Of Friends & Abandoned Cricket Matches…
A week ago, I and Deepak set off on a bus to Kochi, happy and full of enthusiasm, because we believed that this was going to be the fulfilment of a dream both of us had held for long – to see a live cricket match. I had just reached University after visiting my recently married best friend and her husband at their flat in Chennai. Priya, being my closest friend for quite some time, knows of my fanatical obsession with cricket and used the opportunity to wish me all the ill luck in the world, that either I wouldn’t reach on time or that the match itself wouldn’t happen. I have no idea why friends do this, but they do it with amazing regularity, and it’s a trait I find hard to explain.
For example, if a guy says to his friend that he’s going to talk to this girl he likes, there will always be this member in the group who’ll say that he’ll fall flat on his face or that she might slap him, and when she does exactly that, will come and tell him “I told you so”. When I told Naga that I had my tickets to the Kochi ODI, he told me much the same thing, “Enna Machan, Mazhai varum pola irrukke da?” It looks as if it might rain. Yes, you ass. I know that. It is the retreating monsoon. It’s supposed to rain in Kerala. But can’t you say something nice, like Good Luck Sai? Grrr…
The bus ride to Kochi was punctuated by another mishap – our bus pushed down a White Dhoti clad biker and even though nothing at all happened to him, he proceeded to give an Oscar calibre performance about how he would call the Police and turn the highway into a war zone. When I tried to take his helmet and bag off the road to the side, he presumed I was gonna run away with them and asked me the same, laden with a few choice Malayalam words I understand but dare not reproduce. At last, another White Dhoti turned up, raised his voice a few decibel levels above the biker and sent him off on his way. Our bus also started off again. No Police, no settlement, nothing. I was super confused. In my state, nothing of this kind is resolved without a few punches and expletive laden kicks.
Anyway, me, Deepak and the others, took a room and made our way to the stadium next morning. Even though there had been overnight showers, it was sunny then and we hoped for the best. Great atmosphere, half a lakh fans, drums and trumpets ready, but down came the rain again. The match was officially abandoned at about 10 30 am and we walked out, along with the thousands of disappointed fans. If you want to understand how ingrained cricket is in the cultural mindset of our country, go see a cricket match. Every kind of fan was there, from the ten year old who had painted 10 and Tendulkar on his back to the 70 year old senior citizen donning an India T shirt, proudly holding a flag in one hand and a walking stick in the other. And of course, all of us in between, the hordes of young males and the groups of girls with posters like “Raina, Marry Me” and “ Zaheer, We Miss You”.
I got on a supremely overcrowded train back to Coimbatore and had to stand the entire way back. I’d gotten about 20 calls from my friends, some of them who hadn’t even called me on my birthday the previous week. It was a nonstop barrage of hearty laughter and full fledged enjoyment on my behalf. I’ll try to give you a sample. This was Rajesh “Enna Machan, Bow a?” Bow is our colloquial term that roughly translates to, well, falling flat on your face. Priya contented herself with a text “I’m soooo happy today!!!” Can you imagine!!?? There were still others, like the one when I take the call and am met with a storm of hearty laughter and stuff like “Enna vittutu pona illa, unnaku venum di.” You went to see the match without me, so you needed this. I had no choice but to endure all of it. It was my mistake; I was the one who had told them all I was going to see the match in my hyperexcited euphoria over getting the tickets.
As I stood, I got talking to this older guy standing beside me on the train who was also going to Coimbatore. He was much more depressed than I was and I tried to give him a few words of hope, but he shut me up with a few words that I had no answer for – “Veetla kooda paathuklaam pa, aana pasanga saagadichidvaanunga!!” It’s easier to take the taunts at home, about wasted money and time, but my friends will kill me by teasing.
Oh yeah…?? Tell me about it…!!