Monday, June 06, 2011

Biryani Masala

Without telling my mum, Karthik and I sneaked out on my bike. We reached the place within five minutes. The place was crowded with a lot of people going in and out. We went inside, argued if we should have it there or take it home. We, finally, decided to take it home and get the heck out of there. Little did we know that we were in for a small adventure that night!

It was a summer evening and the IPL IV was on full swing. Karthik, Viswanath and I decided to have a slumber party at my place. After the first match of the day concluded, we decided to go out for dinner. Karthik didn't eat because he was already full from his team lunch at the Barbeque Nation in the afternoon. Anyway, Viswanath and I finished our dinner and we went back home. After watching yet another Sachin Tendulkar's century for a losing cause, we decided to watch some movies. But then, Karthik had something else on his mind just a few minutes after the stroke of midnight. He complained he was hungry. I didn't know any place that'd be open at that hour, but Karthik, on the other hand knew about this place called 'City Diamond' where we get midnight biryani. I had never heard of it and neither had Viswanath.

Back to the City Diamond now…. we took the biryani parcel and we turned around to go out. To our dismay, the café shutter was down and the manager (??) was not letting us out. He asked us to wait for a few minutes. We were surprised to say the least. When we asked him what was going on, he answered that there were police outside and that we have to wait for them to leave before we could get out. We went from a state of surprise to a state of complete shock!

What probably comforted us was the fact that the other people inside were going about their routine (eating biryani) without any fuss. Either they probably did not know what was going on or this kind of thing happens all the time. And so, we started to wait. All kind of stuff was going through my mind- Probably should call dad or a news channel or at least my friend Viswanath who chose to stay back home. But we thought against all that thinking there won’t be any trouble and that the café owner will take of it. It took a while before every customer finished eating and was waiting for someone to open the damn shutter.

We waited for about three quarters of an hour before the manager announced that he was going to open the shutter, but we had little time to get out of there because the police could be back any moment. I thought, “Finally! About time!”. But at the back of my mind, I was hoping the police were really gone and that there would be no more trouble. As the shutter opened, a policeman came rushing towards us and started swinging his stick (lathi).

The state of shock instantly transformed into a state of panic and everybody started running helter-skelter. Karthik, who was beside me, disappeared before I could completely realize what was going on (amazing what fear can instill into people). I saw the biryani parcel we had bought lying on the floor and just when the police was very close to me and was about to swing his lathi, I started to run wherever I could. It was chaotic. I jumped from one table to another. I realized I was running out of tables to jump, so I jumped onto the railing of the staircase and in that process, slightly injured my leg and lost my flip flops.

I didn’t feel the pain though, such was the situation. Anyway, I took the stairs and went onto the terrace. I don’t know why I went on to the terrace; just followed my instinct. Biryani was being cooked in huge pots on the terrace; loved the smell. A lot of people were on the terrace. People were trying to jump from one roof top to another. Looked fun, but I didn’t do it because I was worried about Karthik, who I got separated from in the melee. Just when I was about to call him, a mobile phone rang. All the people were shushing the owner of the mobile phone. As much as I was furious at him, I couldn’t help but smile. I decided against calling Karthik and rather chose to wait for police to clear. I could hear the policeman downstairs hitting his lathi on the ground. I was just hoping that my friend didn’t get caught downstairs. I ran out of patience after waiting for about twenty minutes and finally called my friend who answered the call and was talking in whispers. All I could make out was that he was hiding under the staircase and that a policeman was right before him. Everyone became absolutely still. It was so quiet that I could literally hear my heart pounding. After some twenty minutes, a man came upstairs and shouted that we had ten minutes to vacate the café. I dashed downstairs and Karthik was there waiting for me. Oh, I felt so relieved. Just when I was about to go out, I saw my flip flops from the corner of my eye. I ran towards them, wore them and sped towards my bike and raced away.

Though we were shit scared, it was a memorable adventure! Thought it was another blog moment.


Thursday, March 31, 2011

One day, one life, one match

30th March 2011, 2330 hrs; As I rode past the frenzy crowd that gathered on the streets to celebrate a great semi final victory over Pakistan in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 just a few minutes ago, I was amazed to see how a sport can unite millions of people. I was amazed to see how strangers were exchanging sweets, bursting crackers, waving huge Indian flags and congratulating each other. Right then I knew, as a certain Mr. Barney Stinson says, “This is so going into my blog.” it was going into my blog and here it goes…

The buildup was immense, more than a billion hearts prayed and hoped, the analysis by the experts was knowledgeable, the statistics were interesting and there was only one thing on everybody's mind - India vs. Pakistan, 30th March, 2011. Touted as the most anticipated and the most important game in the history of cricket, the semifinal of the Cricket World Cup 2011 between India and Pakistan generated excitement even in the hearts of non-cricket lovers. Everyone was looking for a break from the daily routine; everyone was finally looking forward to something that would cheer them up, something that would bring a smile on the face, and something that would just up their blood pressure so much that they would BLEED BLUE.

The mind games began with the Pakistani captain Shahid Afridi stating that his team will not let Sachin Tendulkar score his 100th international hundred. Umar Gul chipped in by making his wish to rip through the Indian top order public. The Indian contingent did not respond. It was all adding to the excitement. Everybody was trying to guess the starting line ups, every group had its own analysis, discussions and finally, everybody wanted to be in Mohali.

My friends and I tried to make plans for the big day; little did we know that we would get lost in the moment on that day and none of the plans would be implemented. The match was also going to be screened in the amphitheater at work. The buildup had its share of drama. On the night before the big day, it hail stormed in Mohali making everybody think what would happen if the match is abandoned. It would be a bitter disappointing anti-climax because if that is the case, Pakistan would go through to the finals. Amidst all this, the big day arrived and people in Mohali rose from their beds to clear skies and a bright morning sun.

I, not being a great fan of the sport, was not that interested in the match. The day was passing like any other day till 1400hrs. India won the toss and elected to bat. I was at my desk working, but my cricket crazy friend, Viswanath, came running to my desk and dragged me along with him to the Food Court where the match was being screened on a big screen. As Siva, Viswa and I approached the food court, we could hear whistles and applause from the food court. As expected, the place was crowded; people were waving flags, blowing whistles and chanting ‘Jeetega Bhai jeetega, India jeetega’. I knew I was going to listen to this chant for many times that evening. It was then time for the national anthems of the two nations. Pakistani anthem was followed by the Indian anthem. All the people abandoned whatever they were doing at that moment (few people were having lunch) and stood up to sing the national anthem; it had to be a goose bumps moment, I am a patriotic guy.

The roar from the assembled crowd was incredible when Sachin and Sehwag entered the ground and Sehwag was doing his customary swinging of arms warm up. The first four in the third ball of the match came from Sehwags’ willow and the food court was in utter chaos. People went into frenzy, my friend was constantly blowing whistle right next to my ear. The crowd was cheering every run that was being scored. Sehwag continued his flurry of boundaries before he fell. A lot of people left the food court and went back to work. Viswanath, being a huge fan of Sehwag, was not interested in watching the match anymore. I was just happy that I did not need to watch the match anymore. We went back to our desks. Though I was not interested in watching the match, I was interested in what was going on. I was not able to concentrate on my work. So, I just started to roam around the office from one cubicle to another. People at their desks were watching the match on the internet. People were cursing every wicket that fell and were applauding every boundary scored. As expected, I got bored of the match and started to get on with my work.

I thought of going home at 7:30, but then I thought I would watch the match till 9PM and then leave so that I can avoid the rush hour. So I went to the amphitheater with my friend and started to watch the match. Boy! That was some ambience. Everybody was on a high. The crowd was cheering for every dot ball and danced for every Pakistani wicket that fell. My friend, Siva, became all superstitious and freakish about the places where we were sitting. He didn’t want anybody to move from their place. It was just amazing. The atmosphere was electrifying as the last Pakistani wicket fell. Everybody got to their feet at once; people congratulated each other, danced to the “De Ghuma ke” song. It was jingoism at its best. It usually takes me 15 minutes to go home, but it took me 40 minutes that day. So much to avoid the traffic, but it was totally worth it.

All done and said, it was one of the best screenings I have ever attended. The credit goes to the people who made the screening possible and to the cricketers who played an amazing game and of course, the CROWD.

Hope India goes on to win the finals in Mumbai on 2nd April, 2011.

Jai Hind!