Banjara Kids: Can they become gymnastic champions given a chance ?
Can you spot the next Olympic champion from India? Well she could be closer than you like to believe.The next Olympic champion actually could be in the shanty next to your home or doing acrobatics on a rope on the next street corner. The only challenge is you will look at her with pity throw some coins her way and move on without thinking ever again about her. That is the tragedy of our sports and traditional sports and skills.
Till Sachin Tendulkar started making big bucks thanks to cricket, sports was considered more of a vice and not something to be proud of in this country. We even had a saying that said
“ Kheloge koodoge hoge kharaab…..Padoge likhoge banoge nawaab”
Loosely translated it meant that if you will play around you will spoil your life but if you will study then you can become a Nawaab or king. I guess this saying is older than the time when the Nawaab of Pataudi decided to become a cricketing legend to be followed by his son, though abandoned by grandson in pursuit of a career in silver screen. This post is about some of street artists that I saw performing in the by lanes of Hyderabad by some small kids trained to perform on streets in return of some loose chain that is bothering the Sahib log with its sound as they prefer the crispy sound coming from the Mahatma in their pocket.
Slack lining is a practice in balance that typically uses nylon webbing creating tension between two anchor points. Many people suggest Slack lining is distinct from tightrope walking in that the line is not held rigidly taut (although it is still under some tension); it is instead dynamic, stretching and bouncing like a long and narrow trampoline. The line’s tension is adjusted to suit the user and different types of webbing is used to achieve a variety of feats. The line itself is usually flat, due to the nature of webbing, thus keeping the slacker’s footing from rolling as would be the case with an ordinary rope. The dynamic nature of the line allows for tricks and stunts.
In India, this art form is performed by the Banjaras on the road side in various parts of India for earn some money and feed their families. They teach this art to their kid at a very early age as their bodies are flexible and can maneuver easily. Apart from slack lining they also display some tricks which involve flexibility of their young bodies.
They have a set of bamboo sticks and ropes which they setup on the roadside. The mother or father beats the drum to attract audience on the road. The show starts with the body flexibility tricks following by slack lining. In slack lining, the kids usually perform three tricks. First one is simple slack lining with balancing their foot n body with the help of a bamboo stick. In second trick the performer wears a slipper and the walks on the line and does reverse walking also. The third one and the most difficult one, the performer adjusts a ring on the line and with their feet roll the ring on the line moving forward.
After the act is over, the poor kids go to the audience with a plate to collect money. Most of us clap and get amazed when we see the stunts on TV or in a circus but usually ignore their talent on the roadside. We should be proud that we have people like this in India who prefer to earn their livelihood rather than begging. They hardly make up to Rs. 100/- to Rs. 200/- a day by display this talent.
We must appreciate their hard work and talent whenever we get to see something like this on the roadside. I wonder with this wonderful flexibility, absolute zero fear and genes passed on from generation of rope work why we do not consider some of these kids to be trained in gymnastics for the next Olympic. I am pretty sure they will return with gold for us.
This post is written by our guest author Shoaib Mohammad Kirmani who when not missing the rustling of chinar leaves on the bank of Dal lake in his native Kashmir, takes wonderful photographs. He works in a MNC in marketing but also volunteers for our photography club as an organizer. Please check and like his work by clicking here .https://www.facebook.com/ShoaibsAmateurPhotography