London 2012: An Emotional Roller-Coaster Ride for an Expat?
by Azelea Bakrie
Now that it’s all (supposedly) over, I find myself somewhat dismayed.
Before it started, I was dreading the traffic, the people, the tourists. I said to anyone who asked, “I’ll be at home, giving my full support through my television I suppose. There was a British Airways ad on the underground that read “If You Shout Loud Enough at the TV, Team GB will hear you” (or something along those lines).
*note of amendment – I found the ad today – here it is! (And I hope there’s no copyright infringement/advertising bloops in sharing this!)
After the opening ceremony, I was immediately caught up with it. It got to the point where I went swimming all of a sudden the next weekend, pushing for 20 laps (sorry, I haven’t been to the gym, or done any ‘good’ exercise for at least six months before this). The next morning, my limbs and muscles were, naturally, protesting.
After that weekend, somewhere in the middle of the current week, I dreaded listening to the radio, switching on the TV, or picking up a newspaper. If you haven’t the voices of TV or radio presenters reminding you every five minutes and at every hour’s news what just went on a few minutes ago in the Olympic park and all other designated ‘Olympic’ areas (other than the occasional blurp about what’s going on in Syria), I also find myself stumped by the time I got to the sports section of the papers, wondering what on Earth I had been reading before that!
Yet, I had been keeping myself busy as usual, volunteering in a local charity shop. But it was so quiet I could hear my own heart beat – even the occasional old lady who would visit the shop and treat me to her homemade pies and cookies two to three times a week, disappeared. The high street was deader than dead.
And it never really hit me that I was somewhat caught in between, when I had the impulse of switching on the television, and of all Olympic events, it was archery, where Larry Godrey of team GB was up against Khairul Mohamad of team Malaysia for a spot in the quarter finals. For all the other events thus so far that I managed to partake in front of the black box with moving images, I had been cheering on for team GB, until that day.
Even more so when the Badminton finals were on, where it was Lin Dan of China vs Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia. In my not-so-long years ago of growing up, these two are life-long rivals – I remembered catching a live match between the two in Malaysia for the Petronas Cup.
“For goodness sake woman, calm down! I thought at one point I needed translation services here to understand what you’re on about!” my husband said to me while I was cursing, shouting, cheering and crying altogether during that ultimate match in Bahasa Malaysia. I honestly didn’t know what came over me.
And it wasn’t until about 5 days to London 2012’s closing ceremony, that the newspapers finally reported something of more ‘realistic’ concerns – UK’s economic turmoil. GREAAAAT. I didn’t know whether to feel glad that we’re finally hearing of something else in the news, or upset that there’s going to be another round of price hikes, job drops and money-related scandals.
But watching the closing ceremony of London 2012, it got me thinking about the Paralympics. Why is it considered a separate event, having their own opening and closing? When all health and safety regulations in any house or building in the UK is made to accommodate any disabled persons regardless whether they are really living there or not, then why this kind of a distinction? I could understand that it was not fair competition if they all ran the same race at the same time and place… but does it mean their events couldn’t run within the same period but by separate schedules and venues throughout the duration all together? I was, again, stumped. Not having questioned it till now however, proves that I’ve probably grown up, grown old, and growing into the whole British culture – becoming somewhat critical, easily annoyed and affected by the uncertain weather, and finding reason to complain all the time! Yet I felt a big pang of irony when watching Eric Idle perform ‘Always Look at the Bright Side of Life’ during the closing ceremony of London 2012 – Ah, life, I wish!