Thursday, May 08, 2008

Chinnaswamy and I

March 18 2001

The time was 3 am. I woke up groggily. Brushed my teeth, left the house, closing the door softly behind me, took the bike and made my way to Chinnaswamy stadium. It was a chilly night and I knew it was going to be a long wait. The ticket counter was going to open only at 8 am. The match was India Vs Australia scheduled a week later. When I neared M G Road, my heart sank. The queue had started from Rs 100 counter way way ahead and had already neared St marks Road. Also, it wasn’t in single file. It was more like a kilometer long set of rows and each row consisting of 3-4 people. Nevertheless, I parked my Kinetic and joined the queue. Fortunately I had a Robin Cook novel with me to pass the time till the counters opened. Everyone was sitting on the pavement beside the gutter and I too did the same. Its much too painful to stand all those hours. I was amazed at people’s passion for the game. Most folks would have stood in the queue from previous night. Only that could explain such a long queue at 3 am. The guy in front of me had his shirt torn. I was wondering how he could afford to spend 100 bucks on a cricket match while he couldn’t afford a shirt. Is that how the passion is for this game? But then I could be mistaken. Most folks get the ticket and sell it in black on the day of the game. Perhaps this guy standing in queue is just his means of earning money and ensuring to get rid of that torn shirt. Strange are the ways of this world. In spite of studying people around me, I was able to complete the novel by 9 am and I hadn’t moved an inch. It wasn’t too difficult to understand what was happening. While we all stood in the queue religiously, the counters had opened at 8 am and new people were just jumping the queue and joining near the counter itself instead of coming in line. Also, some who had come after me and were standing behind me also jumped the queue by joining ahead despite brawl and foul language all around. But I stood ground with high-but-waning hopes that I will get gallery ticket. At 10, with no breakfast and nothing whatsoever to eat, I started getting a headache and felt like puking. I thought enough is enough, and went to my bike and started my way back to home. I never realized it was so tough to get a ticket to a cricket match. I passed through the Rs 100 counter and could see how jam packed the queue was. No wonder why the queue was never moving. I then passed the Rs 500 counter. About 10 people were standing in the queue, and it was oh-so-easy to get the ticket but it was beyond my budget. I couldn’t afford Rs 500 for a cricket match. That day, I told myself ‘Next time, I will take a Rs 500 ticket...’

Sep 29 2007

Passion remained as it is. But laziness grew with pay packets. The match was scheduled to start at 2.30 pm. It was again India Vs Australia. I hadn’t stood in the queue this time a week ago. Nor could the ticket be obtained over internet. But I went by myself to the stadium at 12 noon just to soak in the atmosphere. I saw some guy selling tickets in black, shadily. My budget was Rs 3000 this time, 30 times more than my budget 6 years ago. He was selling at Rs 200 ticket for Rs 1500. I smiled at Heaven and took it without hesitation. I entered the stadium to a rising crescendo. This is what its all about. A television set just dilutes it all. To sit in a stadium, in an arena filled with thousands of other people, to watch thirteen men on the ground, two of them battling out the rest eleven. It is an honor to stand on that pitch. It is just the tops to get a standing ovation from thousands of people for performing well in the midst of such a humongous gathering where the expectation and pressure will always be exponentially increasing. This is what heroes are made of. True, the match got abandoned due to rain midway through. True, Sachin got out for a duck. But I enjoyed it thoroughly.

May 5 2008

‘I have an extra ticket. Wanna come?’ A colleague asked me at 10 am. The T20 match was at 8 pm. I said yes. This one was just Rs 235. We reached the stadium at 5. Again that crescendo. It is painful to sit in a gallery because there are no seats and it is just a set of concrete steps but it is in gallery that there is much fun, much brotherhood, full of lively people and here is where the Mexican Wave starts, where creativity oozes and the party never ends. However this time around it was even wonderful. T20 comes with music, loud, blaring music and jaw-dropping cheerleaders and music performances and dance sequences and, to top it off, there was also laser show with Mission Impossible theme music. It was rupees’ worth even before the match started. Of course, the match Bangalore Vs Mohali was a disappointment as Bangalore practically lost in the first over but nevertheless the cheerleaders really gave a reason to cheer especially because they were right in front of us! When match got real boring as Bangalore were sure to lose, people stopped watching the cricket and started conversing with the cheerleaders! Its true that its no longer a gentleman’s game, but then the aura of a cricket stadium just got bigger and better as it reduced from a day long affair to compete with a 3 hour Bollywood flick, enjoyable by everyone in the family.

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