November 27, 2007

Kurta Cricket.

Instead of the green tussar kurta, the drycleaners handed me seasons’ tickets for the Feroze Shah Kotla test match. It’s not for nothing they’re called Jolly drycleaners. Gagan of Jolly fame said it was to make up for the Mohali game lapse. Just as well, we lost that one. Meanwhile, I forgot all about the missing kurta.

By now Day 3 was down ‘n’ dusted – and in all likelihood Day 4 would reveal who got busted. If ever there was a day to watch test cricket it was this - more so in hindsight.

Up earlier than usual, which isn’t saying much, I drove down Delhi like a Jedi. Once within striking distance of the Kotla, I was amazed to find big yawning empty spaces and a highly legible sign that read, “Free Parking, Pick Up & Drop”. Equally amazed to shell out 30 bucks for Free parking. Was informed that free parking and pick up was round the bend. “I’m not going round the bend.” Meanwhile a cop pasted a yellow florescent sticker that validated my purpose – Vehicle checked no. DL3CQ 3391, 1st cricket test cricket match, 25th November, 2007. Sign: Omkara or something like that.

Many checkpoints and body searches later, I started my final ascent. There’s something magical about the moment you make first contact with the greens – just like after you meander through countless dark gullies in Benaras to reach that pre-climatic point –when you see the light, literally, at the end – when you take that final step, and the Ganges swells through your senses. Yeah, it’s something like that – with equally purgative prowess.

I stood there soaking in the Kotla like a sentinel. I could not bring myself to sit. Even my slack sinuses couldn’t dampen the sensation. If anything, they made it even more psychedelic. And no, I wasn’t on any prescription drugs. I was plain high - on top of the lower level of the West Stand. My gaze accumulated parts, bit by bit, and then pulled it all together – appeared it had been far too long inside a cricket stadium. But then, it always is.

By the time Misbah-ul-haq met his maker, I was in well-informed company, always a bonus while watching cricket. Though the stray comment of, “is that Sehwag fielding?” – “No, Sehwag is not in the team” delight me as much as a pundit’s take on Misbah’s natural instincts as a dasher. Not to forget an announcement that later declared, “To win India has to score…the remaining runs”

When India started to noose Pakistan, the mood around became hysterical. And when Tendulkar came into bat, it was as if the Bastille was being stormed all over again. Guttural shouts proclaimed India’s supremacy in the most unimaginative ways – funny, when the going’s good how anything sounds swell. Chak De played during breaks, between breaks, and long after the game was over.

Kotla was Rome. We were the crowds and the emperor rolled into one. The thumbs were up for Sachin, down for Pak. Sachin Tendulkar was the Gladiator - Possessed by the frenzy that made him nearly play one short too many. But it’s incredible how a leave can reinstate status quo more than public announcements urging restraint.

A few leaves later, it was 4:30 pm again, light meters out - and play called for the day. But it was the kind of day, you’ll probably revisit again and again. Like Chak De, like the hack hip-hip hurrahs.

On my return to the car park, I learnt that free parking indeed was free. Rs 30 were reimbursed to me, sans a smile. On the fifth day, India won. And the missing green tussar kurta resurfaced. At home, I might add.


Bhaskar Khaund said...

G ji - many thanks for this - its worth losing one's kurta..i mean , shirt..over !
Brilliant post !
Loved it !! - as woody allen might have said - loved it , louved it , luffed it , loaweved tit !
- B.

Naked said...

Bji, as Tim Allen might have said that was a laugh, larf, laff! Tellyouwhat, it was worth losing a lot of things for...tanks!

Dheeraj K said...

Chak De G!

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