Anything for Sachin :
With the burning eyes of late-night sleep. Grabbed the ringing phone lazily, it was Amir, one of my close friend. He did not even allowed me to say Hello, “Hey, We gonna see the God (Sachin Tendulkar). World Cup League Match – India vs South Africa, Nagpur cricket stadium, coming Saturday. Bye”, the phone went dead. Meaning, I have to join, no other go. Well, I could not hold anymore with my drooping eyelids.
“Just 24 hrs of journey in train, tickets are ready and this is our only hope to see Sachin in live action and that too playing for India”, Amir was talking in enthusiasm without a pause, I was mad to see Sachin Tendulkar swing his arms just in front of my eyes. Also he was about to announce his retirement from international matches anytime after that World Cup, but still I had my own doubts. “Hey, we don’t know Hindi, how we would manage in north India”, asked me. “That’s why we take Upendar with us”, he replied. The pathetic face of Upendar, came in my mind, looked clueless and asked, “well, planned for our accommodation there?”. He gave me a starring look and used his trump card against me “wanna see Sachin or not?, I apparently, nodded my head, “Yes”. “Then stop asking question and get ready for the big day”, twinkled his eye and left my room in no time.
All set to Bleed Blue :
The train was over crowded, looked like people who were holding general compartment ticket also got into the reserved coach. Then what is the difference between General coach and Reserved coach? – Well, Indian Railway might have an answer. An old man sitting against me was cursing those people in husky voice, making sure no one could hear his murmuring. I was waiting to complain when TTE arrive. But even after 4 hrs since the train started, no body turned up. A middle aged guy was looking strange at me holding the ticket with an Identity Proof in my hand. He asked, What sir, waiting for TTE?. I told “yes”. He laughed at once and said a shaking incident – “last week in the same train, Looked like the TTE was asking a gang of people to get out of train in the next station for not having valid tickets. That angry mob actually threw that TTE out of the running train. From then no TTE turned up for checking tickets”. I instantly thanked god for not arguing with anybody about the overcrowding.
In Renikunda junction, boarded a few military men with RAC (‘Reservation Against Cancellation’ ) tickets. Obviously they had no seats allotted and had to travel by standing. They were very friendly with the fellow passengers in that couch. They were annoying about their urgent calls from their army headquarters to switch camps and also every time they happened to board with wait listed or RAC tickets as they had no time to plan the journey properly. They were a bit angry too about the overcrowded trains which were increasing menace day by day and also wondering where did all these people rally go – always crowding the trains and buses. I thought for a moment and yes, they were absolutely right. Just for an instance, Take our case. We were going for a cricket match, just for some random entertainment, that too travelling across states, exactly 1560 kilometers and comfortably seated in a long run train. But they were going for a real cause, a national cause but had to travel by standing quite uncomfortably. Something alarmed me not to open up about our cricket trip to them as it might turn them even tensed.
Eventually one of them asked us about our trip, before I lie that we were on a official business trip, our Hindi wala Upendar unveiled them the truth that we were going for a cricket match, that too with a proud smile on face. I started looking outside of window to escape from their ugly stare, but I knew, they should have looked at us nothing less than a bunch of dead rates.
Sachin – A Night Away :
Finally we had reached our destination by 3 AM. It was my first trip towards Northern part of India and I had imagined about the city Nagpur as great as New York. But actually it looked nothing better than an average city in the South. 24 long hours of journey was not as easy as we imagined given that the overcrowded couches. We started our hunt for accommodation neglecting the late night hours. We searched every single hotel or mansion out there in Nagpur, sadly not even a single occupant room was available. The whole flock of cricketing adventurists had camped in that city for witnessing the epic cricketing action. Every inch of our body were seeking rest. Krish the senior member in our crew gave an excellent idea to try for the Railway station waiting room for first class passengers. Without having any other option, we reached back the railway station.
There was a door keeper before that waiting room, half slept. When we approached him, he sounded very strict not to allow us inside that room without having the First Class Tickets. Krish stroke a deal for 100 per head with him. Wow, he instantly started to behave like our childhood friend and provided us a sofa by evacuating a middle aged man from it. The sofa was surely belonged to some 19th century but that was too luxurious to sought more for at that time.
I was too tired to even move myself. But could not fall asleep as the big day was ahead, exactly ahead of 7 small hours. I asked Krish, “What Sachin would have been doing by now?”. Dog-tired Krish gave me a nasty look – “What the Hell ..?”. I better kept quite. But still, How overwhelming was the thought of seeing Sachin Tendulkar – the God of Cricket in action, just in front of my bare eyes.!
The Big Day of Cricket :
- The four of us ran about 5 kilometers in a matter of 25 minutes across Nagpur. Why?
- Half of our luggage were stolen at the end of that big day. Why?
Do follow our next post to know how we really Bleed Blue 😉