When the compere for the glitzy closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games asked us if we were ready for the party of our lives, the thunderous roar of assent from the crowd set the tone for what was to come.
An hour of rock, roll, classic, folk and Bollywood masala mixed by some of ablest DJs of India turned the finale of the third largest sporting event of the world into a mega music concert.
There was not one person in the audience that I could see who was not singing alongside or clapping or jiving to the dance numbers. It was one big party out there and all the athletes and volunteers joined in the revelry in full force.
And then why not, with Kailash Kher, Shankar-Ehasaan-Loy, Shaan, Shiamak Davar, Shubha Mudgal, Sunidhi Chauhan, Zila Khan, Ila Arun, Shivamani and more belting out one hit number after another. Inclusion of some English numbers showed some good thinking, keeping in mind the foreign athletes and visitors, though the pace and beats of the show were sufficient to make them jump off their seats and shake a leg.
The musical extravaganza was most welcome as it came after drab and prolonged session of speeches. Suresh Kalmadi was the worst culprit again, as his unashamed chest thumping address was the longest. Maximum applause was reserved for the PM, Sonia, Sheila Dikshit and of course the athletes.
The ultimate show stopper was the hi-tech ultra ritzy psychedelic light show, which was the supreme celebration of colour and technology. The laser programme not only mesmerised, but provided the photo op of the Indian gala like no other.
Scotland gave a glimpse of what would be in store at Glasgow in 2014. Hundreds of Scots dressed in traditional kilts, complete with bagpipers thundered into the stadium and put up an energetic performance. They pumped up their props while performing, creating their iconic concert hall Armadillo, the Stonehenge and their national flag.
All of us at the packed Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium patriotically applauded the three Services’ band which followed an invigorating and colourful performance of two thousand and ten school students on the tune of Vande Mataram.
Children cheered as Shera, accompanied by Shaan, rode on a decorated scooter bidding goodbye to everyone.
The closing ceremony had started with a martial arts presentation from different provinces of India with the blimp in air showing muscular riders on horses with Tricolours in their hands. Naga warriors, along with experts of Kalaripayattu, Akhara, Gatka, Silambam, Thangta, Dhan Patta, Talwar Raas electrified the audience with their combatant techniques.
The goosebumps moment for me, personally, was the recitation of the national anthem in a stadium awash with orange, white and green lights.
The curtains finally came down on Delhi Commonwealth Games with an array of fireworks and pyrotechnics. Somehow, I could sense a feeling of near relief in the audience that the CWG was finally over without a major glitch.
Unlike the Opening Ceremony, yesterday there was much better organisation and it took me barely 15 minutes to clear all the security checks and reach my seat. Metro service was A-class with trains running every minute, so there was no pushing and shoving whatsoever. It was my first trip on Mr. E Sreedharan’s toy and therefore was even more special.
One last thought: “All’s well that end’s well” must not be the tag line for these Games. We may have eventually pulled off a spectacular event, but it was too riddled with problems initially to sign off on a joyful note. Besides cleanliness, the marketing and ticketing of the Games could have done with a lot more improvement. Children from all over the country should have been brought in to see all the events.
Kalmadi said in his valedictory speech that this is just a beginning. He may have meant it for sports, but for us it must serve as a lesson on how to manage world class events. The ‘jugaad’ approach doesn’t always work. And it should not work.
When we have the potential and the resources, then government bodies must learn to manage and deliver. The end of the games must thus mark the beginning of a thorough investigation into all corruption charges - including against Mr Kalmadi - that had come to the fore weeks before the Games kicked off, poor quality of construction and reasons for inefficiency. Bringing in accountability would be a good start.