Mud on Your Face. No Disgrace

Pop Culture

Mud on Your Face. No Disgrace

Illustration: Akshita Monga/ Arré


efore every match at India’s Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), a celebrity – a singer, a Bollywood star, a politician – is called in to sing the national anthem and asked the same question: Did you play kabaddi when you were young? Each person then proceeds to get a faraway, misty look in his eyes. The answer is always shockingly, yes. Always, yes.

Well, we all grew up playing kabaddi at some time in our lives, mostly as children. I did, too, and I remember my introduction to the game particularly well. My school in Abu Dhabi had taken us fourth graders to a nearby sports club, and we played on a makeshift mud ground in the May temperatures of 40 degree Celsius. My face was rubbed into the ground that hot afternoon more times than I care to remember and after the taste of hot mud, I was done with this rustic, village sport with as much finesse as an army of deranged gorillas.