Friday, October 28, 2011

The R1 Mumbai Grand Prix...(edited to add dog)

The papers are full of the Buddh F1 circuit in Gurgaon (Delhi region) , where all those single seater, low-slung, excessively powerful, gas guzzling fancy F1 cars are expected to make a massive noise and drive (people and ) themselves round various dangerous bends,  while tons of folks with nothing else to do , crowd the stands and scream away , all the while knowing that nobody can hear them anyway.

The name is a bit intriguing, as if someone had to deal with Mayawati while deciding the name. I mean it might have been , either the statues or the name of her choice, or even both. Maybe the statues come later. The only F1 circuit in the world with statues, clutching handbags, with fancy champion car racers buzzing around in full racing  regalia  at their feet.

The company who owns the thing says "the name is derived from the word Buddha, and represents peace and calm.The Buddh International circuit logo consists of a ‘B’ which also resembles a heart".  A fine example of bad naming choices , bad sporting choices (peace and calm ?), and even erroneous anatomy .  If I were a heart, I would be mortified.  

The television channels keep hyping inaugural events where guys , who should be actually wearing mechanic overalls and lying beneath cars, walk the fashion ramp, helmets in hand (like captains of industry carrying briefcases) , accompanied by two dimensional models  wearing something akin  to shorts and saree blouses , holding aloft a flag with the name of the driver.  All this while folks sit around sipping outrageously priced drinks at tables, and applaud, in even fancier clothes. And I hear, that another apparition called the Gaga lady is coming to dance/sing/ or both to celebrate .

That driving cars mindlessly round and round an obstacle course, occasionally careening into others, and suddenly changing lanes to block someone coming in from behind, occasionally colliding in a ball of fire and metal,  can be classified as a sport is totally incomprehensible to my  middle class mind.

I can see why someone who excels at producing liquor, running airlines, having so called world class ostentatious parties, and creating Kingfisher Calendars of the ogling type, and is even an MP, would be a patron of such capital-intensive activity.  The Indian Olympic Association, which still cannot organize pre Olympic training camps with decent infrastructure for slogging athletes,  has meetings with Bernie Ecclestone, who for some reason thinks India needs F1 Grand Prix. They sign agreements, acquire land from farmers in the Indo Gangetic fertile plains, for the F1 Circuit, and construct the set up.  Just like that. No farmers' agitation, no Rahul Gandhi visits, no pointing fingers and saying F1  is being supported by communal forces , and so on ?

I have a dumb question.

I mean the government increases the price of gas , five times in one year, citing International oil prices.  The airline owned by the aforementioned high profile partying industrial baron, is refused fuelling at New Delhi , because they have unpaid balances running into millions and flights are cancelled.

How is it a profitable activity, and just who makes a profit in this entire exercise in F1 racing, other than , say, the 5 star hotels, and TV channels (from their sponsors)?  Isn't gas for these so called racing cars paid for by someone ?  What are the car companies trying to prove to the ordinary man on the street (whose dream to buy a car now goes further and further away ) ?  Are the so called 10,000 ordinary non-specialized infrastructure jobs that F1 us  supposed create enough of an incentive ?

With powerful invisible backers , land is acquired , just like that,  for F1, while just outside our gate , the entire major Mumbai  east-west arterial road has a permanent bottleneck because the government is unable to re-situate a Hanuman temple, partially for religious, and mostly for vote-bank reasons.  The road authority and the railways  keep disagreeing about a rail overbridge, which should have been built years ago, but now functions to create extreme traffic jams, trying to compress 6 lanes into 1. Every single day.

I wish the liquor baron would donate  some money and expertise to our Mumbai roads. And repairs. We can even name the road after someone he admires. Or him.  I wish another industry biggie, worlds 4th richest, etc,  who recently built a 27 floor building for his family of 5,  (and still hasnt moved in, leaving it empty),  would use his clout and available state of the art expertise  in creating towns, to help construct some much needed bridges across the eastern Bay , and yes , we would be delighted to name it after his ancestor, to whom this city  gifted so much success .

It's all very easy for fancy folks with European names, to sink deeper into their racing contraptions and do numerous noisy rounds on super smooth roads with super accurate banking on the various turns.

  I'd love it if Michael Shumacher came to Mumbai and drove.  Say, from the airport to his great friend - Sachin Tendulkar's house in Bandra(West). I'd love to see him handle the potholes, the invisible speed breakers uniquely augmented by the locals, and occasional wandering set of cows.  Though the entire idea of Schumacher looking up from his contraption into the heavy lidded eyes of a cow chewing the cud nonchalantly  is quite enchanting....

Yes, and the rickshaws.  With drivers who think of turning left from the rightmost lane, or vice versa. Who think nothing of sidling up to another rickshaw driving on the road, and kind of talking with the driver, simply because you know the guy from your native village, and to hell with all the folks honking behind. Which actually begs a question . Do these F1 contraptions have horns ? Or do they have sirens ?  And would anyone actually hear anything ?

I hear the F1 types once considered Mumbai . Till 2004.  Maybe the F1 people have abandoned Mumbai for a reason.  And it isn't the political parties, or traffic woes, or permanently happening metro construction.

You see, we have our own R1 Grand Prix.   The Rickshaw Grand Prix, conducted at the Hiranandani Hakone Go Kart track, in Northeast Mumbai.  They don't have stands, and people simply stand around and clap and shout and encourage the drivers, racing around on 3 wheels. They probably get cash prizes,  which they use to get some serious long standing repairs done, later.   They sport no logos, as such, but enjoy wearing certain Tees to celebrate the specific occasion. You probably wont see too many girls in the race-watchers audience, overly or skimpily dressed, and showing attitude.  And the post-race parties are all about going home to some congested area, being patted on the back by neighbor folks, and treating your friends to a great home cooked meal, prepared  with great enthusiasm by the rest of the family.....

You see , most rickshaw drivers do not own their vehicles, they drive it for an owner who partakes a certain minimum amount from their  daily income. They pay the owner. Unlike F1, where the car companies probably pay the "drivers" to race around in their contraptions, on specially made roads, and even party later for publicity.... 

Whether you like it nor not, TV news is going to be full of F1 stuff, whether anyone understands it or not.  I'm sure, some stray dog or cow will certainly find its way at some point on to the Buddh track. (If it hasn't already).

(Edited to add :  The dog prediction came true . See  this  news report in the Economic times. Stay tuned for the cow :-)........)

I'd love to see some Vettel, Massa or Schumacher dodge that in style. And I don't mean , "bang into that", while looking up through an half open eyelid , covered by a helmet, in the inner recesses of an fancy F1 contraption.

In the meanwhile, have a look at the R1 Grand Prix below :


  1. Yes,I wish the likes of Shumacher ought to try crossing the signal leading to IIT main gate from the other side. I feel as if I've run an obstacle race whenever I crossed over. True, with protesters who will not protest except to score a political point and/or if TV cameras are on, is it any wonder land for this kind of stupid cross country like stuff on a 4 wheeler will be given for free? And aren't we Indians in awe of fair skinned people and hail every move of theirs as a profitable exercise. We still love everything 'foren' don't we?

    P.S. Ihaven't gone into details of this F1 stuff but assume that it is the brainchild of someone who is out of touch with the requirements of people like you, me and others like our domestic helps who need to actually commute through the chaos called traffic.

  2. Nice blog. I'm just walking and stoping here. I'm very interesting when i see your blog. Good job.

    Nb: Dont forget to visit my blog and give your comment to us. Thanks.

  3. Just had a quick reading.

    Will read again and comment later.
    Two questions:
    1) Have you checked if the video link works? It didn't for me.
    2) I had subscribed to yor blog. Why did I not receive this in my mail box?

  4. GV The video link works. Sometimes it says there's an error, but if you retry, it works. As for the subscribing, I dont have a clue about why it isnt showing up, though I think blogger has been showing up some errors lately.

  5. This F1 Stuff has gone a long distance ! Atleast, everybody on twitter seems to be saying so. the only disappointment seemed to be Mayawati.

    Sad. It is her state afterall. And F1 is a distant concept to the teeming masses that make up India !

  6. Wonderful post , middle class readers like us can relte to it!

  7. Oh my - so happy I live at the edge of the woods. So simple, quiet and peaceful. It is all I can and want to handle.
    Wonderful post...

  8. So very very true. India is filled with these huge contradictions and ironies. People who point that out are risked at being labeled anti-development.

    Do you remember that the city of Aurangabad was in news a few months (or about a year?) ago for being the city where 150 orders for the Mercedes Benz cars was placed at one time? If you ever happen to visit that city - you will notice that it has the worst ever roads you have seen in India in any other city of this size or more (really!). And the worst ever sanitation and waste management by a virtually non-existant municiple corporation.

    Oh the irony!