A ‘Shubh’ arambh for a cracker of a World Cup campaign!

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World Cup contest between arch rivals give India a different 6 Pa©k!

The repeated telecast of the ‘cracker’ advertisement before arch rivals India and Pakistan kick-started their World Cup cricket campaign on 15 February captured the sentiments and emotions perfectly! I have been following the game like a true cricket fan (many times frenzied) for decades now. Today’s win took me back to the days of 1983, when owning a television was a luxury! But, I can tell you that Calcuttans have a novel way of celebrating or following their ‘religion’ (read cricket or football). Painting walls with sporting icons, making idols of their stars or offering ‘puja’ among other things, are accepted ethos of the city and its people. I used to live in Lake Market (Parasar Road to be precise), where my house overlooked the famous fish market. From a small window of a room, if the blue skies were an enchanting view, I could not ignore the vocals of hardcore sellers, wooing buyers with their ‘terapia’ ‘illish mach’ (different species of fish) chants. Their day would begin in the early hours with marketers waiting to offload trucks laden with fish. You could not miss the huge ice slabs, accompanying the ‘trade-ware’ to preserve the freshness of fish. Outside the fish market were the unmistakable line-up of fresh greens and other veggies (looking at them would make one imagine the delicacies that these would turn into) that got transported from various parts of the city to this hub.

Lake Market was a place that was primarily occupied by hawkers and vendors, who mostly led hand to mouth existence. But the passion for sports, especially cricket or football, is an innate part of their existence. One has to be a resident of the city to know what passion really signifies anyway, coming back to what drove me to write this piece is my mind rewound to that year 1983, when radio was a more powerful and affordable medium than TV. Such was the will among people to witness the historic episode of the event – that has now become a cricketing folklore – that a group of hawkers/sellers came together and bought a TV. This, despite their meagre earnings! A special structure was built in a jiffy so that the TV could be installed properly, right on a non-existent pavement, just outside the fish market! A vertical arrangement was made so that people could sit (on the tar road) and enjoy the pleasure or pain of winning or losing unitedly. Thankfully, it was the historic 1983 triumph by Kapil’s Devils that not only gave an opportunity to celebrate but put paid the conviction of cricket lovers, who backed Team India to the hilt. The minnows emerged as champions! That was then but the sound of crackers, the impromptu dancing and singing by all and sundry and not to forget, the sea of flags waved everywhere are images that will remain permanently etched in memory. During my last visit, I noticed that a huge mall has replaced the fish market in the famous landmark that I was once familiar with!

 

Today, in the confines of my house in Chennai, I was glued to the television. Watching the opening match between India and Pakistan with my family members was enjoyable indeed. Also, the frequent exchanges on social media added to the fun. The excitement was so palpable, after the rout in Down Under at the hands of Australia and England, fancying the chance of India coming trumps over its arch rivals was more about self-belief. Perhaps it only highlights the role of those who let their heart rule the head! Of course, the win by the defending World Cup champions (over-powering a weak opposition) was so clinical that one could only marvel at their performance. It was as if a magic wand was at work. Such was the precision, the calm and poise on display that the grandeur of the win almost felt as if the cup had been won already! Several jokes and images shared through social media apart from televised programs (media covering cricket like never before with each channel intensely competing to capture eye balls) caught the ecstasy of the terrific win. The celebratory mood took my mind back to Kolkata where I am sure the scenes would be as festive as can ever be! The sound of crackers, drums beating and people in totally upbeat mood forcing even the conservatives to let their hair down immediately came to my view. On a different note, the frequently-shown ‘we won’t give it back’ advertisement or the latest fevikwik advertisement, which seals the ‘dosti’ (friendship) aspect over rivalry are indeed remarkable efforts to back the cricket team. May the winning start by team India provide a refreshing beginning for good things to come! Let the win be a reflection of the sentiment and spirit of Indians, who believe that Dhoni’s men in blue can lift the cup!

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Hemamalini Venkatraman

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