The Times of Bihar
Patna edition, May 15, 2016
The entire nation is, understandably, euphoric over the rich bounty of four gold medals that India has reaped at the recent Olympics. Thanks to some classified documents made available to The Times of Bihar, the gripping tale of how this unexpected success came about can now be narrated and the complete sequence of events that led to this success can be unfolded to the general public.
It all started in the year 2006, when the then President, Dr Abdul Kalam won the prestigious Samson Club award for sporting the “Longest Hair” amongst all Heads of Sovereign States. As was his habit, he immediately summoned the then Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to the Rashtrapati Bhavan to make a Power Point presentation on his Vision 2020 and his pet dream that Indians should win more awards, particularly at the Olympics. When he was transiting to slide 24/328 and just warming to the theme, Manmohan threw up his hands in despair and agreed to constitute a task force under the able leadership of Lalu Prasad Yadav, to make the vision a reality.
Lalu who was tired of the bad press that he had been getting, quickly realized that this was his long-awaited opportunity to prove his detractors wrong and to provide clear evidence that he was not as stupid as he looked.
With his long years of political experience and finely-honed native instinct, Lalu quickly zeroed in on the critical dimensions that needed to be tackled, if India were to have any chance at the Olympic medals. First, home advantage had to be ensured and it was imperative that the Games should be held in India. Second, they needed to play to their own strengths, not that of their competitors. It was necessary to introduce such events that would give Indians a fair chance of success.
The first objective was achieved in a clinical manner. In April 2009, the International Olympic Committee met in their new headquarters in Shanghai, to finalise the venue for the 2016 Olympics. The shortlisted cities, Melbourne, Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur had just presented their respective merits in great detail, when a group of dhoti-clad, turban-headed, paan-chewing, bare-footed youngsters who betrayed traces of their Indian origin, stormed into the conference room. Brushing aside the Aussie, Dutch and Malaysian representatives, they gheraoed the IOC team and threatened to simultaneously expose their armpits and empty the contents of their mouths all over the place, if the IOC did not agree right there to award the Olympic Games to Patna in India. The fastidious Chairman of the IOC, a stickler for cleanliness, succumbed meekly to this combined threat of armpititis and paan-wash, capitulated without a fight and signed on the dotted line. Thus it was that the Olympic Games came to Patna.
The second objective - that of identifying India-favouring events - proved a bigger challenge even for the wily Lalu. It required the requisitioning of the services of people who possessed a broader knowledge of what constituted “quintessential Indian skills.”
It was well recognized that the Olympic motto of “Citius, Altius, Fortius” was too lop-sided in favour of Western or African athletes with their right mix of broad shoulders, strong biceps, well-developed femur muscles, huge hold-up capacity of the lungs, large diameter of the arteries which enabled rich blood supply, and conferred an unfair advantage on them. The Indians were anatomically-challenged in these respects and were not built for speed or height or length.
A highly literate eighth-standard-passed officer and trusted lieutenant of Lalu had in his possession a copy of the Guinness Book of Records purloined from a library. It occurred to him that he could spot the Indian references in the book and select those events where Indians had already made a mark. After getting the Guinness Book translated into Bihari, through the good offices of a tenth-standard-passed friend, he skipped the sections pertaining to space heroes, epic adventurers, circumnavigators, mountaineers, heroes of the deep, speed stars, stunt heroes, strongmen etc and proceeded to the section on “The Body”. Here he hit pay dirt and located the following entries:
1) Amar Bharti has kept his hand raised for 26 years as a gesture of devotion to the Hindu God Shiva.
2) Lotan Baba, an Indian sadhu rolled his body 4000 km, from Rattam to Jammu over eight months in 1994. He rolled an average of 10-12 km per day.
3) “Chutti” is the thickest three-dimensional make-up, unique to the South Indian Kathakali dance-theatre tradition. The make-up takes three hours to apply.
4) The longest fingernails are those of Shridhar Chillal of Pune, India. Measured to have a total length of 1.42 m.
5) Kalyan Ramji Sain of India began growing a moustache in 1976. In July 1998, it had a total span of 3.39 m.
This information was passed on to Lalu, who spat out his paan with a low guttural noise, conveying that he was pleased with the data. He ordered that these events be included in the Patna Olympics:
1) 5000m Floor-rolling
2) Nail-fencing, which required a duel using just the nails
3) Moustache-wrestling, the winner being the one who encircled the opponent with his moustache
4) Face make-up, requiring the demonstration of the thickest make-up in 3 hours.
The services of Amir Bharti of hand-raising fame would be utilized to hold the Olympic torch in his right hand, for the entire duration of the Olympics.
At long last, the day dawned. The Games was all set to commence. The mascot of the Games was Pandu, the paan-da. The official Olympic snack and drink were Ghutka paan and Matka tea respectively.
In his inaugural address, the President of India (who hailed from Kerala), comblimented the organizers and said he was simbly too habby to be part of the Olymbics. The Olympic torch was lit, handed over to Amar Bharti and the Games began.
The events went on expected lines and the Indians languished at the bottom of the pack, even behind the Paks, Bangs and Lanks. But, on the penultimate day, Lalu delivered.
In the floor-rolling event, Srinivas Venkata Parthasarathy of Andhra Pradesh won the race by a wide margin, putting his Tirupati experience to good use. The nail-fencing duel was won by Swami Gajamugananda of Haridwar in a nail-biting finish; the moustache-wrestling gold medal went to Buta Singh of Patiala, who literally had his opponent entwined and finally, in the face make-up contest, Sudhakar Nair of Trivandrum, painted his way to victory.
All the hard work, strategy and preparation had paid off and a Bharat Ratna award was conferred on Laloo. Encomiums were showered on him. One writer even waxed lyrical:
To Lalu, I dedicate this limerick
Saluting him for his Patna Olympic
Despite his disgusting paan
And his nauseating yawn
He silenced many a critic
If, for the first time, truth be told
It was quite a sight to behold
The nail-fencers and the floor-rollers
And the chuttis and the moustache-twirlers
Come home with the gold!
( This appeared as an article in Sulekha.com on Aug 5, 2005)