India will hold its first Grand Prix this weekend - a glitzy coming-out party for an emerging economic juggernaut that is lost on villagers like Meera, standing by a fetid pond near the brand new Formula One race track with a child covered in warts.
"What is this Formula One? I learnt only recently that some of our land was acquired for it," said Meera, a mother of four who goes by one name. The floodlights of the $400 million F1 circuit that can hold 1, 00,000 roaring spectators could be seen in the distance.
Seen by its supporters as an example of how India's private companies can organise complex, hi-tech and global events, the Grand Prix has re-ignited India's perennial questioning of how far the country should go down the globalisation road.
For critics, it is an example of skewed economic growth, an elitist event where even the cheapest tickets are unaffordable for most people and an event that has no roots among India's 1.2 billion people.
For the moment, that questioning is lost in a media frenzy.
Boosted by Lady Gaga, Bollywood and cricket stars, the Grand Prix may help India regain its self confidence after a scandal-plagued Commonwealth Games sparked headlines mocking the Asian power's arrival on the world stage.
Run by Jaypee Sports International, a subsidiary of the Jaypee Group construction and infrastructure giant, the F1 event has come in on schedule with almost none of the cost overruns, corruption and shoddy construction that plagued the government-run Commonwealth Games last year.
"The world's perception of India is going to change after the Grand Prix and people will forget what happened because of the Commonwealth Games," Jaiprakash Gaur, founding chairman of the Jaypee Group, told local media.
The event is also just the latest example of international sports bodies ensuring they get a foot in this booming Asian marketplace with a huge advertising base of millions. India has already attracted the attention of top European football clubs.
Nevertheless, India is playing catch-up with its fellow emerging market rivals. China held a successful Olympics while Brazil will hold the next edition of the football World Cup - and Russia follows four years later. Brazil also has the 2016 Olympics.
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