Regular readers of this blog – and here's hoping there's a few of you – might remember the dispatches provided by Canadian world champion swimmer Brent Hayden's father, Chuck, leading up to and during the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Chuck Hayden provided a parent's eye view of the experience and it was an insightful, sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant take on things.
Well Chuck in China is now Chuck in Delhi as the Haydens are off on what promises to be an eventful trip to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in India.
Here's Chuck Hayden's first dispatch:
So, the Hayden Family is off chasing swimming again. This is the first major meet since the Beijing Olympics which we have attended, and the first as a family since the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006. Our daughter Andrea was with us then and for a holiday in Thailand on the way home. This time she is bringing her husband of one year, Jamie. We are looking forwaard to good times and adventures together.
It's been quite a ride since the Commonwealth Games were awarded to Delhi. There has been much in the media of late as to the shortcomings, obstacles, and problems facing the staging of the competitions. As the family of an athlete competing there, we have watched and listened intently. We have tried to be judicious as to content, validity and what we should do about it. We have had our flights and hotel in place for many months now.
The biggest worry is the numerous threats posted by extremist groups against the Games themselves. They desperately want to hurt India in any way possible. Since our whole family is going to be there, we are not taking these threats lightly.
We have been told by the Canadian Games people to stay out of the markets, don't wear our Canadian shirts, hats, etc. in public. That part I don't understand: I'm not going to be mistaken for an Indian. I expect I will stand out in the Delhi crowd. I'd rather be taken for a Canadian than any other nationality, under any circumstances. I guess the terrorists could always assume that we are Swiss.
India, I understand, is a most challenging destination at the best of times. We have many Indian friends, plus many more non-Indian friends, who have travelled there. The biggest challenges are intestinal bugs (Delhi Belly) and other diseases: dengue fever, typhoid, polio, malaria, but mostly the mosquito-borne ones.
Well, we armed with DEET and have had every innoculation known to man, plus flagyl, immodium, isopropyl alcohol wipes and hand gel, iodine drops and just about whatever else one can imagine.
We have been told that the thing we will be overwhelmed with is the overwhelming and continual crush of humanity. Rumour has it that whether walking, taking a rickshaw, tuk-tuk, car or bus in Delhi, one should allow about one hour per kilometer. Our Indian friends have suggested we learn to wriggle so as to get through the crowds.
Regarding food, the advice has been confusing. We have been advised not to eat salads, not use ice, to only eat in 5-star hotel restaurants. We've also been told not to eat in 5-star hotel restaurants as their kitchens are usually in the basement, and are usually damp, have poor refrigeration, have rats and cockroaches. We've been told to not eat at street vendors. We've also been told to only eat at street vendors as they cook it hot right in front of you. Don't eat ice. Eat lots of rice. Eat at McDonald's and KFC. Do not eat at McDonald's and KFC as their ingredients are not safe, and on and on and on... !
We will not starve!
Next week we will be in the stands cheering ourselves hoarse for all our Canadian Athletes.