Sunday, October 3, 2010

CWG 2010 Kick Off: Come out and play?

In a September rain, a few blocks north of Nehru Stadium.
Sometime in mid-September, I was speeding south in an auto.  We were on Khel Gaon, not far from Nehru Stadium, when a hard rain hit and a boy came running out onto the footpath, smiling and waving his arms.  Seconds later, when I snapped this picture, he was clearly having second thoughts--that rain was colder than it looked! 

The Commonwealth Games are opening today.  My sense is that most people hope it goes well. But I think we all feel a bit like the boy in this photo: what seemed like such a good idea earlier hasn't turned out the way we expected.

As for that boy, I'm not sure who he was, or where he came from.  He could have been a child of a CWG labourer--there was plenty of road work going on nearby; he could have been taking a break from a job selling magazines or flowers.  But whoever he is, you aren't likely to see him or any of his friends in Delhi for another two weeks: the streets have been mysteriously cleared near major Games venues of people (and buses) that don't look sufficiently 'World Class'.  

Of course, I guess we all knew that the slogan 'Come out and play!' was never referring to these kids--or their parents.  Still, it doesn't feel right--probably because it's not right. And it's not just the corruption and the incompetence that we've seen in abundance. It's the basic perversion of priorities that has allowed us to put pride and show before all else. 
My son previewed this essay and said I should add more--'it cuts off too quickly....maybe you should say more about how unfair it was to deport all those beggars.  Isn't that against the law, anyway?'  

He's right.  I should say more.  But forgive me this once: I'm tired, Mrs. Batti is out of town, the house is a mess, and one kid's got a fever. I wouldn't be posting anything if I hadn't already drafted it last week, anyway! Besides, I've been writing about these Games for a long time, since well before they became controversial, in fact. If you want to read more, you'll have to read one of the many excellent essays you'll find here, on our special CWG page.

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