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March 26, 2004 14:24 IST
"Geez, what a boring match," said Bhargav. Ruchira seemed inclined to agree. With this kind of encouragement from my pals, I was beginning to yawn through the India-Pakistan final in Lahore the day before yesterday.
Yeah, India was winning, lekin kya sukha match chal raha tha yaar(the match was boring). Quiet celebrations had sprouted, until Shoaib Malik and Moin Khan started skinning Zaheer's over. Suddenly, everyone stared nervously at the big screen at Café Mocha. India won, nonetheless. We didn't wait for the presentation; all we wanted to do was to reach Shivaji Park ASAP!
The park promised some celebration; I had heard stories about the time when Pakistan lost a match to India in the World Cup. True to promise, this too turned out to be an unbelievable night. Almost 2,000 people were there, hands in the air, dancing together. At least 1,000 more people were milling around, watching and smiling.
There were kids, pretty girls, mothers and grandmothers, fathers and to-be-fathers, chanting "Indiaaaaa India." Boys in sweat-stained singlets were either running around with the Tricolour in their hands, or zooming on bikes screaming India's glory.
There were cameramen representing various news channels, and their helpers who were trying to get away from the exploding firecrackers.
In all that hungama (chaos), one poster caught my eye. 'Hara Haara (They lost),' it said. You see, there used to be an explicit anti-Pakistan aggressiveness in celebrating India's victory. This time, all I saw was this subtle poster. It's dying, I thought to myself, and perhaps it will vanish entirely one day, this hatred that is ingrained in our hearts.
Rohan Sonalkar, Mumbai
'It happens all the time'
A month after I graduated in 1992, I was to fly out of Mumbai to the US with a cousin; we were joining the same university.
We were taking an early morning flight and stretched out comfortably on a clean portion of the floor as we waited for the boarding announcement.
A Caucasian man and his teenage son were also waiting to catch their flight. I was almost asleep when I saw the teenager walk sleepily into the ladies' washroom. Suddenly, I was wide awake, horrified at the boy's error.
I shook his father awake and told him his son had entered the wrong washroom.
The father smiled sleepily. "It's my daughter," he said. "It happens all the time," he added comfortingly.
Harish Badhe, Hyderabad
I don't walk the streets any more
Walking has my favourite form of exercise even before I came to the US. Recently, though, I began a new job in the Bay Area. Since then, my daily walk and I have become strangers.
I live in a residential neighbourhood, not too far from San Jose. One day, I returned home early. It was 7 pm and already dark, but I could not resist the temptation of going for a walk.
I was enjoying the lovely spring evening when a car, with four teenagers, slowed down near me. At first, I thought they wanted directions. That was before they started throwing things at me. I instinctively protected my face until they zoomed away.
When my mind began to function again, I quickly returned home and thanked God I was not hurt. Since then, I have never gone for a walk alone.
This incident continues to haunt me. Every time I step out of the now, I think about people like us who come here for a better life. And wonder: Wasn't life much better back home in India?
Sharath Bajjuri, San Jose
"You promised to go shopping with us today." The girls, it was clear, were in no mood to compromise.
I conned a pal into joining us before we set out for the Bombay Bazaar. The shop was flooded with saris. While one of the girls made a beeline for every yard of green-hued material she could see, the other could not make up her mind as to which grey-coloured sari she'd like to pick up.
My pal began to wish he had bought a carrom board along. Time pass tho ho jaata! Meanwhile, I SMSed 'Bachao!' to my other friends and prayed someone will be kind enough to rescue us.
Suddenly, a miracle occurred! The girls had finally made their choice. Just as we began entertaining thoughts of freedom, they said, "Now let's go to that shop."
The agony finally ended at 9:30 pm, but only because the shopkeepers finally downed their shutters.
My mom called me the next day and I shared my sad story with her. "Consider yourself lucky," she smiled. "In a few years, you'll be shopping with your wife. And you'll have to get used to a new dialogue, 'Ajee sunte ho… paise de do [Please pay for this]!' Till then, enjoy your training!'
Sujit Suseel, Surat
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Images: Dominic Xavier