Thursday, October 21, 2010

DELHI: Doubters should just get out there and enjoy the Games.


We heard of the huge amount of criticism of the Commonwealth Games in the foreign media. Here's something different that Peter Lalor of 'The Australian' wrote...


This has been contributed by an old School mate David Conquest who lives in Australia.







"The Commonwealth Games are apparently under way. Not without
glitches and no doubt there will be a few more to come, but for pity's sake
what do people want?

India is a Country with more than a billion people. It is chaotic, eccentric, colourful and unlike anywhere else in the world. You reckon Australia
would run smoothly with that many people?
It can be dirty and is often frustrating, but it is also endlessly fascinating.
Every moment something new and enthralling happens. If you can't find
interest here, you should check your pulse.

You get the feeling from all the hoo-ha of recent weeks that people expect
life to be lived inside a shopping mall. Bland, secured and air-conditioned.
That goes for athletes, media and officials. Cue the mundane. Let the
frightened triumph.


Journalists were given hostile environment training before they came.
Please. It's that sort of thinking that has a growing number of us huddled
in gated communities.

Yes it is nice when the traffic flows smoothly, but really when it is a cow,
an elephant or even a dead body on the back of a Ganges-bound rickshaw
it is worth the price of the inconvenience (this won't happen in Delhi).

The sports editor of a major newspaper based in Delhi vented her
frustration recently. Her email box was full of questions from quivering
potential visitors. Could they go outside, or was the danger of being
kidnapped too high? Could they ask a woman directions, or would that be
culturally insensitive? Do women need male escorts?

"I want to tell them that they all have to wear a burka and stay in their
rooms," she sighed with frustration. Delhi is a modern city. You can get McDonald's there, don't worry.

 

Although one suspects that the sight of a menu that features such strange 2
delights as McAloo Tikka might have them running back to the Vegemite
sandwiches they packed. Just in case.

The pathetic hysteria before the games reveals the naivety and lack of
urbanity of so many.

Too many Australians have lived sheltered lives down here on an isolated
island with no neighbours at the borders and only redback spiders to fear.

 

The xenophobia in the air is extraordinary. Are we scared of the people
who arrive by boat, or do we resent them? We seem far more comfortable
with the asylum-seekers who come on aeroplanes.

 

India has an order within it that takes a long time to see it or appreciate it.
The other morning Justin Langer and some other members of the cricket
support staff were out running in Chandigarh. The local police insist on
tailing them in a Jeep. When the runners reached the local lake, there was
an obvious problem. The trio wanted to continue along a path but the Jeep
wasn't going to fit.

 

The police had no warning and didn't speak English, but with 30 seconds
of assessing the problem it was solved. Out of nowhere somebody
appeared holding a police bike, one of the guards jumped on. The runners
hadn't even broken stride.

It is one of the minor mysteries of India how that little exercise was
organised so quickly and so seamlessly but you are always surprised here.

Mitchell Starc was summoned to tour on Friday and had a visa by the time
the plane left on Saturday.

People will probably counter that story with a thousand tales of frustration
about attempting to get visas. They should tour the Third World
consulates and see the heart-breaking queues of people winding down
streets. Queues that stretch for weeks, months and years only to end with
rejection.

If you think it's hard trying to get a visa to India, try being an ordinary
Indian trying to get one to Australia. The poor have no hope, the rich
however are acceptable. Yet India has been hosting our barefoot hippies,
drug addicts and spiritual seekers for decades with good grace and cheer.

Ever seen an Indian ascetic in Australia?

Didn't think so.

All of us are guilty of chuckling at India's occasionally mangled English or
becoming frustrated at somebody's incomprehension of our wishes. How 3
many of us speak Hindi or whatever language is relevant?

 

Still, it was side-splittingly funny when one cricket correspondent ordered
a naan bread to his room and was promptly delivered an ironing board.

India is incredible in so many ways. If you peer within the apparent chaos,
you will find some extraordinary order. Send your smalls out in the
morning to be washed and an intricate system that would put a computer
to shame sees them delivered to the river, beaten on stones and dried on
the banks with a million other items of clothing and somehow returned by
day's end.

Most of us can't wash a pair of socks in the laundry of our own home
without losing one.

 

It's time for a lot of us to 'get a life.' "

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