What makes a celebrity

For once, I agree with Boris Johnson, the mayor of London. I think he has every right to be proud of the way the beginning of the 2012 London Olympic tickets sale has been handled through an open lottery in the United Kingdom.
And he is happy despite the fact that he had also taken a punt but was “massively disappointed” that he “won” no tickets at all along with 2,50,000 other equally morose applicants.

However, let’s look at the brighter side. There were only 6.6 million tickets put up for this lottery covering 649 events. There was also an enormous rush by two million people who shoved in 20 million applications, hoping that they would get to see at least some of the games. It was all hugely oversubscribed, giving rise to a lot of unsporting comments by those who got no tickets at all.
Yet the process has been something of a success. Though the Olympics are only in 2012, the organisers needed to raise around two billion pounds from the private sector.
At least one-fourth of that money was supposed to be raised from ticket sales and, going by the fact that there will be another round of sales later as well, these
guys have cleverly raked back some of the money spent, so far.
And as some commentators pointed out, Mayor Johnson can still keep his fingers crossed for some free seats, since 9,000 seats have been kept reserved for government officials and other British VIPs. Only 9,000 one might wonder?
Why such a tiny, minuscule percentage? Surely there is some mistake? Those of us who remember the Delhi Commonwealth Games 2010 should be righteously taken aback. After all why should British VIPs be given such short shrift over the common man?
Don’t they carry the same kind of clout as Indian VIPs? Obviously not. The Indian VIP is probably the most important person in the universe, which is why entire auditoria have to be reserved for them, not just a few paltry seats…

Meanwhile, the big debate is: what is the X factor, the must-have ingredient that will make you a celebrity? In the past it could have been talent (David Beckham), good looks (Kate Moss), bad behaviour (Naomi Campbell), but now the arrival of Pippa Middleton has given celebrityhood a whole new definition. Ms Middleton is a celebrity because of her very desirable, err, backside.
Ever since the middle Middleton made her appearance in that Sarah Burton bridesmaid dress during the royal wedding, it seems the British press has completely lost its bearings. Reams and reams of newsprint have been written about Ms Middleton’s rear, confirming to everyone that it is not always the face that launches a thousand ships. Now everyone wants a rearview like Ms Middleton and we are being told everyday what to wear and what to eat if we want bums just like hers. While her sister the new Duchess of Cambridge is nowhere to be seen (except when that American Queen Michelle Obama was visiting), Pippa Middleton has been grabbing headlines.
Even though many writers bemoan they are undoubtedly being sexist in their reaction, there is that special something about Ms Middleton which is making her irresistible, not just in Britain but even when she crossed the channel and landed in France to watch the French Open.
There were probably more cameras on her than there were on the defending champion Rafael Nadal. Not only is Ms Middleton ambitious, smart, thin and the sister of the future queen she even has perfectly shaped gluteal muscles. Perhaps she is now giving a new definition to what is called an all-rounder!

More seriously, quite an unexpected connection in Bosnia has surfaced between steel tycoon Lakshmi Niwas Mittal and the concentration camp of Omarska, where thousands of Muslims and Catholic Croats were allegedly “ethnically cleansed” during the pogroms carried out by the recently arrested Gen. Ratko Mladic. According to the journalist Ed Vulliamy, writing in the Observer, this is the site where the massacre took place and is now an iron ore mining site, 51 per cent of which is owned by Mr Mittal.
Quite eerily, it seems that while the mining operations are being carried out, skeletons continue to be unearthed in and around that area. But, despite the many who died here, horrific though it is, no memorial has been established here to commemorate them because many of the Bosnian Serbs refuse to acknowledge that the genocide ever took place.
Of course, let us not be maudlin and accept the reality that memorials are only built for the rich and famous. The poor and ordinary are never remembered by the world at large, especially if their deaths hold a ghastly memory. Indeed why would anyone want to commemorate the dead of Omarska, when perfectly good money can be made running the place as a mine?
And besides, in the eyes of many in his country Gen. Mladic should not be tried at the Hague. According to them, he is a war hero and not a criminal. And, they say, Omarska was never the site of any murders but only a place for holding people. If only skeletons could speak! And how many times have we heard these kinds of arguments before?
Nonetheless, Mr Mittal has many other reasons to be happy. It is wonderful to know that Mr Mittal has bought a house for an estimated £57 million in 2004, cheerily referred to as the Taj Mittal, in Kensington Palace Gardens — the street with the highest land prices in Britain.
It is also the street that boasts the residence of the Indian high commissioner. And so amidst other highly-priced homes such as that of the Sultan of Brunei and the Saudi royal family we, too, perhaps can bask in reflected glory. Kuchh kuchh hota hai when we see some of our own enjoying stratospheric luxury.

Kishwar Desai can be contacted at kishwardesai@yahoo.com

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