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India experience thrills NRI students from Gulf


Ahmedabad : India was the stuff of his dreams, pieced together from TV, books and family stories. So 14-year-old Talak Lad was thrilled to actually visit his country of origin for a sports meet along with other students from 20 Gulf schools.

“I had only seen India on a TV screen and read about it in textbooks. I was very excited to visit the country,” said Lad, a student at the Indian School in Dubai.

Some 2,500 students, including 375 NRIs and 127 foreigners, participated in the 13th Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) National Athletic Meet 2008 that was held in Gujarat’s Mehsana town, about 65 km from here, this week.

There were students from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. And they weren’t just of Indian origin.

Shaima, a 15-year-old Pakistani national who studies in an Indian school in Dubai, was also in Mehsana for the sports meet.

“I love India very much. I am studying at an Indian school and I am proud being part of the CBSE school for its high academic standards,” she said.

Tapan Das, CBSE’s Gulf Zone coordinator, said: “Not only Pakistanis, about 450 students from several other Asian countries, attended the athletic meet. CBSE is the first preference for parents in the Gulf.”

However, many parents were scared to send their children to India in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks in which at least 170 people were killed.

“India is our motherland and yet many of our parents initially refused to send us on this trip. Only when the teachers assured them that it would be a safe journey to the meet and back home and the planes will not land in Mumbai that our parents gave their consent. It was a nightmare for all of us to see the Mumbai attacks live on TV,” said Lad.

But their India stay was smooth.

Anchal Bisht, a Class 9 student at Dubai’s Indian School, said: “My joy knew no bounds when I heard that I will be going to India and meeting people there.”

For Dinesh Tasnaik, a Class 12 student from Bahrain, the trip to Gujarat for the Dec 20-23 sports event was his third visit to India.

“Every visit to my country gives me a sense of being part of it. I wish my country remains a great nation inspiring others. I would like to come here again and again,” Tasnaik said.