The morning was spent tucked into books at the coffee shop. Alas…what could have been a leisurely study sesh turned into a stubborn battle of my sanity vs. Justin Beiber techno remixes and heavy construction. Turns out that those tracks play on loop and none of the guys drilling next door ever found the need to go on a chai break. Womp.
So! You can imagine just how pumped I was when these beautiful ladies bounced through the door to meet me! It was time to get down to business: interview time.
The essence of my project here is “Who are these girls who are playing rugby in India?” Kicking off with some answers are my friends and teammates, Surabhi Date and Shruti Marathe. Women’s rugby started here in Pune — so, it’s from here in Pune that I’ll launching my ’round-the-country journey.
Keep in mind that these are just two voices — even within the team their stories vary so wildly. The goal is to eventually capture a colorful collection of narratives and images from pitches across India.
So, who exactly are these two lovely friends of mine you ask?
Surabhi has a smile that’s contagious and an equally infectious work ethic. The natural streak of humility that runs through her character guides her in work and play. When asked about her proudest moment: would you say captaining for India? She replies, “Well, you know…I felt pretty neutral about it. Rugby is a team sport after all.” Shru — often her partner in crime — has a jovial spirit and an easy laugh. She talks excitedly about overcoming her ACL surgery and her love for that special flavor of catharsis that comes from wrecking the opposition.
Both girls find time between their college studies to play for RFS Pune, anddddd occasionally suit up for India and pound out some international tries.
They’re lucky — though Surabhi notes, “I’m an Indian girl. It’s [rugby] not very Indian. We’re not brought up that way,” she and Shru both come from families totally encouraging of their daughters’ (bloody/bruised/broken) pursuits. Often, women ruggers here find themselves stuck between the cultural cornerstone that dictates that girls should ‘play nice,’ and that rugby foundation that requires them to play hard.
2016 Olympic dreams in mind, Is there anything that would stop you from playing? The list ran in my head — the inevitable marriage? Another degree? A job abroad? —
“Nothing is going to make us stop playing,” says Surabhi, “…unless we are geriatrics…who can’t move.”
If these girls — so, so sweet, but even more so passionate — don’t brighten your day as they did mine…I don’t know what will. 🙂
More to come…!