Delhi The fabrication of the Commonwealth Games continued. The headlines trumpeted six more gold medals and the 2nd place standing of India, while the stories continued to be nothing but mishap and misfortune due to poor organizing and faulty equipment, and literally no crowds at all. An automatic set of tire puncturing teeth didn’t read the electronic sticker and came up hurting 3 Ugandan dignitaries seriously. The courtesy driver fiasco continued for Tata Motors with the new spin being the fact they only got the contract signed in July, so it’s someone else’s fault of course. Wild speculation on why so few people are attending the games including the Times of India wondering if Delhi elites were so used to getting free passes that they were unwilling to pay to go to the game. Solution: the Delhi Municipal Corporation asked the Organizing Committee for free passes for school children and others to be able to fill the stands. What isn’t mirage continues to feel like farce here.
As a break from the Commonwealth Games Campaign (go to www.commonwealthgamescampaign.org to support the work), I spent a delightful couple of hours visiting with Mridula Koshy, a former SEIU and IAF organizer largely in the Portland, Oregon area who is now a well read author of short fiction and a coming novel living with her family in Delhi. I’ve told the story before in several places of stumbling onto her book of short stories while killing time in the domestic airport in Delhi before flying to Mumbai on my last visit. We’re publishing two of her stories in the coming two issues of Social Policy, which I’m quite excited about doing.
Mridula gave me the opportunity of not just talking about blanks in my understanding of India and organizing here, but also allowing me to test some of my suppositions and theories with someone with whom I shared a common language of organizing. Coming from her IAF experience with the redoubtable Dick Harmon, she made many suggestions about whether or not ACORN India could find “mediating institutions” that might help. Colleges and universities were one of our brainstorms and it resonated with our work in Mumbai and our organizers’ own histories of activism in Delhi, so that suggestion is high on the list of things to discuss with the staff in our next meetings. She also hit home with me by filling in a couple of Bollywood blanks particularly the social change focus on one of the more well know directors who has appeared in our YouTube blurbs to support the “Waste” documentary on our organizing in Dharavi and the ACORN India Trust and noting the way he was focusing on the college and university market for change as well.