Death Race - What keeps taking CS Santosh back to the Dakar Rally?

I have always found those using profanity to emphasise a point to be endearing. Not those who swear without context; I am guilty of this charge and I know it’s unbecoming, but fuck that for now. This is about those who find the right moment to delicately insert a ‘fuck’. Nothing stray about it. Nothing wrong with it. It just is. And, I have an easier time trusting them.

You seldom see athletes being unabashed in their choice of words. They are far too media-trained to let slip something they can’t take back or a little too self-involved and meek to handle a presumed situation wherein they are accused of being crass.

Once in a while, though, someone comes along who understands the nuance of a conversation-style interview. A self-made man whose usage of the one word portrays a gamut of emotions better than those reciting their Public Relations handbook.

Cloaks be damned, C.S. Santosh is the breath of fresh air I haven’t had the pleasure of interacting with in a long time.

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I met Santosh back in 2009, a year into cub-reporter status with Deccan Herald. By then everyone knew of my affinity to automobiles, and my then-editor reckoned it fit that I get into motorsports. No complaints.

We landed up at the outskirts of the city as part of a junket. I had seen a fair share of races pre-journalism, but I hadn’t witnessed a moto-cross. I was as nauseous from the drive as I was excited in anticipation of the race. As it turned out, it wasn’t the ideal blend. I was out puking by the back of some trailers when I heard a roar from the crowd. I wiped up and dragged myself to a vantage point to witnesses a lanky man, hidden under an oversized helmet and ill-fitting blue overalls.

I heard that he hadn’t gotten off to the best of starts, but the boy - I was to find out that he was older than me only a bit later - was making up for lost time. He sped through the field as if they were amateurs. In reality, he was just as inexperienced, if not more, than those in the field.

Literally and figuratively, Santosh was ahead of the curb. There was something about this boy in what then looked like a wingsuit that had the crowd going gaga. I would be lying if I said I remember him winning by a handsome margin. In fact, I would be doing the same if I said I remembered much else of the event at all. I only remember a blue blur.

About the Writer

Having worked with Deccan Herald and Wisden India as a sports reporter for over a decade, Roshan Thyagarajan is now taking a breather as a freelance journalist. While basketball and cricket are sports he participates in on a professional level, rock climbing and alternate sports keep him occupied for most of the year.

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