I have a nomination for the Oscars (assuming that the jury would reach out to an arm-chaired blogger). It surely is one of the best and never seen before concepts – the next level of real time movie experience. An experience in which no one knows the script, neither the director nor the cast. The movie has many characters. And, all of them are chasing one particular goal – the cry of victory. The emotions are more real than an Oscar nominee can portray. The time is real time. The story is changing constantly and the end is unpredictable. The men at the camera work to give a Hubble Space Telescope like precision. The budget is insanely crazy. But, the cast is not here to act. It is here to perform its best with sweat and blood. This cast is from two nations and this movie has a viewership of a quarter of the world population. It is like an India v/s Pakistan Cricket match. Oh wait! In fact, that is my nomination for the Oscars.
With an ICC membership confirmed in 1948, our friends came to the city that literally has heart in its name – “dil waalon ki sheher – Dilli” – for the first match, one of the three in the test series , in 1952. We won that! The next in Lucknow – we lost that! Our folks got angry. However, we won the next one in Bombay and managed our first blood – the first test series victory against Pakistan. But, unfortunately a lot of blood followed in 1965 and 1971, and all ties were cut off for good. So, 1954 was the last year, in which thousands of visas were approved for people to cross borders to watch the game of kirket. However, after a long time, things went back to pseudo-normal. But, the stadiums kept oscillating between fields hosting the sagacious and record setting matches and fields reminiscing the convolution of green and blue.
The above could be just dates that remind us of how cricket was born and reborn between the two major cricket playing nations. But, living these memories would have been an altogether different experience and no words can do justice to these events. I mean, imagine for once – deserted roads, few televisions around the street corners, heart freezing moments, bone chilling evenings, a hot glass of tea, unparalleled focus on the sound coming out of the transistor and two recently separated states unknowingly creating history. Name the emotions that did not come out during these matches.
But, less has changed. So what if the later generations did not get to see Gavaskar’s debut or the dawn of Indian fast bowling era with the Haryana express? We certainly did see many legends in making and many matches that imbibed the art of nail biting in us. During these matches, log-in time in most companies is at its peak, because nobody leaves for a break during an India-Pakistan (the screen has more action than the tea point). Keyboards clatter a lot with the Alt + Tab combo to switch between CricInfo and testing automation tools. Always plugged in to charge, smart phones find their use, apart from the highly productive surfing through the subway or escaping the temple guards or popping and bursting some colored diamonds and balloons on the screen. The spirit of an India-Pakistan match lives on. And it is at its best if you know where to watch it. Apart from the various options, including screens and beer mugs of all sizes, of watching a match, the two awesome options are – close to the boundary where Ramesh sent the balls to kiss the rope or in a large auditorium with a not so big TV and more than five hundred boys’ hostel residents.
I lived the second. Hoots and whistles, fuelled with pride, are abundant as the captains come to the ground for the toss. Excitement rises as the coin is in the air, and the faces sport a wide grin when the toss is won or create a cacophony of the word “Sh*t yaar” when the toss is lost. A deafening roar marks the first run-up of the bowler and the first throw of the day as the match starts and the occasional roars keep coming in when the cameraman focuses on the one of the many gorgeous faces in the crowd. The dance and the cheer as a Pakistani wicket falls down or the dejection and occasional references to the family members of the umpire or the opponent players, when the ball goes ploughing the field for a boundary becomes a second nature to everyone in the room. Nobody gives a damn about the owner of the continuously nudging elbow, which otherwise would have been a subject of a senior-junior standoff. Shout when it’s an out, shout when it’s a four, shout when it’s a not out, or shout when it’s not a four. Or just shout for no reason at all. Repeat. Express yourself with every ball the way you want and not be judged as a noise machine. And if you are lucky enough to witness a World Cup India Vs Pakistan match, it might be followed by a late night bike parade and a rain dance in the ground. I’m fortunate and thankful to all those events that led me to experience the India v/s Pakistan World Cup Semi Final in 2011. But it came with a realization too.
A realization that it’s not a match. It’s a celebration – a very intense one of emotions. Whether you own a Gucci or a Guccci, you will stop at the tea stall for the score update on the radio. You will not look at the beard, or the turban, or the moustache or the cross when celebrating victory. It is a day which unites all the viewers. It is a day when all of India chants “Indiaaa..Indiaa…” together. It is a day that must be lived. It is a day that we let go off any element that otherwise keeps us categorized and divided. Sorry, it’s not a day. It’s a celebration of unconditional humanity.
So, Give me a better nomination for Oscar. Go on!