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Snorting an India-Pakistan encounter.

by Gaurav Sethi

June 3, 2009: That's when the two were about to hook up for a World T20 warm-up match. It felt like two estranged lovers were giving it one more shot. Twitter and Cover it Live were still news to us, and I was working at getting some Pakistanis involved. My Pak pal, Umair Qazi, gave the stadium a miss so he could play online with us. We even changed the masthead of our site to Bored Cricket Crazy Indians and Pakistanis. There was enough bonhomie to give both peace and John Lennon a chance.
On March 1, 2003, my buddy, Tubs, was getting married. It seemed cruel to miss the match, but I made it to his place just in time for the upper cuts. Those first ten overs had me so pumped, think I needed a horse-tranquilizer to calm me down. Just as well we had to get the groom on his ghodi. I was glad to make a life-long cricket friendship that day with Mohan Kaka, the man with the transistor. And as we closed in on the pheras, I kept asking him about Tendu and Kaif – Sachin still there? Kaif batting? That changed to Dravid batting? Yuvi batting? It was manic, and he always responded with a stoic reassuring nod. Then the fireworks – and applause – most mistook this for the completion of the seven pheras, instead India had beaten Pakistan again. Mohan Kaka nodded his approval. I hugged him for the first time that day.
In the days leading up to March 30, 2011, quite a few Indians were tweeting ticket-assistance for Sana Kazmi, to beam her up from Karachi to Mohali. It seemed improbable as Sana didn’t even have an Indian visa - somehow she made it, Pakistan did not.

With yet another Misbah skier, yet another Indo-Pak encounter was over, though the conspiracy theories didn’t quite stop. The commonest, no way Pakistan was going to play the finals in Mumbai.

Consequences of Pakistan's World Cup defeat
Mother crossed over from Lahore as a little girl after partition. She talks of her nani; whose jewelery was wrapped up in a little bundle. From her nani’s little bundle, she, and generations after have imbibed these warped emotions towards what once was home.  It’s puzzling, no it’s schizophrenic.  But inject an India-Pakistan game, and we discard every shade of grey.

Mother usually calls me, or hollers from downstairs after an India game.  When it’s an India-Pakistan game, the phone rings louder, her hollers, almost loudspeakerish. The hugs tighter. At times there’s inappropriate Punjabi slang thrown in.
Last week or so, India-Pakistan World Cup repeats have been on cocaine. How many times can you see that Ameer Sohail-Venki Prasad chai pe charcha – well, on Monday last, both me and the gym instructor froze for a full four minutes in front of a mute TV. He went on to regale me about the exchange and abuse Sohail for good measure. I was meeting this guy for the first time. My favourite though is Saleem Malik edging to More in the 1992 World Cup. In my mind I always thought he was halfway down the wicket – but at Prabhakar’s pace, Malik would have to leave the crease way before the ball was bowled. And that’s the beauty of these 5 World Cup wins – everything moves at a pace where we once froze it – like when the ball kisses Malik’s outside edge.

September 12, 2012: I walk up to four boys in a Barcelona square playing cricket, ask if I can join them. Appears they’re Pakistani. I hype it up, ask them if they’re ready for an India-Pakistan match. They don’t respond but one of them smashes me over my head for six. Still, such a rush, playing with a bunch of Pakistanis out of nowhere.

First published in daily O

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