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Belated Diary III: Gill unseated When I returned (6/1/2008)
One great thing about the media facility at Kazan was the professionalism. In the night at least before 8 pm all activities will be over. Still none of those in charge of the media would close their job. They will wait for their deadline of 9 pm before calling it a day. There seemed to be no supervisor still they stuck to timings. As of them used to drop me at my hotel -- this was a routine -- I used that one hour to familiarize with some Russian words, lifestyles, anything other than hockey.

This is the first tour where I did not spend single pie to go or return from stadium, as every one hour a transport was available from team hotel, and the media incharge dropped me at my hotel in the nights.

On the fourth day itself, it became clear India is not in the league of winning. After every match asking questions to Kaushik and captain Mamta has become moments of embarrassment for me, but Kaushik was brave and reasonably good at giving proper explanations. He was almost upset when India lost to Belgium in their third match.

I was also upset. Unlike of me, I called a few known faces in the Indian crowd, and requested them to take to city next day for site seeing, as it was a rest day.

Strictly speaking, in the obtaining atmosphere there, the medical students, whose strength swelled to 3, 4 hundred as the events progressed (they are really happy that the stands are free, a never heard of thing in Europe), enriched my time and effort. I wrote lot about them, as they were doing different things, making their presence felt among the organizers, and doing student things that reminded me of my college days. There are actually the highlight and bright spot of this trip.

They were also enourmed by the team, as it really played lot of entertaining, brisk hockey though lost the matches giving into counter attacks.

When Netherlands Antilles defeated India, with the use of just 2, 3 moves, that team went into a joy burst. Their team members were all over the places, sitting among those medical students, prompting to support India when they not played and thus endeared them for their support. The students enjoyed their approach and frankness.

I saw FIH president Els van as the event came close to finish. I knew I am renewed by her presence. On the first sight I met her, I told I would like to discuss with her. She smiled and told, ‘I understand’. She asked me to come to breakfast table next day 9 O clock in the morning. It is a horrible time for me, as I have the habit of going to bed late, that too after hearing the Jothikumaran sting operation.

Mail Today’s Kannan informed the sting, as it was being telecast on aajtak / Headlines Today screens, through google chat. I immediately made all my contacts and started writing whatever I could. Virtually I wrote more than what I would have had I been in India, probably I had an inner urge to write more to make my presence in this hour of need.

When I reached the Horsten hotel 20 minutes ahead of time Els gave me, Vasu Thapiliyal told me that Els informed Amrit Bose that she won’t be available to me as she had a meeting with the Provincial Head of State. I liked her professionalism, at least she took the trouble to inform this. Then I joined the Indian team and reached the venue hours ahead of first match.

When I ultimately met her during the half time of that day’s match she felt I should meet her tomorrow. When I did the next day I did not know I was landing in a journalistic landmine. She gave one of the best interviews I had in the recent time. Very thoughtfully I recorded the whole conversation. She was clear in her mind and words, perception of events were to the point and the discussion was almost an emotional one, as I broke down in between very unprofessionally of course.

Then instantly within half an hour I wrote the first story – FIH won’t take action on Carvalho. In the night, even as my electric cooker was on with rice, I made the whole transcript. Transcript of 40 minutes discussion in one sitting is a big deal, but the contents were topical and interesting I could do so without break. Later I realized I should not have strained that much.

Next day I was in double mind – whom to send the story and what extent. Then I found next day the IOA meeting was to be held. Then I thought I should immediately file the report. I sat in the media room, avoided matches and filed a long copy to PTI. After confirming that the conversation was tape recorded, the agency released it – of course after appreciating my efforts for the timely news.

Only after I returned to India that I found the extent of coverage that piece had in every paper, everywhere. The IOA might not have taken a decision to dissolve the IHF based on that, but it should have certainly created an atmosphere to go for the kill. This FIH president interview was the best effort from me in the long time.

As India failed match after match, I devoted my time to savour other interests. Comprehensive interview of Russian Hockey Federation Chief, a portfolio shoot of Netherlands Antilles captain Schroeder, views of Terry Walsh and other coaches on Indian men and women hockey and such things. Most of these works are yet to be reflected in s2h.

After India failed to even win a bronze, with the help of students I could book a cheap train ticket back to Moscow at cost far less than for the onward journey. I reached Moscow around 10 AM. Over-paid the intimidating cab driver to reach the international terminal 2, an hour drive. The driver spoke about Indira Gandhi

That day I was completely out of touch with what happens in India because the Moscow airport wifi system was very weak and internet was not opening. After six hours wait and eight hours journey I reached Delhi home.

It was midnight 2 AM. Even as the door was half open, my wife said: “Your Gill is Gone”.

I did not know the IOA decision till i heard from her. Her voice sounded more than usual quota of sweet and music. I rushed towards television, had enough of Gill’s sacking in every channel (and also ban of Harbhajan Singh from IPL).

I could not sleep that night, despite past 24 hours of being awake.

For, I could not believe Gill is no more in hockey -- and for me the day has already dawned.

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by Bala Lakshmana Moor on 7/9/2008 11:44:36 PM

by Bala Lakshmana Moor on 7/9/2008 11:45:58 PM
Nice one