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International zone,where worlds meet

Mohammad Matloob Khan is surrounded by a plethora of colours and cultures. As he finishes another intricate trellis work on an ornate box.

Written by Deepu Sebastian Edmond | New Delhi |
September 30, 2010 2:25:43 am

Mohammad Matloob Khan is surrounded by a plethora of colours and cultures. As he finishes another intricate trellis work on an ornate box at the International Zone of the Games Village,giving him company is a framed 2008 Indian Express story about him winning the National Award for Handicrafts Artisans and Handloom Weavers.

As the Village comes alive,the International Zone,with its recreational and shopping facilities,is becoming its hotspot. The zone is where a lot of worlds meet — the worlds of the athletes from 71 CWG countries,the world of people like Matloob Khan whose job is to represent India,and the outside world that the large Press contingent brings along.

Inside a door innocuously marked ‘Engraver’ is Crystal Mirage,a company dealing in 3D engraving in crystals. For rates starting at Rs 250,athletes are photographed from multiple angles and the images are used to create a 3D image of the face,which is engraved inside the crystal using lasers. There is also the souvenir store,the general store,the Internet cafe and the ice-cream parlour,but there is a twist to most. The souvenir store,for instance,has black ceramic mugs that turn yellow when hot beverages are poured into them.

Then there are the postal employees,also with a twist. One of them invites us into the post office,pin code 110092,after seeing the ‘media’ tag. Everyone is smiling,and on sale for the first time is an international post card intended for foreign athletes. It is not much: an ordinary postcard with a colourful slip that has the Commonwealth logo and mascot printed on its back. Indian postcards sell for 50 paise,and when the official sticks a slip to the back of the postcard after,the item sells for Rs 30.

Then there is ‘The World’s Most Advanced Golf Simulator’,where athletes troop in by the dozen. “These are trained athletes,and they take naturally to the game. One of them,in his second try ever,hit 270 yards with a putter,” said Ashwin Sawhney,a company representative. With a starting price of Rs 20 lakh,the company must be hoping that their patrons go on to strike it rich at the Games.

Also,the Village is a place where people of different cultures and tongues meet. Matloob Khan is approached by Team Nigeria’s sports doctor Abdulsalam Kanode Shuaibu. After a warm exchange of handshakes and a series of hesitant nods,Shuaibu tentatively greets ‘As-Salamu Alaykum’. Khan returns the compliment. Shuaibu murmurs: “Muslim?” Khan nods in agreement. A visibly relieved Shuaibu cups his palms and asks Khan,“Nigeria prayer,East. India?” It takes a second or two,but Khan understands. He points towards the setting sun. “West,” Shuaibu nods in reply.

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