Sunday, April 18, 2010

A chance encounter with the Little Master

It was 1989 a lazy friday evening and I'd returned from school when I saw my father returning from office. He would never bring anything from anywhere, but, this day was to be special. Upon arrival he called me to his lounge chair and handed me a small envelope. Inside the envelope I saw something that totally blew me away. Inside there were two tickets to the then on-going world cup cricket game. The game was on 30th oct at wankhede stadium in Mumbai. My dad had bought them off a friend who was unable to go. What's more these were BCCI VIP pavillion tickets. At that time they cost Rs. 800 each which was a lot of money. Now, I had to find a buyer for one of them to give me company. After a bit of searching and calling I found a willing attendee in my friend pramod rao. So, we both headed to the game on game day. I'd been to games in wankhede, but, never in a VIP stand. It was an experience as we didn't have to stand in lines and the whole pavillion was shaded and properly ventillated with fans and ducts. The shee shee crowd of bombay had arrived with all the linens and diors. I was a little school boy looking at all this with awe. With me I'd carried an autograph book to see if I could get access to any players/ ex-players or celebrities. Unfortunately, there were none there. The game was a day game and the gruelling heat of mumbai was killing us. After about half the game a couple of boys about our age came and sat next to us. The boy that sat next to me was short, had curly hair and was wearing the newly launched reebok pumps in green. I immediately pointed the shoes out to pramod. These were days when you could get the nike's and reeboks only if you had a visitor from overseas as they were not sold in india legally. It was not until much later that the indian economy opened up. Pramod immediately whispered to me "do you know who that is" (pointing to the boy) and I replied in the negative. He said that is "sachin tendulkar". Back then his laurels in the local circuit were celebrated, but, he had not been selected in the indian team. As the game came to a close there was double dissapointment for me. Firstly, I'd not seen any 'real' celebs and india had lost. I decided to get an autograph of sachin. The idea was hilarious to Pramod who thought I was a fool to do that. I promptly told him that I thought he will play for india and will be a big name someday. Pramod retorted to me saying I was free to make a fool of myself becuase he (sachin) probably didn't know how to sign yet. I was defiant and I walked up to him. There was this 14 something boy with a clean face in front of him. "Sachin, I've heard a lot about you. I want your autograph". Upon signing I wished him luck and would like to see him play for india soon. I also asked him if he had been selected already to which he said no. I asked him if I was the first person to ask for his autograph to which he laughed and said "yes", besides my neighbors and family who poke fun at me. So, we walked home with this in my hand and bad memories of an india exit from the cup. Little did we know.....  :-)

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