Being On The Wrong Blue Team : Reflections From My First Boat Race
The Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race is a timeless tradition in London, so watching it is a quintessentially London activity to engage in. Excitement levels were high until the weather forecast expected hailstorms all day and India made it to the Quarter Finals in the cricket world cup. If there’s any rivalry that compares to the Ox-bridge rowing one, it’s the India-Australia cricket one (India-Pakistan is a league of its own).
To venture out in the hailstorm to watch the city’s most prestigious boat race, or sit indoors and watch the Ind vs. Aus cricket match? Come Sunday morning, the prospect of being outdoors seemed less daunting with the sun shining down, disproving the forecasts. A decision is made and a train is boarded to Putney Bridge.
As hoards of us make our way out to the venue, a hailstorm begins, no holds barred. The day takes an interesting twist after my phone dies at 40% battery – damn you iphone/there go my chances of following the cricket match – just as I’m texting Abby about where to meet. Magically, she appears just as the screen shuts off, and we decide to join the rest of our crew who is taking shelter in a pub.
Whilst attempting to shield our faces from the icy wind, navigate Google maps, and prevent our fingers from freezing, it feels like the weather is punishing my lack of patriotism. “This is what you get for choosing Oxbridge over Ind-Aus!” I think. Luckily, my need to over-analyse – and London’s schizophrenic weather – become apparent when the hailstorm soon gives way to sunnier skies.
Walking up to the Rowing Club, my clothes feel drier and hands warmer. As for the area, it is overflowing with preppy men in jackets, and coloured pants, a trend that one definitely doesn’t see enough of at LSE. It turns out that both teams are blue, so I pledge my allegiance to the Cambridge men in mint, which is pleasantly similar to the shade of my cricket team. Now, at least I can continue to bleed blue, even if I am cheering on the wrong blue team!
As for the actual race, only a short frame of it is visible when standing by the banks. Unlike my fellow Indians who have been glued to the television since morning, Londoners have come to revel in the social experience that surrounds watching the race. So when in London, one must naturally follow suit.
During the hour-long gap between the women’s and men’s races, we stuff our faces with mac-and-cheese from the nearby food stall. Straight up cheesy is true to its name and the herb crumble adds the needed flavour to an otherwise rather bland dish in my opinion. I also partake in my first-ever drink of Pimm’s, as today is all about embracing habits quintessentially British, although this one is heavily overpriced at 10 pounds a glass. So, cheers to that!
The men’s race turns out less turbulent than the women’s, where the Cambridge team’s boat almost sinks.
It also turns out more positive, with the men in mint taking over the Thames, breaking their 3-year losing streak. Meanwhile, records are broken back home too, with team India qualifying to the Semi-finals but not without a hair-raising match. After all, one needs to experience a hailstorm to appreciate the sun. So, here’s celebrating life’s unexpected twists that allowed me to witness the victory of two team blues.
Image Source: Telegraph