Assam boy’s tryst with Olympic star

Shubham Roy Choudhury (left) with two other students during his trip to the UK
For Shubham Roy Choudhury, a Class IX student of Kendriya Vidyalaya Khanapara in Guwahati, it was a moment to savour.
He was among 48 students from 13 countries and one of the two students selected from India who recently got the chance to meet UK Olympic gold medal-winning athlete Denise Lewis in Cardiff, UK.
Shubham was among those who attended the UK School Games from September 3 to 6 as part of the International Inspiration programme. This is a key strand of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to engage and inspire the youth of the world through sport.
The 48-strong group of young leaders was specially selected to attend the 2009 Games in Cardiff, Newport and Swansea.
The UK School Games, which is managed by the Youth Sport Trust, is a multi-sport event for elite young athletes of school age and includes opening and closing ceremonies and an athletes’ village to replicate the environment of a major sporting event, such as the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
This year’s event featured 1,600 athletes competing across 10 sporting events: track cycling, athletics, badminton, fencing, gymnastics, hockey, judo, swimming, table tennis and volleyball, with disability events in athletics, swimming and table tennis.
“I think the whole programme was fantastic. We learnt about different sports, how to organise an important national event and most valuably, individual development through sport and interact with young people from the UK as well as young leaders across the world,” said Shubham.
Denise Lewis, who met the young leaders at the Games in her role as an ambassador for the International Inspiration programme, said, “I am delighted that we are able to offer these young leaders the opportunity to volunteer at the UK School Games through International Inspiration”.
Guess who went shopping at the Cinnamora Sunday haat or weekly bazaar this Sunday? None other than Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi who returned to the place where he used to go marketing every week when he was young and not so famous. With wife Dolly in tow, Gogoi was a picture of the typical Assamese middle-class shopper as he haggled over the prices of vegetables before buying them. Though there were security personnel, he ensured that they stayed away as he went about shopping.
The Cinnamora weekly market, located on the outskirts of Jorhat town, is a popular Sunday shopping destination for people of not only the upper Assam town but also from nearby places. Gogoi's hometown, Titabor, is around 12km from the market.
A close aide of Gogoi quoted the chief minister as saying that he used to cycle to the market every Sunday from his Jorhat residence when he had more time to spare. “Coming from a rural background, he absolutely loves marketing in such rural ambience,” he added. Besides vegetables, Gogoi bought eggs and bananas from an aged shopkeeper whom the chief minister knows since long. “They chatted for a long time. Gogoi Sir was almost nostalgic,” the aide said.
The Dalai Lama made sure that he would subtly drive home the truth about a lot of things close to his heart during the last leg of his weeklong visit to Arunachal Pradesh on November 14.
One was clearly the development of the Himalayan state to which he had escaped in 1959.
Acknowledging the warm welcome bestowed upon him by the people of the state, the Dalai Lama, during his special discourse to an invited and enlightened group in the state capital, subtly observed, “I am touched by the love and trust of the people of Arunachal. This is a young state ... still developing. But you will need a lot of effort for development. Both spiritual and material development should go hand in hand.”
Though he moved on to other issues, those in the know could not agree more with the Dalai Lama. The state needs largescale development.
A visit to Itanagar or frontier areas like Tawang underlines the desperate need for development.
“The state capital, for instance, has nothing to offer. It is even smaller than some towns in Assam. It is very dull. Even the road leading to the state capital is in bad shape, not a good advertisement for luring investors and tourists,” said a resident, hoping that the new government under Dorjee Khandu, a devout follower of the Dalai Lama, would pay heed to the spiritual leader’s views on development.