I HAD to blog about this before it is too late. With my dismal record of updating this blog of late it wouldn't have been surprising if I finally managed to write about this by when it is time again for the next world cup to roll around. So yes, we were at the world cup finals! In Wankhede! With Nikki!! If anyone had told me last year this time that a year from now I would have attended the Bryan Adams concert and the world cup finals I would've laughed hysterically. From not seeing the inside of a restaurant or a multiplex for over a year, to going for concerts and cricket matches I sure have come a long way. Or maybe I've just been propelled down the path by an intrepid P but it's the result that counts!
So anyway, back to the world cup. It was the most awesome, amazing, mind blowing experience and coming from a cricket non enthusiast like me that's saying a lot! I used to be a cricket fan many years ago, more because I had a massive crush on Hansie Cronje, the then South Africa captain, than for any real love for the game and I used to watch all the SA matches so I could drool over him. Since then I have caught the occasional match, even going for one of the first IPL matches thanks to the cricket crazy P, but I've never avidly followed the sport. So when it came to the world cup this time round, I had never really planned on even following the matches on TV let alone going for a match! I did watch the India Pakistan semi final because, you know, it was the India Pakistan semi final and I was planning on catching the final in Bombay with friends, since we had already planned a trip to Bombay over that weekend to catch up with an old friend who was in town. Now this friend in question had planned a trip all the way from Hong Kong for the sole purpose of watching the match in Wankhede and he'd been set for this a whole two months in advance.
"What a cricket crazy guy!" I scoffed to P the night before the finals "Imagine coming all the way just to watch a match! So what if it's the world cup and India is in the finals? Who wants to sit through a full match out in the open when you can catch it in the comfort of your own home?"
"Er there is a slight possibility that I may get two tickets as well" said P meekly "I didn't mention it earlier because I wasn't sure if I would, but there seems to be a good chance of it happening. Would you want to go?"
"Tickets for the match? THE match? Live? In Wankhede?" I screeched, my eyes the size of cricket balls "Do I want to GO? Yes! YES! YESSSSSSSSS!!!"
The next door neighbor, enjoying a leisurely gin and tonic in his balcony nearly choked on a slice of lemon as my screeching ricocheted off the walls and all around the colony and I beat a hasty retreat indoors to plan the logistics of the trip with P. The match was slated to begin at 2pm and could go on till as late as 11pm or thereabouts. We had no babysitting options in Bombay which meant that we could either take Nikki along for the match or just one of us could go for it.
"You go" I said to P, sighing heavily, as the inner Mother India in me rose up to the fore in full melodramatic form. "I can hang out at friend X's house with Nikki while you watch the match live in Wankhede."
"We'll all go." said P switching on the TV.
"And maybe you can spare a thought for me sitting at home, with the baby, while you....eh? What did you say?" I goggled at P.
"We'll all go" P repeated patiently, flicking channels.
"What?" I screeched again, Mother India having given way to the Kiron Kher-esque mommy from Dostaana "We'll all go? With Nikki? Are you nuts?"
"It'll be fun. And I'm sure she'll enjoy herself. And if she gets tired we can leave" said P, calm as ever.
I spent the rest of the evening dithering and worrying and finally decided he was right. Saturday morning saw us headed to Bombay, me brimming over with an equal measure of worry and anticipation. By the time we began nearing the stadium I was tremendously excited and was seriously considering buying one of the multicolored clown wigs and getting the tricolor painted on my face like the hundreds of people thronging to the stadium around us. Only the paucity of time and the possibility that Nikki might fail to recognize her mother stopped me. We alighted at the stadium and I bounded up to the ladies entrance with Nikki, a happy smile on my face.
"Where do you think you're going?" said the singularly unpleasant policewoman manning the entrance.
"To watch the match of course!" I told her indignantly.
"And where do you think you are taking that suitcase? Do you really think you will be allowed to enter the stadium with that monstrosity?" She pointed a mean finger at Nikki's cute little diaper bag, which has replaced all my favorite handbags since the day she was born, and which I now carry with me everywhere.
"But..but..but I have a baby with me" I sputtered "This bag has all her basic stuff that I'll need. I can't possibly get through the next couple of hours without it!"
"No bags allowed" said the policewoman without batting an eyelid. "No exceptions. Who told you to get your baby? You should have left her at home."
A cheer rose from the stadium as the opening ceremony kicked off and I fought the urge to just jump over the turnstiles with Nikki and make a run for it.
"But I've come all the way from Pune for the match!" I yelled "And this is just some basic baby stuff! I have to take it in with me!"
"What's going on here?" said another voice as a slightly groggy looking senior policeman walked up. He had just finished a long argument with a lady who had been trying to persuade him to let her carry her 'lucky charm' perfume into the stadium with her and seemed a bit disoriented.
I explained the situation to him as best as I could given that my mind was already in the stadium doing the mexican wave with the thousands of crazy, cheering fans whose voices were reverberating in my ears, and appealed to his better judgment to let me in.
"Let me have a look at this bag" he sighed heavily in a resigned sort of way. "What's this?" he asked, pulling out a diaper.
"It's a diaper" I explained, by now desperate to get in, as the cheering touched a new crescendo "For when my daughter does potty. That is, if she does potty, I will need to change her into a fresh diaper. And these are the wipes for wiping the potty, and this is the hand sanitizer for me to clean my hands after I've cleaned the potty." I took a deep breath and looked hopefully at the policeman who seemed to have turned a faint shade of green.
"Fine" he said in a strangled sort of voice. "Take it all. Please go."
"Oh thank you so much!" I beamed at him "Oh just one last thing" I added as I noticed Nikki's bright yellow muslin square peeking out of the bag "I forgot to show you this..this is the towel with which I'll wipe my daughter's bum after she's finished doing her pott...."
"Just GO!" barked the officer suddenly sprinting off in the opposite direction at top speed.
"What a strange man" I said to myself as I finally walked through the entrance with Nikki, where P was waiting for us.
"Let's go!" I said enthusiastically to P, but he was looking at Nikki with a strange look, slightly wrinkling his nose.
"Er..has Nikki blessed her diaper in the recent past?" he asked wrinkling his nose again.
"What?" I screeched as I bent down to check. "Yes she has! What are we going to do now? I TOLD you this was a bad idea!"
"We'll find a place to change the diaper, and then we'll change it and watch the match" said the indefatigable P.
Easier said than done though. One look at the restrooms in the stadium was enough to dissuade us from even contemplating Operation Clean Up there. After taking several rounds of the stand, and walking up and down the four levels with an increasingly stinky diaper we finally found an isolated counter on the last level which looked like it would serve the purpose. After taking permission from the lone security guard in the vicinity we got down to (dirty) business. Within three and a half seconds a vague looking chappie popped up out of the blue.
"Are you serving water?" he asked hopefully.
"We're not serving anything except a stink" I snapped back, rather unnecessarily, but I was itching to finally go and watch the match!
He'd been gone for precisely thirty seconds when another guy appeared.
"Water counter? Gimme five bottles and one Pepsi" he barked. I didn't bother replying. The delightful aromas from the open diaper swiftly assailed him and he passed out in a dead faint. Nikki, meanwhile, decided that she'd had enough of this nonsensical behavior and started bawling lustily. The security fellow started shooting us wary looks.
"I TOLD you this was a bad idea" I barked again at P who was busy changing the diaper while I did the all important task of supervising the general proceedings. Seven minutes and fifteen water counter requests later we were done. I felt a surge of excitement as we walked past the pile of bodies around the counter (OK, FINE, I exaggerate, but seriously, you should have seen their faces!)and finally headed to watch the match.
Nikki cheered up considerably on seeing the general festive atmosphere all around and joined the rest of the spectators in cheers of 'Indeeeyaah! India!' We settled into our seats with the boxes of scrummy food and drinks provided by the organizers and proceeded to have one of the best evenings of our lives. There were a fun bunch of people sitting around us along with a couple of kids and Nikki had a blast with all the cheering and the whooping all around us. She thoroughly enjoyed all the music (and there was a LOT of it, even during overs!)and could be seen shaking her booty with all her might.
"There's Kohli and Yudi" P said in an awed voice as the afore-mentioned cricketers took fielding positions close to where we sat.
"Yawn. Whatever. I'm not one of those cricket crazy fans who go berserk at the sight of a cricketer." I said in a lofty voice.
"Then I guess you wouldn't be interested in getting a glimpse of Sachin" sad P looking over my shoulder.
"Sachin?" I squeaked in a small voice.
"Yeah. He's so close if you reach through the grill you may be able to touch him...." I didn't catch the rest of his words because I was too busy climbing over the people ahead to get to the front so I could get a picture of Sachin. I was feeling a little sheepish when I headed back, unable to understand the strange adrenalin charged cricket lover that the match seemed to have unleashed in me but the husband remained impressively straight faced and continued to be so even when I made a spectacle of myself by whooping loudly during the multiple mexican waves, jumping up and down in my seat, and at one point even standing on my seat,and generally behaving like a complete dork.
The weather was playing along with the upbeat atmosphere, it was a pleasant, breezy, beautiful evening and there was a palpable buzz in the air. I never thought one of the nicest evenings I'd have with Nikki would be in a cricket stadium with thousands of screaming fans, but there we were, the three of us, having an absolute blast. Nikki certainly had the time of her life and was quite disappointed when the whole thing was over. The sight of ecstatic fans spilling over the pavements to dance on the roads, processions on bikes holding aloft replicas of the Cup and the general party atmosphere seemed to cheer her up on the drive back, even though she was a tad disappointed when we went back home instead of heading straight for another cricket match!
And now, several days later, even though memories of that wonderful evening are fast fading, on many a mellow summer afternoon a tiny little voice pipes up 'Indeeyaahh! Indiyaaa!' and it never fails to bring back a smile to my face :)