Sunday, October 2, 2016

IAS Diaries Part 9 - Rendezvous with Dipa Karmakar

I remember the exact moment when it all started. I was just going through some regular office work when I came across this schedule of our forthcoming North-East darshan. As a part of our district training, all IAS probationers from the North Eastern & AGMUT cadres are sent on a two week long tour to various places in the North East. And as soon as I read that Agartala was one of the destinations, I messaged my batch mate who is posted there that it would be wonderful if they can arrange for a meeting with the Golden girl of Indian Gymnastics, Dipa Karmakar.

And it happened. We were scheduled to attend a felicitation event arranged by the District Administration. And it was that one thing I was looking forward to since that day. It was a formal event which was also to be attended by senior officials of the district. And it so happened that I was asked to make a speech on behalf of all the IAS probationers present there. Now it's not that I mind being asked to give a speech at the last moment but it was Dipa Karmakar for god's sake. Simply addressing her with mediocre impromptu speech would be sacrilege. Or so I felt.

Whatever little time I had, in midst of the developmental tour in Agartala and the tie-hunt(something which my batch mates wold appreciate), I pondered upon what can be said about her which carries at least some novelty. She perhaps by now has attended hundreds of such felicitations and the same old fact sheet is thrown at the audience again and again. Then I remembered this particular moment we experienced on the night of her Rio vault finals. It was 14th August 2016 and almost late night when her chance came. It was okay for me but it was unusual to see my mother all alert and awake just to see Dipa perform. And it was not just my mother, I guess the entire nation was awake.

And then somehow I recollected the great words of Pundit Nehru when he addressed the nation on the eve of independence. They sounded so close to what I was wanting to say about Dipa Karmakar. And ergo, I decided to extensively quote Pundit Nehru in my opening and concluding lines. I wish to share the same with you here.

"In his famous 'Tryst with destiny', Pundit Nehru said, at the stroke of midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. On the night of this 14th August, India was awake, not to the concerns of national security but because of this one girl who kept us awake believing, who made us proud more than anyone can imagine, who started a new era. It was you, Ms Dipa Karmakar."

After this I majorly talked of these three highlights ~ Firstly, it is known that she has a flat foot which is considered not suitable for gymnastics. But after all the hard work she has put in it, the convention seems to have blurred away. Secondly, coming from such a remote place which average Indian would not even pinpoint on the map. A place which hardly has any facilities close to the world standards. She has today put Agartala on the map. And lastly, the support she received from the Indian audience is uncanny in spite of missing the bronze by a whisker. That shows that the Indian support for sports has matured over the years and we do appreciate performance over medals. Ms Dipa, if not a medal, you have certainly won a billion hearts. And lastly I concluded in the words of Pundit Nehru once again...

"A moment comes, which comes but rarely in History when we step out from the old to new, when an age ends and when the soul of nation long suppressed, find utterance.

And this time in Rio, Ms Dipa Karmakar, you were that utterance!"

That was pretty much about the speech. But the post would not be complete without the impressions from the rendezvous. She is the most polite and simple sportsperson you would find. In spite of all the media attention and paparazzi love, she is still the way she always has been. She had so much of patience to answer all our questions. She is already all sorted out with her plans ahead. Wonderful, wonderful person. Meanwhile the nation awaits Tokyo 2020 to see the Produnova magic once again, I wish her the best for the vaults to come.

May she rise high. And then land with perfection.