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Delhi pours in for Games ceremony

Thousands of Delhi residents packed into the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium for the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony on Sunday, giving round after round of thunderous applause.

delhi Updated: Oct 03, 2010 22:19 IST

Thousands of Delhi residents packed into the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium for the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony here Sunday, giving round after round of thunderous applause.

Such was the enthusiasm among people in the Indian capital, hosting its first multinational event after the 1982 Asian Games, that the Central Secretariat Metro station was cramped for space hours before the start of the ceremony.

A man near the stadium was even spotted holding a placard for a spare ticket for the event. "Require ticket for the ceremony," it read. But there were no takers - or, in this case, givers!

PM, Patil clap away

A delighted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could be seen clapping, as the Indian contingent marched past in a colourful array. Keeping him company was wife Gursharan Kaur who even craned her neck for a better view.

In equally good cheer were President Pratibha Patil, who was standing as the contingent walked past. Next to her was husband Devisingh Shekhawat, clapping again!

Roaring welcome for Kalam

As the cameras trained on A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at the stadium, the crowds cheered, prompting the silver haired former Indian president to smile and wave back.

And this happened each time his Kalam's face appeared on the LCD screens.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Games Organising Committee chairman Suresh Kalmadi also got a cheerful welcome.

High and mighty spectators

There to see the Games opening ceremony first hand were politicians of different hues.

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Sports Minister M.S. Gill, Tourism Minister Kumari Selja, the BJP's L.K. Advani and Sushma Swaraj and CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury were among the many who made it a point to come.

India cheers with vuvuzelas

They have been stirring up a din all these days, and sure enough, on Sunday the vuvuzelas were a hit inside the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium ahead of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony.

The yellow vuvuzelas were emblazoned with the games mascot, Shera. They were being sold from a couple of shops inside the premises.

Do's and dont's

A flyer spelling out do's and don'ts welcomed spectators at the stadium on the opening ceremony day of the Commonwealth Games Sunday.

Among the various pointers was not to use "unparliamentary slogans" during the two-hour event.

"Do not use unparliamentary slogans," said number four on the list of the 15-point flyer. Another point asked spectators not to "jump over" to other arenas.

Besides these, the other points basically gave directions on what to do in an emergency situation and maintain overall security.

Commandos not spared

Security at the stadium was so tight that even gun-toting National Security Guard (NSG) commandos were not allowed in the venue without verification.

Delhi Police personnel asked the fierce-looking commandos to show their papers. And only after their flashing it were they allowed in. NSG is providing security inside and outside the venue.

Missing the bus

There were clear instructions from the Games' organising authorities Sunday morning that mediapersons would be allowed to enter the opening ceremony venue with laptops.

But a police official simply refused to allow some journalists, who were carrying laptops, to board a bus for the stadium.

"We have got a list of do's and don'ts and about what people can carry and cannot carry with them. There is no mention about the laptops, so we cannot allow you people to carry them," said an adamant police inspector.

Requests to the deputy commissioner of police, who was present at the spot, also went futile. As a result, journalists had to take Metro to reach the venue - losing out on precious time.

Not uplifting

India may be earning lavish praise from all quarters over the excellent Games facilities, but some things never change. A case in point was a non-functioning lift at the groundfloor of the media centre of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

"I am sorry, the lift is not working," said a guard, who was on duty near the lift.

Someone quipped: "He (guard) has been sending away people like this since 2 p.m. and saying the same thing. By now he must be totally drained out," said a harried journalist.

Media feels security heat

The press operations (PO) staff at the media enclosure of the stadium felt the heat of the stringent security arrangements in place for the prime minister's presence at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games.

Some 800 journalists, who were sitting in the upper tier of the west block, were not allowed to move from their seats and the press operation staff had to carry the snacks all the way from the media lounge to the upper tier a fair distance away.

"We are having a tough time carrying the food up and down for mediapersons," said a PO staff.