12.10.2010 - 12.10.2010 32 °C
P and I were aimlessly roaming in Mega Mall, Gurgaon when we noticed the rather inconspicuous Commonwealth Games ticket stand in the corner of the main foyer. It was manned by two guys in plain clothes -- one was selling tickets, the other souvenirs. The ticket guy had a laptop and portable printer in front of him. We decided then and there that if there were tickets to be had, we were going to have them.
We stood in the queue - which basically consisted of us and one other person who was already engrossed in a heated argument with the ticket official. The argument related to tickets that had already been purchased, which the buyer was now trying to return to the ticket official. The buyer was trying everything - sob stories, pleas, threats. Unfortunately for him, the ticket official was having none of it. We waited..and waited some more. We picked up the tattered Games schedule that was on the ticket official's "desk" and decided the day on which we wished to attend. Eventually, the buyer gave up and left. Yipee.
Us: "Bhaiya, do ticket kal shaam ki track and field ke liye hain?" (Translation: Brother (although he is not a relation of ours), do you have two tickets for the track and field event tomorrow evening?").
Ticket Official: "Haan. Paanch Sau ya Hazaar vali?" (Translation: Yes. 500 or 1000 rupees each?).
Us: Hazaar. (Translation: 1000 rupees.)
We had to wait yet again for the ticket official's chum to come with "ticket paper" that the official could load into his portable printer to print our tickets. Finally, we got them and proceeded to celebrate by having chaat at Haldiram's.
We left home at around 4 pm the next day. The doors for the event which we were to attend were scheduled to open at 5.30 pm and the event was being held at the Jawarharlal Nehru Stadium. The driver dropped us off at a traffic signal from where we made our way, through a foot bridge, to the stadium entrance. The area around the stadium had been cordoned off and security measures seemed more than adequate, judging by the number of cops and commandos around us. However, it was somewhat disconcerting to see cops who looked like they had just exited their teens holding AK-47s.
People from all walks of life were around -- some were waiting in the ticket queue, others were waiting for their friends to join them and some, like us, were heading to gate 9 to enter the stadium. There was a feeling of anticipation and excitement in the air. P and I clutched each of our tickets and joined the "ladies only" queue to enter gate 9. This queue was further split into a "have handbag" and "don't have handbag" queue. P joined the former, I the latter. The handbag ladies had to put their belongings through an x-ray machine while the rest of us simply passed through the metal detector. We finally made it in and then walked for about 1 km before reaching the elusive gate 9. We stopped on the way to get some Maaza mango juice but since the drinks stall was out of it, we reluctantly settled for Cokes instead.
Once inside the arena, we both noted, with delight, that the atmosphere was electric. It truly was. The crowd cheered the athletes with gusto.. and with double gusto if the athletes happened to be Indian. Giant screens had been put up to display the various scores and those emotion-filled moments before/after an athlete had completed their part in an event.
P and I were particularly amused by an Indian triple jumper who seemed to have a routine (undoubtedly a superstition of some sort) that he performed before each jump: first he used his index and middle fingers of both hands to rub his temples, then he pressed his palms down in front of him (in a motion that looked like he was trying to calm someone else) and finally he raised his arms up and down in a gesture that urged the crowd to make some noise. The crowd obviously obliged. After each jump he jumped up and down, as though he had won the gold, and ended his solo act with a massive air punch. He came 4th in his event.
We watched the women's pole vault event, the men's javelin throw, the men's triple jump, relay races and several medal ceremonies. Being at the Games to witness these amazing sportspersons made one forget about all the controversies surrounding the Games.
We ended the evening after watching the Indian women's team take the gold in the 4x400m relay race. A spectacular display of speed and teamwork. P and I were proud of what India had achieved at the Games - as hosts and as participants.