Saturday, October 23, 2010

We are like that only...

On October 14, many Indians heaved a sigh of relief... Somehow, the assumed catastrophe of unprecedented embarrassment was avoided, somehow we turned an event that was professed to be doomed from the start into a spectacular show of creative genius (and shrewd politics...)

Commonwealth Games 2010, you will live in our memories for years to come.

I will tell my grandchildren fables of a giant called Kalmadi who was purported to have a legendary appetite for crores and crores of Indian rupees. He reportedly had cash for breakfast and cash for lunch, he reportedly munched on fake contracts and nibbled on dubious deals... So bloated with cash was he thought to be by the time the Commonwealth games kick-started, no word of ridicule as much as pricked his thick skin.

My grandchildren will frantically try to retrieve decades old archives on the internet (or some sci-fi-turned-reality technology) and will be even more confused than they were before hearing my story. "Grandma, you skipped telling us about Mrs. Dixit! And you never told us stories about Madhu Koda, BS Yediyurappa, the Reddy brothers, Laloo and this fodder scam..." Sigh...

If the kids must know about the stink of corruption, they must also know about youths from poor families in far-flung villages of India who persevered with their chosen sport in spite of minimum facilities. Who helped India snatch the 2nd position in the medal tally...

Of people like Narayanan Krishnan who left a plush career as a chef with a 5-star chain to feed the hungry and homeless in his city.
Of those thousands of unsung heroes that often escape a mention in newspapers, but whose principles and efforts are what I believe keep alive the sanity and exuberance of my country alive.

One of my persistent fears is that I may allow cynicism for the juggernaut of politics and bureaucracy to outweigh or even overshadow the celebration of an enigma that is India, of rejoicing in the remarkable achievements of my countrymen.

Will the stories I tell my grandchildren be only burlesque tales of political perverts, scams and scandals? Will I have the good sense to let the magic of India and its indomitable citizens etch happy, proud memories to share with a generation to come? I think I will...

"With all the talks of corruption and broken bridges, if we could put up this show at the nth second, what would we have achieved if... Only if..."

I end with a much-used Hindi one-liner: "Hum to aise hi hain" We are like that only... :)

Day Opening - October 23

Istanbul 2010, by Brian Underdown, Istanbulblogger