I did think of bunking work yesterday. Like, I’ve always thought, in school, during graduation and during my MBA. I’ve never felt like doing anything that takes my attention away from cricket on a match day. And more so, infinitely more so, during a World Cup. I know there are millions like me in this nation but this was a first for me. I’m working these days and the difference is, unlike in school and college, these days I get paid at the end of the month. Yet somehow I’d convinced myself yesterday to bunk work.
“Hey, this is the first match of the World Cup; I need to be in a certain state of mind to be geared up for it.”
But when I woke up this morning, the pangs of guilt of bunking work overtook my desire to stay back and I ended up at work. What the hell? Bunking school and college was never this hard a decision. Back then, it used to be a walk in the park.
“Dad, Aaj Match hain and there are no important periods in school today. Is it okay if? ”
What would follow this seemingly undisruptive line won’t exactly be the smoothest of verbal exchanges yet at least I didn’t have this stupid guilt biting me inside. Moreover, Dad would eventually settle in favor of me staying back with an assurance from me that we won’t ever come to a discussion like that again. Now, here I’ve to give Dad full marks. I mean every time, he had to give me the impression that he didn’t see through that one…
Nevertheless, I put everything behind me and was home at 6 p.m. to catch the pre-match coverage 2 hours before the match begun. Now again I’ve to draw a parallel between my childhood here. You know, in those days, you could prepare for all you could but just before the match began one of these things would invariably happen:
a.) The cable would blank out
b.) The electricity in the house would blank out.
c.) An elder in the house would send me on an errand that would take me away from television
d.) One of Dad’s friends would turn up in the drawing room and just yap, yap and yap!
Now given my past experiences, I was quite prepared for a setback when I walked into my room hoping to turn on the television in the evening. But when I turned on the light the sight that caught my eyes was a rather pleasing one. My usually littered bed had a new bed sheet, the books were neatly arranged on the bed and so were the chocolates. My room had a neat look and I think Ms. Bhandari, my landlady was also kind enough to spray one of her special room fresheners around. It just felt like she knew I didn’t want any of those problems today. It was almost as if God thought I’d suffered enough through my childhood and this World Cup, He’d decided to reward my anticipation.
“Superb!” I said to myself, just the way I like it, everything in order and no disturbances, just the ideal way to watch the first ball of the World Cup. Something about the first ball of a big match is so special. I mean it’s as great as your first kiss or your first love. The sound of the crowd, the commentators at the peak of their voices, the electric atmosphere, all combine in perfect unison to give you the feeling that if you’ve missed the first ball of a big match, you’ve pretty much missed dipping your favorite ice cream in your favorite chocolate sauce! And when you’ve done everything right through the day to arrive at this moment, you just thank your Lord that He made you literate enough to understand this game.
Cut to the present. We were soon over with the pitch report and the toss. We went through some tortuous times with some daft dame called Sonali Nagrani but I was sure better fare would follow. After all, times had changed, the cable was working fine and there weren’t any elders around. And soon the moment arrived, Simon Taufel said “Play” and we were onto the first ball of the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup. Umar Gul moved in, I could hear the crowd, my pulse was racing and the heart was pounding. But wait a minute why the hell were the commentators not saying anything? Is someone going to speak something soon or is it going to be “Main aur meri tanhayee...” for commentary?
In the next 3 seconds I said all the prayers I’d ever learnt, desperately hoping for someone to say something and just make me realize that the World Cup was getting underway. And after just another fleeting second I realized, the moment was gone. I’d just seen Chris Gayle nudge the first delivery of the 2007 World Cup towards mid-off or a single without the slightest trace of a commentator guiding me through it. And if that weren’t enough we waited for the third over until the silken voice of Tony Cozier put an end to my muted misery.
Thanks Set Max! Talk of some things never changing…
On a more positive note, I’m not letting Henry Olonga’s expert comments or Sonali Nagrani’s repulsive on-screen presence ruin it for me. I’m here for cricket and only cricket. I shall be strong.
To keep it simple, I’m cheering for West Indies, followed by England and like Shobhit said, (while he has decided to cheer for Australia and South Africa) “...We can always pretend to be happy, if India wins it!” ;-)
P.S.: I’ve a plan to post at least twice every week beginning Friday under the title of a “Caribbean Post-its” series beginning Saturday. Watch this space for some special cricket comments that wouldn’t find its place of pride in any other publication! :-P