Column: The shot heard around the world

In case you missed the news, in case you were sleeping under a rock or just got released fromBindra1 Guantanamo, India won its first-ever individual gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, causing 1.1 billion people to jump up and down with joy, touching off a minor earthquake in California and a major interruption in tech support.

Yes, an Indian man won an Olympic gold medal — and without all his opponents getting injured. Abhinav Bindra, a 25-year-old from Delhi, won first place in the 10m air rifle event, beating 50 other shooters, including that great Albanian marksman Imer Gudschot.

So excited were members of the Indian Olympic Association, so taken in this moment of high-fives and champagne-popping, that some of them checked the official medal table to see if India had moved past America. No such luck, of course, but that didn’t stop people from celebrating like it was the greatest Olympic achievement ever. And who can blame them? After all, it was their first individual gold medal since India began competing in the Olympics more than a century ago, back in the days when “catapulting” was an official sport.

“The drought is over!” screamed one newspaper’s headline, causing even more celebration across the land, particularly in the farming community.

It was a shining moment for India on the world’s greatest sporting stage. As one Indian politician eloquently put it, “Abhinav Bindra has shooted us all into glory!”

Almost everyone in India, from the Prime Minister to the church minister, heaped praise on Bindra. Even members of the Indian Astronomers Association, attending a convention in Pune, took a break from the proceedings to applaud the “shooting star.”

Congratulatory messages poured into India from all over the world. U.S. presidential candidate John McCain, hoping to endear himself to Indian-American voters, sent a congratulatory card that he said was “from one straight shooter to another.”

Indian legislators debated a motion to celebrate Aug. 11 every year as Gold Medal Day. They voted down a proposal to display Bindra’s medal at a national museum in Delhi, amid fears that the building would not be able to handle the millions who would come to view it.

The excitement and celebration may have seemed overblown, but not to Indians. “People around the world may not know this,” a Chennai man said, “but we Indians really love gold!”

Bindra’s victory, combined with shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore’s silver medal at the 2004 Olympics, is expected to increase the popularity of shooting in India, drawing thousands of youngsters to shooting competitions and exhibitions during breaks from cricket.

“We want shooting to be more popular in India,” said sports administrator Baljit Singh, “but not as popular as it is in America.”

Hoping to match the success of TGC (The Golf Channel) in America, media mogul Rupert Murdoch announced that Indian viewers would soon be treated to TSC (The Shooting Channel). It’s expected to feature various shooting competitions from around the world, as well as reruns of the American shows “Gunsmoke” and “Have Gun Will Travel.”

Rajesh Patel, who has been hired as a TSC analyst, said Bindra’s victory will have a lasting impact in India, even on sports announcing. “We’re not going to say that someone’s performance is ‘simply
wonderful’ anymore,” he said. “We’re going to say that it’s ‘simply Bindraful.'”

Schoolchildren for years to come will learn about Bindra, thanks partly to an Indian publisher who has already put out a special alphabet book: “A is for Abhinav. Abhinav is first name of champion. B is for Bindra. Bindra is surname of champion. C is for Chapati. Chapati is food of champion.”

Bindra has not just earned a lifetime of adulation, he has become India’s most eligible bachelor, receiving a flood of marriage proposals. Said his proud mother: “We have received proposals from North Indians, South Indians, even West Indians.”

Indeed, a Trinidad dairy farmer with a 20-year-old daughter offered 1,000 cows in dowry, but Bindra turned down the offer, saying he doesn’t want to milk his fame.

That pleased Indian sports fans, who want Bindra to choose his bride carefully, believing that the country’s future Olympic glory rests partly on what type of genes his children inherit. Some are even dreaming of a match between Bindra and badminton star Saina Nehwal, an Olympic quarterfinalist. But that would be folly, according to one Indian scientist, who said, “If we match a badmintoner with a shooter, we might end up with a badshooter.”

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through and You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.


  1. You are damn hilarious!!
    Especially this one deserves a standing applause. Hahaha!

  2. This is Melvin at his best! Tickles in every sentence. Wit and satire in abundance. I just hope that Melvin’s muse does not depend on India winning golds…
    (via email)

  3. This was absolutely delightful, the nice part was that it was good old fashioned humor and not an article dripping with sarcasm, like many from the west who make fun of their former homeland.
    Thanks Melvin, I smiled, I grinned, I chuckled and am still guffawing!!

  4. You have got your touch back ! I just loved every word of this post. Nice melvin.

  5. Rob Rachlin says:

    Congratulations to Mr. Bindra! and a word of advice — if you receive an invitation to go out shooting with a man named Dick Cheney, refuse politely. The last person that accepted one of his invitations found out that he was being invited to be a target!

  6. David S. Lott says:

    Well, that is funny. A major interruption in tech support, indeed.
    When I get a tech support who sounds like they may be in India, I want to ask where they are. I never do, though, out of concern I might offend them. They are always so polite.

  7. Also this: “We want shooting to be more popular in India,” said sports administrator Baljit Singh, “but not as popular as it is in America.”
    Ho, ho, ho! (Duck!! Everybody down!!!!)

  8. Robert, I am from the west, and I do not make fun of my former homeland (Connecticut).

  9. hey buddy, melvin
    this one’s very nice…
    best parts:
    ‘…milk his fame’: too good
    ‘…badshooter’: very nice
    With this i forgive your sins of that Bacronym post and the longish sabbatical that u recently took from posting 🙂

  10. Great post! Just don’t tempt the Aussie cricketers with your cricket story. They will shoot their mouthes off.

  11. Beautiful post Mel… Made for *good* humour-packed reading. This was pure wit at its best! Keep up the good work.. I’ll keep coming back for more!

  12. Somu Marthandam says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed the piece. I think the badshooter was the best part!

  13. I am a first timer here, routed by a friend’s forward. I must say its going to be delightful to become a Melvin fan. Keep up the phunny bone.

  14. LOL

  15. Gaurav Tarey says:

    Hilarious, enjoyed every bit of it.

  16. Deviah MA, Bangalore says:

    Sorry Melvin. I have to say that this is very low humour. It probably is funny to others like you who feel that there are other countries out there which are better to live in, but as an Indian, born here, travelled extensively, and chosen to continue to live here, Bindra’s medal is a great achievement. We are proud of him, and what he has achieved in spite of the system.

  17. Not really funny…

  18. Really good, yaar, no? I had stomach-full of laughter.
    I would have continued in our own version of English, but am not as capable as you, with words.
    Also, I am an Indian, travelled and settled in India, and have not lost the capability to laugh at ourselves. This is a masterpiece.

  19. I think this article is in bad taste.
    Its good to laugh at ourselves, but you are not one of us now.
    You are clearly laughing at ‘them indians’. Quite a shame really.
    You are a talented guy which is obvious from your jokes.
    Choose other topics, i request.
    Leave India to Indians.
    MELVIN RESPONDS: Thank you for declaring me a non-Indian, Ankit. I don’t know what to call myself now.

  20. Anshul Ahuja says:

    I think you are a columnist who makes his living in North America by writing about India.
    So you may not like it that we are celebrating a First Individual Gold.. but its paying for your bread anyways.
    You think its funny.. try not writing about us here in India and see who ends up laughing in the end.

  21. That was great writing Melvin.
    And to all those Indians, come on guys, the guy shot a gold cos he has more money than most of us, good for him. right?

  22. Melvin why don’t you realize that Bindra has done it on his own without any help from the government (which the other ‘Gold’ countries get so much of)
    Come back to ‘Chapati’ land and see how tough it is get from point A to B, maybe then you’ll realize why the common man is so proud of Bindra’s journey from India to Beijing.
    Even you in your little white-washed world have heard ‘THE SHOT HEARD AROUND THE WORLD’ …doesn’t some small part of you feel good about it?
    Stop taking cheap shots at us.
    MELVIN RESPONDS: Relax, Renuka. I’m not taking shots at anyone. Not in this column, at least.

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