Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Growing up with Cricket

One of the most awaited events for Indians, Sri Lankans n Pakistanis (especially these 3!!) took off this February....The Cricket World Cup.

Of course, I did not follow the matches until the QFs, relying on Arjun's information or the random new article or Wikipedia for the results. We already knew the 6 teams that would Definitely reach the QFs....Australia, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, New Zealand/West Indies....Days passed by. The men disapperaed INSIDE the TV from 2:30 pm only to emerge out at 10:30 pm when the matches ended. The Streets were deserted leaving us gals free to shop in peace. The pubs were empty unless they were sports bars, which, of course, we avoided.

Then came the double surprises. All the time that we were waiting for the lip-smacking final between India and SA or India and Australia........we find that SA is packing up to go home followed by Australia.  Or maybe, they were not such big surprises after all. I mean for how long would they keep winning? :) So then we sit glued watching the Analysts discussing everything from who should be changed to who should be dropped. We sit glued to  watching the You Tube videos of previous matches of Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan. We sit glued to the laptops finding out the records broken as well as made.

Sri Lanka is sitting smug having drifted into the Finals. While we sit  on a bed of nails, trying to not panic, wondering whether India will win or lose.

I was born in 1982. Its been close to three decades since we won another World Cup. On FB, I gave out dire warnings about the consequences Team India would have to face at my hands, if they came back without the World Cup. 

Kashmir n the World Cup too....??? Ee na cholbe, Ee na cholbe....
 Team India - I take back my words, I'm prepared to wait another 4, 30 years for the World Cup, Pls just don't lose to Pakistan, for God's sake. The only answer we can give to all the Kasabs that Pak sends out to India is by winning this match, since we cannot have a war......
 The biggest event in India is always a India-Pak match....Roads are deserted, Shops are empty, Business i null n dull, Bonhomie is created around a shared TV set, necks ache after long hours of craning at roadside TVs, absenteeism is high. The govt must declare a National Holiday every time these 2 teams play each other......
To Team India - We don't want u to listen to the 1 billion self-taught cricket coaches of this land shouting advices to u while u play the game, nor give up ur endorsements, we won't believe any malicious gossips about you ever, we promise never to give up worshiping Sachin or weeping copious tears when one of u is bowled out....Please just bring this World Cup home....Four years is too long away to wait..
And everyone else on my friend list was doing the same....Some bolted themselves inside the kitchen declaring that everytime they did so, India won!! Some jumped into a pool n remained there until they were shooed away by the guards. Most bunked office or came home at lunch break. Some like me gnawed my nails only to be dismayed to find that there were no more nails to chew on.  Some like Arjun, ripped out the Sofa covers, declined toilet breaks and created a ruckus. 
Pakistan did show a comparably good effort at taking Indian wickets.  Now India is bowling and there have already been the telltale signs of fumblings, confusion and missed catches on  the field.  Do not know who will win. 
To take the presuure off my mind, I pull into my bag of Stored-Away Reminiscences and narrate incidents from my childhood which were related to cricket.
Throughout my growing years, I have had to deal with cricket. All my neighbors had sons whereas my parents had a daughter and son...I was the only girl-child. It was but natural that my play-mates were boys. While these boys played gilli-danda, cricket, marbles, saptakukdi, I would tag along. Instead of dolls, I had toy-guns and GI-Joes. Instead of playing 'ghar-ghatti' with toy utensils, I would go with this mawali gang to look for bloodied skulls in the local cemetery. There was a tomb that had someone leaving a coconut, some lemons green chillies, kumkum, haldi and ash inside the little alcove. We would speculate that it was probably used for black magic or satanic worship and that he was drinking the blood of a sacrificed animal... We would crouch hidden behind some bushes to wait for the 'worshipper' to arrive. By 7 pm when it started getting dark, we would get scared and run away. 
Mostly the boys played cricket, esp when Team India had some tournament going on.  I was always sent to field. And when the match ended, they would throw some balls at me to keep my mouth shut. One day I created such a ruckus that the boys finally sent me in to bat. At my first shot, the bat missed and slipped from my hands, flying up, up and away. While the others ducked or scrambled for cover, I n my partner took 4 runs....
Then I made some girl friends and Life changed. Yet, every time India played a cricket match, we would all gather at my house. We would all be armed with steel 'thaalis' and spoons and what a din we made at all the fours, sixes, falling wickets!!!
An India-Pakistan match was the ultimate excitement. Every Gujju's fantasy. Whether he was a Hindu or a Muslim. All the rivalry came out in the living rooms. people would greet each other on the treets, while hurrying home to watch the match, and would say, thumping each other on the backs, 'Final bhale haaro, pan Miya ne to haraavjoj"...which in English translates as 'Its alright if we lose the final but we must win against the neighbours'.....If India won we would go around the society shouting, screaming, shrieking in delight. Mothers would shower sweets on children, Dads would give them some money to buy chocolates. You would even get away with playing late into the night. But if we lost, everyone would be sad. The boys would go out and take out their frustration by kicking sand or playing an aggressive game of cricket. For some minutes, the Muslims and the Hindus would try to avoid each other's eyes, but then all too soon, we would start off again as the friendly neighbors that we were before the match started :)
Today as I sit at home, watching this Mighty Battle, with friends reading out bookie SMSes, FB Comments or Likes; as I sit here munching snacks and savories, as I sit here with my eyes on the keyboard but my ears tuned in to the commentary; I miss those simple days. ..those days when Cricket was more than just a game....

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