South Asian Games 2016 – a very Shillong low down

So the South Asian Games have concluded and for many government employees it brings with it a sigh of relief. For months they ran around and toiled tirelessly – organizing, setting up, and fixing up all manner of things. That was the manual labour part, now they have to worry about the much dreaded accounting and auditing. One thing that struck me about the South Asian Games 2016 (and which is probably true for similar events) is how much of a ‘feeding frenzy’ it was. Outsider “experts” descended upon poor Shillong town. They came with one goal in mind – to feed upon the platter which had been left out for them. It really had very little to do with cultural cooperation and international camaraderie. It was about money and making as much of it as possible while the going was good. There were about 2600 athletes who participated (at both venues) and maybe another 2000 people who made up the additional staffs and support teams. There were probably a similar number of people who came in and were not required at all![pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Why are Delhi sarkari-lok such pieces of crap?[/pullquote] “Experts” and “officials” who didn’t have any business being at the Games but who would never pass up the chance to freeload from their respective governments. “Consultants” (god I hate those guys) made lakhs for a few days’ work, local businesses made almost nothing.  The Indians were undoubtedly the worst offenders. All manners of “experts” from every hole and corner, from every dysfunctional office and neglected association throughout the length and breadth of India swooped down and nested in the various hotels of Shillong. From inside these rooms, they plotted and schemed about how to rake up issues with the local admin and organizing committees at the last possible moment.

On that related note, I just want to ask one pertinent question: Why are Delhi sarkari-lok such pieces of crap? I think universities and researchers should delve deeply into this sociological phenomenon. It seems to me that wherever they go they HAVE to turn places (even for a short duration) into a mini Delhi – complete with loud arrogance, foul tempers and general bossy nastiness.[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The various sporting venues around Shillong were decked up so nicely and the roads so smooth that it hardly felt like the Shillong we know, love and hate. This is exactly like the current government isn’t it? All façade and no reality![/pullquote] Hell, some Khasis who were in close proximity to these morons started mimicking said morons! It is fine: you can have vegetarian food, you can have your 3 or 4 or whatever star accommodation, you can have booze and cigarettes brought to you but at least be grateful. I know it sounds like I am making a mountain out of this but why do these people feel like everything is owed to them? Like other people should always bow and curtsey and kiss their soles. Alas, most of the time, this attitude they carry around works because they have money and power. Sad but true. This attitude transcends this lot and has leached into “Plains” societies in general, especially, let us not mince words, among that middle class. This is why they get into trouble abroad, for one. You go abroad and you think everyone owes you something? You’re going to get hit. Sadly, for us, those SAG morons will probably never know what it feels like to get hit by a disgruntled employee.

The various sporting venues around Shillong were decked up so nicely and the roads so smooth that it hardly felt like the Shillong we know, love and hate. This is exactly like the current government isn’t it? All façade and no reality! Everything was either covered up or painted over in green or white. Volunteers were drawn from various institutions and made to do a lot of hard work at minimum costs. Many young students were drafted into this rag tag volunteer army. So we are rigidly against Child Labour (many of them were still in school) but we make an exception for SAG 2016? How does that work? Thank god these sorts of events don’t happen very often.
Here’s the thing, whenever people gather in groups of over 5, I immediately have my senses up: planning exit strategies, concocting escape plans. However, when work compels me to endure this ‘torture’ I retreat inwardly, like a scared puppy, and wait impatiently for said groups to disperse, all the while crying inside. At the SAG 2016, this exact thing happened. The ordeal that I had to put up with was people deafeningly cheering for their damn nations as they did battle with another for glory. So I had “India, jeet te ga” in one ear while the Pakistanis yelled “Pakistan zindabad” in my other. If ever there is a case for banning stuff, this – loud obnoxious pea-brain nationalism – should be. I am not against cheering per say (though I could live happily without it), go on and cheer! – cheer for the damn athlete or sportsperson. That is fine. Don’t put every damn person under your blanket. Right wing groups especially love to chant about achievements of an Indian team or contingent in anything. They should remember that the Indian who did “their country proud” might be a Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or atheist. Nationalism itself has big problems but the “zealot” aspect it is entwined with needs to go!

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Avner Pariat Written by:

Avner Pariat is a poet and chronicler of Khasi Jaintia Hills.

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