Saturday, April 23, 2011

Should I call it a pilgrimage?

Could also be titled as 'Mysore invited Bengaluru to cheer Kolkata!'

The journey started with a call from Bangkok, Mukund asking me 'Would you like to join us to see an IPL match at Kolkata?'. He added that the tickets were complimentary, courtesy of Venky, CEO and MD of KKR and a cousin of Gayathri. Bobby and Pradip would be the others to make the trip. I said yes without a second thought! That was how it was in Bangkok whenever Mukund arranged a trip!

As a member of our Tennis group in Bangkok which has lasted many years, the thought we would all be together watching and cheering at an IPL game was enough motivation. I sorely miss my weekend Tennis here in Bangalore.

But it was much more for others including my granddaughters. Leela and Rhea only know Sharukh Khan! A few gushed, 'possibility of meeting SRK and getting an autograph from him would be some news to share'. It would be some news only if SRK were to ask me for my autograph, was my attempt at a joke!

From then on things worked like clockwork. We landed around the same time, a van was waiting for us, arranged by a friend of Mukund. Soon we checked in at ITC Sonar, the hotel where the cricketers were staying. An impossibility one would think but Venky had booked the rooms for us!

We had time to relax, but I suppose we were too keyed up to relax and were on our way to the Eden Garden stadium. While I had seen Calcutta years ago, I did not remember how open and green it was around the stadium!

There are so many dimensions to our visit and it is a bit difficult to focus on one. Anyway so much is written about cricket and the cricketing gods and after IPL it is also the story of gods of Bollywood and luminaries of the industry. Along with the new gods come the inevitable media and the security!

Anyway it was a memorable trip! The atmosphere was amazing. The stadium was large but we were lucky to watch the game from one of the best locations in it. While we wanted our hosts KKR to win, the blitzkrieg of Chris Gayle was something else and it was a privilege for us to watch it live at a stadium. Watching cricket now on TV is not as much fun. It will disappoint many that we missed meeting SRK. But you never know.

While thanking Venky for his generous gesture and thoughtful arrangements I said that it surely surpassed the surprise he had sprung on us at a new year party at KGA years ago! We were served Masala dosa soon after the countdown for the new year! Anyone would know that eating Masala Dosa at the stroke of the new year is the ultimate for a Kannadiaga!

Here are the images which engrossed me and I hope you enjoy them as well. Luckily I had not carried my big camera, which was a no-no both at the hotel and at the stadium. But I did sneak in some thanks to the small video camera.

Kolkata as we drive towards the stadium:
I miss Ambassador cars, 7 could fit in with reasonable comfort. Hard to imagine but true!
The tram, the green lawns and no litter!

This should please my cousin Prasad.

As we near the stadium we are impressed with the open space!

The security:

They mean it! May be except one policeman who was polite but did not try to find a solution to my predicament!
The police looked smart and did not threaten!
But kept a vigilant eye!

At the end of the day. A job well done.





The stadium!

Players arrive!

We had to wait till they got off the bus and went in.

These men do a very important job!

The stadium was large but still appeared compact.

We were ahead of time. Very!



Later it filled up.

After the toss!



It is magical after sunset!

The game:
We saw constant activity on the field before the match.
Finally we are ready to start.
Getting ready for the first ball of the match.

Play in progress.
Preparing for the award ceremony.

Ourselves:
@Gayathri I was sitting next to Mukund. Hence the closeup is too close!

A sombre moment!

Pradip had a great time. It was his first match at a stadium. Great beginning for a fan.
Bobby and Pradip. I am happy with the picture.
Mukund with Sunil Gavaskar

At the hotel:
Here is a quiz! I am sure you can spot Mukund and Pradip in the front. Can you guess who the others are? We were at the bar when they walked in to our pleasant surprise!

Admirers and autograph seekers.
Dilshan! He was soon busy posing for pictures with admiring fans.
It says party with 'The Bold and Beautiful'.
Venky was kind enough to get us invitations for the party!
The invitation said 8.30pm which means it starts anytime after that!
Venkatesh Prasad at the Fashion show. Nice to have said hello to him.

The winning team is in great spirits.

The show begins. Spot the celebrities!
Finally we get to see the cheer leaders at a reasonable distance.
Endless interviews by the media.
International presence.
I hope you can guess now! Need a clue?

Back to reality the next day at the airport.

For some reason I could not move these clips around on the blog. Enjoy and don't miss the last clip. Scroll down!
video
A clip of the fashion show

video
First ball of the match!
video
Mounted police were very impressive


video
SRK working for the future.