India wins medals in boxing and wrestling, no kidding

V. Balakrishnan, the journalism student at Columbia University in New York, was all smiles as he satVijender

down to lunch with his friend Bobby Johnson. So excited was he that he began talking before putting anything in his mouth.

Balakrishnan: "Did you hear? India has won two more medals!"

Johnson: "Yeah, I heard. It was on CNN. Breaking News. They interrupted a debate on whether Barack Obama will choose Deepak Chopra as his running mate."

Balakrishnan: "Really?"

Johnson: "Of course not, you idiot. Do you really think CNN cares how many medals India wins?"

Balakrishnan: "Well, it's pretty big news, man. It's the first time India has won three medals at a single Olympics. It's also the first time we've medaled in boxing. We've meddled before, but not medaled."

Johnson: "Boxing? You're kidding? I thought Indians were …  you know …"

Balakrishnan: "Wimps?"

Johnson: "No, not wimps. Just … you know … wimpsical."

Balakrishnan: "Wimpsical? Is that a real word?"

Johnson: "I'm not sure. What I mean to say is, I thought Indians were the nonviolent sort. You know, like Gandhi."

Balakrishnan: "Like Gandhi? You thought we were all like Gandhi?"

Johnson: "Well, I've never met an Indian who was really into fighting. Have you ever been in a fight yourself? Have you ever hit anyone?"

Balakrishnan: "No, but I have hit my books really hard. And I've also hit the dance floor, hit the bottle and hit the sack."

Johnson: "And you just hit the nail on the head."

Balakrishnan: "What do you mean?"

Johnson: "You just proved my point. Indians don't like to hit people. They like to hit objects. That's why they're so good at cricket."

Balakrishnan: "That's not true at all. You can't make generalizations about 1.1 billion people. Some of us are nonviolent and some of us are quite violent. Some of us are like Gandhi and some of us are like Ihdnag."

Johnson: "Ihdnag?"

Balakrishnan: "That's Gandhi spelt backwards. Some of us are good at chess and Scrabble, and some of us are good at boxing and wrestling. That's why I'm thrilled about these medals. They show the whole world that Indians can be tough."

Johnson: "No, they show the whole world that some Indians can be tough! Not you, Bala, but them."

Balakrishnan (holds up his fist): "Hey man, I can be tough too!"

Johnson: "Really? Okay, here's a scenario: Two guys approach you in a dark alley and call you names. What would you do? Would you do any hitting?"

Balakrishnan: "Of course I would, man. I'd hit the road."

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. …And so Melvin Durai hits the funny bone again 🙂

  2. You heard that Zambia just took two medals as well? Luckily they got caught just before they left the building and had to return it to the rightful owner.
    Ah, I can dream though.

  3. yeah odd how we’re really good at beating up on our own people but really bad when it comes to non-Indians, even in sport. Hope this boxer, wrestler and shooter don’t pull a Sania. Much hype and then a flaming crash down to earth.

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