Are children ready to make career choices when they are in tenth grade? At fifteen, my daughter was at a crossroads in her life. She had to decide whether to pursue further studies in Science, Commerce or Arts. Read the rest of my article in the Hindu here.
This article was written after the 2016 Rio Olympics.
I’m watching two women play a game of badminton on the television. Not just any game – but the women’s finals at the Rio Olympics. My chirping phone makes me aware that millions across the world are also watching the match. It’s a close contest between PV Sindhu from India and Carolina Marin from Spain. I find myself holding my breath every time Sindhu loses a point and doing a mental jig whenever she scores. Finally, the game ends with the gold medal won by Carolina Marin. Despite my initial disappointment, pride fills me to see Sindhu on the victory stand.
It has been several weeks since this game but I still remember those nail-biting moments when I watched the two players battle for the gold. All the media outlets in India featured the Olympics front and center when the games were underway. The nation watched with bated breath, to see if any Indian made it to the finals. Every time a hopeful athlete left the fray it felt as if the entire nation sighed. Soon it was down to three women – a badminton player, a golfer, and a wrestler, that the nation pinned its hopes on.
Did we ever wonder how these Olympic hopefuls even made it this far? Being an athlete in India has never been easy. And being a woman athlete is twice as hard. They’ve struggled to get access to good facilities and money to make ends meet. Sometimes their challenges have been worse than their male counterparts.
They’ve had to ignore the questions and belittling comments of neighbours, relatives, and their communities. How inappropriate it was for women to be in the gym or at the track. How will they ever get married? They’ve had to ignore the leery glances of men who stared at their legs when they ran against the wind or lifted weights. Many of our women athletes like the boxers, wrestlers, and track & field are from rural areas and poor backgrounds. They have had little or no financial backing. Their burning desire to succeed and the support of coaches and family was what had gotten them to Rio. Every athlete who has participated in any Olympics from the Indian subcontinent is undeniably a hero. One who deserved a medal for their sheer grit to have gotten thus far.
As the results of every game were declared during the Rio Olympics we wondered what had gone wrong. Why were the Indian athletes not winning? We discussed, dissected and apportioned blame. When a well-known writer tweeted about how the participants returned home empty-handed, thousands of voices rose in protest against the insensitivity of the tweet. But why wasn’t there enough being done to help these participants with their training and preparation?
One athlete revealed how she had to travel in the economy class while the sports officials traveled in business class. Even as the barely-rested athlete got on the field a few hours after arriving in Rio, the officials were busy hitting the beaches. This time, both mainstream and social media did make a hue and cry about our priorities.
What have been the lessons garnered after the Rio Olympics? Asking questions while a good start is just that. Raised voices need to translate into real action on the ground. Let us each start in our hometowns – pick a sport, get to know who the officials are, and begin asking them what they are doing to help our athletes now. Perhaps in Tokyo 2020 we will see a different India.
There’s never a dull moment at home and when there’s a flight to catch, the drama continues all the way to the airport. When DH published my article today my loved ones alternated between laughing and crying over my plight. Do click here to read the article.
You and I
You and I are so crazy
about each other,
as hot as a potter’s fire.
Out of the same chunk
of clay, shape a you,
shape a me. Crush us
both into clay again, mix
it with water, reshape
a you, reshape a me.
So, I have you in my body,
and you’ll have me forever in yours, too.
Guan Daosheng (~1250)
translated by Qiu Xiaolong
Does this poem remind you of Kurunthokai 40 (Sangam poetry)? Click here
to check out the Tamil poem and a few movie songs that express the simile of rainwater and red earth.
When someone breaks your heart, or when your beloved pet dies, or when your child leaves home for college (like mine did), how do you let go?
Click here to read my speech on letting go.
As I prepared my Toastmaster Speech on”3 Tips to Marital Bliss”, I realized what a challenge it was to make people laugh. But I must have done something right. My fellow Toastmasters loved my speech, I got a ribbon for Best Speaker and the best part is that the spouse is still talking to me. Amen. To read my speech click here.
It was billed as an informal panel discussion. When rasikas (those who love classical music) get together, conversations can easily go down one of several well-trod paths – depending on the people present. Many deteriorate to barely disguised gossip sessions, some griping about what ails Carnatic music and a few into constructive exploration of what positive change can be wrought. Read the rest of the article in Sruti here.