Indian Decade

Low Hopes for Delhi

It’s havoc at regular sports events. What’ll happen at the Commonwealth Games?

Despite my clearly stated position on the Indian Premier League, I got sucked in by a group of enthusiastic friends to go watch live, an encounter between my ‘home’ team, the Delhi Daredevils, and superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s Kolkata Knight Riders. Ours was a group of 30 people, and the occasion was much looked forward to in terms of the electric atmosphere the stadiums tend to have, with crowds upwards of 50,000 gathering to watch a match.

But, as we neared Delhi’s famous Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium, the chinks in the plan began to make themselves evident. It took us over an hour through the clogged streets to get to our entry gate. It took another friend more than an hour and a half to find parking close to the stadium. His misery didn’t end there though. The feeder buses placed at this particular parking area to ferry spectators to the stadium, roughly a kilometer away, refused to budge until a cop was called in to sort things out—the driver of the feeder bus had clearly told our friend he didn’t want to go because he was tired.

There were long lines and short fuses in queue as we tried to enter. For some of us, this was becoming too much an effort. So, we quit the line and escaped the crowds, heat and dust of the sporting arena, to go watch the match at an air-conditioned restaurant in a nice part of town. I am not particularly proud of my inability to withstand the situation. And, I’ll deal with myself later. But, my worries about the Commonwealth Games scheduled to be held in Delhi this October have now assumed gigantic proportions. Just like me, does Delhi have what it takes to successfully manage and enjoy such a huge sporting extravaganza? Yesterday showed us both possibilities in fairly poor light.