When Life Gives You a Pothole, Do a Long Jump


When Life Gives You a Pothole, Do a Long Jump

Illustration: Saachi Mehta/ Arré

ABJP Member of Parliament has offered some tips on how Indian athletes could achieve the kind of Olympic success that Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt has. If you haven’t been on the internet for a whole day, it involves the consumption of the meat of a certain animal that is most definitely not meant for public consumption. According to the MP, Udit Raj, Bolt won nine medals despite being poor because he found a way to make use of the facilities he was provided, and didn’t crib about whether or not funds were being pumped into his training.

The idea of not complaining is an alien concept to us, since we’re always cribbing about not getting that extra 20 per cent when we buy something. Let’s face it, we’re Indians; asking for more is in our blood. Be it a golgappa, extra coconut chutney, or an Olympic medal, it’s always “Bhaiyya, ek aur dena”.

But, guys, Udit Raj is on to something. It’s an idea whose time has not yet come, but in the coming few years, we will find his advice majorly instructive. In fact, we should implement it in all sporting events post-haste.

Let’s start with the track and field events. Indians have a poor running record, which despite what the BJP MP has to say, has nothing to do with our dietary restrictions. Using Raj’s advice, we’ve come up with the ideal plan for making our betis bhaag. First, instead of bothering with allocating tracks to athletes, we should just provide our aspiring female sprinters with a pair of Kolhapuri chappals, drive them to Gurgaon, leave them on a road at 9.30 pm, and make them run from the creatures that inhabit the city’s isolated, unlit roads.

What about the male athletes, you ask, since we have no dearth of those in the country? After all, there’s 1,000 men for every 940 women, but that doesn’t seem to be giving men the upper hand. We feel that a change of tack is required. Teaching men to run shouldn’t have to be that hard. Maybe we can assure them of an IAS job if they manage to reach the other end of the road. Then just watch them sprint away to glory. If that isn’t motivation enough, just tell them Sunny Leone’s waiting for them at the end of the finish line.

When it comes to swimming, Indians have proved to be about as buoyant as metal bricks. So it’s surprising to us that no one has thought of using floodwater for training, given its higher relative density.

So now that the sprint is covered, what about the other track events? As the BJP MP rightly pointed out, we don’t make proper use of our ready facilities. For standing long jump, let’s keep our eyes peeled for the guys who have to travel long distances by train and then jump over open gutters outside stations to get to their destination. Maybe even host the hundred-metre hurdle on a recently repaired stretch of road.

But then again, these are all mainstream sports. If we want to increase our medal tally we need to up the game and begin participating in the sports that not too many countries play. First up, fencing. Fencing is an elegant sport, with two competitors going at each other like true gentlemen and women. Well, long story short, put a sword in the hands of a guy/girl with a very long tilak on their forehead and tell them that their opponent eats what Usain Bolt does. There is no faster way to India’s second gold medal, and maybe a murder charge. But hey, gold toh aaya naa.

Speaking of gold, we cannot ignore Abhinav Bindra, the only Indian dude who could fit into a rough American neighbourhood – or our own hinterland. Anyway, to give Abhinav some company, simply provide an Indian male from Munger 50 thousand bucks in cash, preferably small bills. Then go around and tell the rest of the village how much cash he has hidden in his house (maybe put a bullseye on his door for some drama). The next day, when everyone in the ’hood has been shot up, pick the survivors and make them the Indian contingent. You don’t even need a fancy pistol with customisable trigger configurations and minimum pull firing gas-driven small-calibre bullets. Why bring a pistol to a katta fight?

When it comes to swimming, Indians have proved to be about as buoyant as metal bricks. So it’s surprising to us that no one has thought of using floodwater for training, given its higher relative density. We wouldn’t even need to budget in weights to tie on our athletes’ legs. The plastic bags and rope (where does it come from? Who uses so much rope?) should suffice. Couples who sit by the sea should be on our synchronised swimming team, since they do it anyway when the cops show up.

Enough of all this faffing about and empty postulating – it is Sports Day today. No, not the kind where you wear a jersey to school, actual National. Sports. Day. It would be unfair to not talk about the second most popular sport in this country. Football. Football training doesn’t take much, just round up a bunch of people at one of the many construction sites dotting the urban landscape, throw an old plastic bottle in the centre, and watch champions rise out of the rubble. After all, poverty isn’t an excuse to not win medals.

So instead of cribbing about not having a place to practice badminton, or a clean pool to swim 500 metres, maybe we should take cue from Raj. Use that ingenuity we’re famous for and the facilities provided by nature. Because that’s what makes a true champion. Not infrastructure, or some super high-tech training, or even a decent coach. What makes a true champion is jugaad, something we’ve got plenty of.