Skip to main content

Shades of the Village

Venue Specific Training- 1st September was the first time I stepped into the huge, dusty, confusing mess that was to be the Commonwealth Games Village. It was love at first site, (pun intended) I knew I could overlook the very apparent shortcomings and ignore the problems caused by missed deadlines as long as I was part of this venue- that would be completely transformed in the coming month. Eventually I even spent a night at the village. Sent there to test the residential facilities, I ended up spending the night playing football, making a new friend and avoiding a strange man. It was beautiful at night, calm, serene and yet full of activity. The metro ran up and down and as the night wore on eventually it stopped. Dust settled down and room lights flickered out. It was quiet as death, but not at all scary. It was blue.

I was in charge of the countdown on the white-board in my department. And when it came to 4 days to go- I was literally jumping about in excitement. In just 4 days the first CGAs would arrive in the CGV. They were already in New Delhi! They would complete their DRMs and finalize their teams. They would attend CDMs and discuss important issues. And before you know, the games would be underway. This is what I had been waiting for, for 2 years. It was all I wanted, and everything I dreamt about.
I carefully labeled the brown lenovo box and collected my stationary. It was finally Operations Mode! The red buzzer went off in my head!

I think one requires indomitable positivity to continue to come to work and give a 100% when the situation is what it was from September 16 to end September. I won’t put all the blame on the media, although I am tempted to describe all their antics. Shame, pride, indignation and determination mixed together, and after a while nothing penetrated the shell I build around myself. When every person you encounter is frustrated, when every conversation is a complaint, every greeting a taunt, you can do nothing but hang your head and wish you were not there. I began to question why I ever came. Began to question why I was away from friends, family and home. Everything looked gray.

I am lucky to say that a few days into this mess, I realized, no, remembered why. For sport. Corny as it sounds, that’s the truth. In spite of all the leaking roofs, clogged drains, stained toilets, soiled mattresses , it still was the biggest sporting event India has ever hosted. A country with its fair share of evils, but it’s a part of me. What sort of a coward would I have been had I walked away then? I made the decision then to start looking for the silver lining. I saw my volunteers, working 12 hours a day. No doubt grumbling incessantly about the food, lack of cold drinks, the security measures, uniforms, but still back smiling the next day. When I felt a light spray on me, I noticed that the fountains had been turned on. The lights from the windows shone bright. Slowly, the boulevard became colourful and the dull brown towers were plastered with huge banners of the teams. The Resident Centres, though fun when empty since we got to hog all the foozball tables and play air hockey all night, started to look like a gaming arcade cum internet cafe. Athletes from all over the world were all around, on FB and Skype, playing pool, exchanging pins or just laying around. In short, the village had transformed and with it, me. It went from lackluster dullness to vibrant spectrum of colours. The CGA Service Centre (only a stuffy room where no one wanted to go, when I first saw it) became a hub of activity from where I had to shoo volunteers away every 1 hour. Whether it was CGAs looking for scapegoats or volunteers looking busy or watching the Games Network in the lounge or trying to outwit the coke guy or hoodwinking the catering fellows next door, we had it all. Deals were made, tempers were lost and laughs were shared. Time lost all its meaning, “be there in a min” meant you may or may not see the guy again that day. Breakfast was a forgotten meal and lunch was never before 5. Bare-foot sweepers were replaced by bare chested athletes practicing in every nook and cranny. Golf carts ferried the lazy ones and bikers weaved their way through.

The international zone was, as the name suggests, supposed to be the place for athletes to mingle. But for us, there was one very important place in the IZ. i.e the general store that, for a ridiculous price, served us cup noodles. That was our only path to survival when the rajma-chawal kadhi-chawal workforce dining became intolerable. Another place we haunted was of course the amphitheater which was buzzing with live music every evening. It’s just what everyone needed after a day at the village. In the strobe lights, everything was pink and purple!

Another thing I must briefly mention about the village is the impenetrable security. Imagine a terrorist’s disappointment when he walks from the dining to his residence with a bottle of water (which of course he will use to build a bomb) which he is made to throw away.
Everyday was a battle. I used Trojan War moves to get myself some “good” coffee, which I was not entitled to. If that failed I traded favours and “did jugaad” for that caffeine jump shot. At the dining, timing and precision of the highest order was needed if you wanted to get some of the “limited offer” Main Dining leftovers. Planning, executing and multi-tasking so as to get some free time to go on “checking out athletes rounds” was a must! Forward thinking to minimize your own walking around in the sun, so that you could pass on this work to other was an art everyone mastered here.

A few days into the competitions, the village turned wild. Athletes were jumping over fences and skinny dipping at night. Our brave policemen were thrown off balance by couples cozying up everywhere. Music blasted from windows and drunk people tried to make their way to this music. Fights broke out and windows were shattered.
But before we could absorb all this, people were queuing up at the AnD desk. That was the hurricane, before we reached the eye of the storm. I saw everything through a teary haze. It was time to say goodbye. The colours washed away.

Comments

  1. wow!
    amaqzing dude!
    thumbs up to this 1!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. heya...superbly written...allowed me to almost live the CWG vicariously... really feel like i wanted to be a part of it :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow! You couldn't have done more justice to the whole experience! Beautifully written. You should send it to some magazine/newspaper, must go in print, I vote!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nice. :)
    Brought back fond memories of the Games!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Adulting?

Several months after turning 30, after over a decade of being able to vote, drive and consume alcohol (except in Maharashtra, where I’ve been legally drinking only since the past 5 years!), I can say I feel like an adult. However, before you jump to conclusions - this post isn’t going to be a rant about the dark side of adulting – the endless chores, bills and to-do lists.
(I’ll save that for a post about the privileges of moving to a “developed” country, i.e. where one is confronted daily with classic cases of choice overload. Choices are abundant e.g. disposing of garbage into the appropriate bin, which of the myriad of highly specific Sunday-quiet day laws to break, what obscure cycling-traffic rules to ignore, and the like.)
Adulting came to me in a big bundle, which is why I am so aware of it having arrived. The same time that I turned 30, I started to work at the organisation I had set my sights on years ago. I also moved to my very own little apartment, in a small (by my standa…

Das ist Berlin

Wenn man sich schön macht, auch wenn’s hässlich ist – Berlin, Berlin, Berlin Und wenn Stefan plötzlich Steffi ist – Berlin, Berlin, Berlin Wenn das alles geht und du dich fragst, wie das zusammenpasst. Das ist Berlin, Berlin, Berlin – Berlin, Berlin, Berlin
I’ve returned from a journey. A long, exhausting, exciting, amazing 6-month long trip.
I started at Tegel airport. It’s where I landed to try and conquer the interview and the big, not so bad city of Berlin. In the beginning, the plan was to put one foot in front of the other, slowly, surely.
U-Bhf Seestr. From the airport to Seestrasse, which would eventually become my house for a few months. Not a home, but a good-sized house, shared with people who made me dread climbing those 4 flights of stairs. Its fair to say that I got off to a lukewarm start on my journey through Berlin.
U-Bhf Oranienburger Tor. Auguststrasse. As I walked around this neighbourhood, I could feel the creativity brimming through the dilapidated walls. August…