Sunday, April 03, 2011

How Unmana Watched the World Cup

Like most of us, I grew up in a cricket-crazy household. My dad, of course, watched avidly, and my mom grumbled when cooking for us kept her in the kitchen instead of in the living room (and my mom rarely grumbled).

But at sixteen, I went away to live in a hostel. I tried, believe me, but watching TV with a large roomful of young women, most of whom had their loud inexpert comments to add to every strike . . . I soon found it easier to not watch it. And not be interested much in matches.

I was home again when I was in college for my B.A. I watched again, though that former enthusiasm didn't return.The 2003 World Cup coincided with my B.A. final exams. But by then, I'd already got to my M.B.A. course and felt that meant I could watch most of the matches anyway. (I ended up coming sixth in the university, and really wished later I had worked harder.)

And then I was away at hostel again. And my personal life was difficult for a while (long-time readers will know why). So cricket never managed to caught my interest. In fact, I saw more clearly how crazy most of us are (and I still say that we go over the top), how we equate cricket with patriotism (isn't that sad?), and how much of the support for the India team translates into verbal bashing of the other team. Not to say sitting and watching a match for whole days at a time? There's more to life than that, people!

The Guy is a fan, but I was so used to my self-righteous "cricket is a waste of time" attitude that I wouldn't let him watch much either. And I tried watching a few times, but I just couldn't. It didn't interest me anymore.

I don't know what changed this year. I have been more busy work-wise than I've ever been in my life (and it's much more fun when it's stuff you want to do versus what you merely have to), and well, I haven't watched cricket in eight years and I didn't know much about any of the teams. You'd have thought I'd have been less interested than ever.

And I was, at first. I was indifferent before the World Cup started, and through all the league matches (though the Guy being at home, I couldn't help but have conversations about cricket sometimes. What? I'm a good listener.)

But I ended up watching a bit of the India-Australia match and found I enjoyed it. I was annoyed when there was the usual unpleasant jingoism before the match with Pakistan. I even wrote on the Mad Momma's Facebook post (she's a cricket agnostic too) that I wished India had lost so people would shut up.

On the day of the match, my office put up a big screen right in the middle of the floor so everyone could watch the match. (Yes, my office is really cool.)  And I had to work, so I came home. (Yes, I'm weird.) I considered posting on Facebook that I was supporting Pakistan. But most people have little sense of humor and I didn't think I was up to dealing with much backlash.

But of course the match was on at home as well and even though I worked all day, I ended up watching bits and got the end too. And I enjoyed it in a way I never thought I'd enjoy cricket again.

And yesterday's match was so exciting, so perfect. The Guy adores Dhoni, and while I've always liked him, I now see why. You've all watched it, so I won't bore you with the details.

Even as we won, though, I was glad that we won to Sri Lanka, such a good team and such a gracious one. I was so impressed by Sangakarra's little speech. He was so polite and gracious. (And ain't he cute?! Though I thought the hottest man in the stadium was Aamir Khan: that man just gets prettier every year! Rahul Gandhi came a close second.)

But the best part of all? Was going out into the streets last night. I've never been part of anything so awesome, never felt part of a crowd like the way I did last night. The Guy and I usually shy away from crowd-celebrations: not being religious usually precludes us from such things anyway. But last night, strangers were friendly, not hostile, when they shouted at us, and people from different religions (I assume), people from slums and from high-rises, even from different nations (we saw quite a few white and light-brown people) came out and danced on the streets. I don't know if we'll ever see this again in our lifetimes, but I am. So. Very. Glad. We decided to drive out to the city last night.

And as the Indian Express put it: WINDIA.


Deborah said...

Congratulations to India!

I learned to enjoy cricket as a teenager, watching with my dad and my brothers (I don't have any sisters). Later on, I found that it was an excellent way to get some knitting done, and to just pass an idle day, watching the cricket, doing a bit of ironing, engaging in long conversations that paused for every ball. It can be a very relaxing game.

Unmana said...

Deborah: You know what, I planned to get some work done yesterday, sitting in the living room while the Guy watched the match. But it was too exciting to look away. :)

Unmana said...

Deborah: And the next World Cup in your neighborhood!

Chicu said...

I am a cricket non-watcher too-and for precisely the same reasons you've mentioned..This time too, my main link with the match was that my office let us go home to watch it. and I hurried home to spend 'quality time' with my chap to find him glued to live match updates on his computer..
i dont think i like cricket.. ;)