Saturday, August 20, 2016

Five rings to bind them all

The Olympics have inspired me to start exercising again.

(Published in Business Standard today)

In boarding school, a friend of mine sneered that the most active thing he’d ever seen me do was sneeze. It’s true that I spent most of our games periods hiding behind a curtain in my dorm, drinking tea and reading, but I bet he was just jealous of my washboard abs and .001% body fat, which I’d achieved from years of being a teenager.

But that was a long time ago. Since then, I have been a more or less regular exerciser, though I go through phases. At the moment I’m in what you could call my ‘resting bitch phase’. In it, I have gone from being in the best shape of my life eight months ago, to being in the worst. I have grown roots in the sofa, let my muscle run to fat, and lost the will to do anything more active than breathe between morsels of fried food. My blood pressure is suddenly a thing. The horizon of my health has shrunk to the ungentle curve of my belly.

Or it had, until the Olympics began. I have finally kicked myself into brisk walks in the park again, in solidarity with the Games, because, frankly, nothing inspires me to get off my butt as much as watching the incredible performance of our Indian officials in Rio.

I assume you saw that Scoopwhoop story about how Vijay Goel, Sports Minister, misspelled gymnast Dipa Karmakar’s name in a tweet, and almost got his accreditation revoked, and how officials flew business to Rio while athletes went economy, and how the team doctor isn’t a sports doctor but a radiologist, and how they first said it would be wasteful to fly Karmakar’s physiotherapist to Rio, and how officials hung out on beaches and went sightseeing during Olympic events? Did you see the Quartz story on how the sports ministry organised a grand reception for the athletes at the Olympian Reunion Centre on Independence Day, at which they pulled out all the stops and served…wait for it…peanuts?

Thinking about all that really gets my blood up, so I’ve been using the momentum to heave my thunder thighs around the park.

The other thing that creates enough adrenaline to propel me out the door is reading all the sanctimonious tweets referring to Sakshi Malik, the women’s wrestling bronze medallist, as ‘India’s daughter’. It’s always irritating that we can’t relate to a woman normally unless she’s part of the family—daughter, mother, sister, wife—and therefore officially has no lady parts. But in this case it’s particularly nauseating because we wouldn’t know sports culture if it ran up to us and did 500 pull-ups while spitting in our eye. We don’t encourage or nurture sports, and we treat our athletes like dirt, completely ignoring them before and after any medal-winning—so Sakshi Malik, like most Indian sportspeople, got to where she is despite official India. Our athletes have genuine fans across the country, but for the Indian state to suddenly try to clasp medal-winners to its miserly bosom and appropriate their success is a joke. Sakshi Malik’s medal is her individual and singular accomplishment. So is P.V. Sindhu’s badminton medal. So is Dipa Karmakar’s loss-by-a-whisker. So is the surprise that is 18-year-old golfer Aditi Ashok.

Have you noticed that the Indians who have made us proudest at Rio are all women? This is the first Olympics at which so many people have called out the revolting sexism of sports reporting, so #JustSaying.

Maybe I don’t have to walk today—I must have burned 300 calories just feeling my feelings.


Raju said...

How correct ! I am sure most of us feel the same with regarding to exercising. In fact on the day of Sindhu's final I finally geared myself up to run a full round something which I have not been able to run for months - partly due to laziness partly due to will power .

Rocky'n'Mayur said...

At some stage in life when I can get my fine motor skills, my will and my brain together for a while I want to write like you do. Whatever that means :)

Aryan Ore said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aryan Ore said...

Let America decide what is right for her. They have been questioned by well meaning minds before and much later the well meaning and articulated minds have found their selections and actions results that tend to operate a century forward. What makes us think that our own programming is so correct that we can tell America they are so wrong. Isn't their action makes America, America and Indias actions make India, India. I'll wait for America to vote and if it's trump, Salute to Americas choice.

inder d said...

Here's the thing. Our 'babus' (hope that is the right phrase) are thick-skinned, mildly intellectual and burdened by tons of ego. They were like that before India hosted Asiad Games and will continue to be so. You are absolutely right. Our athletes are doing well IN SPITE OF our Government. They deserve the accolades and the glory. Thanks for a wonderful piece. Now I gotta run. Well, figuratively speaking.

Krishna said...

Piece that's fit to be graven in stone...! Move over, Pretenders. Kiddo rules.

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