I am in a very crazy mood today...Got up late and found New Zealand yet again in trouble with Ponting looking ominous...And when there are two cricket matches on telly, there is not a hope in a million that Dad will give me the remote..Definitely not when Australia is involved atleast.. Not that I can't bear to watch cricket but then, three consecutive days would be an overdose so here I am in office..yeah sue me...trying to cajole myself to update my resume for the umpteenth time in the last month.
This is again gonna be a crazy post for I know I have so many stories to tell but then some of them could border on the bizarre or the boring so if you're not the regular reader who is by now used to my random ramblings, then you jolly well stop here...
Yeah.. Everyone around has been telling me that Bangalore this week has been reallly hotttt and this has more to do with the innumerable Pakistani chicks who have descended in numbers to watch their cricketing team than the weather which, incidentally, has seen the mercury level climb really high..I beg to differ..w-t-h... I holler to differ...sob sob...The only blokes who have travelled this far are the handsome but dumb Pathan youth and that omnipresent chacha...Absolutely no women....Did I hear you say "There he goes being judgemental !!" - Hear me out folks ! Saturday was a long boring day at the Chinnaswamy stadium thanks to Pakistan piling up a tonne of runs on Day 1 and looking to consolidate while Dada was clearly on the defensive seeking to minimise the damage. Of course, Younis Khan was awesome but then if you've come in with the sole intention of cheering on the Indian team, then 'cricket was the winner' is not the cliche you want to say. The lone bright spark of the day was the fact that chacha came over and danced along with the people in our stand for a good 20 mts.. and needless to say, we got our moment in the Giant screen :-) For anyone who's been following sub continent cricket for the last 10 years, the chacha is as much part of the history of the game as are the players..Sharjah, Karachi, Peshawar, Multan...name it and the chacha is there on screen at every venue...I was so tempted to take a snap with him but when I saw him mobbed by fans who were thronging to get his autograph, the EGO resurfaced and I held back ;-)
The Bangalore crowd is one of the most vociferous and cheerful lot you can imagine. When the chips are down, they can still retain their enthusiasm by creating a huge din with their cheering and Mexican waves. What definitely helps is if the fielder in the boundary is appreciative of the fact and also does his bit by playing to the gallery. Of all the people in the Indian team, Viru and Bhajji are the real darlings of the crowd. Sachin is tremendously respected and loved and though he is all concentration personified, once in a while he does indulge in playful banter. Balaji and Pathan are admired simply because whatever time of the day, however tiring proceedings have been they give 120%. Surprisingly, though he is a localite, one person who is not very popular with the masses is Kumble. For one, he has to be one of the most surly cricketers I have seen who seldom has a smile for the crowd or even some good words for those small kids who toil at the boundary line picking up balls that reach the boundary and replenish the tired fielders with drinks and water in between overs. I've never been a big fan of this so called 'thinking cricketer' (the way he bowled on Saturday wouldn't have got my arthritis stricken 76 yr old Grandma out) and his off-the-field attitude, of which I have heard enough stories, doesn't also say much.
After the late declaration on Friday evening and with Viru going hammer and tongs in the last 10 overs, Saturday seemed to have exciting prospects lined up. Needless to say I wasn't disappointed as the cricket was classic stuff. I shan't bother giving you details about why Sehwag is one of the kind simply because for that you can listen to verbal diarrhoea Kris Srikkanth and the Amir Khusro-wannabe Mohinder Amarnath on Fourth umpire (Does nebody find that lady anchor cute ?) I had got into the stadium late thanks to my dumb pal C and ended up getting seats which was 6 rows from the railing. Thankfully it was a blessing in disguise since we ended up befriending two Pakistani guys, Qasim and Farhan, who had come all the way from Peshawar. A good couple of hours of bonding later, Farhan mentioned that his younger brother was a good friend of Afridi and even shared some dark secrets about the dashing Pakistani all rounder. It's not in my nature to gossip (hehe) but all you pretty women who find Afridi hotttt, I'll just hint that there's some local competition for you. Anyway as the match wore on, Qasim who had come prepared with posters, crayons and wanted so desperately to come on TV since he had friends and relatives back home watching out for him, kept cribbing about how the lensmen tended to concentrate only on the pretty chicks. (I love Zaheer isn't the smartest poster I've seen...and bad taste that girl has) Feeling sorry for him, I came up with this brainwave of a suggestion to catch the cameraman's attention but then, this dumb Paki didn't buy into my idea at all. (Can I show off plsssssssssss ?) After Viru's dismissal, when things got just a tad boring, my suggestion was to put up a poster which ran something like this...
NO VIRU, NO EXCITEMENT :-(
BRING ON SANIA MIRZA :-)
..and this coupled with Qasim being a Paki (he had the flag painted on his face) was bound to have got the lensman's attention....Sigh.....
The next time you watch a match in a stadium, don't get yourself an expensive ticket in the fancy stands near the pavilion where the rich and the famous sit. Get yourself reasonably affordable tickets where you can be one amongst the public just to understand why cricket is religion in this country. If you're anywhere in India, watch the crowd go mad everytime Sachin walks in to bat. Trust me - You HAVE to be INSIDE to believe the frenzy. Its not the same watching it on telly. Everytime a boundary is struck by an Indian, you wouldn't be faulted if you thought the roof would fall on top of you. (Start of Digression: With so much love and adulation, I still can't believe why cricketers need to be paid to play. After all, isn't representing the nation itself such a high ? End of Digression) Another thing that amazed me was the knowledge that most of these fans had. I distinctly remember that much before Dada actually thought along the lines of asking Kumble to bowl round the sticks with 6 men on the onside, an old gentleman near me had detailed what should have been done atleast a couple of overs before with exact fielding positions that Dada should adopt to stem the flow of runs. Doff my hat to you sir.
There are many other small stories about the Bangalore test match that I could narrate but let me end it with my favorite one - yeah, one on Marketing and the entrepreneurial spirit of the Indian hawker. A cricket match is usually much more than just a game - for some its a carnival and for some its a business opportunity. The last couple of days everything from bakery biscuits, bananas, bandanas (I hope ppl don't think I have spelt the same thing twice :-P), binoculars, face paints, flags, lemon sherbeths, sugarcane juice, trumpets and whistles have been peddled by persistent vendors but the thing that impressed me most was ONE guy who sold it all under one roof, constantly checking with his supply chain over the mobile fone and ordering stuff to be delivered as and when he thought they would be getting stocked out. Waaaah....there is so much one can learn from such people.
Ta-ta folks !