Apologies first, Congratulations later

Stand outside my college gate for a day and watch the traffic. In a few hours you would have spotted a few Audis, maybe a couple of Range Rovers, definitely a dozen or so BMWs and Mercedes Benz luxury sedans. You’d think in a country like this, there should at least be some who can afford to spare a few bottles of water. O.P. Jaisha fainted after the Women’s 42km marathon in the Rio Olympics. Why? Because a country that sent a couple dozen officials in Business Class flights to display their ugly faces at the Olympics couldn’t afford to put a few water bottles at their stands every 2km. How much would that cost? Let’s say she needs a can of Red Bull (I honestly don’t know what they drink, but I’m taking a random overpriced energy drink here) and a bottle of water at each pit stop; that’d amount to around 140 INR. Let’s say there are 20 pit stops she could take refreshments from, that’ll amount to 2800 INR. I have seen ladies here spending 10,000 INR on something they wear once and throw away. 2800 INR is what a middle class Indian would pay for a watch from Flipkart, a pair of Vincent Chase frames from Lenskart or a pair of sneakers from Amazon. Excuse us for thinking that India can afford to buy their athletes water. WATER! It’s not as if they treat them with any dignity or respect once the atheletes are back on home turf. It’s common knowledge that all the major league teams in India, be it of any sport, are all made up of half-assed players who are there only because their uncle/second cousin/brother-in-law/some distant relative has political connections and wants them to get a sports scholarship to go and study abroad; “Beta INGLAAND mein padte hein” (He studies in England). Me and my friends personally know exceptionally talented sportsmen who were rejected by government sports organisations because they lacked the necessary political connections, the money or the corrupt mindset expected of any Indian in any government position. Dipa Karmakar trained on a vault assembled from parts of an old scooter. But c’mon, if we can’t even afford water for one person then forget gym equipment, that’s just asking for too much isn’t it? *Looks around at all the loaded businessmen and millionaire politicians*; yup, we’re just too poor.

Dipa’s coach has told us of the conspiracies, so have thousands of Indian athletes and their coaches, all of which only come to surface every four years at this time of year; for 15 days, people care, or at least talk about the issue. Then it’s back to forgetting that sports exist, back to googling the best entrance coaching class for your kid who’s obviously meant to sit on his ass and code all day, working for a pittance for some American corporation that’ll suck his soul out but he’ll be too busy to notice because he’ll be living the American Dream in Silicon Valley. Let’s face it, sports? Seriously? Why that when you can live a comfortable life, have a 9 to 5 job, a gold digging wife and 5 brats (because obviously 1.3 billion Indians aren’t enough). We have people with brains to work out highly complex algorithms and build technologies for other nations but when it comes to putting a bottle of water on a table so that our fellow countryman won’t have to finish the race on the verge of death, we’re stumped.
I’m sorry O.P. Jaisha, about the water. I’m as much a part of the problem as are the other 1 billion or so people who claim to support you but have never actually done anything about it. I’m sorry Dipa, for not having thought of crowdfunding quality gym equipment for talented people like you, because we all know the government would never bother. I’m sorry to all the athletes and sportsmen who go through so much, get hurt and beaten to the ground by their own country and yet still brave everything to represent it. I would never have the strength to do what you do. Thank you for teaching us a poignant lesson. Seeing how we treat you, even 2 medals are more than enough.



I saw the crumbling walls partake
In a tango with Death
Never to be fully alive again
But never short of breath.

The gold plated pillars of the Basilica echoed
With the voices of the faithful
But the real prayer rose from the shush of the garden,
the blooming trees eternally grateful

For they were yet to be felled as their kin had been
to make way for casinos and resorts
where the trees are of a different pedigree,
always trimmed and shaped, ready to greet foreign passports.

An old man selling trinkets, pulled me aside
showed me rosaries and garlands from all over the nation
Can you blame him for taking part
in an ancient trade, the business of religion?

The museum displayed its wares, the stories
In granite, polished and taken,
Its makers long dead, their lives a prelude
To a fugue of events lost and forgotten.

In Altinho the roads twisted and turned,
framed by mansions, each with a magnificient balcao
‘This land that once was ours, now beyond our reach,’
thinks the boy pushing along his cart full of pao

I heard the locals sigh with relief
‘Off-season at last, the party animals won’t be back till December
Now it’s time to welcome the monsoon
let’s hope climate change doesn’t frown on us till September’

The lakes, the waterfalls, the little spaces
that act as escapades for animal and man alike
from the monstrosity of globalization, the new mall
a new eyesore, like a head stuck on a pike

Bicholim, Sanguem, they’re untouched, they say,
no tourists, no drugs, peace and quiet they say
but little did they expect visitors in the form of giant red gashes
the hills torn open for iron because who can make do with clay

Off season for the whites, in-season for the browns, from the concrete cages
of Mumbai and Delhi, with their aviators and chubby brats in tow
they arrive armed with their selfie sticks
‘If you haven’t clubbed at Cabana then what do you know’

‘I studied in Miramar’ he says, ‘I grew up in Sanquelim’,
the tremble in his voice betraying the thoughts he would not name
‘There were no ugly buildings here in my childhood, no garbage.’
‘Some say it’s the tourists but I say we’ve only got ourselves to blame.’

Maybe it’s time you stopped and looked
at the prostitution of Miranda’s art,
or the exploitation of the old world charms,
at the way this land has been made to sell its every part

Maybe you’ll see the wounded land partake
in a tango with Death
Never to be fully alive again
but never short of breath.

Houses of Goa, Porvorim