Tamika Raymond Fights for India


Tamika Raymond will coach the India National Team in the Asian Games
Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images

Tamika Raymond is currently overseas in India on behalf of the NBA and WNBA to coach the India national team for the Asian Games and to further educate and enhance the lives of basketball fans around the world. Follow her stories right here on WNBA.com.

EAT*PRAY*LOVE
�A nation�s culture resides in the hearts and in the souls of its people.� - Mohandas Ghandhi

EAT!

Many food critics on the Food Network and Travel Channel preach that the best way to embody a culture is through the native cuisine. I truly believe that something as simple as sharing a meal can enrich the spirit. South Indian cuisine is spicy, bold, and full of different flavors. Most Indian food is a combination of spices, herbs, vegetables, and fruits because many natives are vegetarians due to their faith.

This week, I had the time of my life eating my first real South Indian meal. The preparation, cooked with love, included vegetables picked from the garden, homemade spices and herbs, and great family conversation. First, I washed my hands, and then I sat in front of a huge banana leaf with heaping piles of different Indian concoctions. I scooped the food in my mouth and each pile sent a unique burst of flavor to my taste buds. It was filling and so delicious! Every meal brings storytelling, history lessons, and Masala chai - the best tea on the planet. The food, tea, and giving nature of the Indian people is like Chicken Soup for the Soul!

PRAY!

Hinduism is based on Dharma (ethics/duties), Samsara (cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth), Karma (action/reaction), Moksha (liberation from samsara), and yoga (practices). Hinduism is one of the oldest religious traditions in the world. Bill Harris and I visited the massive Sri Ranganathaswami Temple in Srirangam while running clinics in Trichy. The temple is thousands of years old, covers 156 acres of land, and has 21 actual temples peaks. Each peak is covered with hundreds of hand-carved Hindu gods that are hand painted yearly. I saw monkeys roaming the land and an elephant whose trunk was used to bless the heads of the worshippers.

The people enter the temple barefoot where they sing, meditate, have small family picnics, and give offerings to the gods with flowers and candles. The festival of Diwali (lights), one of the biggest festivals of the Hindus is around the corner and everyone is getting excited about its pure celebration. Diwali is celebrated over five days with the festival of lights happening on day three. Fireworks help the celebration and people light up diyas (oil lamps) and candles around their homes. Laxmi Puja is performed in the evening which seeks to bring the divine blessings of the Goddess of wealth, prosperity, light, wisdom, generosity and courage. The temples, festivals, and arranged marriages have all been pivotal to understanding and connecting to my team and the people of Chennai!

LOVE!

I have fallen in love with India! The people here are extremely friendly, welcoming and respectful to foreigners. India is a place where cultural traditions and family are a priority. The ride from my hotel to the gym is like an Indiana Jones movie scene. I have seen cows in the middle of the street; a man pulling 1,000 bananas by bike; and traffic so bad it makes NYC look like Disney World!

And One More Thing�INDIA LOVES BASKETBALL! My team is maturing every day with team building discussions, team dinners, and fun times at the pool. They are getting better and buying into the new concepts of basketball. We have had more good days than bad which has made my job EASY (Team Joke)!

P.S. Special thanks to Renee Brown and the WNBA for ALL the love! It was great motivation for the players and what we are trying to do here. THANKS AGAIN!!