Cricket and Me: My tryst with India's national passion



In India, cricket is not just a pass time. Even  passion would be an understatement. In fact, it is almost a religion. There would hardly be anyone in this country whose life would not have been touched some way or the other by this game. Given my general nostalgic state of mind, I thought I would write about my experiences with the game that held me enthralled for 4 years of my life.

In my early childhood, in spite of all attempts on the part of my father and uncle to get me interested in cricket, my attitude to the game remained at best indifferent. Only thing I liked was watching the cute duck walking on the screen when players got out for zero in matches telecasted from Australia. I generally preferred more melodramatic stuff such as serials and movies. Then suddenly one fine day I turned a cricket fan, a fanatic, to the core. How did this transformation come about?

I have always been interested in collecting stuff – ranging from standard stuff such as coins, stamps, match boxes, books, and comics to weird things such as strange shaped stones and colored chalk pieces. Collection is not about just going and buying from the shop. The more the challenges that come in the way of collecting, all the more rewarding the collection process becomes. The joy and sense of accomplishment in acquiring a rare piece after a long wait cannot be described in words. It has to be experienced. Then there are other interesting aspects to collecting such as comparing notes, competing and trading with fellow collectors. The reader might by now be wondering what does my interest in collecting stuff got to do with my interest in cricket. Well, everything!

My closest friends those days were cricket fanatics. However their interest did not really rub off on me. I was the leader of the gang and my interest was in playing detective and they had no other option but to play along. That is of course altogether a different story which will be subject of another post. So let us leave the playing detective aside and get back to cricket. One gets interested in something new through association with something one is already passionate about. In this case, it was my passion for collecting that lead me to cricket. One of my friends Arjun had the habit of chewing gum regularly. One of the popular brands of bubblegum those days was Big Fun. When you opened the bubble gum wrapper, inside one would find a small strip of paper having the picture of a cricketer with some small statistic related to him. My friend had a habit of pocketing these. One day I noticed one and I developed an urge to collect them as well. My friend willingly gave me all his wrappers and I was in business.

Soon my collection began to grow but Arjun used to have just one bubblegum a day and you never knew who was the player till you opened the wrapper. So I was landing up with lot of duplicates. So I had to come up with other means of expanding my business. I noticed many of the other boys were not interested in these wrappers and were just throwing them away and going. So I began to scavenge around the canteen for wrappers. Soon things came to pass that I would position my team around the bubble gum counter to pounce on the wrapper the moment it was thrown. It might seem like a cheap thing to do. But one has to try it to see how much fun scavenging can be.

Then I came in touch with some of the other collectors. I came to know there was another brand of bubble gum called One Day bubble gum, with which one could get a free card with a nice photo in the front and detailed player statistics on the flip side. If Big Fun wrappers were my interest, the One Day cards became a sheer infatuation. But unfortunately those bubble gums had gone out of market and were not available in most of the shops. However one of the collectors who had a huge stash of one day cards offered me a deal; for every 5 Big Fun wrappers, he would give me a one day card. I was in ruptures of joy. This gave me a rush of blood and I began to crank up the production mechanism. I gave my friends just 10 minutes to finish lunch. After that I would herd them off to canteen for the scavenging mission. I also forced Arjun to double his daily bubble gum intake. Soon I had a nice collection of one day cards. But still some cards were missing. Dean Jones and Desmond Haynes were supposed to be the rarest cards and I would spend hours dreaming about possessing these two cards.

The cards by now had become a burning passion. But no one was willing to trade the rarer cards for Big Fun wrappers. So for these I tried to steal some of my play things such as magnets from home and try to exchange those for the cards. Of course my parents gave me no pocket money. So I had to work through barter system only. The other strategy I devised was to visit all petty shops in and around the area to see if they had some cards left over. Indeed money was needed for this venture. Some of the financing came from Arjun. For rest of it, I had to start selling off stamps and small play things. Of course parents would never even let me take these things to school, to speak of selling. So every day I had to secretly smuggle stuff into my school bag without my parents even getting scent of what I was doing.

The things infatuation makes you do! Talking of infatuation, it might be instructive at this point to digress a little and examine this interesting emotion. As I see, infatuation comes in 3 forms – with items, with people (often belonging to the opposite gender) and with concepts and ideas. I have experienced all three of them on multiple occasions. The symptoms are more or less the same for all three forms. When infatuation takes hold, everything else gets subordinated to the sole objective of possession of the object of infatuation. One feels as if the mind is on fire and experiences intense mood swings. There is euphoria when one is near to the object of infatuation, like when I used to sit and gloat over my shining cards. Then there would be moments of intense despair and despondency when one feels the object of infatuation going away from you like when after all efforts I see someone having a rare card I want but I am not able to make him part with it. The phases of infatuation can also lead to other repercussions as during these phases, one tends to lose interest in all other activities in life

I seem to have already clocked well over a thousand words without even starting on how my infatuation got transferred from the cricket cards to the cricket game. But then nostalgia is like old wine. It has to be sipped and savored, not gulped down in one shot of bottoms up. So I will continue in another post, a guest post for one of my best friends on blog-o-sphere, DS, a passionate cricket fan not too unlike my friends I mentioned earlier in this post.

Picture Credits: http://blogs.studentsarea.com/what-is-cricket/

21 comments:

indu chhibber said...

That was very interesting TF.It took me back to my own passion.You wouldn't know about it.When i was in school i used to collect glitzy colorful foils in mesmerizing hues & designs.Each design would be available in various shades & i went mad collecting all of them.Like you said,purchasing took all the fun out of it-barter was the only way!

The Fool said...

Thanks, Indu. Interesting hobby. I was hoping these nostalgic childhood posts of mine will trigger the nostalgic memories from the readers' childhoods. Good to see it worked in your case.

DS said...

This is a beautiful read! Made me remember my days, till recently I used to collect newspaper cuttings of cricket players. I still have 5 big books containing pictures from newspapers. I have every article on the terror attack that was made on the Sri Lankan team in Pakistan.
And I have a huge collection of stones collected from river beds!
Waiting for the continuating part/s on my blog.

The Fool said...

Thanks, DS. Initially I thought I would give this post as guest post. But reference to cricket was less. So I thought I would post the next one on your blog as that will relate to core cricketing stuff.

umashankar said...

That was a bizarrely associative passion for cricket! In fact, I found it so gripping I never knew when I'd gulped "well over a thousand words"! I'd happly follow you to DS's blog for the next installment.

The Fool said...

Thanks umashankar. Glad you found it gripping. Seeing no comments for 4 hours since I published post, I feared I had written badly.

Ashwini C N said...

"nostalgia is like old wine. It has to be sipped and savored, not gulped down in one shot of bottoms up"

Loved this line. I was able to relate to a lot of thoughts on this.

Nice to know about how your encounter with cricket started. That too considering that you weren't all that smitten by cricket from the beginning. I liked the way you have narrated, The words and thoughts just kept flowing and until you had mentioned about the word count, I never thought I'd read so much.

Nice one. Looking forward to the next part of this post :-)

Pratik Mohapatra said...

nice feel good article.. made me remember my younger days of school.. :)

Rickie said...

Hah...and you had to stop midway and leave us all hanging!
Waiting for the next part :)

The Fool said...

Thanks Ashwini. Please do check the continuation to this post.

The Fool said...

Thanks Pratik, I did hope the readers would be reminded of their own younger days.

C. Suresh said...

This post too is like old wine, TF! To be sipped and savored! Do not leave too long a gap for savoring before the next sip from DS' blog :)

The Fool said...

Thanks Rickie. If I had continued people would have just skipped the post seeing the size at the first glance. Next part to come up soon.

The Fool said...

Yes, CS. Next parts expected for many of the nostalgic posts. So that gives me lot of options to right now without depending on contests and prompts to inspire my writing.

Arti said...

Beautiful and a very interesting read as always TF. I love the subtle humor that you fill your posts with, it never fails to leave me with a smile. :) Will surely keep a track of this story. Please post it soon.

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Arti.

KayEm said...

Enjoyed this post, TF, very entertaining. Would love to read about your foray into actual cricket.

The Fool said...

Thanks KayEm. Good to see you at my blog after such a long time. Next past would be up as a guest post on DS blog in a day or two.

Vivek sharma said...

I have a marketing project on my childhood candy brand and reached this blog looking of big fun bubble gum. Very nicely written

Vivek sharma said...

I am working on candy brands and was looking information on big fun bubble gum , I use to collect cricketers cards in irder to get Sachin's Man size poster and I did managed to get the poster for room. Its very nicely written. Please let me know in case anyone knows why Big Fun Bubble gum vanished from the market.

The Fool said...

Thanks Vivek. I never wondered why Big Fun disappeared from the market. Actually I do not even know what are the bubble gums in market these days.

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