Thursday, March 31, 2011

Time to go all out

War-cries and fireworks thunder everywhere from the galleries appearing on the TV screen to the living room  and spill over to the streets all over the neighborhood. The Battle's Won! There are the Prime Ministers of both the nations, sitting side by side, each one wearing an unbearably straight face, trying in desperation to tie all their freaking emotions into a tight bundle and stowing it all away. Oh, PM Gilani makes an urgent exit right after the last ball.

There's Sonia and Rahul, having a remarkably gala time on the stands "with the crowds". After hours of sitting through the game with a slightly "I'm-actually-a-little-lost-but-who'd-know" kinda look, in the last over Sonia does the maternal act, pallu firmly tied to her waist, waving and cheering  as if  it was Rahul himself who was playing out there. There's Aamir Khan, Preity Zinta, Venkatesh and the other film stars rising, trembling with excitement (or throbbing joints) after balancing themselves in their chairs at that precise  run-scoring, wicket-winning angle (talk about superstitions) throughout the match, just like everyone else. One thing's for sure today; if you ain't bleeding  blue, you are just.. sick.. atheist even! Many a cricketing oracle had already flashed a card for the Srilankan Team during their semi-finals with "Srilanka! Meet you in the Finals!" or something like that. What seemed audacious then now seems prophetic. Forget taking home the Cup-- We Have Arrived (Did you just note the royal 'we'? Of course, it's applicable only when "we" win).. defeating our "arch rivals".. saving face on the home ground..

Cricket has seldom been one of my pastimes. It's huge with most everybody at home. I remember my sage paternal grandad positioning himself in the living room sitting close yet far and detached from the howling and swearing of all the boys of the house (and their very many friends. God! Our house did turn into a mini theatre during the cricket season). My mother and grandmother can even today be woken up several times late night in a day and night match with the roar following every important run or wicket. Though I imagine they would have loved to be left alone during these few hours for some much needed rest (especially after an extra busy day in the kitchen feeding an ever hungry bunch of men with fries and snacks shoveled down with the aid of buckets of coffee), they do not seem to mind it and join in the cheer for a while taking a break from  beauty sleep. On the one or two occasions that I spent time at my maternal grandparents' home around the time of the matches, funnily my grandad always supported the opponent team while my uncle raged furious arguments with him in favour of the Indian team. My grandmom and aunt were (are) both fans of cricket of the top order and even prayed away silently for India's victory. Even my little sisters can really appreciate a good innings or speculate intelligently over the chances of winning  or losing a match.

In a pathetic attempt to "connect" with my family in a different way I tried watching the IT game along with the house a year or two ago. It just bombed. I simply couldn't stop wondering What could possibly be SO engrossing about a bunch of guys flinging a bat and a ball over and over again? Neither did I understand the rules of LBW or how can a match actually end when it's 'declared', nor was I any the wiser about their little insider jokes about the players. This left me a little jealous, but I could live with it. 

On the other hand, I've never really understood politics either. Just what is it about the Government and it's hundreds of ministries and thousands of departments that were finding it so difficult to please the minds of those early morning newspaper readers that always had a ready spat just waiting to explode should the characters (! What? to me they were nothing more) jump out of paper? I considered my folks to be quite extraordinarily intelligent (and influential) because they simply knew anybody and everybody that was being mentioned in these papers and they knew every little dirty scheme they played. I never quite made an attempt to understand these phantasmagoric phenomena.

Until I did. Now even I can't  but betray that there is a real charm about hitting a good ball and also about getting a hang of what people are talking about. There is no escape from the discomforting sense of being lost to a nice little chat. The point is, no other excuse can hold well against initial fears of rejection and ignorance except for some genuine interest in the game for the sake of the game itself. Where I live, this is the season of big games and World Cup Cricket is just the first of them. With the elections coming right after, there's a buzz all over the place that is simply impossible to miss. Whether a cricketing fan or politics-savvy, this sure is the time to go all out and paint the world with your hue. What say?

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