World Cup Discoveries

April 5, 2011

Friday night, 10 p.m. We were retiring to bed early. After all, we had set the alarm for 2 a.m. Hoping to catch at least three hours of sleep (I know my math is bad, but it isn’t that bad — usually takes about half an hour of tossing and turning to sleep, and then another half hour to slip into deep sleep).

We weren’t catching an early morning flight. Nor were we trying to beat the morning traffic for a weekend getaway. We were going to wake up in the thick of darkness to cheer for India.

As a kid I was a devotee — the Indian cricket team members, my Gods. I’d wake up for every domestic or international match. I’d not shower or eat until the match was over (and in those days, all we had was the 50-50 format) and I could rattle of our team’s stats like a seasoned commentator.

Dad was my partner in crime. We LOVED cricket. Ma, on the other hand, kept the house running while the entire country came to a standstill. She ensured we remained fed during the entire eight-hour game.

I remember skipping school a couple of times for “crucial” matches … yeah, cricket was religion back then and I, a fervent believer.

Cricket still is a religion back home and everywhere across the globe that Indians have planted themselves. I, however, changed with time.

There were too many tournaments, too many new players, it was becoming too comercial, and there was too much going on in my 20-something life to make cricket a priority. A new job, a new school, a new relationship, a new country … cricket was no longer a part of my existence.

I’d read about the team in passing, or hear my husband and his friends discuss recent matches. I knew all the prominent players, but I was unaware of their achievements, their strengths, and their weaknesses.

Even during the course of this year’s world cup, all I managed to keep tabs on was India’s net progress — did they win or did they lose? The details didn’t matter.

But when India made it to the World Cup Final, I felt obligated.

I needed to wake up for this match. I wanted to feel immersed again. I was looking forward to it being everything the experience used to be 20 years ago.

Little had I realized that the little tomboy had turned into a woman.

The first thing I said after waking up was, “Tea?”

India had just lost the toss and Sri Lanka had elected to bat. The first innings would start any minute. Four friends had already perched into position in front of our projector screen. This was the world cup final — the game where you don’t budge until the very end. And here I was offering to go downstairs and make tea for everyone.

All of them nodded.

And as I entered the kitchen, I realized I had become my mother.

It was my “responsibility” to keep the cricket-maniacs’ tummies full. They were totally into the game and I had to ensure they enjoyed it to the fullest. Hunger couldn’t get in the way. Nor could sleep.

I made another batch of tea at 6 a.m. and then a hot breakfast at 8.

There was a lot of movement on the ground. After Sri Lanka’s mammoth 275 runs in 50 overs, and India’s loss of two quick wickets in the first six overs, India was doomed to lose.

Everyone’s smart device was out … while I entertained a friend’s 17-month old.  Even though they were disconnected, I felt that my husband and friends were still a lot more invested in the game than I was.

Sure I’d feel a tinge of sadness at India’s loss, but I wouldn’t be devastated.

Who, of the 1.2 billion people in India and the 24 million Indians abroad, would have imagined that India would win? By 6 wickets!

We were beyond ourselves. Yours truly included. I hadn’t expected myself to react the way I did. I mean, sure … I’d thought I’d be happy, but … this?

I wasn’t sure at the time if it was their jubilation rubbing off on me  or if it was happiness emanating from within, but I danced and high-fived nevertheless. It was a strange adrenalin rush.

I hadn’t watched the match ball to ball, and yet I felt a surge of pride.

After 28 years we had become world champs again! The more I saw images of M S Dhoni, the Indian captain, lift the trophy and the other 10 members of the tremendously triumphant team, the more my mind went back to my childhood.

I remembered distinctly how my palms would sweat and my heart rate increase; how I would jump up with joy every time a boundary or a sixer was hit; how I would yell when one of my Gods got out; how broken-hearted I would be — for days — when we lost; how elated I would be when we won.

Ma would always say, “It’s just a game.”

But I knew better.

On Saturday morning at 10 the kid who revered cricket was reborn.

I couldn’t stop tweeting about it, or posting pics on Instagram.

I wanted to call everyone I knew. I wanted to show my pride. And share it. After a couple of hours of sleep that afternoon, our group of friends met up again — all dressed in “bleeding blue,” the Indian team’s color.

Standing on the streets of downtown San Jose waiting for our turn at CurryUpNow, an Indian food truck, we discussed the match over and over. (Shout out to Amir for partaking in the celebrations!)

The first two wickets, the final shot, Malinga’s bowling, Gautam’s batting. It was euphoric.

We were the loudest group in line, but who cared? India had just won the World Cup!

We said “Go India!” to strangers. We sang the Indian national anthem. We danced the night away.

I have always been averse to the idea of patriotism and the slotting of “my” people, “my” country, “my” team … I like to think of myself as a global person, but Saturday evening was different. In all my years in the States, I’ve never felt more Indian.

As reports of celebrations worldwide started filtering in, it felt good to have been a part of the festivities. Even Ma had watched the match in its entirety (well, almost).

It wasn’t about cricket. Or the cup.

This game symbolized so much more. It brought our nation together — a country marred by religious, caste, creed, linguistic and political boundaries was celebrating as one.

It’s not like a Sharks or Giants game … or even the SuperBowl. This was so much bigger.

And it made me realize, that no matter how far I’ve come from India, no matter how many years have passed since the pig-tailed tomboy spent sleepless nights staring at her television screen, no matter how much I distance myself from the ideas of nationalism and patriotism … the Indian in me is alive and kicking.

And very, very proud.

16081BD1A60533E0F1173D28DE4F0D3F World Cup Discoveries

P.S. For those of you in the South Bay Area, CurryUpNow is having a World Cup Celebration Dinner until 9 p.m. today.


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8 Responses to World Cup Discoveries

  1. ShachiNo Gravatar on April 6, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Oh it was a superb win and a memory of a lifetime! Proud to be an Indian, today and always :) !

  2. VyankateshNo Gravatar on April 11, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Wonderful read!!

    Surprisingly I have never woken up at 2 in the morning for the match :)

    But it’s great to see the enthusiasm and euphoria, and cherish the victory!!

  3. RACHIT SHARMANo Gravatar on April 23, 2011 at 2:16 am

    Yeah, cricket has an uniquely interesting property to bind us all in one fabric of nationalism and patriotism.

    read my world cup review @

  4. TaraNo Gravatar on May 14, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Hi Mansi,
    how have you been? no posts here? Am I missing something?
    Hope you are doing well.
    miss your writing.

    • MansiNo Gravatar on August 7, 2011 at 11:30 pm

      Sorry for the late reply, Tara. Just been busy having changed jobs a couple of months ago. Coming up for air soon and hope to start blogging again :) Thanks a lot for checking in!

  5. Making Life BetterNo Gravatar on July 14, 2011 at 2:33 am

    Great Win.. I am Proud of our team.

  6. Rajish KumarNo Gravatar on August 19, 2011 at 12:04 am

    India has great potential to rise up from where it currently is. While this development is shaping up, what would give it a boost to a brighter future is originality, says Rajni. Click here to find out more

  7. ShachiNo Gravatar on September 7, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    How have you been Mansi? All well? I miss your posts.


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