Sachin’s school

Sanjay’s experienced the West but lives in a Mumbai slum
His uncle owns garment shops in Calangute, Goa
It takes a moment to be comfortable with Sanjay; the focus of his eyes settle fifty meters over my shoulder
Later I realise he has a problem with his eyesight

The children of the slum overpower me with their enthusiasm, whilst Sanjay offers me a juice
He’s like the Pied Piper as we walk to the juice stand with the children following closely
‘… so you like cricket’
‘well, yes’ I say diffidently
Sachin Tendulkar started playing cricket at the school here… I will take you to see… you would like that?’
‘well, yes’

We stride along the busy street parallel to the slum, with maybe fifty excited children behind us; pedestrians deftly side-step our group now traveling at speed
The guard isn’t troubled by our arrival and duly signs me into the visitors book


Sanjay explains I’m a big fan of Sachin Tendulkar and I dutifully nod
The school built in the sixties with pink walls is worn but cared for
The corridors and staircases filled with a pervading sense of expectation of the possibilities that life is about to offer

We explain that I’m a big fan of Sachin Tendulkar three more times before the headmaster questions me
‘… where are you from?’
‘what are you doing in Mumbai?’
‘why did I want to see the school?’
‘what was my interest in Sachin Tendulkar?’
‘would I use what I saw only for my personal interest?’

There’s an explosive welcome to the classrooms but when I’m not a distraction there’s a studious intensity
A reminder that for many countries education is still a privilege that allows an escape from poverty and deprivation

There are classrooms with pupils strictly in uniform
A dusty pitch, irregularly shaped; jammed between the school and the slum
Photographs of a young boy with whites, pads and a bat flourished confidently above his head
Then through stages of his cricketing life ending-up as a demigod of not Indian cricket but India itself

photography and text by Tim Harris
This entry was published on June 5, 2017 at 6:30 pm. It’s filed under India, Sport, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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