Yesterday ended unexpectedly, just stopping me from thinking that something is terribly wrong in this building and all my days are going to be bad. With an obviously sad day, I was waiting for my senior to inform me about what is happening to my file. At 8'o clock, I was finally deciding to make a move and go home, when a colleague asked me, if I would like to go for the Hockey World Cup match between India and Australia. She had few spare tickets. "Yes", came out as a reflex action. Reflex because my mom thinks that whenever I have been asked by people to come somewhere, I have never said no. Obviously, this is not true. The only worry was how would I reach the PG.. and to my relief, that colleague stayed close to my place and hence promised me to drop me at home.
In her car, I came to know that she has got two tickets of a premium stand and the rest of the general ones. Since, she was with her husband, so I had to take up that general ticket. She was feeling awkward about asking me to sit seperately. But I was so overwhelmed with the joy of watching a live match that I was completely indifferent about being alone and the feeling remained the same even after the game ended. So, in about 20 minutes we reached Major Dhyan Chand Stadium. My colleague had to entre through a different gate and so they got down. I got down at Gate No. 5, a few minutes farther from their gate. It was decided that I'll catch up with those guys at the same gate after the game ends.
Gate No. 5, was much more vibrant than that premium ticket gate. Right from this moment, I stopped feeling unaccompanied. Obviously, the janta was manifolds in number. Most of them were college students and amazingly a large number of girls had also come. Before this, I had seen a live cricket match between India and Pakistan at Green Park Stadium, Kanpur. I know there is no point comparing a cricket match with a hockey match, but, I was impressed with the crowd. Most of the people looked fairly decent and later in the stadium I came to know that they were well-informed about the game also, prettly unlike me, who has come due to a free ticket.
The queue was not very large. I got in in less than 5 minutes. Then we had to go through some 5 rounds of security check. I was not carrying anything except my wallet so I got through the check-points soon and entered the corridor. The stadium was right outside the corridor and the voices from the field and stands was very clear. I felt the thrill of reaching to the end of some treasure hunt. My entrance was on the other end of the stadium and I had to literally run in order to reach there on time, since the teams had already lined up. The game began the moment I entered the stadium. And Holy Cow! What a view it was. Contrary to the dusty, blurred and vast look of cricket match I had seen...it was clear and close. Bathing in the flood light, the stadium appeared brighter than the day light. All the players were very well visible along with the while little ball that looked very cute. I was able to see the passes, players made, who made them and all other minute details that we see in TV, eg. the delightful expression on the face of the player making the goal. And for the other details, which perhaps we missed due to the physical hyperactivity of the fans, we had a vast side-screen right behind us. So, everytime the players clogged at the other end of the field, we immediately turned our head back to check whats happening. I write 'we', because by now, I sub-consciously had forgotten that I am alone and everybody around me appeared to be a very good companion.
All the interesting comments coming out in Punjabi accent were truly a treat to my ears. "Oye.. patthe!!.. puttar seedhdhe aakar thonkane ka.. ".. "yaar, yeh apna chotu sardara wadda dhillla hai.. inne pakad de train karne di zarurat paya si.."...etc etc. There was one sardar uncle, who did commentary for the entire game. He would scream at Indian players for not hitting from the 'point'.. "point se maaro.. point se".. many times, he would say. Also, he was cursing Australian players for them being so quick. "Yeh lambi lambi tange hai.. toh tej bhagate hai.. hamare toh waise hi mare jaa rahe hain".. At several places, he also suggested our team what to do in order to save themselves a defeat. Alas! None of his suggestions were considered.
After Australia scored three goals, India got its first penalty stroke and it happened on the other side of the field. Audience, sitting on that side, started hysterical clapping so for a moment we thought its a goal and the audience, sitting on this side, went crazy for good ten seconds, before they felt that nothing is happening on the field as a mark of celebration for the goal. The brouhaha stopped.. confusion prevailed... okay, it is a penalty stroke.. but so what... and the uproar followed.
India missed this penalty stroke and the one that came later. However, they somehow managed two goals and I guess, the crowd was not expecting much, looking at the game our team displayed. Australians clearly dominated us. In the whole match, barring a couple of occasions in the first half, India was largely defensive. Whenever the home-team got the chance to attack, they spent a lot of time in juggling the ball between the players standing on the sides of the goal-post, whereas, Aussies were attacking right from the front. The latter also looked much more synchronised and fast. It was nice watching them play. As my colleague said, cheer for India, but cherish the Australian play. Since, I do not understand Hockey, so my performance-analysis should stop here. But I thoroughly enjoyed each and everybit of the occasion. I can get more free tickets and perhaps would go and watch some more world-cup matches. Ho sakta hai dheere dheere hockey bhi samajh aa jaye! :)
P.S: Later, when I met my colleague again, she told me that it took them 20 minutes to get through the premium stand entrance and by the time, they entered the stadium, Australia had already scored two goals. So.. definitely, money can't buy everything ;)