Not being a very keen sports enthusiast, I wasn’t really interested and when I heard that these Olympics are being hosted at a cost of upwards of US$40 billion, I was flabbergasted and critical of China. But, Friday night and nothing much to do – so we sat down to watch and boy am I glad we did!!
Where do I begin? The spectacular display of fireworks throughout the ceremony; thousands of drummers moving as one, every angle perfect, every note harmonious; the giant scroll unfurling on centre stage and dancers turning it into a work of art with their inked hands, while fairies (suspended from the heavens) moved serenely high above them. My jaws dropped watching the perfectly choreographed printing demonstration, while thousands of monks danced with their bamboo scrolls. Such perfect synchrony, had me convinced, the whole piece was mechanized – until lo and behold, at the very end, thousands of young men threw off their costumes and waved excitedly to the crowd!!
The list is endless – whether it was the vivid pageantry, the astronauts, the huge Globe with travellers circling it in mid-air, the maritime scenes with colourful rowers in ship formations, children singing and dancing, haunting music and scintillating lights – it was picture perfect!! The spectacular display took us down a journey of 5000 years of Chinese civilization in the space of 2 hours – and showcased some major Chinese inventions – gunpowder, ink painting, printing and the compass!
China’s moment had arrived and how!! As I watched awe-struck, the last torch bearer, Li Ning, a famous gymnast rose majestically bird-like into the air, blazing a fiery trail until at last the Olympic Torch lit up in all its magnificent glory!! (Am in danger of running out of adjectives here!) The Bird’s Nest stadium lit up like a jewel, in the light of the shining Torch and a multitude of fireworks! What an achievement!!
I remember Pramod Mahajan’s campaign for the BJP in the last Indian General Election – ‘India Shining’. Watching the glorious trail-blazing spectacle that Beijing put on for the world yesterday, I realized how far India has to travel to get to the ‘S’ in ‘Shining!! We are so similar in so many ways and yet what a difference government makes! I’m not condoning the Chinese Government’s dictatorial style of functioning nor their poor human rights record – but the fact is – they get the job done and yesterday they surpassed I’m sure, even their own high expectations. They certainly surpassed mine!
But it’s the people that I most admire – for the true pride they have in their country and its achievements and the sacrifices they are willing to make to turn dreams into reality. In my opinion, India and Indians lack that – we too have a glorious heritage but not much pride in it, me included unfortunately. I expect the Government to do everything and then crib when it doesn’t.
But the truth is – a country is its people. And yesterday’s Ceremony was a testament to the persistence, hard-work, dedication and spirit of a billion plus Chinese – Hats Off China! Take a Bow!