It is that time of the summer again when our teeming nation forgets Kohli, Rohit and Bumrah and discovers new athletes to root for. The Olympics are upon us, and finally, India will become one large community; it will no longer be restricted to the major metropolises, and ordinary Indians will chant for heroes like Saurabh Chaudhary, Mirabai Chanu, Bhavani Devi, Fouaad Mirza's names.
Business ventures will keep their eyes open too, after all, everyone needs a brand ambassador, and the Indian cricketers cannot be endorsing everything! Indian cricket team will be playing England and Sri Lanka simultaneously during the month; however, they will have the smallest section of the sports page dedicated to themselves in the newspapers for the upcoming weeks. Instead of movie stars tweeting to show their support to them, it would be the cricketer's turn to tweet for their fellow sportsmen and women representing India on the world stage.
However, the Games will be hosted in Japan, which is approximately 3 hours and 30 mins ahead of us, and that is where the typical, lazy Indian will be facing problems. The time difference is odd, to say the least; it won't be too late in the night or too early in the morning; it's somewhere in between. Had it been too late in the night, it would have hardly been a problem; we millennials hardly ever sleep at night; it would have been the same if it was too early in the morning.
Nevertheless, 7-7:30 is when we have finally convinced our insomniac selves that this is the time to sleep and are snoring away. So, if we miss the coverage, it won't be because we are not interested in the matches but because despite having set our alarms, we have failed to wake up. Yes, we admire the dedication and grit of our athletes, but that's how far our dedication goes, or else we would all be like the Phogat girls; remember Dangal, don't you?
There won't be gatherings at pubs or homes to support our shuttlers and hockey players because large gatherings such as these invariably involve booze, and no matter what Saala Khadoos has you believing, it is not fun or easy to chug beer at 10 in the morning. Moreover, who has ever been able to get a grip on their anxiety as Sindhu fights for a match-point by biting into puri-saabji?
Even if you were determined to enjoy the games with your friends at home with cups of tea and coffee ready at hand, the anticipation of the third wave of coronavirus must have dampened your spirit by now. So using the clichés and catchphrases that now present themselves to me, I say we should adjust to the 'new normal', where we are all 'alone-together', we must only support our heroes from afar after all these are 'unprecedented times'!
Oh, wait, no! even that is not possible because even though the third wave is on its way, many of us still have to work. While some of us have the luxury of working from home, others have to get out earlier than usual to find the few buses and trains that are plying to make our sorry way to the office. The only to make sure that we keep abreast of everything that our judo team, shooting contingent, swimming team is up to is to download a streaming platform on our phones and hope that the internet connection holds up for the next few weeks. The Sony Liv app should be the most used app on your phone, Swiggy, Zomato, Amazon, and Myntra are important, no doubt, but it is all about the Olympics for the next few weeks.
Those of our privileged engineer and teacher brothers and sisters who can work from home, have the tab open on your laptop, switch off the camera to your virtual office meeting and support the likes of Neeraj Chopra and Anirban Lahiri.
Teachers, you know you will be teaching a somewhat lighter class for the next few weeks; some of your students are going to sneak away from class and watch a few events. Please, be lenient; it will be okay; they will be learning the merits of perseverance, hard work, and honesty better than any textbook can ever teach them. In fact, why not cut some slack and watch a few events together as a class on the internet; while the pandemic has thrown us apart in some ways, it has also brought us closer in some others.
Imagine it, wouldn't it be great if the whole class could cheer together as Sania Mirza and Ankita Rana fight for a point? Would that not be a memory to cherish? Excursions and schools picnics have been postponed for the foreseeable future, but you can always make the most of the Olympic games. After all, it is not every day that you get teary-eyed when someone else stands on a podium to collect the medal, just as the National Anthem plays in the background.
For people like us who write about sports and have been following these athletes for the last few years as they prepare for the Olympics, this is a bittersweet moment. Consider that we are sleep deprived and running on caffeine and have almost gone blind, almost staring at our laptops for hours at a stretch, but even our fatigued body starts buzzing as an athlete comes close to bagging a medal.
We are not just sports enthusiasts; somewhere deep down, all of us wanted to be those people we are writing about, we let go somewhere on the way for one reason or another. So, when we see them lowering their heads to receive the medals, it's like we are being awarded the medals. Alternatively, maybe I am just sleep-deprived and thus, melodramatic, forgive me!
Wherever you are, please tune in to see our athletes doing the nation proud 24 July onwards. Stay at home when you can, go out wearing a mask and with the Sony Liv app downloaded on your phone if you have to, stock up on snacks, maybe instant ramen and cheap dumplings as mid-morning snacks and watch our athletes fulfil their dreams.