I headed to The Tolly Club this morning and was working in Indrajit's office when he arrived around 10:30. We chatted about junior golf and he gave me my prize for winning our little match yesterday, which is his 2009 Indian Pro Tour pin. I shouldn't have taken 2 strokes a hole but that was our agreement after he had seen my poor play the day prior. An agreement is an agreement and I am sure we will have a rematch next year when I return.
We talked about his junior program, the structure and the assistance he gives to pretty much anyone who asks. He will help them all - some pay and those that cannot afford to are looked after as well.
I paid the annual green fees for the five Fairways juniors, Anil Gujrati, Subhash Solnki, Nagendra Chourasiya, Priyanka Chourasiya and Jitendra Roy. They were delighted. For 27,000 rupees ($400), they can play one round a week for 12 months, and they can practice on the other day. They get access to the range, chipping and putting areas for no charge. Now we just need to fundraise to enable us to pay for more children in India and other countries.
I also spoke with another potential Fairways junior who has qualified for the Lufthansa Indian Junior Golf Tour, but Jeremy (Fairways COO) said he doesn't quite fit our criteria (we can't afford travel and accommodation costs right now), so we have decided that our sponsorship money is better spent getting access to the course for children that would otherwise struggle to play.
I worked for a few hours while Indrajit had meetings and lessons, then I headed off at 3:30 to get changed. When I got back, I sat in on the end of Indrajit's lesson and at 4:30pm, two of our new Fairways juniors, Anil and Subhash, came to give me a tour of the streets of Kolkata. Without knowing it, I had arrived in Bengal during its biggest religious festival, the Durga Puja. The city was a heaving mass of humanity.
We caught a taxi to the other side of town and we visited a couple of smaller pujas (a puja is an act of worship) before we lined up - well actually stepped into the pushing throng of people and sweated our way forward. The crowds were insane - this is one of the world's biggest festivals and I was in the middle of it wearing other people's sweat as an accessory.
I didn't spot another western face in any of the crowds that were paying homage to the Hindu god Durga - I wouldn't have attempted what I did without guides and was so very pleased and thankful the boys took the time out to take me through the throngs of people.
They were very worried about me and continued checking I was ok. "Ma'am, are you hungry?" "Ma'am, walk here please." "Ma'am, have some water." "Are you ok, Ma'am?" - especially when we were pressed in a moving mass of sweating people - they were worried I might get lost, and in the cab over they ensured I had their phone number as they did not want to lose me.
I think they were surprised that I weaved through the traffic and smiled through the sweat without being bothered at all. They asked me if I would be returning to Kolkata again next year, and were very pleased to hear that I will be.
We have already arranged for us to golf together upon my return.