 x 100 meter relay race. Oh yeah. I ran for the women’s Merlin team and I am very proud to announce that we smoked the competition. Our final runner even had time to do a little victory dance as she went by the Merlin grandstand. Cheeky, I know.

My favorite thing about the day, though, was that it made me think about my grandfather a lot. When he was here at Woodstock, back in the 30s, he was something of a sports star and set a number of school records. Even though it was just a silly staff relay, I felt like I was carrying on a tradition when we won our race. And throughout the day, it was ever so easy to picture another handsome young man, blue eyes sparkling, racing exuberantly around the track, just like the current crop of boys (though probably in somewhat shorter shorts).