As sports fanatics, what’s the whackiest thing you’ve done to play or watch sports? I once paid 800 bucks for a hotel room to watch a Champions League final match, which obviously I didn’t get to watch given how Mr. Murphy has made me the apple of his eyes.
We all have grown up getting crazier by the minute for sports in general and cricket in particular. ‘Goddamn Brits’, my parents would often curse the English on seeing my brother and my poor self sun burnt in summers. Not only my parents, but my aunts too were agonized whose homes we used to ‘tour’ in vacations. Thankfully we always found patronage in our uncles who were all self confessed cricket crazies. Vacations specially were times for window smashing and ugly fights on the field. Our washing machine would clog each time we played football in the rain. There was no playing ground in our hometown that had not been witness to our adventures.
Often the matches were played under inhumane conditions – just for pride and prestige. I remember my elder brother winning a match in pitch darkness with a bat having a broken handle and a swollen knee as he was playing without pads. He was beaming with pride the whole week although he was rendered immobile. On one crazy summer noon, I once drew a match with a mate after we broke 5 poor quality bats. Needless to say, they all belonged to the opposition who were hell bent to beat us. Thankfully, it wasn’t to be for the want of bats!
But I’m sure we’ve all been there. It’s the same story with every kid in India as depicted by Mr. Narayan in ‘Swami and his friends’. Laxman writes in his autobiography, ‘The Tunnel of Time’, that it was based on his cricket league in their hometown. (It is a delightful read)
We grew up in the Doordarshan era when even the crucial matches would be interrupted for an hour owing to the ever important news bulletins. During the ‘96 Semi against Lanka, I broke all cyclig record to reach my aunt’s place just to watch India’s worst ever downfall. But, I have fond memories of waking up at ungodly hours to watch Greatbatch wielding his bat in 92 world cup Down Under; or waking till late with misty eyes to watch Baggio shoot Italy out of the world cup. That was the day I ditched Italy for Brazil. Before the dawn of the internet, I used to drop by at the nearest general store on one pretext or the other to follow India’s progress on foreign tours. I had practically self invited myself to numerous dinners at my school chum’s home during our tour to West Indies in ’97 when they got the cable.
Boy, there are infinite memory lanes I could wander into. At this age and time too we’ve found time to play what we used to call chhat cricket (roof cricket). Why, we were playing with our cousins, chachas, fufaji and my brother’s friends right before his engagement ceremony! Unfortunately, my would-be bhabhi’s aunt saw this horrific disregard to, well, timeliness and we were forced to abandon the play due to bad plight, the only time in my life! (That’s why I connect with Wodehouse’s Wooster so well when he’s in the pickle due to his aunts). That was when my cousin brother’s wife consoled my bhabhi by telling her about the time we all brothers were glued to mobile phone to catch the glimpses of Brazil- Germany final in 2002 while returning from their wedding at Hyderabad. Old habits die hard.
One whacky sport we used to play was lawn tennis with T.T. racquets and ball. This was when we used to get coached in Table tennis. We would skip the moribund sessions to emulate our childhood heroes on the adjacent tennis court. My bro would be Becker and I would be Edberg. Sweet memories.
As I touched adolescence and then adulthood, my horizon widened, in sports of course. What did you think?
I reached my pinnacle in 2006. I was at the wine capital Nasik undergoing summer training. We hadn’t gotten our promised idiot box at the company guest house, partly because we were the only 2 occupants! Anyhow I hired a room in a nearby hotel for a night to watch the Champions League Final between my then favorite Arsenal and present apple of the eye Barcelona. As Murphy would have it, the cable went out just before the kickoff not to show up till next morning. C’est la vie!
So what’s your whacky sport? And how whacky a sport are you? Do share your memories in the comments, or mail us if they deserve a separate post on their own!