And so, cricket moved out of Madras that is Chennai, to a far away town. It left behind a desolate stadium, whose perpetually empty I,J&K stands can now take solace in the fact that the others too were equally bereft of people. But then, you really cannot keep people away from what they want and so you now have this situation of cricket fans going by train from Chennai to far away town just to see the matches. Rather reminiscent of the old days when special trains were run to events in areas in the mofussil, this concept too has proved popular.
The Man from Madras Musings is of course not a sports fanatic and so left to himself would not have stirred but not so his good lady, also known as She Who Must Be Obeyed. It was necessary to express solidarity with the boys in yellow she declared and her wish being MMM’s command, off they went, not by train but by flight.
And MMM was glad he went. Not only did he get to see a cricket match, he could also feast on the local variety of mango, which has a Portuguese sounding name. Having satiated himself with that king of fruits, MMM tagged along with his good lady to the stadium, which rather like the fruit referred to above, was awash with yellow. You could have imagined that you were in Chennai. The audience had a liberal sprinkling of men and women from Madras who added to the Chennai feel. Conversation flowed in Tamil and some cheered loudly in that language too. The man who body paints himself in yellow each time the Chennai team plays was also present and many of the locals made a beeline to get themselves photographed with him. TV cameras focused on him as well and it is quite amazing the way he too, like the cricketers, has become a celebrity.
The crowd could have been almost entirely from Chennai, given the way it behaved. The successes of the boys in yellow were cheered to the hilt with ear-splitting whistles, waving of flags and blowing of trumpets. So too was the fall of wickets of the opposing team. And when that team scored some minor triumphs, there was a deafening silence broken by some sporadic applause. It was almost like a gathering of Montagues forced to applaud something done by the Capulets.
All the gaiety and fun had MMM wondering if those who protested in Chennai against the holding of matches did not pass up on something that was good. Cricket does not appear to have lost and it is still being played in the name of Chennai, though at a remote location.