An exuberant conclusion to games

Last Updated: Thu, Oct 14, 2010 20:10 hrs

A riotous, rowdy, rumbustious romp: that was the closing ceremony of the 19th Commonwealth Games that ended this evening on a note of exuberance.

The speeches were many and long. The crowd’s loudest cheers were for itself: every time Mike Fennel, purveyor of the loudest noises of doom in the run-up to the Games, said ‘Thank you, Delhi’, the crowd roared with approval.

In order of popularity, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit were in a tie. Suresh Kalmadi drew a lot of noise (it couldn’t be immediately ascertained if it was boos or applause)and at the bottom of the heap was the Organising Committee’s Vice-Chairman, Lalit Bhanot, who was loudly and unambiguously booed.

Of all the speeches made, it was Mike Fennel’s that was both generous and condescending. He patted India on the head for hosting a successful Commonwealth Games amid ‘doubts’ and said now India would have a ‘greater knowledge of international events and the rest of the world’. Kalmadi’s speech had the tone of ‘I told you we could do it and we have’ and had only a passing reference to the greatest thorn in his flesh, sports minister M S Gill, although he gave vociferous thanks to the Prime Minister, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Sheila Dikshit drank in the plaudits hungrily, never once sharing a glance with Delhi’s Lt Governor, Tejendra Khanna.

The hosts of the next (20th) Commonwealth Games, Glasgow, did a little presentation with everything Scottish: kilts, tam o’shanters, Scottish reels, bagpipes, a recreation of Nessie, the Loch Ness monster and lots of green, presumably a salute to the gorse and heather of the Scottish highlands. The final touch was a peppy rendering of Auld Lang Syne.

The Indian part of the goodbye ceremony was a tribute to the young. A garish laser show set the mood for transformation of the stadium into a gigantic disco. Everyone, but everyone, danced to Indian fusion music. It was derivative, it wasn’t high culture, but it was honest and simple - just a celebration of the youthfulness in everyone. For instance, ‘We will, we will rock you’ was originally sung by rock band Queen; Yves Larock first sang ‘Over the rainbow so high’… and so on. But what was on display was not originality but the successful creation of ambience. What was sorely missed was Kajra re…

Nothing could have tutored the crowd’s response. It was always spontaneous, and whatever India’s opinion about some of those on the podium, it kept its feelin d the Commonwealth Games left an indelible imprint. No, Mr Fennel: it was InDelhible.

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