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Women's Squash Service Trip to India: Crimson Arrives, Begins Training Sessions

Pictured: The Crimson women's squash team at the CCI Cricket Pitch.
Photo courtesy: Chris Smith

The top-ranked Harvard women's squash team is traveling to India for an 11-day training and service trip. Members of the team will post regular blog entries on GoCrimson.com during their trip over the next few weeks.

Blog Post by Vidya Rajan ’13 on Jan. 5
Map of Harvard Destinations During Trip to India
Photo Gallery of Harvard Women's Squash in India

Post by Alexandra Zindman '12

The team gathered at the Murr Center to take a bus over to Logan Airport for our night flight to London. Everyone was excited and nervous because many people, myself included had never been to Asia. The flight to London was smooth, especially after we lucked into some seat upgrades. As we started boarding the plane from Heathrow Airport to Mumbai for our nine hour flight fully equipped with an additional two hour delay due to snow, the reality that we were actually going to India set in. This trip has been in the works for some time, and as I climbed up the steps to board the plane, nothing could have prepared me for what I was going to experience. We were about to go on the trip of a lifetime. While I had seen images of the various cities on Google, and our coaches had tried, somewhat successfully to teach us basic Hindi phrases, I had absolutely no idea what to expect.

We reached Mumbai at 3 in the morning and immediately rushed to the hotel to get to sleep. The city was bustling even at such a late hour and everyone was in good spirits as our car took us through the streets, not stopping at a single red light. We finally arrived, absolutely exhausted, at the Taj Hotel only to be blessed as we walked through the doors. Each of us received a beautiful flowered wreath that smelled absolutely amazing. It was at this moment that I realized that there was nothing to be nervous about.

After sleeping in, we went to have a hit at the Cricket Club of India, Alisha (Mashruwala's) club. The club is beautiful, and is home to squash courts, a huge cricket stadium where the national team has matches, badminton courts, tennis courts, several restaurants, and a pool. Just like at the hotel, we were welcomed with open arms by the club; they had even hung banners around the grounds and gave us special squash jerseys complete with our names on the back. One of the most inspiring moments came when we noticed what the squash courts were named-- The Anil Nayar Courts. Anil was Harvard class of 1969 and won three Intercollegiate Championships and would have won four if freshmen were allowed to play varsity back then. Anil grew up learning the game at the Cricket Club and we certainly felt the history of the hallowed grounds of the courts. While we were incredibly jet lagged and still exhausted from the flight, it felt great to hit and be together as a team, doing something familiar in such a different place. After a quick tour of the grounds we headed back to the hotel to do what everyone on the team had been waiting for, shop.

The streets were packed with people eagerly approaching us trying to sell us jewelry, scarves, clocks, balloons, anything really. Our first shopping excursion was definitely a success, and everyone on the team bought at least one pashmina stole After shopping, Alisha’s parents took us out for an incredible Lebanese dinner. The food was amazing and
totally different from anything that I had ever eaten before. It was a great ending to our first official day in India.

Tomorrow we have two squash sessions including a match vs. the Cricket Club’s top players. This of course will be preceded by a reception and many more warm welcomes and gift exchanges.