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What's the score da?

By Alfred Satish Jones
February 23, 2003 12:40 IST
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For me, World Cup 2003 began with a 'Ding Dong'.  It was 6 am, Washington DC time. Kashyap and I were standing outside Amit's front door. And I had just rung the doorbell.

We waited for about fifteen seconds. There were no sounds from within. I looked at Kashyap. Kashyap looked at me. It was too cold to talk. Telepathically, he transmitted a message to me, 'I told you this bugger wouldn't wake up da. Because of you, my ass is out here freezing its ass off and this guy is happily snoring his head off inside'.

Me, telepathy, back to him, 'Screw you da!'  Short and sweet.

Me ring doorbell again, 'Ding Dong'.  Another twenty seconds go by. No sound of Amit walking to the door. No sound of Amit happily brewing hot cups of coffee for all the guys who were going to show up. No sound of Amit popping hot hot toast and putting hot hot butter on it and then slobbering on huge dollops of Kissan Mixed Fruit jam.  No sound of…a gust of bone searingly cold wind cut short my daydream.

We'd been outside for nearly a minute now. Being the genius that I am, I didn't hesitate to take the logical next step.  I banged on the door. Finally, I heard that familiar Hawaii slipper scraping noise approaching the door from inside. The door opened and there, at last, was Amit.  He had a blanket wrapped around him.  His face was all puffed up.  It was 6:02 am. 'Morning guys,' he said and smiled weakly.

I told you I was a genius, right? Well, the genius in me piped up again. 'Did we wake you up?' I asked innocently. Amit glared back and silently flipped on his telepathy switch. 'What do you think you frikkin idiot!  Do you think I walk around looking like a bloody watchman with my cracked chappals and blanket when I'm awake?!' What he actually said was, 'No man. I was awake.' And with that piece of utterly polite falsehood, we walked in to World Cup 2003.

I learnt many new things that morning. I learnt, for instance, that whenever they are not on the cricket field, the West Indians are busy getting stoned.  How else do you explain how they came up with a National Anthem? I also learnt that the South Africans are in the Guiness Book of World Records for producing the longest national anthem ever. Actually, I think they were just making it up as they went along.

Ceremonies aside, the first game was an absolute cracker. The bunch of us thoroughly enjoyed it. We started off supporting South Africa -- don't ask me why coz I don't know.  When Sarwan and The Other Guy started whacking Pollock & Co. we promptly switched sides and started rooting for the West Indies. When Klusener came in to bat, we were back to being rabid SA fans. When the game broke for lunch, we ordered Chicken Biriyani. After lunch, there were ten or twelve of us present.  Approximately two of us were watching the post-lunch session at any given time.  The rest of us drifted in and out of various stages of sleep. When I woke up, Kashyap took over The Sleep shift. When Vinodh woke up, Amit gallantly jumped in. And each time one of us woke up, we'd all do that I-Just-Woke-Up-What-The-Hell-Is-Going-On squint, produce a never ending yawn followed by a long sorrowful sigh, and ask, 'What's the score da?'

I watched the India-Holland game a few days later.  Funnily enough though, I don't remember anything about it.  It's almost like my brain has supressed all memories of that game. Gee, I don't know why!

The next game was an exhibition/benefit match between India and Australia.  Microsoft organized it. You see, 90% of its predominantly Indian staff was not showing up for work because of the World Cup.  In response, Bill Gates announced that he would donate hundred dollars for every Indian fan who, on the day of the Australia match, swore that he would never watch another cricket game again, ever.  The Indian players rose to the challenge like a tigress protecting her cubs -- no wait a minnit -- like a cobra raising its hood -- no that's not right either -- ah yes, like a dog tucking its tail.  Gates ended up losing millions of dollars that day.  At last count, 99% of all Indians watching the game had sworn never to do it again. Regardless, the game itself had lived up to its billing, what an exhibition!  Far away at Microsoft HQ, Bill Gates looked out of his office window and smiled.  The staff parking lot was full of Honda Accords and Toyota. The Indians were back in full form.

I want to get serious for just one minute though. After the Australia game, I've read tonnes and tonnes of analyses of what happened, why it happened, why it always happens, why it always happens to us only, and last but not the least, why is Amitabh Bachchan still acting in movies. Serious and well thought out conclusions have been offered -- some excerpts follow:

'It's Sourav Ganguly man!'

'No man, it's Nagma.'

Yours truly, the genius: 'Who?'

'Yo Jones -- you're a useless fellow machi.  Nagma man -- she's this really sexy actress who is having an affair with Sourav.‘

'Yo Srini, why don't you get your eyes checked man.  Nagma?  Sexy?  What's wrong with you!  If you want sexy, look at Rani Mukher...oh Alan Donald is still playing? Amazing man, just amazing.  Imagine what state we will be when we get to his age.'

'Chitty, you reached that age ten years ago man!'

Much laughter ensues but the analyses go on:

'It's our middle order ra, its always out of order -- yeah I know I'm really funny.' And finally, 'I'll tell you what's wrong, hey Biren, listen to me man! Yo Chitty, keep quiet for a minute ra, let me tell you what's wrong... What?  Coffee?  Two spoons of sugar for me -- hey listen, let me tell you what's wrong -- oh thanks Puja this is really good coffee...

In all seriousness though, I think Vinodh summed it up best when he got up to leave after Sachin got out to Gillespie.  ‘I don't know why you buggers are still sitting here and watching this crap.  I'm going home, getting some sleep, waking up, getting some more sleep and then play some fantasy cricket on Rediff.'  Fantasy cricket, keep thinking fantasy cricket.

A few days later, when I showed up for the India - Zimbabwe game, mine was the only car parked in front of Amit's house.  He opened the door, waited patiently till I plopped down in front of the TV, turned it on, gave me the remote and went up the stairs and back to sleep.

Fast forward a few days and its almost game time.  Three hours from now, England plays Pakistan. The Gang is getting together for the game.  Slowly but surely, the number of us watching at Amit's is growing.  Slowly but surely.  It's all a matter of faith yes? You know, let me tell you, as a cricket fan in this far off land -- ‘Oh thanks, three spoons of sugar for me please.'

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Alfred Satish Jones