Akhil Kumar joins others in “crashing out” of Olympics

Still glowing from Abhinav Bindra's gold medal in shooting, Indian sports fans were stunned to hearBoxer
that Akhil Kumar had "crashed out" of the Olympics. Journalism student V. Balakrishnan was particularly sullen as he ate lunch with his best friend Bobby Johnson at Columbia University in New York.

Bobby: "Bala, why aren't you smiling anymore? Did you just fill up your car again?"

Balakrishnan: "No, Bob, I just read that Akhil Kumar crashed out of the Olympics."

Bobby: "Crashed out? I didn't know they had auto racing at the Olympics."

Balakrishnan: "He's not an auto racer, Bob. He's a boxer."

Bobby: "Then how did he crash out, Bala? Did someone knock him out of the ring?"

Balakrishnan: "That's Indian journalese, Bob. Our athletes don't merely lose. They crash out. Saina Nehwal crashed out in badminton,  Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi crashed out in tennis, and Neha Aggarwal crashed out in table tennis."

Bobby: "Wow, I didn't realize there had been so much 'crashing out' going on? Has anyone been injured? Do they protect themselves with helmets?"

Balakrishnan: "No, they don't need helmets. They're got plenty of experience in crashing out. They're ace crash-outers. It's too bad 'crashing out' isn't a sport of its own. We'd be world champions."

Bobby: "But there'd be plenty of competition from other countries. Many countries aren't even on the medal table."

Balakrishnan: "That's true. I'd hate to see our athletes crashing out of the crash-out competition."

Bobby: "If you're so used to seeing them crash out, why do you look so sad? Isn't it the same old story?"

Balakrishnan: "Yeah, but Abhinav Bindra got my hopes up. He didn't crash out. He won the gold medal. So I thought Akhil Kumar had a chance of not crashing out too, especially since he had just sent world champion Sergey Vodopyanov crashing out."

Bobby: "Okay, enough of this crashing-out talk. I know what will cheer you. Alpha Delta Pi is throwing a big party tonight. You and I can get drunk and forget all about the Olympics."

Balakrishnan: "Alpha Delta Pi? Do we know someone there?"

Bobby: "Don't worry about that, Bala. We'll just do what we usually do: crash."

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com 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.

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