Let the games begin
It's been raining furiously in Delhi like never before. Even more astonishing, the Yamuna overflowed. It doesn't seem likely that the shoddy, leaky stadia constructed for the Commonwealth Games (CWG) can be patched up before the deadline after all. And lest you're worried that Suresh Kalmadi (chairman of the CWG organising committee) is losing precious beauty sleep over this, fret not. Kalmadi's a bright chap and an entrepreneur at heart: he'll probably award a contract to a manufacturer to supply CWG-branded umbrellas for spectators at Rs10,000 each - perhaps even more.
I can't predict how many of our sportspeople will be winners, but I think I can safely say that Mr Kalmadi and his cronies will walk away with gold at the end of the games.
I won't be going for the games because apart from Saina Nehwal, I don't really know who to cheer for. Frankly, I have no idea how many Indian sportspeople will participate eventually. The numbers are going down every day. Four Indians wrestlers were recently dropped from the CWG squad for failing the National Anti Doping Agency tests. Their coach has pleaded leniency and said that the dope-takers were just foolish - they had ab¬solutely no idea what they were taking. The moral of this story is (I hope impressionable children are reading this): Only dopes take dope!
I certainly won't turn red with embarrassment if the shoddily planned and executed CWG proves to be a disaster - come on, after the horror stories we've heard, most of us are fatalistically expecting nothing less. But I will turn purple with rage if all those corrupt officials who let the country down are let off scot-free.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi has solemnly promised that those found guilty will be punished after the event, graciously giving corrupt officials a few months to cover their tracks. Operation hide-the-evidence has already begun - the personal file of suspended CWG organising committee deputy director-general Sanjay Mohindroo has mysteriously vanished. The file contains information relating to the controversial official's record of service, including his travels abroad which are now under investigation. Hmm... I wonder if it has already been recycled into the wildly expensive toilet paper that Suresh Kalmadi favours?
I have a brilliant idea for the grand opening ceremony of the games. Since the mascot is Shera the tiger, we should play him up as much as we can - really get the most out of him. So, suppose we get about a dozen Royal Bengal tigers from the Sunderbans into the stadium? Their cages can be wheeled in on spectacular floats created by Bollywood's leading set designers. And Suresh Kalmadi, along with other members of the CWG organising committee, can have the honour of unlocking their cages with shiny golden keys to let them run loose. So much more refreshing than letting doves fly free, isn't it? I'm willing to bet Indian taxpayers will roar with appreciation. I know I certainly will!
It is a truth universally acknowledged that artistes are influenced by the environment. So I wasn't terribly shocked when I heard a snatch of AR Rahman's original anthem for the CWG over a month ago. It wasn't remotely like the lively, foot-stomping Waka Waka anthem Shakira performed at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa earlier this year - it wasn't even like Rahman's own inspiring Jai Ho! Yukky Yukky would have been an appropriate title for this sleepy composition.
Who can blame Rahman? He must have been depressed and gloomy, possibly even suicidal in the company of corrupt members of the CWG organising committee. That probably explains why it sounded more like a dirge. Evidently, he's spending less time with those corrupt officials these days, because I have just been informed that he's adding fistfuls of masala to his original anthem in a bid to make it 'peppy'. Whew, at least something is going right!
Finally, I must say that while I'm not looking forward to the CWG beginning, I'm certainly looking forward to the end. After it's over, our prime minister and the key cabinet members can concentrate on burning issues like Kashmir, Maoists, terrorism, poverty, inflation etc, instead of rushing out every now and then to inspect preparations for the CWG. I do so hope they're carrying rulers with them - the inept Kalmadi deserves to be rapped on the knuckles - very hard!