Wednesday, March 29, 2006


It was gonna be a fun saturday evening, an opportunity to regroup with old college buddies and crack a few PJ's , discuss about some new venture , play dumb charades and many such things. The time was fixed at 6:00 PM and as always people expected me to see atleast at 6:30 PM . But I had an immediate cousin visiting my house and I started a bit late.

Now the place where we all were gonna meet was about 40 minutes from my house which included around 20 minutes of rail journey through the ever crowded Mumbai local train. I was at the Thane Station wondering when my Train would arrive as there were no trains for the place I was heading to for the past 10 minutes and obviously the platform was crowded with many persons seeking to catch the train. I managed to sneak in front of other people so that I could be one of those first souls to get inside the compartment . Now I have this practice of just checking my wallet ( kept in the pants) before I catch a train and then just when I am inside the compartment. As the train arrived at the station lots of people alighted from the train and double the number of people boarded the train. As soon as I managed to step inside the compartment I just patted my pant pockets only to find my wallet missing. I though to myself that I must have not checked the pockets properly. In plain words I was hoping for a miracle. But alas it was not to be ! I had lost many a thing including my library card , railway pass and of course my debit card. Cash of course !

At that moment nothing struck my mind than blocking my all important debit card . So I immediately sms'ed a friend to provide me the customer service number of a reputed bank. In jet speed I had the number and I was trying to get through the IVRS to talk to the bank representative. Finally after 5 minutes I was connected to a representative who took more than 30 minutes to block the card because he was not able to verify my name ( One which can give Vangilapuram Venkata Sai Laxman a complex ) . I was trying to keep my cool but then WTF aren't the customer service reps trained to search using multiple options. Or are banks using the banking software developed by the East India Company ? I queried as to who would be responsible in case my debit was misused . The representative just kept on saying that he was helpless and gave me all that empathy crap. So finally reluctantly I had to call my folks at home to get the account number and get it blocked. Finally the issue was resolved . But the representative while closing the call also added that since I was a lucky ( any takers ?? ) and the chosen one I would be soon receiving a international debit card within 10 working days.

The evening carried on with me reliving my college days of borrowing money from my friends . In my 6 years of traveling the local trains never has been a instance of my wallet being pickpocketed and always believed that the probability of me being the target of such an act would be extremely remote . But all that has changed for me and traveling in trains is not the same anymore !

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Day One @ Wankhede
To begin with may I mention that I am not a greatest lover of the game called CRICKET. Like most other guys from Kerala I love my football and would occasionally go to watch the club matches in Mumbai mostly of Mahindra United .
But last Saturday I along with couple of my office colleagues and their friends ( 9 of us in all ) went to the Wankhede Stadium to witness the test match between Indian and England which India very handsomely lost . A day earlier the latest Team India shirts consisting of the Nike Logo were bought by some of us . This was my first time I was going to a stadium to witness a cricket match and according to my office colleagues the buzzword was that the coolest stand to be in was the now infamous North stand . To start off I and my friends reached the ticket counter at around 5:00 AM to ensure that tickets could be secured . To my surprise we were the first lot of guys who were their to buy the tickets . Soon by around 5:45 AM a sizeable amount of people had turned up. I was chatting with this guy who was all set to buy the tickets for the North stand and he remarked " I am born and brought up in the North stand " when I enquired on why the hell was he bent upon securing tickets only for the North Stand. At around 7:00 AM an MCA official came and directed us to the window from where we would get the tickets . I was proud and assured of getting a ticket now. However some of my other friends were keen on getting the 5 day pass . I was not that hell bent on coming for 5 days and said to myself that one day would more than satisfy my anxiety of witnessing a cricket match.
Time passed on and at around comes a group of Police officials who began to slap people left, right and center. Still I was in the numero uno position. Suddenly the window was changed and I was thrown out of the race by the people behind me and the police for strangely kept mum during the whole commotion. Whoever was trying to get back to his original position was slapped and people were dragged by the hair. I was completely pissed off over the fact that after ruining my sleep and being the first person to arrive I was nowhere. Somehow a couple of my friends managed to secure an approximately 10th position in the queue. I made dare devil attempt to stand in the line and made the few steps forward . To my surprise the policeman did not resort to any slapping but asked me to move away. But I was determined to not take this very lightly and told him flatly that he had arrived there just now whereas I was the first guy standing in the queue. Thankfully some other guys in the queue also supported me and he let me in . Finally we got all the 9 tickets for the North Stand. We all proceeded to a nearby hotel to have some breakfast and then finally proceeded to the stadium. Well I had carried with me a "Brainpack " since I had a quiz to attend after the match got over. Nowhere was it written on the ticket that bags are not allowed inside the stadium. I was asked to open my bag in all the 4 checkpoints but the real action happened at entry point 3 when I was asked to leave my bag . I acknowledged to do that but demanded a token number so that bag would be in safe custody. But the police guy replied that they would give me once the match was over and no tokens could be given . Just then I saw a English fan being let inside with a bag without any checking. This again made me angry of the double standards adopted and I argued with the policeman over there for the next 2 minutes after which he reluctantly agreed to let me take the bag inside .
The Match.
Came to know that Dravid had won the TOSS and was expecting to see India and especially Sachin bat. However to everyone's surprise Dravid elected to field and I was disappointed by this decision. The Indian team led by Dravid entered the field and the opening spell was bowled by Pathan and Sreeshanth. But to my utter dismay in the first 45 minutes had fallen and the English openers were negotiating the pace attack very well. Soon Kumble and Munaf Patel stepped in. Munaf was bowling at a good speed enough to create confusion among the openers. Though he looked very impressive with his bowling he still could not find the first victim which was finally taken by Sreeshanth. And England were just a wicket down at lunch after Indian elected to bowl . I can write a lot more but then now that the test match itself is over I do not intend to describe it further except for the fact that the Lanky Munaf impressed me immensely and bowled a brilliant over which had three bouncers one after the another and one fiery yorker to end ; a perfect example to set up a wicket .
North Stand
The most vocal stand of all had most people comprising of students from nearby colleges and many of them could be heard saying " Mera proxy mara kya ? " on their cellphones. Mumbai loves Sachin and the crowd got mad everytime he fielded a ball . There was a time when people from the North Stand shouted " Sachin Sachin " so many times that he had to acknowledge it by raising his hand . What a moment that was ! . Then came the Bakra of the day " Yuvi " to field near our stand . The crowd started with a slogan " Kim Sharma ka Bhai kaun - Yuvraj Yuvraj " and I was more than happy to join lend my vocals which had already dried a great deal. Yuvraj also sportingly responded by sometimes smiling or at other times asking all of us to keep quiet. Then their were other chants like " East Stand - hai hai " since they were not co-operating with us in furthering the Mexican wave. All of a sudden poor fellow Dravid drops a catch and then the capacity full North Stand shouted in unison " We want Saurav " and I too shouted it with full throttle . Then there were some cheeky ones coming up like " Fat gayi toh England bola Hajmola Hajmola . " ( You ought to be there to enjoy the war cries ).
But it turned ugly when people started abusing English cricketers in a very unceremonious and derogatory fashion and I correctly kept myself outside of these ones. The abuses were very offensive to say the least and did not recede until we bagged the second wicket. Its true that we all want to have a bit of fun but having fun at the expense of presenting a abusive picture before a visiting team is something which these 17-20 year old youngesters should abdicate themselves from . The picture had turned much more ugly on the fourth and fifth day when we could clearly listen to all the abusive tones of the crowd in our TV sets. I still feel that the sight from the North stand is awesome and the crowd is pretty decent but if the people continue chanting in a similar fashion a day will come when we will be having a cop controlling every other row in a stand.
Post Match
Had been to a quiz hosted by Dhananjay @ JBIMS nearly 500 meters from the stadium and it was worth all the effort to say the least . Though I could manage to answer a very few questions but the research carried out was excellent . Little surprise then that the ace quizzer went on to win the Brand Equity Quiz Mumbai round couple of days later.
Well just coming back to the cricket I feel I was lucky to see all the 11 Indian players on the field after a pretty mundane decision by Dravid. I had a rocking experience and intend to see some more matches at the Wankhede stadium. And yes only from the North Stand ! No inane cries please :-)