Just three words by gymnastic icon Nadia Comaneci have transformed the mood in the informal settlements across Hide Road and the coal berth at Garden Reach near the docks of Kolkata’s Kidderpore area.
A video of local kids Jashika Khan aka Lovely, 11, and Muhammad Azajuddin aka Ali, 12, doing flips and cartwheels began to be shared heavily by Indian social media users a week ago. But life for Khan, Azajuddin, their families and neighbours acquired a broad smile after five-time Olympic gold medallist Comaneci on August 29 tweeted the video declaring, “This is awesome.”
The next day, Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju announced on Twitter that he wanted to meet the children. It didn’t take long for television crews to roll down the lane. Since then, the children have spent a lot of time shuttling from one news studio to another.
Said Khan’s proud mother, Reshma Khatoon, “She must have some talent inside her that such big people are writing about her.”
This is awesome pic.twitter.com/G3MxCo0TzG— Nadia Comaneci (@nadiacomaneci10) August 29, 2019
The video that started it all was shot by the duo’s dance teacher Shekhar Rao. On August 21, he uploaded it to the Facebook and TikTok accounts of the dance academy he runs for underprivileged children. Four days...