The weekends are generally happy days for everybody, but for us, the working women and the home makers, the day is full of greater roles and responsibilities. On this day I usually do all the cleaning activities and make good food for my seven year old kid and a sweet husband. In the evening I go to the market to have week long shopping. But on that Sunday the story was different. The capital market of Bhubaneswar is usually crowed and that day it made me feel out of place as there was hardly anyone in the market. You can say that the shopkeepers had opened their shop without any visible buyers. However, the waves of noise every now and then coming out of each shop wondering me as what had happened to Bhubanewareties.
I entered the market and had a tentative view of all the shops. The big registered market of Bhubaneswar has the feature of same category of shops lined up in a single row giving the illusion of Indian village having caste based habitations. I entered the market to do my bit of shopping and obviously felt curious to enquire about the buzzing sound frequently coming with so much of uproar and then coming down and going up like the waves in the sea. While walking down the street, I could make out that it was IPL being live telecasted on T.V. Each shop has their own entertaining equipment having the owner and the salesman glued to the TV without caring for their hierarchical positions. Shops not having TV, had been vacated by their owners as they have slipped into the adjacent TV owned shops. One noticeable point was that all of them seem to have gone back in the time machine leaving aside their present role and responsibilities. Each time a ball hitting the wicket, a stroke of six or four, a catch was bringing group exclamation of noise followed by serious discussion about the shot or the delivery of the ball till another passionate stroke or delivery of ball comes. The postures and the dancing steps of the scantily dressed cheer girls (not permissible by Indian standards), was adding spice to the entire discussion. All the pretty women with the dancing postures seem to be caring less for the Indian culture and were taking pelvic steps to draw the attention of all the viewers. Crowd in the stadium and in front of the television seem to have gone into the “Great Indian Melting Pot”, demonstrating the true game spirit.
I had come to the market with a big list. Mother of a seven year old, wife of an M.D working in a big MNC and I as a teacher, could not have cared less to postpone shopping. The agenda for the day was a bit tight having morning for cleaning, preparing good food for lunch and the plan to have dinner outside had no option but to go shopping in the afternoon. As per the schedule I came with my driver to buy the goodies. I went to a ration shop to have some pulses and spices. I tried to draw the attention of the shopkeeper to order my list of requirements, but to my surprise the usually inviting shopkeeper didn’t respond to my first call. With the habit of screaming in the class room while managing the creative students, I amplified my voice to make him respond. At this moment of history, Shane Warne had started running to bowl to Schin Tendulkar and in the previous two deliveries, Sachin had already made two square drives. When everybody was concentrating to see more of the tussle between Sachin and Shane Warne and were trying to cheer up the players, I unknowingly, tried to get the attention of the shopkeeper with a louder voice.
The not so prepared shopkeeper with the noisy unwanted customer at that point of time was not definitely creating a good business environment. He had no option but reluctantly looked at me removing his eyes otherwise glued to the TV, moving his head up and down to enquire, what all I want. The ball had just been delivered and somehow hit the wicket. The growing excitement of the Indian viewer immediately stopped as everyone was expecting the contrary that is either a six or in the worst case a four. The sudden fall of wicket disappointed the viewers. However, it disappointed more my shopkeeper, as he missed the bowling delivery due to my call attention purchase. He gave me an aghast look as if my noise had distracted Sachin’s concentration. Then he immediately turned his head towards TV to see the slow motion picture as it is coming after each successful batting or bowling. His body language was giving me the impression that the person was determined not to entertain me any more. His feelings for me to some extent transmitted to me without any visible verbatim. The environment became so heavy that I started feeling little guilty. Somehow I softened my voice and asked him for the third time to give me my required things. By that time the slow motion of the previous delivery had been telecasted and a commercial add was coming on the television screen. With disgusted look he asked my required things and denied each of my items as I was reading the list. Finally he told me to move to adjacent shop. I immediately jumped to the other shop because of the commercial break and asked the person to give me my still virgin list of items. The cricket match need some time to resume after each fall of wicket. Within that span of time my shopkeeper prepared my list of things along with total costing. But when I checked the bill, I found twenty rupees less in the total calculation in a hurry. I checked the calculation with the person and he was feeling obliged with my honesty of paying more than what he had calculated. By that time a new player had taken his place to face Shane Warne’s ball. So once again the buzzing sound of the stadium viewer was resumed along with commentator’s high pitch comment. These sounds were sufficient to attract the attention of the onlookers outside the stadium, and that happened with my 2nd shopkeeper. His obligatory expression immediately got changed and turned towards the TV to figure out the efficiency of the new batsman. Instantly he opened his cash drawer and returned the money within a fraction of second to conclude the business, to be able to see the match without further intervention. The obligatory feeling of the shopkeeper was making me feel great, but evaporated within two seconds hardly giving me any time to get optimum satisfaction out of my demonstrated honesty. I checked the money and marched towards snacks shop.
The driver was following me holding the purchased items. His interest lies less in shopping and more with the IPL match. While coming from home I could make out the amount of dissatisfaction in him. But my shopping was urgent as it was the only evening left for me to do shopping for the coming week. So I ignored his reaction and insisted him to drive me to the market. He was following me dragging his feet, whenever he was crossing TVs and was taking quick steps to jump over the non-TV owned shops. It was a kind of live music chair happening along with me.
I received the same disinterested welcome at the snacks shop, Puja shop and Blouse centre. Shopping is said to be pampering job, as every shopkeepers would be behaving very politely with the customer taking care of his small requirements. But my experience on Sunday evening and that on IPL day turned into a sorry state of affair. I postponed the purchase of some of non-essential items and returned home.
My entrance to home was no way different from that of the market place, especially with the same noise giving me the illusion, as if I was entering into the stadium. I could sniff that my husband had switched on the idiot box with full volume. The sound gave me an inner irritation as the same “idiot box” was responsible for my ill treatment at the market, (from my perspective) but it brought pleasant expression in my driver’s face. Even though he was following me, his sense of urgency pushed me side and gave him the passage to the drawing room. He just put the bags on the ground and placed himself before TV. Along with the driver my husband, my son and my pet dog were watching the live telecast of IPL with great emotion. I was feeling tired and want to be pampered by a glass of water and a cup of tea without asking for it. But looking at the mood of my husband, I had to prepare everything myself and also served him the tea. I wanted to lie down on the bed to take some rest, but the excited viewer both in the stadium and present in the room watching the last over of the first half of the game were making so much noise what they called cheering up the team, that I started developing headache. I was patiently waiting for the first half to be over and expecting the TV to be switched off. But the end of the game did not stop the TV making further noise. It was followed by commentator’s critical analysis with full volume. I was feeling like someone was hammering inside my head. I was pissed off and without saying anything to anybody I went to the lawn.
The lawn was not that quite as it used to be in other days. The commentary was pouring in from various directions of neighborhoods making it quite noisy. The front road was silent wondering me about the playing local kids who used to crowd the street at this time. I missed their noise of playing, kicking, hitting each other. Even though the street was empty the local environment was not free from noise. I did not have the peace of my mind that I was searching for. I looked at my watch, it was 7.30pm. The second innings had already begun. As my husband had been glued to the TV, I thought it would be good to pick up some packed food from a restaurant.
My call for the driver disheartened him, he politely said “Bhabi cant we wait for couple of hours to see the end of the match and then move out”. I was little bit pissed off by seeing the obsession for the match leaving aside the role and responsibilities. But I maintained my cool and gave him an artificial smile and said” no Raghav! I can’t wait for more. The day’s long tiring work had made me restless, after finishing this I would take some rest. But don’t worry. I will manage by myself.” He seemed happy, immediately without any hesitation he replaced his vacated seat and enjoyed the match like a child. My husband, the driver and my son watching the game so excitedly that it made me feel as if all of them were reduced to one age. Like children, enjoying animation thinking it real, the grown ups in India love to watch similarly cricket, in whatever form it is telecasted; test match, one day, twenty-twenty, IPL, inter-state or the street cricket. They just love to forget all the responsibilities for the sake of cricket and watch the delivery of the ball and strokes of the bat and more to it is post match commentary. People love to witness these moments of thirteen players running after one ball.
I drove myself and reached the place. I went into the restaurant and found young people and some grownups had filled the place. Not exactly they had come for the food, but to do both: watching live IPL match on big screen and enjoying good food. The excitement had surcharged the room. With the full volume of the TV, the crowd inside the restaurant was feeling as if they are inside the stadium. This is the effect of 39” …”Sony Bravia”.
Everybody was clapping with every hit, stroke and out. But the heart beat and the pulse rate was going higher with the screening of the semi-clad cheer girls holding various props in their hand after every successful bowling and batting. The sharp clarity of that stupid box could make visible every bit of those dancing girls what the viewers would have missed if they would have been in the stadium. I had ordered my food to be packed and waited at the dinning place. Every now and then the picture of minimal dressed dancing girls were coming with each successful bowling and batting. Then it was followed by uproars in the room. I was feeling uncomfortable because of my singular presence. I was feeling the urge to come out of the room. But my food had not arrived yet. I enquired about the food three times. Each time the attendant answered me politely that due to heavy pressure it would take some more time than the usual.
I was feeling restless and really uncomfortable with the loud sound of the TV and big cheers of young crowd. Along with this the micro-mini tops and skirt of the dancing girls’ visuals making me embarrassed. I had been waiting there for 45minutes and was completely pissed off with the delay and wanted to give the manager a lesson.
“Hey what the hell is happening here?”
“I have placed the order before 45min, but your guys are not turning up”
“Each time I asked them, they are saying within few minutes the parcel would be ready”
“Bloody hell, how much time you would take to deliver my order.”- I said this to the manager at one go, with a screaming voice.
In an apologetic voice the manager explained me-“Madam! Actually today it is very hectic for all of us with the staff shortage.”
“But don’t worry madam, I am just accomplishing your order, just hold on for few more seconds, I am personally looking into it” after saying this manager turned towards the kitchen to enquire about the food.
But I wanted to communicate to the manager that this delay had costed me a lot.
Again in a louder voice I said to the manager-“Ok, I can understand your difficulties, but you should also understand my compulsion”.
“As a regular customer you should place my order on a priority basis”.
“These people are going to stay here for more than couple of hours”.
“But do you know how much this delay would cost me…” I was intervened by the manager’s soothing words,-“no madam! We are delivering you the parcel. It is ready now and the waiter is coming with the parcel and the bill”
Somehow, our louder conversation was interrupting in to the IPL viewers’ focused entertainment. This irritated them and one volunteer with his solid voice, turning his head towards us, without moving his body said-“hey aunty, what’s up! Why you are creating disturbances here?
“Can not you wait for some more time?”
“If they are saying that they are preparing the food means they must not be lying”
“So wait for your turn”.
“We have been waiting here for one hour, but we are not complaining!”
“You should learn to maintain your cool in public place.”
I was taken aback by the strong conviction of having patience. Another point of disheartenment was his calling me aunty. He looked to be 8 or 10 years younger than me (so I can not be of his aunt’s age).
I was ready to give a lesson to the manager, but was not ready for third person’s intervention, supporting the delay. I had to soften my voice and said –“no actually I have lot of work to complete at home, and this delay is worsening my condition. The work pressure at home made me hurry.”
With the intervention of one viewer all the viewers temporarily shifted their look towards me, as generally done by a herd of lambs.
Another young person in his early twenties intervened and said to me-“aunty! try to be patriotic.
“If you are not in emergency service, then just chill”
“You should give up all duties for today and should cheer up the team”.
“Do not you feel it is our pride that IPL is being played in India?”
“So by cheering up them, we would be keeping their sprit high to give good performance”
“In the land of cricket, where cricket, cricketer and film stars enjoy the rank of “God”, IPL mix up them to entertain us”
“So be patriotic, and cheer up the team to motivate them to play well”
The rest of the onlookers supported the argument by nodding their head agreeing to the argument, immediately shifted their look to the TV screen as the bowler took one wicket. Along with the audience inside the stadium, the viewers in the restaurant made a big noise to demonstrate their happiness. All of them had forgotten the incident, but this was bothering me a lot.
“How come without listening to my point of view, judgement is delivered that I am disloyal to the country’s cause and it is also supported by others!!!” – My conscience was hammering me a lot.
“How could I be disloyal to my country?” My father was an army person; my grand father was a freedom fighter and how come my blood became so impure, without my knowledge that it has become a traitor.”
“In IPL, no team belongs to India. All the team has various national and international players from all over the world. So which team is to be cheered up to show one’s patriotism?”
“India is not the land of cricket! Hockey is our national game but is in a sorry state of affair as; it has no sponsors to really motivate the players to give good performance.”
“On the contrary, Britain is the land of cricket, where every game enjoys equal respect”.
With all these wild thoughts I was behaving calm and possessive about the matter. I was sitting on the chair feeling no embarrassment or irritation with the visuals as well as the sound. The waiter arrived with the bill and my parcel. He took some time to return the rest amount of money. That was not irritating me either. I was indulged in my thoughts of being charged as disloyal to my country.
I drove back home. By the time I reached home the game was still going on with five more over left. The driver had left for his home.
My emotion was completely shattered with the label of a non-patriot. I managed to control my emotion without giving any hint to anyone as what had happened in the restaurant. As the game was in its final stage, the excitement was high and had filled the environment of my drawing room with charged emotion.
It was already 9.30pm. I fed my son, kept the food in the oven for my husband and I took my dinner. Wishing them good night I went to the bed. Even though I was lying on the bed facing the roof top, my thought of IPL had not vacated my mind.
“How come cricketers and film stars have become youth I-con, leaving aside all those great scientist, mathematician, singer, musician, artist, and so on”. In IPL the players are only plying for themselves to earn more by showing good performance. “So what is there to cheer up the already motivated guys to earn more?”
“The organizer are organizing the game in India only for their business, of course it has accelerated the business process of other petty business men. But the common man should not be trapped in the name of entertainment.” Day’s long work and the hectic irritation in the evening transformed my thinking posture to sleeping posture, amidst the relatively mild volume of television. My non resentment to the TV volume made my husband conscious and he lowered the volume without I asking for it.
When I opened my eyes, it was a new day, with the same calling of the duty and responsibilities but with a new vow within me to be calm and firm with regard to certain values and convictions.
Ms. Shakuntala Pratihary