Monday, 4 October 2010

India: Beyond Bhangra and The Taj Mahal

Nearly twenty four hours after India’s unprecedented extravaganza at the Nehru Stadium, the British media seems to be still sitting on the fence about the CWG Opening Ceremony. As usual, there is a great restraint on giving credit where it is due for anything non-British. Well, aren’t they predictable? Give them a long shot view on of athletes running 800m race, they can still pick up passion and determination in the eyes of the British athlete even on a black and white TV! Give them Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games inauguration ceremony, all they can mumble is the word fantastic and nothing else. They see that every appreciation has a qualifier from the past. Wait for a few more days: India’s child Table prodigy becomes a case study for child abuse and that cute girl with folded hands getting taught under a Bodhi tree becomes a symbol of suppression of the women in India right from tender ages. Allow a fortnight, extraordinary patience of Delhi-ites on the day of the opening ceremony comes up as an evidence of punishing the poor for the flamboyance of the rich. Perhaps the Chinese were fed up with all these – hence invented this quote – The eye sees what it wants to see.


So, what did my eyes see?


Overall, I saw a different India, a confident India, colourful India, young India, powerful India and a committed India. But I also saw the typical India. (Do I sound British when I write it?)


Out of all those things I managed to notice, I have quoted a few below:


  • Strikingly The Taj Mahal and Bhangra dance were downplayed. The unmistakable symbols of India were kept aside to allow everything else to come forward. This is a very good move. I was fed up with Taj Mahal and Bhangra dominating anything related to India. I have no disrespect for either or both of these. I am sure that Taj Mahal and Bhangra are equally relieved to be cast aside. 

  • I saw South, North East and East India getting ample opportunity to showcase their culture. Though Birju Maharaj et al choreographed flamboyant dance routine, several dance routines started off with a South Indian theme. Weren’t they? Is this some evidence for existence of Positive Kalmadi Effect

  • The Helium Balloon and a flawless technical display affirmed India’s technology skills.

  • Serious number of people have freaked out on concepts, ideas, lighting and the choice of colours. I think this time, creative people were let go off the leash or bond or whatever that used to hold them back so far.

  • Whoever did the arena lighting during the cultural show – he/she/they know really what they are supposed to know about lighting. 

  • Some LED manufacturing company saw its LED sales sky rocket! What! LED headbands? And LED stuck Sitars?

  • During Yoga with Smile, none of the performers seemed to hurry back to the starting position from complicated final positions. Of course, I would have uncoiled myself so fast from Tholaasana, Mithunaasana etc., that I would’ve snapped a few more ligaments and tendons in no time!

  • The Wire Buddha with Seven Chakras – man, you too seemed draw the same, if not more, crowd as the original Buddha! How is this wire frame Buddha appeared so peaceful?

  • Gas Cylinder cycle rickshaw fellow has made me very jealous now. I want to ride one of them at the earliest.

  • Just when I was about to say “Okay here is the last item - Thank God - there weren’t any hip shaking women in any of the routines” – behold! Two such women appeared on either side of A. R. Rahman!

  • Last hundred steps of the torch relay witnessed chaos when Indian team members crowded and almost fell on torch bearer himself, who shamelessly was chewing gum – Isn’t it typical?

  • If such a show had taken place here in England, we would have given the performers a well deserved standing ovation clapping continuously for about 5 minutes.



But:


    • many grown-ups were sitting tight lipped – as if convey – I am Deshmogle – Assistant Deputy Chief Municipality Civil Engineering Executive. Respect me for that – not only in my office – but also at home – and also here – even after I retire or under suspension. The young crowd didn’t bother – they clapped, danced, shouted and whistled.

    • many (so called) dignitaries were checking their wrist-watch as if they need to go home and cook dinner for the family of twenty – including Camilla.

    • many had faces with lips drawn to form the inverted alphabet ‘U’

    • many were drumming fingers of one hand on the palm of the other instead of clapping. That doesn’t qualify for a clap perhaps for an insult.

After reading this, I am sure that at least one third of the crowd would ask me “Yeah, the show was nice, but what did you expect me to do? Dance on my foot?


Well, erm, yes, why not? Couldn’t you have at least stood up, corrected that inverted U formation on your lips and clapped louder than you actually could talk? At least this time, they deserved it.


We still need to learn about appreciating others in an unmistakable, open, visible manner. It is quite important.



  • Kalmadi, during his speech, said what others should have said after eleven days. It is not upto him (of all the people) to say that India Has Delivered – that too during the opening ceremony.

  • I am sure that some organisers were checking whether a trap door exists under Kalmadi’s foot where he stood delivering his speech. And if so, how soon can it be operated. And if not, how come they missed building one? I think that the trap door will be ready by the closing ceremony.

  • On this “India has delivered” expression – isn’t it too early to say so? What we should have said was “Welcome to India. We have put together this show for you. Please enjoy”. That’s it. That would’ve caused an effect somewhat closer to showing the other cheek for which we stand for.

Besides, we still have two other major hurdles to cross – doping scandals and security incidents.


  • Bangladesh and Pakistan received cheers from the crowd. But why didn’t Sri Lanka?

  • Elephant was missing. They should’ve brought an elephant or a tiger. Okay, asking for a tiger is a little too much. But, elephant? On second thoughts, may be it wasn’t a good idea. It might have caused some trouble for the elephant as there were sixty thousand people in the stadium.

There you go! My two cents on CWG Opening Ceremony. I would like to conclude saying that the mood is indeed upbeat. Not only that – take note – the stakes have gone up for the Closing Ceremony!

1 comment:

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