CW Games fever grips Delhi

Syed Zafar Mehdi

The virtual countdown has begun. With Commonwealth Games 2010 just around the corner, all stops are being pulled to pad up the city for the mega sporting event. Delhi will be hosting such high-profile event after 27 years, since 1982 Asian Games, which put the city on the global sporting map. Delhiites are keyed up and keenly looking forward to see their favourite sportstars in action, in their own backyard.

Come October 03, many of these youth will have their tryst with history as most of them were not even born back in 1982, when Asian Games came to India. CWG 2010 is an even bigger and spectacular sports event, next only to the Olympics, so the exhilaration is palpable and hype justified.

Youth thrilled

“It is such a massive event that I can’t wait for it to kick off,” says a visibly excited Soham, 20, a Delhi University student. Deepika Mukherjee, 25 a media professional is equally thrilled. “CWG 2010 is Delhi’s dream come true. It will do wonders to the city and definitely inspire youngsters,” she says. Others like Abhishek Pandit, a budding city-based athlete sees it as an opportunity to finetune his skills by watching big guns perform from close quarters. “The world’s top athletes would be competing for honours and it would be a sheer privilege and a lifetime opportunity to learn by watching them in action,” says Pandit.

Most of these youngsters give a thumps-up to the host country. They feel it would be ‘advantage India,’ and local stars might better their medal tally this time around. “Performing before the spirited home crowd is always a plus, which must certainly fire up our local athletes to give their best,” says Vikas Mehra, 30, who was a toddler when Asian Games came to the city in 82.

Cricket takes a backseat

In a country where cricket is religion and cricketers are demigods, other sports are left in limbo. Commonwealth Games might well change that, feel sports lovers. “People have been overexposed to cricket, because huge commercial stakes are involved. Commonwealth Games in the city can cut into the territory of cricketdom and break the monopoly,” feels Anshul Dewan, 25, Jamia University student.

But some like Gaurav Gill, 22, a BPO executive feels cricket will continue to rule the roost. “Commonwealth Games might switch focus to other lesser known games, but cricket mania is here to stay,” opines Anshul.

A long way from 1982 to 2009

Asian Games, 1982 marked a watershed in India’s sporting history. It changed the way people looked at sports. It brought satellite televisions to our homes and inspired a whole new generation to take sports as profession. “That event changed everything. Sports were no more seen as a pass-time nuisance, but a full-time profession. Delhi ‘82 proved a success story in many ways,” recollects Arvind Patil, 44 who was in school then. 27 years down the line, the city has transformed for better. Besides umpteen super markets, glitzy malls, metro trains, flyovers, there are many more stadiums to boost of.

Magnitude and scale of Delhi 2010 is many times bigger than Delhi 1982. Back in 1982, there were 4,595 athletes from 33 countries competing, this time, there are 8,500 athletes from 77 participating countries are in fray.

India’s Challenge

Buoyed by the sterling performances of its boxers and shooters at Beijing Olympics, the Indian contingent would be riding on confidence. The country’s challenge would be led by stars like Olympic Gold medallist Abhinav Bindra, boxers Jitender and Akhil Kumar, World women boxing champion Mary Kom, wrestler Sushil Kumar, Badminton prodigy Saina Nehwal, among others.

“There is a fair chance for them to spring few surprises and cause few upsets. Home factor would certainly work in their favour, so let’s keep our fingers crossed,” says Neha Chopra, a budding shuttler, who is backing star shuttler Saina Nehwal to win medal.

(First published in Hindustan Times)






Hunting for publisher becomes easy

Syed Zafar Mehdi

Acclaimed author of ‘My Son the Fanatic’ fame, Hanif Kureishi created quite a flutter recently when he remarked that Indian writing in English has become “boring”.  It may have ruffled many feathers in Indian literary circles, but it certainly has not dampened the spirit of budding authors, who are making beelines to get their works published.

With no dearth of role models to emulate and the avenues also expanding tremendously, the new-age writers are leaving no stone unturned to don the mantle of authors and grab the spotlight.

Good times ahead

Indian writing in English has improved considerably over the years. Hitherto, the scene was dominated by the Salman Rushdies, V S Naipauls, Vikram Seths, Amitav Ghoshs and Arundhati Roy, but with the new crop of authors spreading their wings, good times are certainly ahead. “It is very promising and happening. In the last decade or so, Indian writing has really come into its own,” says Bubbles Sabharwal, author of Tomorrow’s Promise (Penguin, 2008).

Nitasha Kaul, author of Imagining Economics Otherwise: encounters with identity/difference” (Routledge India, 2008), feels the arena is both “diverse and challenging”. “I hope the newer authors will continue to bridge the vastly different worlds of the Indian surroundings and the English fiction reader.”

Hunting for publishers

For any budding writer, the hunt for the prospective publisher is a Herculean task. But if some established authors are to be believed, things have improved drastically now. “It’s never easy to get published but the scene is better now than at any other time in past,” says Karan Bajaj, celebrated author of two bestsellers, Johnny Gone Down (2010) and Keep off the Grass (2008).

Even publishers are not averse to the idea of launching new writers. “We have always believed in promoting young and new talent. We publish the maximum number of first time writers in the country and will continue to do so,” says Kapish G Mehra, Publisher, Rupa & Co.

Sabharwal says the publishers should be approached with determination and perseverance. “Indian publishers need to be persuaded single-mindedly. Never take no for an answers, just keep going.”

According to Kaul, fiction and non-fiction publishers are not same, when it comes to treatment of work. “In my experience, non-fiction publishers tend to be more focused. Fiction publishers, on the other hand, sometimes have a larger-than-life idea of ‘what the market wants’ which is not always borne out by reality.”

After getting a publisher, the equation between author and editors largely determines the success of work. “Great editors raise profound, thought-provoking questions on your plot that help you delve deeper and deeper into the psyche of your characters. In my case, I think I understood my protagonist and his motivations much better as I worked with outstanding editors like VK Karthika and Neelini Sarkar from Harper Collins,” says Bajaj.

(First published in Hindustan Times)