We in Delhi, India are a tough people. With summer temperatures from 46 Degree Celcius (114 Degree Fahrenheit) and Winter temperatures from 2-3 Degree Celcius (just above freezing), high pollution levels, the worst traffic jams (and highest per capita cars)- there is very little that intimidates the Average Delhiite-
But the Return of the British Empire is scaring us- and it is called Common Wealth Games. The Common Wealth is a group of countries that used to be colonized by Britain in her colonial days ( USA is not a member though- as they probably kicked way too much British butt while gaining independence).
And every 4 years they have CommonWealth games (read games for the non US English speaking world). So when our commie neighborhood– the Chinese went and got themselves an Olympics- we decided to get ourselves this CWG games too. Big deal- national pride- rising economic power and all that.
So far the Games has meant the following- lots of roads dug up, lot of stadiums in various degrees of preparation, a total cost of 2 Billion USD, rampant allegations of corruption due to the ten times increase in budget – including rather suspicious looking documents procured by our local press (yes Indian press is free as it is a democracy)
And add divine grace. Delhi has the wettest monsoon since 1978- it rains cats and dogs in September- and we now have a mini dengue malaria epidemic. 4 countries have declared the living quarters for athletes as uninhabitable , some have walked out, the inevitable terrorists injured two Taiwanese tourists this weekend (in a semi ironic email they said they were prepared as the government was prepared- it isn’t)
Today a bridge collapsed-
On Tuesday afternoon, a bridge next to Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the main Games venue, fell apart. The footbridge collapsed into three pieces, taking several workers with it and uprooting one side of the arch that supported it.
A police officer at the scene said that 27 people had been injured, four of them seriously, in the collapse.
“This will not affect the Games,” said Raj Kumar Chauhan, a Delhi minister for development, who spoke on the scene. “We can put the bridge up again, or make a new one.”
“We really need to learn how to plan,” said Vrinda Walavalkar, a public relations executive who is not connected to the Games.
“Maybe we feel we have so many lifetimes to achieve things” that it does not matter if it gets done this time, she said.
Mr. Gupta, the shopkeeper, found a metaphor in Hindu wedding tradition.
The groom’s party, known as the barat, traditionally marches to the bride’s house on horseback with his friends and family, he explained. When the barat appears, the bride has to come to the door, he said.
“If the bride is not ready, you patch her up and try to hide all her defects,” Mr. Gupta said, and then you send her outside.
To some this may be shocking. To the average Delhi-ite battling traffic and rain , this is one more episode in the chaotic Capital. As a small solace- Delhi still has the best and cheapest street food this part of the world- with golgappas, tikki and chat. If only you can beat the rain to get them !
Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delhi if you like to know more.