Tuesday, December 29, 2009

'Tambola' to be included in Delhi Commonwealth Games, in a move to boost spectator interest.

by Anand Ramachandran, who is hard pressed to think of anything funnier than the Commonwealth Games. Or the Commonwealth itself, for that matter.

With an increasing number of high profile athletes, including Usain Bolt and top British athletes and gymnasts dropping out of the upcoming Commonwealth Games to be held in Delhi, the Commonwealth Games Federation has decided to boost the popularity of the games by including the popular sport of 'Tambola' as a medal event.

“Brilliant no?”, grinned an eerily delighted looking IOA chief Suresh Kalmadi. “The inclusion of Tambola is sure to make the Delhi Games a bumper hit! And, unlike my earlier let-off about Usain Bolt's participation, this is a promise I can actually keep!”, he tittered, swaying from side-to-side gently. “After all, 'Tambola' can't decide to drop out of the games, can it?”, he pointed out reasonably. “More importantly, there will be no need to complete any stadium on time for this event – we can have it in Delhi Gymkhana itself!”, he added, pointing to one of the many benefits of the move.

The Indian Tambola contingent for the Commonwealth Games practices crucial Tambola skills, including ball-point pen holding, number recognition and the consumption of samosas and Rasna (not in picture).

According to sources in the IOA, the Tambola event would break with tradition - instead of medals, the winners would receive tiffin carriers, Japanese magnetic pencil-boxes, borosil juice-glass sets, and copies of 'Tell Me Why'. “We wanted to stay true to the spirit of Tambola, and award prizes that Tambola athletes would truly appreciate. ”, said a woman wearing a sleeveless blouse and oversized sunglasses, before asking the gathered reporters to donate generously so that the IOA could buy samosas for the event. The Tambola event at the CWG will also mark the first ever time in sports history that athletes from over fifty countries would simultaneously drink 'Rasna'.

The CGF is hoping that the inclusion of Tambola will spark public interest in an event that has been dogged by bad luck, controversy and general lack of interest among participants. “We realized that for athletes like Usain Bolt and Paula Radcliffe, the CWG may not be too prestigious. But for people such as Suraj Bajaj and Swarnakamakshi Gurumurthy, it is the pinnacle of their sport. Winning a japanese pencil box (or even a multi-head screw driver kit) at the Commonwealth Games would immortalize these athletes in the annals of Tambola history.”, said Mr.Kalmadi. He also said that the Tambola event had already gained the guaranteed participation of Tambola legends such as Vinay Nilakantan (who, coincidentally, is also one of the world's leading 'Deer Hunter' players), Perungulathur Subbu (who manages to win Tambola games even at functions where he hasn't been invited), Priya Krishnan (renowned Mac loyalist), and a man known only as 'Bablu'.

Luckily for Mr.Kalmadi and the IOA, public reaction has been mostly positive.

“Hey, Tambola is a terrific game! I was first introduced to it in the year – two fat ladies – 88! I was just a lad of – two little ducks – 22 then!”, said a visibly excited Son of Bosey veteran, Sankalesh Jimmy, getting into the spirit of things rather quickly. “Gee, I hope they get a genuine retired Army Colonel or Major to call the games. That would be – Awe and Some – Awesome!”, he said, expanding the very horizons of 'Tambola calling' to include everyday words as well.

“There's absolutely nothing wrong in having Tambola at the games. After all, it is very similar to cricket, which was included in the games in the year – nine and eight – ninety eight.” said noted cricket fanatic Aravind Murali. “Both games are very popular in India. Both games feature numbers from 0 to 99. Both games feature cliche-ridden commentary by washed up has-beens. Both games require high degrees of skill.”, he explained, before succumbing to public pressure and saying “Okay, okay. Scratch the last one. Sheesh.”

“I do hope they come up with more interesting and contemporary calls. Something along the lines of – N.D.Tiwari – 69 ! Or how about this one – cleavage fest – 33 !” quipped renowned wildlife photographer S.U.Saravanakumar, with a mischievous grin. “Oh wait, there's more! Afridi's age – 18! New followers Tharoor gains per second – 78! Number of states in India – 76 ! Or is it 39? Or 52?” he jested, severely testing the theory that women dig guys with a 'sense of humour'.

World 100 metres champion and record-holder Usain Bolt clearly shows where his priorities lie, by completely ignoring the scoreboard that displays his WR in favour of gloating over completing the first 'row' in a Tambola game.

In fact, the inclusion of Tambola has had the effect of reviving the interest of athletes who otherwise had no intention of participating in the games. “Man, I don't want to bladely run dem sprints at the CWG. But I'm keen on participating in the Tambola! I have more gold medals than I can count, but winning one of dem 'Hardy Boys' books or those Kvlt Milton 'Kool Rider' water bottles would be really somethin, mon!”, said Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt, flashing his famous smile. “See, I TOLD you Usain Bolt would be coming!”, said a smug looking Mr.Kalmadi, who appeared out of nowhere to pounce on the opportunity to take credit.

And finally, the officials at Tamil Nadu Tambola (TNT) have expressed their delight at this development, saying “ We are very happy. Next we will invite Obomo to play Tambolo in a tournament sponsored by Coco Colo and Docomo.”