Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cricket made me nostalgic about India

I rarely get homesick. But today, on the eve of the Indo-Pak cricket world cup semi-final, I’m bummed that I’m not in India.



I love what cricket does to the country - how CEOs, housewives, students, peons, society types, slum dwellers and everyone in between is just Indian (or Indian origin, if you want to get technical) for a day.


I remember that feeling so well from a match between India and Pakistan from the 2003 world cup. I was watching it at home in Chennai when suddenly the electricity went out. A collective wail went up around the city but fortunately there were giant screens set up on the two main beaches in Chennai and everyone had the same idea to immediately rush out and continue watching the match there.


When I reached Besant Nagar beach, the atmosphere was surreal. I joined the hundreds, indeed thousands, sitting on the sand, under the stars watching a gripping match between the two iconic rivals of world cricket. An India-Pakistan match is always a zero sum game. For the losing country there is devastation and for the winner delirious joy.


That night, fortune favoured India and we beat Pakistan decisively, winning by 6 wickets. The crowd went berserk and the wild smiles and excitement were enough to light up India’s darkest villages and our own city.


There are very few moments like this in India when we are not so divided and listening to Hindi music this evening in distant London while thinking about the match in Mohali suddenly made me really wish I was there tomorrow.