It was sometime last year that a fine gentleman, a distinguished member of our residential premises, proposed the brilliant idea of marking a badminton court in the open area next to the car park.
Fortunately, this idea was given the "no objection" certificate by one and all. The court was marked - a tad shorter than the customary specifications - to accommodate the Honda Cities, Hyundai Accents and Maruti Swifts resting in the parking lot.
Initially, we were only a few inspired souls on the court once in a while, soon the fever settled on alternate weekends...subsequently it became a weekly habit and eventually we had daily loyalists waiting with bated breath for the clock to strike seven in the evening...the time when play begins every day.
The game began but we never realized, more than the court, the players themselves were "marked" by roving eyes from unknown quarters.
Any growing popularity invites attention, and attention makes way for nuisance - soon many a voice of discontent were floating in the air -
"They make a lot of noise";
"Why block the area when we have a handful of them swearing by the game?";
"We have a tough time parking our cars";
"Our guests find it difficult to walk by the side";
"The shuttle cock can cause damage to our cars";
The excuses were many but the aim was one - to bring the game down.
The climax came in the form of a notice "requesting members to co-operate and abstain from making noise as it was examination time for students"
The notice was the "ad hoc" handiwork of a certain lady, self appointed patron of the society and member of the "ad hoc committee" who had her "child" appearing for the X standard board exams during this period.
The badminton court was hardly the source of commotion - save for the occasional shouts and sighs of the players. In sharp contrast, the hyena-like laughs and heated debates emanating from the very place that "housed" the X standard child was the biggest cause of noise pollution - yet, came the notice - generously backed by some ever-disgruntled souls - on and off the adhoc committee - trying their best to settle old scores on this convenient premise.
Also lending unconditional support were the usual mischief mongers (a universal sect across the globe) whose favorite pastime is backbiting and bitching around during the desolate evening hours...Then there were those who chose to be on either side - trying to please all and offend none. They were seen playing on the court cheering our cause, and yelling off it too, supporting our detractors.
Much to the dismay of the protesting tribe, our game continued. And the patrons grew by the day. Today, we have members of all age groups sweating it out on the court. Prime among them are bubbly kids, enthusiastic housewives and working women - regulars at the court, intent on taking their game to the next level - each passing day. It feels great to watch them deliver confident smashes, astute drops and clever placements.
The court is now a rich source of inspiration and the reservoir of some 24-carat enjoyment. Not only has it fostered the sporting spirit in our locality, it has lent meaning and purpose to the vacuumed existence of us city-dwellers - breaking the monotony, bringing work-life balance.
Precisely why, all of us come together each day, our founder gentleman included - notwithstanding the litany of hurdles:
The shuttle cock is often caught by the swaying trees above us, the net is raised now and then to make way for passing cars, passerbys & bikes make sudden on-court intrusions, savage flat owners drop garbage from their windows...
...the list is endless, but the spirit is never-say-die. Staying put on court, we have achieved a wonderful out-of-court settlement.
Judicious, if not judicial.