Backing up a bit to before the Olympics began, I wanted to write a little blog about the Olympic torch which passed only a few hundred metres from my very own home! My parents and I joined my residents’ association to watch and celebrate.
Now, seeing the Olympic torch pass through your neighbourhood is an historic occasion, although in some ways all the hype made it less exciting than it might otherwise have been. For example, I learned that the torch doesn’t run at night; it got started early that morning and passed through two other London boroughs before arriving at mine, it took a lunch break down the street from me, then passed through a couple more boroughs in the afternoon. It went to sleep that night in some undisclosed location and magically reappeared the next morning on the Thames for its ride to the Olympic Park – a ride which David Beckham repeated in a speedboat during the Opening Ceremony. In other words, the point was to see the torch; the point was not the journey of the flame to the games.
As you might imagine, the torch came with an entourage that included media, security and VIP’s. It was also preceded by three commercial vehicles playing loud music and handing out freebies, with perky youth dancing on the roof. I don’t name the companies represented here because I figure they already got enough publicity through the Olympics as it is. There was definite a false veneer of materialism in this little parade, but I have to admit that before they passed by I was just standing by the street feeling bored, while after they passed by I was clapping and smiling and maybe even screaming a little bit in anticipation of the big moment. So they definitely served their purpose.
Each torchbearer only carried the flame for a few hundred metres, so as to allow maximum participation in the event. Each torchbearer had their own torch, and passed the flame over to the next bearer, rather than handing them the torch itself. People nominated as worthy of recognition for contribution to the community were selected as torchbearers.
And possibly the most impressive moment for me was when I realised that, just a half mile or so further down the road, still in my very own neighbourhood, the torchbearer was none other than Amitabh Patchan… you know, the Bollywood actor for whose autograph Jamal is willing to get himself completely covered in s***, in the film Slumdog Millionaire? Yeah, he carried the torch. In my neighbourhood. And I did not see him.