MS Dhoni might be thinking about the "Catch 20" situation he walked into two years ago! The 'captain cool' led India to the title win in the inaugural T20 World Cup in South Africa, becoming the face of Indian cricket overnight. His long locks took him from Ranchi hills to 'Desi Beverly Hills' stardom (read: close encounters in Bollywood and of course the million dollar endorsement
The win also put Indians as the pioneers of the slam-bang game and then came two years of fun in the sun. But two IPL's later, it was reality check for the merry Men in Blue as the thin ice gave in. Dhoni cut short his hair and the "gentlemen" from England, "pirates" from the Caribbean and
the "chokers" from South Africa made sure the Indian defence of the World T20 title was cut short at the Super Eight stage. Mud slinging, controversies and autopsies followed but who cares. As Dhoni says: "In my short career I have seen worst defeats than this."
Of course the Indian captain was referring to the 50-overs World Cup debacle at the West Indies. Well the Men in Blue are professionals to the core. As millions sat silently in front of their Idiot Boxes late in the night, seeing the Dwayne Bravos and Wayne Parnells rip apart their dream, the Rohit Sharmas and the Suresh Rainas were caught live on video joking and smiling at the team dug-out as their pals were losing in the middle. Why should they be sad? A loss
is a loss and they have many other battles to fight tomorrow. Besides they have other carnal pleasures to look forward to - the many girls they would be flinging with during the twilight hours being just one of them.
While the average Indian, including my 'journalism guru' were getting drunk to mourn about what was and what should have happened. But, to be honest, I don't care as I have bigger and better businesses to attend to. After all, I'm in Delhi for "Carobar".
Deputed to work in the capital city for a month, and drafted in to be part of the T20 World Cup central desk, I was in the thick of it all. I must say I was a little skeptical as to whether I would feel comfortable in the big office in Delhi. But then I realised, I am here for work yes, but there are other more important and fun "business" I should perform too. Life's 'hectic' for a sports
journalist here you see, 'very hectic'...
"I never expected this man. It took me by surprise," I had answered my friends back in Chennai after the first day of work in Delhi. I was going through the boring motions of the "how is work there buddy" type you see.
Well I was told I would be part of the desk in Delhi and I came here to do a decent job and go back home with my "rewards", whatever that may be. But reaching here I realised, I would have the pleasure of other "Carobars", to survive the Delhi heat.
For the hard-core South Indian's benefit, "Karobar" is a Hindi word which means business. So what important business is this... Well very important one and if I miss it I may regret it the rest of my life. I am joking of course.
The Delhi Times-Sport Karobar is spelt Car-O-Bar which basically is the regular, after-work drinking session at the parking lot outside office, in between the cars. Man, it has been years since I have drank standing in a public place. I remember it was during my college days I think
that I last did that and perhaps that's why it was love at first sight, or rather first peg, with the Carobar for me!
We four foreigners (guys who were deputed from other centres) - me, Vinay Nayudu from Mumbai, Aby Jose from Bangalore and Archiman Bhaduri from Kolkata, were at home in
no time. For Vinay and Archi-da, it was all so familiar of course, as they have been here and done this many a times. But for me and Aby, the guys who are in the "early twenties" it was
novel and boy it was fun.
If something takes me back in time to college days then why wouldn't I love it? As the boys stand huddled around the Delhi boss Alok Sinha's car, sipping from non-biodegradable
glasses, talking about the day's work, talking about sports, about love, about the hills, about girls, about next day's work schedules; I used to lean back to one of the cars and just smile as memories of stolen parties at the P&T quarters road near my college rush back.
Those were days of reckless fun. There it was more "bike-o-bar" than car-o-bar and the next days plan would be which movie to go or which girl to say "I love you" to. Basic dreams and aspirations I would say. Now it's basic too. Next day's plan would invariably be, as the Delhi Big
Man Alok puts it: "You guys come in around 4, we will work out the plans, the first pages we will send at 7.30, then we will get the match results, second page by 10.
"And then couple of you can stay back and update the late match and go home. It won't be a problem for you youngsters. And do find time in the day to go around Delhi and have fun," Alok, who thinks I'm just in my early twenties, used to add.
Simple plan but as effective as the Tilakaratne Dilshan's "Dilliscoop", the shot that captured the imagination of many during the Twenty20 World Cup. And his innovation almost gave the Cup to the Lankans. But the 'fun-loving' yet focused Afridi-types in the Pakistan team broke the
Islanders' magic and took home the silverware.
It was supposed to be a big occasion for us Indians, as we were defending a world crown there in England, and how often do you see an Indian team do that. But the big occasion in the "small" game got to the big boys I guess.
I have always said cricket is hardly a big game though, global game to be exact. I mean, only 15-odd country play the eccentric game so how big can it get. But it's big here in India. Guess we are madly trying to vindicate the travel brochures by following this game as fanatics. "India,
the land of eccentricities and surprises", the flashy travel literatures say. So let it be, we will follow the mad game madly!
FROM EXILE TO LORDS was the headline given by us after the final, saluting Pakistan's triumph, and as we wound up the day at our third-floor office, the captain of our team, turned to us boys. "Chalo, let's quickly start our business. Cheers to Pakistan. Cheers to some good work."
... IT"S CAROBAR TIME FOLKS - the big business in Delhi!