Hangzhou, October 1
Call me Robert, please.’ You can call me Lucy…’
Yes, you hear this often in China. Why would someone called Gao Jialu wish to be addressed as Lucy? Or why would Zhang Wen allow you to refer to him as Robert? Well, they wish to be hospitable, and ensure that the tongues of the visitors do not get twisted trying to pronounce their names. They rename themselves so that visitors get the names right, right from the outset. One first came across this phenomenon several years ago in Beijing. Taking on an Anglophonic name, despite clear aversion to the European colonialists for what they did to China — including forcing opium down its throat — is a sign of Chinese pragmatism. What do they make of the names, though. Asked what ‘Robert’ means, a young volunteer says: “It means happy!”
Inevitably, the one non-Indian one can easily and effortlessly break the ice with in Hangzhou turns out to be a Pakistani. There, alas, are only two journalists from our western neighbour here to cover the Asian Games, and one of them turns out to be a very voluble and helpful man from Rawalpindi, who speaks Punjabi with the softer accent of that region. We discuss war and peace, and agree that war is not an advisable course of action for nations — it’s too violent. “It’s the politicians and the ‘forces’ who scare people so that they themselves can stay in power,” says Khurram. “People don’t have a problem with each other… They just want to get on with their lives.”
Rajeshwari Kumari of Patiala won a silver medal as part of the Indian women’s trap team, which also comprised Preeti Rajak and Manisha Keer. That may not be much of a news, since India won 15 medals on Sunday, and had already won several gold in shooting. But Rajeshwari’s feat is worthy of notice as just over 40 years ago, her father had won a silver in the men’s trap event at the New Delhi Asian Games. The father, Randhir Singh of the Patiala royal family, is the acting-president of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA); when he won silver, at the 1982 Asian Games, his father, Raja Bhalendra Singh, then the OCA president, had awarded him his medal.
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