Indian GP blog - day one

Posted by Chitra Subramanyam at 08:23 am on Sunday August 19, 2012

There are a lot of different things you experience when you step out of the rarefied air journalism breathes. So, I realized when I booked a ticket (one of the cheapest) for the Picnic Stand North at the Buddh International Circuit. So, it was with some trepidation that I set out to hunt for the bus stand from where I would board the bus to the track (about an hour and a half away from Delhi). The problems began, inevitable you may say. We waited as the organizers tried to fill the bus with spectators before sending us on to the track. It did get late. But patience is often the key.

Another disappointment lay in the view of the circuit as we entered. It was a dust mound and the heat did not make things any easier. We were unceremoniously dropped off at a random bus stop and asked to take a shuttle to our gate. I could have lived vicariously and jumped on to the shuttle buses that zoomed by every 10 minutes or so. But was deterred by the number of people I spotted hanging out of the shuttle buses that was choc-a-bloc, like sardines in a can. I held on to faith and decided to walk to the gate –  know this, if you are dropped off at the east end and you have tickets for the north, it is a long walk – a very long walk. It was obvious that things were still being put together, rather hastily. Plants lay drooping in some corners, there was dust all over, even in the parking areas, and there was general madness and chaos. I finally found my gate (you can’t really miss a gate, it’s a circuit after all) and entered my idea of heaven.

The Picnic Stand North is beautiful. Green grass and umbrellas – I almost fell sorry for the poor souls stuff on the grand stands, chained to their seat, under the hot sun. I sprawled out with a friend and waited for the fun to begin. The Practice session was all it promised to be and then some for someone like me, who has always dreamed of watching an F1 race at a circuit and not on TV. The cars zoomed by – their distinct vroom vroom set off by a sonic boom that made me want to jump up and down like a child. We at the Picnic Stand were a laidback lot. We got up occasionally during the 90-minute practice session to walk over to grab a cold drink and sauntered right back to slump down under the umberella. It’s bliss of sorts isn’t it? To be able to lie back and watch F1 cars that zoom by with such passion instead of on uncomfortable seats. Then there were the stray dogs running across the track and later Jerome D’Ambrosio hit the barrier.

But as the practice sessions came to an end, there was a consensus. This was a great track and Sunday promised much excitement.

Spotted: Random entertainment in the shape of painted men dancing to familiar Hollywoodish music. One of them brandished the Indian flag as the others painted in metallic green, saffron, and white danced on a tiny stage. It started with a few people watching, before a crowd slowly gathered trying to make sense of the entertainment. Last seen, the emcee was desperately trying to get people to write on a blank canvas.

Experienced: The thrill and let down of merchandise stalls. So much, yet so little. The usual caps and tees, overpriced, but popular. Only a few teams had their stalls. Yours truly will obviously find herself there tomorrow spending money, to buy my favourite team’s colours.

In conversation: with a spectator who was marching purposefully to the merchandise stalls sporting a beautiful Ayrton Senna tee (never forgotten it said). He stuck out like a sore thumb amongst the usual Ferrari, McLaren, and Red Bull colours. “I made it myself,” he said rather proud. “In memory,” he said. He and his friends wanted to put up a banner too, for Senna. They just couldn’t find a printer big enough for a banner!

TAGS// f1, formula one, indian gp, buddh international circuit

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