By: Alfiya Khan
The mood was sombre in Pune, with gloomy faces all around, after India lost to Australia in the semifinal of Cricket World Cup Down Under. All the excitement turned into heartbreak and despair as the defending champions crumbled under pressure, ending their CWC journey. Some could be seen blaming the players, while others were talking about taking the defeat in the right spirit and looking forward to the next edition as the cricket festival came to an end for the fans rooting for Men in Blue.
But the day had started differently, with almost the entire city glued to television sets.
On any other day, it would have been a tough call to make. But since it was cricket, the decision was an easy one for final year engineering student Bhagyesh Tapadia who skipped an exam to watch Team India play.
In fact, Tapadia wasn’t alone. “About 10-12 of my friends are here and more will join by late afternoon. We are die-hard cricket fans and couldn’t miss the fun for anything. Instead of watching on the small TV set, we decided to hire a projector screen and speakers,” said Tapadia who shares a flat with his friends at Sukh Sagar Nagar, Bibvewadi Road. Tapadia said he did not prefer restaurants or sports bars where screenings were held because such places got too noisy and crowded and one could not watch a match seriously there.
Companies that provide projector screens on hire across the city said that from restaurants to companies and even individuals, demands poured in from every quarter. “Mostly corporates have called in, they want to screen matches for the employees and don’t have TV sets. But, surprisingly, even some families made inquiries. It is not all that expensive and there is excitement as people are thinking what if India loses and this is the last match. I have supplied at least 5-6 screens to individuals,” said Manoj Sankpal who runs Nikita Enterprises in Kothrud.
At Chinchwad’s Aaryan Engineering Services too, at least a dozen requests were received for projector screens. “Requests came from corporates or individuals and even housing societies. We couldn’t supply to all of them though,” said an employee.
Meanwhile, companies ensured that people did not call in sick for work by either arranging screening of the match in office or giving employees an option to take the day off.
Nikhil Karwa, an employee of KPMG, said that his company offered employees to take the day off, provided they had fulfilled their professional commitments. “So I took the day off but attended client calls over the phone. Also, I will be working on Saturday to compensate for the leave. I think it’s a great gesture for a company to understand the sentiments of its employees and that’s why we feel even more committed,” he said.
At the office of FirstCry.com, Manjula Rao, assistant vice-president (human resources), said eight projector screens were set up. “We understood that people wouldn’t want to miss the match and this decision has also allowed us to keep the attendance in check. Besides, the employees know they have to prioritise at work. This arrangement means a healthy employee engagement as well as meeting professional targets,” said Rao. Besides holding live screenings, companies organised games and distributed goodies among employees to add to the fun quotient.
At Amdocs too, a spokesperson said that like the past few years, the company had arranged for projector screens. “We have one projector screen at the cafeteria and two TV screens at the gym. All the areas were packed,” said a spokesperson.