How bad is the Commonwealth Games accommodation in Delhi? This bad .. images

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How bad is the Commonwealth Games accommodation in Delhi? This bad .. images

The first photos of the accommodation for athletes at the Commonwealth Games in India have emerged.

One shows a filthy leaking toilet, another a stained and dirty shower and a third a bed with muddy dog paw prints over it. The pictures, leaked to the BBC by an unnamed member of a national delegation, were the first illustrations of the conditions that so shocked officials who recently arrived at the athletes' village in Delhi.

Angered and frustrated by the inaction of Indian organisers, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), the games international body, and leading countries went public with their complaints on Tuesday.

The photos show the conditions that were described by them as "filthy", "uninhabitable" and "seriously compromised".

Other photos, said to have been taken this week, show bathroom sinks full of dust and stained with an unidentifiable reddy-brown liquid, cracked pavements, shattered glass on a balcony, water-logging, stray wiring and rubble.

A number of leading countries have postponed the departure of their athletes, but the first small contingent was scheduled to arrive Thursday at the village.

The athletes' village, a sprawling complex near Delhi's main river, was slammed by CGF president Michael Fennell on Tuesday, while his deputy Mike Hooper detailed a serious of complaints from participating nations.

He described rubble, shower doors put on backwards, blocked toilets and various problems with the electrics. There was also "excrement in places it shouldn't be", thought to be a result of labourers relieving themselves in the homes, while Scottish officials are reported to have photographed a stray dog defecating on a bed.

Since then, some 700 cleaners have been pressed into action to scrub the residential blocks, the Times of India reported Thursday.

The newspaper said Tuesday that only 18 of 34 towers had been completed.

commonwealth-games-delhi.jpg - 343.2kb
By netchicken: posted on 24-9-2010

Apparently the official excuse is that Indians have a different perception of cleanliness....

The hue and cry over the state of Delhi’s Commonwealth Games athletes’ village reflect cultural differences in personal hygiene between Indians and Westerners, the Games’ official spokesman has said. He was referring to the objections of teams from Britain, New Zealand, Australia, and the Commonwealth Games Federation itself, that their accommodation in Delhi is “filthy”.

Pictures on the BBC news website show muddy dog paw prints on the beds, runny brown liquid in the sinks, puddles on the bathroom floors and what appears to be human excrement on a shower floor. “Everyone has different standards about cleanliness. The Westerners have different standards, we have different standards,” said Lalit Bhanot, the Delhi Games’ spokesman.

It’s a touchy subject, but I believe there may be some truth in, and it has little to do with wealth or poverty. I have seen neighbours in posh Delhi colonies – whose homes are worth millions of pounds – throw rubbish over their gates onto the road outside. Their homes inside might be spotless, but they do not believe their have any responsibility for the world beyond their walls.

My friend Rahul Verma, who, I think, has the world’s best job – street food columnist for The Hindu newspaper – recently warned my wife and I that we should use hand-sanitiser during our food sorties into Old Delhi, and avoid raw onion relish with our kebabs – he had caught hepatitis several times, he said, and feared ever getting it again. It is rife in raw vegetables in India because many people do not have access to proper toilets, and often rinse their hands with water without troubling the soap. Some of these people are, unfortunately, also involved in the preparation of food.

The water in which the vegetables are washed, and flecked regularly to keep them fresh, may contain traces of sewage. Many Indians have grown to tolerate water which would make most Westerners violently ill. It’s a strange state of affairs because the British who first settled in India during the Raj were considered dirty by Indians, who introduced many of their rulers to the joys of soap and shampoo – which is a hindi word.

That said, I do believe our obsession with personal hygiene reflects a sapping of Western strength. Indian and Chinese managers are taking over Africa, working in conditions which would not have troubled our colonial ancestors, but would terrify our modern businessmen. They are not so troubled by cockroaches, they do not fear mosquitoes, and they do not require the army of household staff a British expatriate demands as the price of leaving Blighty.

I remember once taking a wonderful walk around Old Delhi with the legendary late Nigel Hankin, a soldier during the Raj who decided to stay on. He told me that he had always drunk Indian tap water and was never ill. He said when he was in the army only the officers got sick because they never ‘had any grit’ in their food. Nigel, however, lived to be 87 and was in rude health to the end.

India may be a bit smelly, and it may be very dirty in places, but while its hardy businessmen are taking over the world, ours are still washing their hands and looking for a clean towel. As we once said, but have probably now forgotten, where there’s muck, there’s brass, and we need a lot more than we have.
By netchicken: posted on 24-9-2010

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