First assignment: counting sheep

A heavy cloud-cover forces the aircraft to take several lazy circles over Christchurch.

Written by Sandeep Dwivedi | Published:February 22, 2009 11:33 pm

A heavy cloud-cover forces the aircraft to take several lazy circles over Christchurch. The much-anticipated sighting of the Lord of the Rings landscape is delayed by slim streams of rain water on the window pane.

Eventually things clear up and the first New Zealand frame is along expected lines. A green meadow littered with sheep is a confirmation of the stereotype the nation is known for.

Be it about the jaw-dropping statistic of there being 16 sheep for every bonafide New Zealander,requests from home of woolies,or the lamb-eaters’ culinary advice,the four-legged animal tip-toes into all conversations.

Even at Mumbai airport during the wait at the check-in counter,references to the animal had cropped up. With flights full since several Indian students are heading for Auckland,investigations revealed many of them were flying out for veterinary courses. An 18-year-old from Surat gave reasons for pursuing this field of medicine in a distant land. “There are 16 times more sheep than humans there,so vets are in demand,” he said.

But he was caught on the wrong foot soon after landing when diligently packed eatables from home ended up in the garbage bin. Quite picky about the contents of the visitors’ baggage,the airport authorities showed no taste for the Gujarati khakras,chakri and dhoklas.

Meanwhile,inquiries reveal that the Indian cricketers,who had landed earlier on Friday,had an untroubled passage through the scanners at the airport unlike their last visit to New Zealand — Harbhajan didn’t pick up a ‘doosra’ fine for muddy shoes.

Domestic encounters

New Zealand Cricket will send Indian team members who are not part of the ODI squad to play domestic games in various provinces for practice. Six Indian players — Rahul Dravid,VVS Laxman,Amit Mishra,Murali Vijay,Dhawal Kulkarni and Laxmipathi Balaji — are expected to play in New Zealand’s domestic circuit. However,the New Zealand players’ association is said to have opposed the move.

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