Sunday, 7 November 2010

The bridesmaid's hour cometh

Beijing, everybody knows. Shanghai, is equally well known. But most people's knowledge of China stops right there. The more enterprising will know of Shenzhen. But then , that's about it. The rest of China remains a mystery to many who have not ventured in that direction.

Well, its now Guangzhou's turn to be in the spotlight (pronounce the zh, like a j). The Asian Games start in Guangzhou on Friday, the 12th. It was my home city, until recently, and so, if I may, I will dress up the long suffering bridesmaid, as the bride that she will be for the next two weeks.

You may know Guangzhou better as Canton. The province in which Guangzhou is situated is called Guangdong which the British , long ago, transliterated to Canton. Confusingly, they ascribed the name to the city, not the province. But, even in Guangdong, the bride is often, the brash noveau riche, Shenzhen. Even in her backyard, Guangzhou remains a bridesmaid.

But for most of China's history, when the culture turned inward, the outside face was Guangzhou. It was always the most open and outward looking city. The Cantonese traveled far and wide in the world. Most of the "Chinatowns" that you see in every city in the world, is far more likely to be Cantonese. The Chinese food that you see internationally is mostly Cantonese. Even the infamous "Hakka Noodles" abomination that you see in India is of Cantonese origin.

What of the Asian Games ?? It will no doubt be a huge success ; Guangzhou has been preparing for it for years. It will have the usual Chinese efficiency, but it is likely to have more of a "heart" - something the Beijing Olympics lacked a bit. Cantonese are like that - they are less regimented and more spontaneous. The writ of Beijing lies like a heavy hand, up north, but down South where Guangzhou is, it is usually ignored.

The sport will be tremendous. In many disciplines, it will be a virtual World Championship - the only events where it will be short of world class will be Athletics and Swimming. China will sweep the medals, like always, but others will have their time in the sun too. For India, it will be a thud after the Commonwealth Games - those were far short of world class and India garnered a rich haul of medals. It won't be like that in Guangzhou where the standards will be much higher. But there will be quite a few high points.

From an Indian point of view, the star event will be the unglamorous 10m Air Rifle Event. In the Beijing Olympics, Gagan Narang, India's best bet faded away, but Abhinav Bhindra rose to win gold beating Zhu Qinan of China who had won the gold in Athens and was the favourite. Zhu was inconsolable and is desperate for revenge. But Narang is in terrific form as is Bhindra; it will be a great fight.

Vijender will win in boxing, but Sushil Kumar will have a tough fight against the Iranians in wrestling. Saina Nehwal, India's golden girl may struggle. Three Wangs stand in her way. On her day she can beat anybody, but to beat all three of them is a tall order. The women's 4*400 metres relay team will win gold. But the real high point for India may be the emergence of Tintu Luka. She's the favourite for the women's 800m, for long the domain of Shiny Wilson. She's a truly world class athlete emerging under the tutelage of PT Usha. In the Commonwealth Games she stood no chance against the Africans. But in Asia, she can, and should, win. She's young and rapidly growing, and will be the star of the future for Indian athletics.

So tune on the Telly. Watch the sport, but also enjoy the sights and sounds of "my city". She'll be at her best and wonderfully beautiful. Viva Guangzhou.

17 comments:

  1. The pride of being the bridesmaid for a place that you have a special corner in your heart for, comes out very nice here. :-)

    Let the games begin!

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  2. How many sports do you follow and keep a watch over it?
    Entertaining and enlightening as always :)

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  3. Anonymous7/11/10

    wow..thala u shd be into full time sports coverage :)

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  4. I am sure the games would be spectacular and would be held in an efficiently as compared to or own Asian Games...

    I was in GZ recently and I have personally seen the work for the games. One of the experiments they did was to have cars ending with even and odd nos driving on alternate days during the week. They wanted to reduce the cars on the street during the games and also reduce the pollution...

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  5. @RamMmm - Oh yes, I am indeed fond of Guangzhou.

    @zeno - just a bit like all of you and Tamil movies .......

    @gilsu - I would love to do that, but nobody is giving me a job there :(

    @Sanjay - Yeh; they do lots of such stuff including bringing all construction to a halt and closing the more polluting of factories.

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  6. i guess obama will return back by the time the games start and news channels will find some telespace for other things as well, lesser followers like me can feel nice over the few occassions where India really makes it.

    and of-course will look forward to some thrilling posts from you especially that it is now happening in a place so close to your heart

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  7. Even I am kind of looking out for the Asian Games, hoping that the Indians do well there as well. CWG outcomes, even if as skewed they were, did show some promising sports-personalities.

    GZ is the only city I have seen in China. Had a great time there. One of my best shopping experiences. Lovely people. There was an instantaneous good wish that went out when I read about GZ hosting the games.

    PS: Wishing you and your family a very happy Deepavali too! :)

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  8. @Sandhya - Yes apparently there's an overdose of Obama in the News channels although I've been happily tuning them out !

    @Deepa - India will do well, even if the medal haul is lower. Didn't know you had been to Guangzhou - must have been in the early days.

    Happy Diwali

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  9. @Ramesh- Yes, the first time was when I broke that leg of mine! :)

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  10. Too bad you missed experiencing the excitement first hand by just a few months. Talking of an alternative career as a sportscaster, were you the same vintage as Harsha Bhogle at IIMA?

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  11. That is so informative, Ramesh! Have not followed the schedule of Asian Games for a while but will definitely keep a watch on medals tally as well as individual brilliance. India should definitely do well. No second thoughts on Gagan Narang and Vijender. Will look forward to badminton and athletics.

    Thanks a ton for writing such a beautiful piece. Your blog is such a wonderful place. For me personally, it has been one fantastic year of reading experience ever since I came to know of this. Please do keep writing and posting for you are simply awesome!

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  12. Loved the way you wrote this and predicted it all with so much confidence :)
    keep them coming.
    Enjoyed this post.
    Preeti

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  13. Ramesh you have given filip to sporty feelings in me. I am sports news hungry and your posts feed me quite well. I wonder how do you keep hold of everything around - master of all trades! Thanks

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  14. @J - Harsha Bhogle was a couple of years after me, so never crossed at IIM A.

    @Vishal - Hey thanks for the kind words.

    @Preeti - Thanks. Blogging emboldens you to be bold, doesn't it - after all there isn't an editor to say, cut out the crap !!

    @KC - Happy sports watching !

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  15. Anonymous10/11/10

    Ramesh,

    your fondness of GZ still shines through !!

    I'll be there again in a couple of weeks with the steadily growing BSL team, now some 35 FTE - and a great bunch of people... indicative no doubt of the wider GZ :)

    Trevor

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  16. Just today i saw the newspaper and read about guangzhou asian games and tried to recollect if you were living there and i come here to find a blog just about it.

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  17. @Trevor - Yes, I've grown to like Guangzhou a lot. Delighted to hear of BSL success.

    @ambulisamma - Hope you watched the spectacular opening ceremony yesterday.

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