The morning after the opening ceremony, here I was in London; still high from the emotions the event had evoked in me, moved by its passion, touched by its genuine soul, when my husband chuckled “Have you seen the headlines in the Indian newspapers?” What, what? What could possibly be bigger than that mind-blowing closing ceremony? But there it was: Mystery woman, parade crasher, limelight stealer, over-excited cast member, a volunteer who was supposed to escort the Indian Olympic team to the edge of the track but who never stopped, the one who had worn electric-blue pants and a long-sleeve red shirt and in effect actually led the team, walking the entire route front and centre beside the Indian flag-bearer, wrestler Sushil Kumar.
And then, twitter exploded, making for vastly entertaining reading, here’s just a selection;
@samitbasu: “Madhura Honey is obviously her Bond girl name.” Couldn’t agree more. Madhu means honey in Hindi.
@sidin: Too late to get Madhura Honey to box or row or something? You never know?
Meanwhile mainstream media had managed to identify her as a graduate student from Bangalore living in London who had apparently showed off her Olympics pass on her—now deactivated—Facebook page, while reports claimed that her family was worried about her future.
Typical I thought. The world goes one way, and India goes the other. It really does happen only in the country of my origin. I could only imagine how shocked and concerned her parents must really be, assuming that she hails from a safe, middle-class family who had probably pooled their resources to send their daughter to study in London.
Whatever would possess someone to just seize the opportunity when the world’s cameras are trained on one place and jump right in to claim the limelight? Okay, I probably answered my own question there. We do live in an age of five-minute-blink-and-you-miss it fame. Reality television still rules, and who cares if the athletes in that contingent had spent a lifetime of training for this once-in-a-lifetime event. It was an opportunity to be seized. Or perhaps she had seen it also as a once-in-a-lifetime-event to be noticed by the world?
So, what happens next? Sure, right now the officials are unhappy, the Indian media frowns upon her, her family is worried & friends are shocked. But already Madhura Honey trends on twitter (hell, I am writing about her). So when this blows over, will she emerge complete with a well known PR guru in tow to do a big reveal, and talk about what led her to lead the Indian contingent on the flag-bearing lap at the opening ceremony? Will there be a love, sex, running-away-from-home, or threat-to-life angle here? Perhaps she will spark off a new trend for electric-blue trousers? And then after the tearful revelations are over she will emerge—at a specially organised press conference, no doubt—with a make-over, a new figure, a trendy new hair-style called Honey comb, to launch her new book It’s all about the money, honey; introduce a new line of perfume called Honeyed & finally marry a well known British-Asian millionaire and set up home in London. By then even her parents would have got into the act, professing relief that she has finally settled down?
Or, am I just a cynical middle-aged media-whore? Perhaps there is an innocent explanation to it all? That she didn’t realize what she was doing, and just wanted to accompany her fellow countrymen, and that she really didn’t realise the consequences of her actions, carried away as she was in the excitement of the moment. No, it can’t be that simple, can it?
Meanwhile, she who is not an athlete nor who can claim any connection to the Indian Olympic team except to be a fellow citizen continues to drive the Indian media into a frenzy of speculation. PKM Raja, India’s acting Chef de Mission, summed it up in The Times of India when he fumed: “The Indian contingent was shown for just 10 seconds, and to think this lady hogged all the limelight.”