Exclusive excerpts from the diary of an Indian Olympian
London: We at Crank’s News, in our continuing endeavour to bring news that you can’t find anywhere, have secured exclusive rights to publish the pages from the diary of Indian Olympian at the ongoing London Olympics.
Here is the inside story from the man with the ringside view:
Day 1: There is excitement all around as the day of the Opening Ceremony dawns. But in the Indian camp it is tension and tumult. I will confess that this is the day the Indian contingent dreads the most. This is the day we have to wear the formal official team outfits, which on many previous occasions have undone many Indian sportsperson’s career, more than any actual competition possibly could.
Once, I am told, the Indian men were supplied salwar and kameez meant for the women. When the guys walked out in that, the rest of the world congratulated them for the ‘quaint ethnic wear’, while deep down they were feeling like they were auditioning for the role of kinky transvestites. So much so one of them actually ended up flunking the gender test in the men’s competition.
On another occasion, a brawny woman weightlifter was provided a dress apparently stitched for Bula Chowdhury. For those who didn’t know swimmer Bula, she was technically once size less than size zero. In that dress, the weightlifter, forget the weights, couldn’t even lift her arms.
But this time around there is no major goof up. We men are attired in smart blazers and pants and a colourful turban, signifying both modernity and tradition, while the women are clad in bright yellow sari and blue blazer signifying both style and stupidity. I mean in that sari and blazer combo, they look like world class, top notch railway TTEs.
Day 2: The Indian media is full of reports on the presence at the opening ceremony of Madhura Honey, who, to be honest, did not raise any suspicion amongst us because, well, she looked like Priyanka Gandhi. And most of you will agree that Priyanka deserves to be part of the Indian Olympic contingent based on her impeccable sporting pedigree of being born to Rajiv Gandhi who belonged to the sporting lineage of Indra Gandhi. In fact I am surprised that Priyanka is not part of the Olympic team especially since in the past people with lesser connections have made it to the Indian Olympic team for no apparent reason.
Some of the people also felt that Madhura Honey might have got to the opening ceremony after winning some competition organised by a sponsor. But I told them that would have been the case if the IOC was run by the BCCI.
Day 3: It’s time for action. We cannot afford to rest anymore. Having come to London, each of one of us sportspersons has the responsibility of making the trip memorable. I assure you that we have our eyes firmly fixed on history. Yes, we are visiting the Buckingham Palace. After that, it will be Madam Tussaud’s wax museum. No time for any distractions or extracurricular events.
We later make it to the Lord’s cricket ground to cheer the Indian archery team. Many of you may wonder as to why they are staging the archery events at the Lord’s cricket ground. But I tell you what, threatening bows and sharp arrows are actually what you need to get past the snobbish and stuffy gatekeepers there.
Inside the Lord’s arena, I kept pinching myself, wondering whether I was in a place so steeped in history such as the Indian team winning a Test with a pace attack that involved — I kid you not — Madan Lal and Roger Binny.
The Indians did not do well today. But I consoled myself that it wasn’t totally hopeless like letting Matt Prior score a century, which was the case when the Indians last visited here.
Day 4: Good news. Some bad news. Gagan Narang shoots a bronze in the air rifle event. The bad news is for his relatives back home. Because last time when Abhinav Bindra won the gold medal, his neighbours back home had to emigrate to Canada to escape from the zealous media looking for ‘some quotes’.
Indian loses 2-3 in hockey. The defeat is demoralising, but I am always ready to look at the positives. And this feels better than a draw, because the country is spared the headlines on the variation: ‘India goes Dutch with the Netherlands’.
Day 5: There is a welter of confusion at the badminton arena. There is no real clarity from the various voices emanating from there. I am, of course, referring to the issue of India’s ace shuttler being called Parupalli by the commentators here while we know him as Kashyap. The matter is so distracting that the Indian women’s doubles team fails to qualify to the next round despite winning, while a Chinese team qualifies despite deliberately losing.
Elsewhere, Michael Phelps wins his 19th medal at the Olympics, thereby just about managing to equal the Olympics record of India. If India wins one more medal here, Phelps will face the mortification of losing his record. This is the harsh reality of sports.
After his bronze in the shooting, Gagan Narang was in line for a government posting on par with an IAS officer’s. Considering that, I asked myself what Phelps would get for his 19 medals in India. I think Phelps achievements are worthy of him being appointed as Sonia Gandhi.
On a personal note, I am waiting for my event to get off to a start. Till now, the organisers have kept our team in the dark by not coming up with the schedule itself. Don’t tell us that Kabaddi is not included in the Olympics. We have not come here to hear such silly excuses. We are waiting with the promise that we Kabaddi players are always raring to go. For example, I personally am raring to go to the Stonehenge tomorrow.
(Disclaimer: If the BCCI were running the Olympics, its motto will be: Citius, Altius and Fortis Escorts)