Thursday, May 22, 2008

Coming of Age

No, this post is not about turning 30 (which…sigh…btw I did half a year ago!) nor is it about getting grey hair (have p-lenty of those too thanks to some over-anxious genes!) nor yet is it about Vijay Mallya suddenly waking up to the cricket/sports side of the IPL (as opposed to the corporate side he but insisted on telling all of us about)

So, what is the fuss all about? It is about many cricketing truths and non-truths (not lies, just non-truths) and myths and non-myths birthing and bursting all around. (so, you see this post could just have well been called “Whee! Whoo! Whee! Oops! Ulp.” – oh wait, that’s probably already taken by the cheerleaders.)

The grand IPL fest*– first up, I have to admit I was one of the “purists” (the quotes because I certainly cannot claim to know-know cricket in any form really – for example, I still have trouble with field-placing-names (?), who’s batting - even when clearly, there is a left-hander and a right hander at the crease and so, it should be easy to figure who hit the big one/got out, etcetera…etcetera) who pooh-poohed at twenty-twenty and scorned and scoffed about it NOT being a sport and rather a gimmicky extravaganza. Well, cut to now, and I have to say I have been feverishly following each game and the league table has done what no math teacher could ever do in his/her lifetime - make me want to learn some math (no, no, still can’t do much beyond “wanting to”!) so well, essentially, I did not see myself watching these matches with any interest beyond a polite nod sort of a thing etc. but w.o.w. that one has definitely turned on it’s head now!

On a related note, thanks to the three-hour format (and the change in cities) I have managed to actually watch not one but two matches LIVE in two of my favorite stadiums in the whole wide world! That was and is something else! Just one more to go in my list of must-must-must-go** stadiums now!

The new and improved big McCullum aka I am loving it - The first one (that I visited – it’s actually the second on the must-must-must-go list) was easy – it’s the home ground in my city – Chinnaswamy. And as luck would have it (yeah, baby way to go-o!) this was the inaugural match and SO, got to watch the whole opening ceremony shingbang as well! My first sight of the stadium was overwhelming – I almost took a step back at the sight and sound of it all, but when some oxygen (and a firm kick on the backside from my husband) finally kick-started some of my brain cells again, I realized that it looks a lot smaller than I always imagined it to be having watched it on TV. The next realization being that the seats are not numbered and so the grumble-grumble hunt for decent seats began. From then on it was a dream run with the innings of a lifetime (sadly, I think for all time really…I mean outside of 20-20, the IPL…the works) in the first half and the wind knocked out of the sails of the home team in the second half. The great thing about that match (for me) was that it was the only one everyone watched without any bias for any team – I mean, we were hardly to know then of the nerve-wracking-ly exasperating ways of the Knight Riders or the perennial gloom and doom of the Royal Challengers.

From double whammy to double blow aka OUCH that hurts - My next IPL outing was destined to be in the home ground of the Knight Riders – the Eden Gardens! Well, it almost did not happen thanks to the lights-off issue that happened just a match before my scheduled evening out…but then, it happened and when it did, I almost wished it had not happened after all! Why? Because part of my whole Eden thing was of course to be on the winning side and witness and be a part of the legendary-and –notorious-in-the-same-breath Eden crowd – the deafening roars that don’t let players hear what they are thinking, the passion that reduces (visiting and sometimes even the home) teams to tears or joys…and the double pleasure for me was that the opponents for that match were the Mumbai Indians – which meant that I would see – going weak in the knees now – Sachin Tendulkar*** play! Now, THAT did not happen (though I pretty much bino-stalked him at any given opportunity) AND the Knight Riders lost to the then flimsy side!!!

No life aka N.O. L.I.F.E. – all in all, this darn thing has taken over whatever semblance of a social life I had - no calls must be taken (the opposing side inevitably hits boundaries while I make those strange sounds**** on the phone) during match hours, dinner should be arranged between overs as should loo breaks and other sundry activities and heaven forbid if anyone should drop by – CLEARLY, WE ARE NOT AT HOME! I am compelled to add here – though thankfully, for reasons completely unrelated to anything mentioned in this post – that I am without a job these days having quit recently and being on a break (HAH!) so, that completes the spectrum of my life these days…and probably/hopefully/wishfully explains the nyet-itty of the life bit some!

Fee fie fo fum aka ho hum – The news channels have really got under my skin the mostly inane and some insane shows in the name of this tournament are really something else. I mean, even without this tournament there was plenty to groan about these channels, but really, when I say I have no life I truly wonder about there nyet-itty quotient! There are some really sad people out there but what is sadder still (for all of us out here) is that they actually get paid to dish out this trash and the channels actually earn money off these! The biggest grosser (in more ways than one!) is the host channel itself (purportedly not a news channel…not even a sports channel….clearly their talent lies in numbing and killing the brain one cell at a time) What do I know? Maybe it is all part of some larger strategy that will ensure people like me will never be able to go back to the real world after the tournament ends (Well mwahahaha to you too!)

In all of this, rather guiltily so, all my other top (spectator-)sports have been getting “step-time treatment” from me. I hardly followed the Hamburg tournament but at the every least managed to watch all of the men’s finals – which has until now been the only exception in a long chain of whoever-I-support-frustrating-comes-close-to-winning-but loses – with Nadal winning despite last year’s loss and a semi-injury scare early on. Football, however, has taken rather a beating – what with the EPL season now over and the Champion’s league finals having just concluded. Last year, we had to put anti-glare on the TV screen to protect it from my eyes. But hey, we move on to more sedate lives now.

Back to the IPL and since it is not quite over yet, I am pretty sure there will be more to say and hear soon. I still hang on to some shreds of hope wrt the teams I want to see in the semis and the finals, but I would rather not tell now - old age brings superstitions with it. So, I guess, in a way, turning 30 does have something to do with it after all. Hmmm.

*I know I know - this epithet is not grand or (remotely) festive but every other combination possible being conjured and (ab)used by news channels for their various before the big game, expert panel lead up to the big game, breaking big game blurbs, during the big game, post big game analysis shows, this was the only non-copyright-violating-y-name I could use here.

**then there are the must-must-go’s, the must-go’s and so on…

*** do NOT bother to comment/opine on Sachin’s decline since his “hey day” and blah…if you still want to…go ahead but what I mean is that there is no point you can make here (to me)…seriously

**** last call received from new mother informing us about the “good news“ response to that “Ga Ga GAAH! NOOOOOOO!”