Oh, the life of an Olympian

It must be nice to be an Olympian, especially if you're one of just three athletes representing a countryIndia team of a billion-plus people at the Winter Games. Shiva Keshavan, Jamyang Nangial and Tashi Lundup must feel like kings, what with the Indian sports ministry bending over backwards to give them royal treatment.

From bearing the expenses of their ceremonial clothing to daily allowances of $50 per day, the sports ministry on Tuesday said it has spent around Rs 7.4 lakh on the eight-member Indian contingent at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada. [Link]

Wow, a daily allowance of $50 per day! They'll be able to visit the prestigious French restaurant Lumière, order whatever they want on the menu — six mushroom ravioli, Fraser Valley farm duck, braised eggplant & peppers – and dash out before the bill arrives. No point in being a top athlete if you can't make a fast exit.

If they prefer to actually pay for their food, they can still eat like a king, loading their trays at Burger King. They can also eat like a queen, piling on the toppings at Dairy Queen.

Of course, they probably don't need to eat out at all. They have their own chef. His name is R.K. Gupta and he's listed as the Indian team's "Chef de Mission." My French is rusty, but I think that means cooking is his mission.

And let's not forget that they can get lots of free food at the Olympic Village — Big Macs and other grub — specially chosen by the Canadian Olympic Committee to ensure that visiting athletes have the best nutrition possible to maximize the medal count of Canada.

So don't you dare suggest that the Indian team isn't being treated well. Not only are they getting $50 per day, they also got to wear the coolest uniforms at the opening ceremony. Kudos to Indian officials who rejected uniforms donated by the Indo-Canadian communty and stuck with the original uniforms, which brought the team a lot more attention at the opening ceremony, as well as compliments such as "Are they sailors?" and "Wow, I didn't know that India had a Kmart!"

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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