Teaching fellow patients yoga and writing poems about Covid-19 is what kept 50-year-old Balvir Chand, the doppelganger of cricket maestro Sachin Tendulkar, busy and motivated during his time at the isolation centre at Guru Nanak, Dhahan-Kaleran near Nawanshahr.
Chand along with wife Pooja Rani apart from son Saurav and daughter Simran, had tested positive for Covid-19 after their return from Mumbai earlier this month.
On Sunday last week, they were sent back to their home in Sahlon village 10 days after they tested positive. Chand had returned to Punjab from Mumbai with his family on June 5 and the test reports had come positive on June 12.
“Every year, my family comes to spend two months with me in Mumbai. This year they had arrived in January. We had planned our return in March but due to the lockdown, we got stuck. When trains started running, we booked tickets for June 4 and returned to Punjab the day later. On June 10, we all went to Nawanshahr for Covid-19 testing on our own,”says Chand.
“It was through some local mediapersons that we got to know that our reports returned positive. Some hours later, Punjab health department officials informed us and got us admitted at the isolation centre in Dhahan-Kalen. While four of us tested positive, one of my two sons tested negative,” he added.
Chand and his family members, though asymptomatic, spent 10 days at the isolation centre. “We had taken all the precautions in the train wearing masks and disinfecting everything with sanitizers. At the centre, I used to teach other patients yoga and also wrote poems about the pandemic. We were given good food at the centre and the only thing, which I believe was lacking, was the daily visit of a doctor. Such things motivate the patients and it should be done daily,” he said.
Chand, who worked as a ward boy at DMC Hospital in Ludhiana from 1992 to 1999, used to dress like Tendulkar and was interviewed by Sunil Gavaskar during the commentary in the India-Pakistan Test match at Delhi where Anil Kumble took 10 wickets in an inning.
Post that, Chand worked as body double for Tendulkar in many advertisement shoots apart from attending events as Tendulkar’s doppelganger. In 2013, Chand became the brand ambassador of a Mumbai-based food chain and his association continued for more than six years before ending early this year.
“From the day I saw Sachin Sir for the first time on television to modeling myself after him and seeing his matches, I have only focused on one thing: not bringing any disrepute to his name. Post that famous day in Delhi, where I was interviewed by Gavaskar Sir, I met Sachin Sir at Hotel Taj and showed him six photographs of me dressed as him. He signed the pictures and later called me in the team bus. He wanted to have my pictures. I gave him five and kept one with me. I have met him 22-25 times till now and every time he stops me from touching his feet,” shares Chand.
While Tendulkar retired in 2013, Chand kept working as his body double in advertisements apart from writing songs and doing mimicry acts and attending the Mumbai food chain’s events. With his contract ending this year and advertisement shoots not happening, Chand is worried about his future.
“I stayed at Mumbai alone while my family stayed here to save on expenditure. The last time I worked as a body double for Sachin Sir was six months ago for an advertisement shoot. I have not paid rent for my Mumbai home for the last three months,” adds Chand.
With no live sporting action happening in India, Chand believes that it will be a huge loss for cricket fans. The Punjab native also urges people to remain motivated and not make Covid-19 a stigma.
“I believe sporting action can happen only after a vaccine is found for Covid-19. I want to tell from my experience of testing positive for Covid-19 that one should remain positive, have faith and take all the precautions post discharge too. I wrote a poem titled Corona di bimari te zor kise da nahi and this is my way to raise awareness in the general public,” he added.
Chand has written a total of 16 songs on Tendulkar. He and his family will now remain in home quarantine till July 2.
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