Sundeep Bhutoria

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Patriotism or adrenalin rush

While the whole sub-continent went crazy over yesterday's World Cup Cricket semi-finals between Indian and Pakistan at Mohali, I was some what indifferent to the whole affair. As I have said in my blogs earlier, cricket holds little interest for me. And honestly, my knowledge about the game is very limited. I agree with the view that cricket is like a neo-religion in our country. You may like it or not, but you cannot ignore it.
Sometimes, I feel that the patriotic fervour of the citizens of India manifests itself in full strength when it has something to do with Pakistan. More so, when it comes to playing a game like cricket. It is a fact that at the end of the day what matters in cricket are winners and losers, heroes and villains. There is a systematic hype and tension that builds up around every India-Pakistan match. Whatever fair words the Prime Ministers of the two countries may say, there is always a strong under current of anti-feelings on both sides. A rivalry that goes beyond cricket.
Frenzied cricket fans may forgive the players for losing the World Cup finals but losing to Pakistan is out of question. Beat them and you are heroes, lose and you are the villains. There is no doubt that winning over Pakistan seems to be more desirable than winning the cup itself. For millions of cricket fans in India, defeating Pakistan is like scratching an unreachable itch.
The Kolkata Police and The Bengal had made arrangements for a big screen to view the semi-final match at the Police Bodyguard Lines auditorium for Pronam members (senior citizens). I was there with the Commissioner of Police, Mr R K Pachnanda, and other Kolkata Police officials during the interval after India finished batting.
I left when the match resumed with Pakistani innings. There was hardly any traffic on the road. It seemed that everyone had retired early and glued up before the television at home to catch the action. I always go out during the bandhs and Wednesday late afternoon seemed like one.
I don't know what to say. Was it the true spirit of cricket or was it an adrenalin rush that triggered a deep desire in millions of countrymen to see Pakistan vanquished (we all know that the same scenario exists in Pakistan as well). If this is an outpouring of patriotism, strangely, it is found wanting when it comes to issues like corruption, poverty, backwardness etc. These real issues ailing India fail to move the same citizens who remain sedate.
I had nothing much to do the whole day as every body was busy with cricket. Apart from spending time with the Pronam members I took time to read Srijit Mukhopadhyay's book based on the movie Autograph. This is the first time somebody has written a book on a Bengali movie. I must thank Prosenjit Chatterjee who autographed and presented me the book at the special show of Moner Manush on Saturday, March 26 (2011), that I had organized at Nandan 3.
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