The power of sports and games to unite people is incredible. Prasad Panicker goes down memory lane against the backdrop of the Oman-India sports festival
This happened somewhere around the time when the world had been in the grip of the Y2K bug fear, or a bit later, but the incident is forever etched in my mind.
On that leisurely afternoon I strolled into my cabin after having a relaxed lunch at a popular restaurant in Ruwi to be welcomed by an Omani gentleman with a not-so-innocent smile.
He had been waiting for me for an hour. The reason? He wanted to tell me in person how one of my articles on the sports page, about Indian cricketer Mohammed Azharuddin, hurt and upset him.
It took me some time to reason with him and sent him back, pacified. I was amazed by Omani interest in cricket, and the gentleman became one of my good local friends.
A few years later in Doha, wild cheers and loud cries coming out of the acting managing editor’s office rocked the whole building.
That was quite a crowd: from office boys to drivers, reporters, sub-editors, photographers, translators and graphic designers. Some of them were sworn enemies but the Italy-France final brought them on the same side as they rooted for their favourites.
That is the charm of sports and games: divides of all sorts — personal, professional, political, religious or regional — sink and vanish.
The six-month-long Oman-India sports festival organised by the Indian Embassy and Oman’s Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs to celebrate 70 years of Indian independence is beginning tomorrow (May 4). And that’s a wonderful opportunity to further improve the cultural and political relations between the two countries in the times of growing fears about losing jobs!