Being patriotic is something I have shied away from. There is no country that has a history so clean and pure that one would willingly fall into its arms as a sacrifice. I also happen to be a person that, with one whiff of injustice, concludes the whole jar is rotten. It’s a conundrum that plagues my sense of identity and what I willingly associate myself with. Though the Olympics happily rocked up to my home city, I had vowed from the beginning to avoid it at all costs; to avoid the potential danger, the extortionate costs and the pandemonium. The tourists who genuinely require a tourist lane to dawdle in once they step onto Oxford street, or the almost illegal taxis tariffs that they naively fall into. I wanted to escape, because i felt discontected with what it meant for London to host the Olympics.
It’s just a game, that’s all.
I coached those words severely into my mind, and ended up missing the opening ceremony through work. What could possibly be in it, I asked myself. London is beautiful because of its multiculturalism; but just because Southall is mini-India doesn’t mean we could demonstrate Indian culture better than the country of origin. Surely we’d put together a paltry attempt that would neither display ‘Britishness’ nor ‘Londoness.’
A good week and a bit after the cauldron was set ablaze, BBC Iplayer and I formed an agreement and on rolled the Opening Ceremony. In those few moments, as the lush grass of London was ruptured into the grotesque pipes of the Industrial Revolution, as Bond brought in the queen and Mr. Bean displayed his musical talents, I felt a whiff of patriotism – Danny Boy, you done good. To capture a sense of Britishness, our poetry, our inventions, to realise just how many great things, people and creations this country which helped form me has created, to see it displayed in its wonderfully unique humour, a smile could not be held back from my lips. The image of the Child-Snatcher vs. Mary Poppins, the toast to J.M Barrie and all magical lands far away, even Glastonbury Tor which in itself resembled part of Tolkien’s Shire – one was sincerely reminded of the good things that also ‘plague’ this nations history.
To die for one’s country is an extreme mindset and takes either the weight of a uniform or an unshakeable sense of identity; but to be proud of a nation and to willingly own to being part of it, that takes a good history lesson, and the humility to rejoice in our unity. Danny boy, you done good.