Elephant Polo 1999
by Tilman Smith
II. December 7 & 8 Matches
Today was our first official game. We woke up relaxed and quite enthusiastic about our virgin outing, largely due to our immediate fondness for our first opponents, the Titanic Tracks, but more optimistically due to the fact that we had left at least of couple of the Tracks swilling wine at the bar while the Screwy Tuskers headed to bed at our newly appointed hour. No matter how things turned out, we knew we had met the fun-seeking match to the Screwys in the Titanic Tracks.
|SCREWY TUSKERS LINE UP|
|1st Chukka||2nd Chukka|
|1. Annie||1. Shamane|
|2. Cindy||2. Tilman|
|3. Alf||3. Cindy|
|4. Stephani (goal)||4. Susan (goal)|
Oh, those Titanic Tracks were sly ones! All that idle chitchat about how they didn't know the first thing about the game; how the Screwys would make mince meat out of them; about what good sports they would be upon their defeat. Little did we know they were huddling around a secret weapon in the form of a lovely, petite blond named Griselda.
For the first chukka, Annie, Cindy, Alf and Steph were able to hold her to two goals. Eager to contain her, the second string scooted out to the pitch quickly for the second chukka, only to find themselves waiting for Griselda for what seemed an agonizingly long period of time. I do believe the referee had to blow his whistle for her more than once. Was this really, as Griselda claimed, a case of an improperly strapped saddle, or her idea of psychological warfare? Whichever it was, it worked, because from the moment she returned, she was unstoppable. You know, I'm sure her most capable team mates helped her tremendously, and may have even scored one of their seven goals, but all we saw was that blond streak of hair whizzing past us, urging her mahout to move on, move on!
As we left the field, laughing and shaking our heads, the Screwy Tusker sentiment was overwhelming. That dame could PLAY! I think we were as happy for her as we could have been for ourselves.
Some Screwy Tusker Tactical Errors:
First mistake: Assuming that Angad Kalaan would have a slight headache and jungle sores from previous tiger hunting expeditions and consequent liquid cleansings.
Second mistake: Assuming that Angad would stay true to his hand shaken promise to this reporter that the following scenario would take place: The Screwy Tuskers would be allowed to score 6 well earned goals throughout the game. The Chivas team would be allowed to beat us as the final whistle blew in the second chukka, so the score would end up 7-6, with Chivas being the chivalrous victors. This agreement was struck right there on the field, not long after our defeat to the Tracks. Angad, looking perpetually angelic and genuinely earnest as he shook my hand and nodded. I know I should have been suspicious as he mumbled something about Peter Prentice dying before he'd let any of this happen, but a handshake was a handshake after all.
|SCREWY TUSKERS LINE UP|
|1st Chukka||2nd Chukka|
|1. Cindy||1. Tilman|
|2. Annie||2. Shamane|
|3. Stephani||3. Susan|
|4. Alf (goal)||4. Alf (hero)|
Well, so much for screwy deals, because in good, old-fashioned terms, Angad just hogged the ball. Cindy, in true form, tried everything to divert his attention; conversation, jokes, chiding, and eventually pleading. I even sidled up to Angad's father, Raj, on the sidelines to have a parent to parent chat about holding our children accountable to their PROMISES. Something must have struck a chord in Soni and Raj, because they escorted Angad off the field after half-time and allowed some of the other Chivas players to have a crack at us. Was that a smirk I saw on Peter Prentice's face?
In the second chukka, the ST's were able to contain Chivas to just 4 goals, thanks to the brilliant goal tending of our fearless leader and martyr, Alf, who was the only one of us brave enough to play this position against Chivas. Hmmm, our record was looking a little precarious, but we knew what mattered. Our uniforms were looking good out there against the blue skies and white capped Himalayas and thanks to our brilliant commentator, Christopher Lavender, the Screwy Tuskers were going down in history as a spunky, fun-loving, and well-sponsored team.
The International Tigresses defeated the British Gurkhas 4-2, with Margie and Celia leading the efforts with noble support by their team mates, Anna Tara, Samantha, and Laurie. We were beginning to understand why Laurie moved onto the Tigresses team. As Margie said to me so sweetly one day, after hearing my familiar line of "Well, we're really here just want to have fun." "Well, Tilman", she said, "I want to have great fun, too, AND play well." The Tigresses proved, over and over again, that they could do just that.
Griselda fought the feisty fight against the National Parks team and even though the Parks prevailed, they showed everyone that the Tracks were a team to be reckoned with.
A quick note here to say, that even though I'm concentrating on the competitive part of each day, the afternoons and evenings were filled with great food, elephant and jeep safaris, booming Parisian opera by way of Mongolia, jungle chickens and cows, champagne in Room 17, romantic marriage proposals (some proper, some not), growing friendships with the staff and guides at Tiger Tops, and new friendships with many others. Wouldn't want to bore you with details but rest assured that the between the seven of us, little went unnoticed or unremarked upon. Laugher abounded.