COMMONWEALTH GAMES WATCH: Not so bad (touch wood & hearts) Balloon a hit, DD spoils show – the best sports show in India yet, does Indian proud the world over – now onwards towards the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup – too ambitious and scandalous for the Indian psyche ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY ARCHIS MOHAN
New Delhi, Oct. 3: Aloft, the big boy of a balloon was still defying gravity and watching over the Commonwealth Games as the night grew old.
The adorable kids also won hearts, arraying themselves to form an elegant namaste as Hariharan crooned Swagatam Nava Bharatam.
So, has the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony survived the Indian curse?
Yes, if you were at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and taking in the Rs 80-crore aerostat, the giant helium balloon that hogged the limelight.
No, if you were watching the opener on Doordarshan, the only broadcaster allowed to beam it “live” in India.
If the opening ceremony lived up to the adjectives tailor-made for such events — “glittering”, “dazzling”, “vibrant” and “spellbinding” — Doordarshan managed the near-impossible feat of making the spectacle “sound” like a Republic Day Parade.
Also, as part of its laudable and patriotic effort to add to the nation’s coffers, the national broadcaster interrupted coverage with frustrating commercial breaks: the first one nearly 10 minutes long.
So long was the break and so fragile the reputation of the Games organisers, many viewers assumed something had gone terribly wrong at the venue and the glitch was being covered up by the shower of commercials.
For the record, things were going along swimmingly inside the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the venue of the opening ceremony.
Even the much-maligned Suresh Kalmadi’s soporific speech-reading skills managed to draw repeated rounds of roars, variously interpreted as jeers and cheers. Those in the stadium had little doubt: the boos were for Kalmadi and bouquets for the others.
Many of the 60,000 spectators appeared to know their politics well, cheering wildly at the mention of such names as Sonia Gandhi, Sheila Dikshit and Atal Bihari Vajpayee (all figured in Kalmadi’s thanksgiving).
Not that the audience was not discerning. Stony silence greeted Kalmadi when he tried to do a Barack Obama but fell short of the passion as he pip-squeaked: “Yes, we can.”
On the topic of cheers, the most deafening round of applause was reserved for former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who was referred to as Abdul Kalam “Azad” by a nervous Kalmadi.
Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also received a rapturous round of applause. Not bad for Singh who had lost an election from this very south Delhi constituency 12 years ago.
Not many in the crowd seemed to notice when BJP leader L.K. Advani and leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj were shown on the screen for several minutes.
When Prince Charles stood up, shouts of “India” reverberated throughout the stadium.
If the cheerleaders were nursing hopes of a colonial-era epic battle, they were in for a letdown. The prince read out in his baritone a statement from Queen Elizabeth II, the concluding part of which was put under the microscope because of a debate earlier over who would “open” the Games.
The prince quoted the queen: “I have much pleasure in declaring the 19th Commonwealth Games open.”
Then stepped in President Pratibha Patil, who injected a surprising element of zeal into the operative part.
Forced into a dramatic pause because of the loud cheers after she uttered “Let…”, the President allowed the noise to subside, marshalled the might expected of the First Citizen and declared with a flourish that would have done any Athenian proud: “Let the Games begin.”
By then, Doordarshan was just beginning to get the hang of the game. The lack of pre-event co-ordination between those who lit the stadium and DD camera teams was evident. Often, the cameras were blinded by the glare of lights.
Very few camera angles were at play, most of them static. Sometimes, the cameras roved without knowing where to go. If viewers got fed up and closed their eyes, the commentary sounded no different from the usual January 26 parade drone.
The ceremony ended around 10pm but Doordarshan’s “live” telecast dragged on till 11pm as the feed got deferred because of the frequent commercial breaks.
Bengal had its moments at the opening ceremony. Jamling Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Peter Hillary marched with the New Zealand contingent to inspire the athletes. The march was to keep alive the spirit of what their fathers — Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary — had achieved 57 years ago when they scaled Mt Everest for the first time.
Mamata Banerjee’s railway bandwagon, too, trundled through the venue, providing some amusement after a heavy dose of culture.
To the swaying tune of Chhaiya, Chhaiya, the wagons wound their way through. One was packed with cycles, presumably to hammer home the primacy given to the common man by the utility, not to mention its minister. Another filled with a thicket of microphones and politicians also stirred the curiosity of the spectators.
Twitterati go ga-ga over the Games opening ceremony – a typical Indian trait of getting cheezy self pictures taken too ?!!
From The Press Trust Of India
New Delhi, October 04, 2010, 01:59 IST: Social networking tool Twitter seemed to have been taken over by the Indian contingent Sunday, as the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony garnered praise, reflecting relief that the nation’s pride has been salvaged.
“I think after the awesome CWG opening ceremony India must host
Cultural Wealth games…. Unlike CWG we will sweep the medals tally too,” tweeted Sabharish Murali.
There were ooh’s and wow’s on Twitter as the various segments of the three-hour long spectacle unfolded, keeping the term “Commonwealth Games” and “opening ceremony” among the top ten phrases on Twitter.
“The Indian rail piece was the most thoughtful,” said Sukhada Chaudhary, while others raved about the yoga segment, as well as the colourful showcase of Indian classical dance.
“People still skeptic about India? CWG showed the World our culture & did so beautifully…,” asserted Vasu Jain.
They were also appreciative that there was not much of Bollywood in the show, except for Oscar winning composer, A.R. Rahman at the end. “The fact I liked about cwg ceremony is it took our heritage and pride (Guru-Shishya tradition, Yoga, cultural harmony) and showcased to world!,” said Sandip.
There were also ecstatic tweets by people inside the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, who were giving minute-by-minute updates of their travel through a silent city on the Delhi Metro to the actual colourful ceremony.
“Have I ever felt better in life. Felt this much pride. This much respect? No. Tweeting verbatim from the CWG opening at JLN,” said Delhi resident Nitin Sagar, who also posted photographs of the ceremony.
Everest spirit in Kiwi march – from the Bay of Bengal to the world’s greatest heights ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY VIVEK CHETTRI
Darjeeling, Oct. 3: Jamling Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Peter Hillary today marched with the New Zealand contingent to inspire athletes at the Commonwealth Games.
The march was to keep alive the spirit of what their fathers — Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary — had achieved 57 years ago: scaled Mt Everest for the first time on May 29, 1953.
Hillary, a beekeeper from New Zealand, and Tenzing, a porter from India’s Darjeeling, had little in common then except the team spirit.
The New Zealand Olympic Committee decided to pay tribute to this spirit by naming the country’s Commonwealth Games logo “29028 Hillary and Tenzing”. The “29028” in the logo stands for the height of Mt Everest in feet.
While travelling from the Games village to the stadium today, Jamling told The Telegraph over the phone: “I, along with Peter, met the team athletics here yesterday. We offered them khadas (traditional Tibetan scarves) to wish them luck. Both of us will be marching with the team… reminding them of the inspiration that helped our fathers achieve what was thought to be unachievable at that time.”
The Kiwi team led by Irene van Dyk wore the khadas, as Jamling said they would, while he along with fellow Everester Peter, and New Zealand chef de mission Dave Currie, brought in the rear.
“We both are representing our respective families at the Games. It is a huge honour…I told the team ‘After six attempts, six failures, my father kept going. He never gave up’,” said Jamling.
The team believes that the presence of Jamling and Peter will help them achieve much. The committee’s web page reads: “On the 29th of May 1953 Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first to reach the summit of Mt Everest after climbing 29028 feet of rock, snow and ice. Now, in memory of Sir Edmund and Tenzing, 29028 has become the motivation and inspiration for this year’s Commonwealth Games…Let’s get behind our team and come together to honour Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.”
CW GAMES SECURITY: Gotcha! Games cops stop ‘gunman’ – Foreign team official caught with firearm – good going, better safe than sorry ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
New Delhi, Oct. 3: A security official of one of the 71 teams participating in the Commonwealth Games was stopped by policemen today while he was entering a five-star hotel with a firearm on him.
Several Games officials are staying in the hotel.
“The small firearm was detected in his bag during the security check and our officials immediately detained him. A preliminary probe revealed that he had come to the hotel to meet some members of the team from his country,” said a Delhi police official but refused to divulge the name and the nationality of the security official.
The foreign security official was questioned for nearly 15 minutes and told to surrender the firearm before entering the hotel.
“He had all the valid documents and his passport. He was let off after the questioning. He tendered an apology for carrying the firearm, saying he was not aware of such rules,” said a home ministry source.
The source said security officials of several countries, among them New Zealand and Britain, had accompanied their teams to assess security arrangements. “They are liaising with Delhi police and intelligence officials,” the home official added.
Delhi police have issued guidelines asking people not to carry firearms, toy guns, knives, daggers, swords, scissors and items with sharp or pointed edges.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the venue of the opening ceremony, became a fortress ringed by nearly 8,000 police personnel, among them commandos. Around 30,000 policemen have been deployed to man roads leading to Games venues.
Snipers posted atop a nearby residential building kept an eye on the movement of people around the stadium, where over 60,000 spectators and VIPs such as Prince Charles, President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and foreign diplomats were present for the opening ceremony. The army has been kept on standby.
“Although there is no specific threat, we are well prepared to avert any incident…. We have been asked not to take any chance,” said a home ministry official.
Union home minister P. Chidambaram visited the stadium for a recce. Asked if he was satisfied with the security arrangements, Chidambaram told PTI: “Ask me on October 14 and I will tell you.”