Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

There is a first time for everything

I had never had any interest in cricket, let alone going to the Eden Gardens, I have never ever watched a cricket match in any stadium or even on the television. I don't understand cricket and whatever fleeting glimpses I have seen of the game on television is because of my wife - a cricket buff.
The idea of going to the famed Eden Gardens was mooted by my childhood friend Aditya Makharia. He told me two weeks ago that all my friends oblige me whenever I request them to accompany me to events and places. So now, as a quid pro quo, it was my turn to accompany them to the Eden Gardens.
I tried my best to wriggle out of it in vain as my wife's desire to visit Eden Gardens left me with no choice. I never say no to her, and for the first time I said yes to cricket.
I discussed the idea of going over to the Eden Gardens with my die-hard cricket buff pal Tony (Anirudh Roy Chowdhury) and with his help we managed to book one of the newly-made luxury boxes at the refurbished stadium.
What I have gathered from the media reports in the last few years is that IPL is more of a glamorous exercise - wining dining and celebrity affair - rather than actual cricket or cricketing. I thought why not take all my celebrity friends from Kolkata to watch the cricket match. I rang up T2 and shared my idea with them. They were bowled over by the idea I guess and fell in. Then, I called up my friends Bickram and Jaya Ghosh, Roopa Ganguly, Dev and Subhasree, Usha Uthup, Jishu and Nilanjana, Paoli Dam, Arjun Chakraborty, Sujata Sen, Agnimitra Paul, Indranil and Barkha among others.
Indranil was shooting in the Andamans and Barkha was in Delhi, Arjun and Agni had prior commitments and Paoli could not make it at the last minute. Sujata also has meetings lined up and Nilanjana wanted to give it a miss. The rest of us decided to meet at The Taj Bengal so that all of us could go together. I had set 6 pm as the time. The idea was to have a cup of tea and snacks and leave by 6:30 pm.
Before starting for the The Taj Bengal from ITC SPA at around 5 pm, I saw SRK entering from the SPA gate of ITC. By the time we started from The Taj Bengal after having "Riders puchka" and "Deccan Aloo Tikki" it was almost 7 pm and Usha di was getting impatient in her KKR-coloured purple sari. She had turned up sharp at 6 pm and she did not want to miss the toss. We had to leave without Parno Mitra as she was late.
In the coach, everybody was singing and instantly Usha di made a song on cricket - Darrrrrlingg!!!! chaukka mar chhakka maar wicket le!! - on Arindam's request.
We arrived at the Eden around 7:30 pm and en route to the box met Mahendra Jalan in the lift. 

When I went to the balcony I was stunned and surprised to find how majestic Eden actually looks. Although half empty, I got a feel of what is the world famous Eden Gardens roar is.
My friend Aditya was egging me to get up from my chair and dance, sing and cheer for KKR. He did not succeed but rejoiced in the fact that he was instrumental in bringing me to the stadium for the first time. 

ITC Sonar banquet manager Gaurang was also there and he really made our day by catering to our endless demands of popcorn, black coffee, soft drinks, patties and tea.
The moment the news spread to the other boxes that The Telegraph (T2) team was accompanying us, tinsel town folks including Koneenica, Ushasi and others, who were present in the other boxes, came to our box to say hello. Among others who dropped in were Rahul Todi and Pradeep Sureka.
While going towards Shah Rukhs’s box, I met Ujjwal Upadhayay quietly and calmly seated on a sofa in his box and in his usual style. 

Tony and Indrani too were sitting in our box balcony with their friends, a couple, from Dubai. Thanks to Usha di, I spent some time in the SRK box and saw him chating with Jagmohan Dalmia with Suhel Seth with Juhi Chawla by his side.
A TV channel interviewed Usha Uthup and telecast it live on screen. This electrified the crowd sitting around our box as they realized the presence of celebrities in my box which was the last one and surrounded by crowds on either sides. 

Instead of watching the match, the crowds turned towards the box balcony to have a glimpse of Kolkata celebs and seek autographs of Usha Uthup, Roopa Ganguly, Bickram and others. At that moment Jishu also joined us.
For the crowds on this end of Eden, Dev (picture) was the Shah Rukh Khan. Dev obliged hundreds of autograph seekers giving Kolkata Police personnel a tough time in crowd management. 

Honestly, I still do not understand cricket. I fail to see the logic of batsman having to bat from a different side after an over is completed. But the overall ambience and experience was unforgettable.
I host parties, functions and get-togethers almost every week. But I must say that hosting this box at the Eden Gardens was one of the most exhilarating experiences.
ess bee

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