Zatopek offers chai1

The immortal runner and four-time Olympic gold medallist Emil Zatopek spent two days with us in Zurich on June 14th and 15th [1980]. Eight from my childhood, I have been a great admirer of his, so I am deeply grateful that Zatopek came from Czechoslovakia to visit us. So many unforgettable experiences we all had with him and his wife Dana!

My plane reached Zurich at 11:30 in the morning and at twelve o’clock Zatopek’s plane was supposed to arrive. Kailash, Abarita and I went with two photographers to another gate to wait for him. His plane came on time, but there was a problem with his bag. We were all excited because we could see him, but he could not come outside to greet us because he was looking for his bag.

At long last he came out and I approached him. He recognised me. I wanted to shake hands with him, but he immediately folded his hands in the Indian way and said, “Namaskar”. Then he started talking to me in Hindi, using a few Hindi words. He was asking me if I wanted to drink chai [hot tea].

Then he asked, “How is it that Hindi is easy, but Urdu I could not learn?” He and his wife were in India for four months. Like this, we were talking and talking about various things. Then Zatopek and his wife went to their hotel to take rest.

  1. TCE 9. June 1980