In high school, there was tremendious peer pressure to watch cricket. My friends sneaked a pocket transister to school during World Cup (the one that we won before we did last month) and many test matches. Tall girls in the last row would listen to the match and pass notes to the rest of the class on the current score. I felt distantly removed from this crowd, being the kind who is not interested in games that she is not actively playing. But then we were in early teens, and most girls in my class had a specific cricket celebrity. Sharmila had a thing for Gavaskar, Shobs and Sou carried the torch for Ravi Shastri and so on, and by a process of elimination, it was decided that I would be a Vengsarkar fan. I knew nothing more about Vengsarkar than that he was then the captain of the Indian team. Cricket fever ran high in school, and thankfully passed by me with not as much as a sniffle.
My dude is into cricket..as most dudes in India. And the kid wanted to watch a match live. What better opportunity than to watch the IPL in Chennai, between the home team, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and arch rival Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB)? So after much maneuvering to get tickets, an effort that should rightfully belong in some political strategy course in MBA, we got the minimum cost tickets to see the IPL live today. The added incentives of going included - the match being not more than three hours long, unlike one-days (a full day) and test cricket (five full days), the availability of an easy mode of transport from our door step to a hop skip and jump of the stadium, and being on a Saturday at a conventinent time (4-7 pm) that would make it best suited to come back home for dinner. Until I left I was skeptical if I would enjoy the match, being naturally disinclined to sit and watch other people play for hours.
I was mistaken.
The cricket fever was palpable right at the train station. Young and old uniformly enthusiastic about the match, wearing CSK t-shirts (as were dude and his cousin, the kid wearing a t-shirt with Dhoni, the captain of CSK in it). As we got off at the Chepauk station, we didn't have to move...the crowd just carried us towards the sacred sanctum.
Our minimum cost tickets were in seats that faced West. Facing West on an April evening - We currently look like we were barbequed using rocket fuel, but what's a few layers of tan for the endorphin release ? By the end of the match, not one person was not bathed in sweat, but no one, not even my otherwise finicky seven-year-old minded - ofcourse, I was secretly happy that I had doused myself with body spray when I left, anticipating a sweaty evening.
The crowd was most enthuisastic. The match was, if not spectacular, interesting. My high point was that a group of cheerleaders (a blond and two brunnettes from some Western country - most likely USA - we import cheerleaders I gather) were in front of our seats and at every four, six, wicket fall and change of over, did their little thingummy to desi rythm. I couldn't take my eyes off them whenever they came up- what pretty nubile things, how graceful their moves and what sweet smiles.
CSK won. We returned home in one piece. Tired but vaguely exhilerated. And no sign of the headache I was sure I'd get.
Did I have fun? Yes. Will I do it again? Not sure.
The train station near home:
At the stadium
Random picture of the field