We’re back from a relaxing day in the countryside with boxer Sarita Devi. She lives with her family in Thoubal District, which is 30 minutes outside of Imphal, the capital of Manipur. Sarita seems faster than the speed of light; her movements are quick and graceful. It’s hard not to be drawn to her during training sessions. As we mentioned before, she lets out a shrill scream with every punch and every jab. She’s fierce and outspoken. We were really happy to have the chance to get to know her one-on-one today, after observing her since 2006.
In the past, it was tough for us to communicate with Sarita because of the language barrier. We don’t have the budget to hire a translator and her native tongue is Manipuri (and she speaks Hindi with the rest of the team). So for the longest time, we weren’t able to find common ground with her.
Things changed this time thanks to Esther Shimray, a very sweet Manipuri woman. Esther graciously helped us by volunteering as a translator. To say that Manipuri people are big-hearted is an understatement. They have gone out of their way to help us innumerable times. Their kindness and generosity is astounding. We feel deeply indebted to the people of this region. And it’s so hard to believe that such gentle people live in a state which is so rife with corruption and bloodshed.
Today Sarita told us about her job as a police inspector, her childhood, and the difficulties of being a boxer in India. We met her huge extended family, who live together under one roof. At 27 years old, Sarita is one of the oldest boxers on the team. She has been on the scene since 2001 when she won her first medal at the Asian Championships. In 2006, she won gold at the world championships. She encountered some problems and didn’t perform as well as she would have hoped in China last month; she won a bronze. I’m not going to reveal all the juicy tidbits here. You’ll have to stay tuned for the documentary, which we hope to start editing in the new year.
In the next few days, we’ll be wrapping things up in Manipur. When Mary Kom comes back from Mumbai, we’ll be spending the day with her family. On Dec. 21 we are flying back to Delhi and closing up shop on the filming of this documentary. Then hopefully we will be able to say, “That’s a wrap!”