Friday, March 24, 2006

The Game of Life

My office is close to the wankhede stadium. India were 70 for 3 at lunch with the main batting line up intact and Sachin going great guns. I had no work to do. My two bosses were not in office. I had never seen a cricket match live earlier. Five extremely compelling reasons for me to leave office in lunch time and go watch the 5th day of the India England test. Which is precisely what I did. Getting the ticket is itself a saga, which I will save for a later blog post. But by the time i entered, I had already heard that Dravid was back in the pavillion. The first ball I saw as i took my seat was Sachin's dismissal. I was crestfallen. But nothing had prepared me for what happened next. One hour, 14 overs, 30 runs, 7 wickets. I had paid 350 bucks for the black ticket. So i spent 25 rupees to watch every over.
But later, i reflected on my experience and realised that it was well worth it. First of all, I was not too disappointed with the outcome of the game. This was in part because I was insulated from the commentators' adrenalin packed comments. I also followed closely the field settings and tried to think like the batsman before every ball, something you cant always do while watching cricket on TV. But more importantly, I lived cricket in that one hour. When Flintoff ran in at tearaway speed, I sensed his muscles contracting and relaxing with every stride he took. I could almost touch the nervous concentration writ large on yuvraj's face as he waited for the ball. I heard the dull smack of the leather hitting the willow and marvelled at how artificial the sound had seemed when metamorphosed through the arcane electronic circuits of my TV speaker. I smelled the death of Indian hopes and their lack of stomach to put up a fight. But it didnt agonise me. I was fascinated that suddenly I could feel what the Indian team was feeling. I knew why Dhoni played those two atrocious shots. I knew, just like a hapless prey being cornered slowly by a pack of hungry hyenas would know. And when Munaf was dismissed, I rejoiced for the victorious team. It didnt matter who they were. All that mattered was that they had achieved the impossible. I stood up like 20000 others and applauded the team taking the victory lap. It was a beautiful moment. I wanted to be one of them. Emerging victorious after a bloody battle. Hasnt man always strived to do this? This is what brings meaning to Man's seemingly pointless existence. This is what Man is supposed to do. Fight.
I was suddenly grateful at the novel non violent methods of sublimation of Man's combative instincts that we call sports.
So when I came out of the stadium, I was not disappointed. I had seen and learnt so many new things in a span of little over an hour. If only all my classes in school and college were like this. I would be a much better man.
And yes, next time, I want to see India win.