When I came to Delhi in my quest for achievement, initially, I was very apprehensive. A big city could so easily eat you up. But I adapted to it well and am at home here. Delhi is a fabulous platform and if you use it well, you do make a mark in the career that you choose to pursue.
Winning a medal at the Athens Olympics in 2004 was a great honour. As I look back, especially with the Beijing Olympics round the corner, I am pretty clear that winning an Olympic silver would not have been possible had it not been for the superb facilities in Delhi.
The Tughlakabad Shooting Range, with its serene setting — a comfortable drive from home — was where I spent quality time, sharpening my skill and honing my ability as a marksman.
<b1>I have trained in the best of ranges around the world, but the range at home provided me the foundation and the stepping-stone to venture into the big league and brush shoulders with the very best in the sport. Delhi provided me the environment, both for training and relaxation. This must be the case with the multitude of people who come to Delhi for the same reason. Delhi’s greenery too is stunning.
The city has been planned well and miraculously maintained to retain its glory. The heart of the city is indeed very healthy, providing plenty of breathing space. You notice that the fabulous growth has not spoilt the place as you drive down the broad roads, especially in the early hours of a winter morning.
It is indeed an honour to drive down the Raisina Hill, from the President’s House towards the India Gate. The morning fog lends a sleepy look to the place and time stands still. Jogging in the Lodhi Garden or the Nehru Park is also blissful.
Now, with the world class Metro making life that much more comfortable, commuting is faster — and in style. While the growing population is a concern for all, the problem of pollution has been well addressed by the CNG buses. Also, Delhi traffic police is better than any other state police and does a great job of keeping sanity on Delhi roads, though, of course, the spirited Delhiites keep them busy.
Then there are the auto-rickshaws and their colourful drivers, who may be a nightmare for most, but they actually toughen you for city life. They make you alert — a quality that will stand you in good stead in all your activities. Delhi’s also a city of contrasts. If old Delhi takes you to the past, the great buildings, restaurants, malls and multiplexes ensure that you don’t long to be in London or New York.
The Qutab Minar and the Red Fort prove that the city is steeped in history, but the vibrant life around you also proves that Delhi has kept pace with time. Now, with the Commonwealth Games to be staged in 2010, Delhi’s sports infrastructure will also improve manifold. But then Delhi is not just about the place, it’s also about the people. You have people from all walks of life, who are really nice when you get to know them. And so is the spirited workforce in Delhi, be it in the factories, the government offices, the shops, or at my shooting range. They equally share our successes, enduring long hours of work as we inch towards our goals in life. The city’s also a great place for education, boasting of some of India’s best schools and colleges. Without doubt Delhi gets its vibrancy and colour from these teenagers who are stylish, confident and full of life. These kids have adopted the best from the West, even as they continue to gain energy from the strong Indian roots. Also, the media — both electronic and print — has just about exploded. It acts as the watchdog for public-private functioning, and Delhi being the base of the media gains the most. If you open your eyes and think for yourself, you are sure as happy to be in Delhi as I am.
(As told to Ajai Masand)