Tuesday, September 25, 2007

THE FINAL on the streets

India broke its 24-year record of not winning a World Cup Final yesterday. The Twenty20 World Cup is ours, we defeated Pakistan, and we did it without a coach and the 'experienced' players of the team.

The day of frenzy began with radio stations dishing out couple passes to watch the match on the big screen of a Fame theatre. I witnessed history on Linking Road, Bandra, the haven for street-shopping in Mumbai. The place was deserted, what with Ganpati Utsav and the match. Apart from loud honking and the rain, the one constant sound was radio commentary. In one shop, the cashier was glued to the telephone, as the caller told him about the fall of the sixth wicket. The salespersons looked preoccupied as they tried to figure out what the score was.

In another lane, the radio was on full blast in some shop, and most people just stood where they were to listen. Some radio station was also doling out Rs 10,000 to lucky listeners for every wicket that fell. A heavily frequented sale saw the customers trying really hard to gain the attention of the sales staff. Conversations about shoe sizes tried to fit into updates about runs, overs and wickets.

In the row of pavement stalls, amidst dirty streets wet with rain, the final wicket fell. The news came from a guy, who was listening to the commentary at a shop and relaying the news to the unfortunate who had to attend to business as usual. The joy was palpable, audible and overflowing. People congratulated each other, there were calls to stop working and go out for some mithai. Loud fireworks followed soon after.

The last word came from my maid this morning. "Those players are going to earn pots of money. What are we going to get? Are they going to give us even a rupee? The public goes mad for no reason at all!"