Written by Sandeep Dwivedi | | Adelaide | | February 15, 2015 7:36:17 am
A day before the most eagerly anticipated match of the World Cup, the India-Pakistan Group B encounter, fans from both sides appeared to be betraying no signs of jingoism as they exchanged pleasantries — hor ji, mostly — at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday.
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That’s when disaster struck. Everything changed as television reporters decide that it’s time to take their staple feed – the vox populi.
There is nothing in the world — no, not even Bollywood — that excites NRIs, or their Pakistani counterparts (NRPs, if you please), more than a news channel camera with the power to beam their images to the land they left behind. This is also accompanied by a sudden metamorphosis. From soft-spoken courteous immigrants, they become loud nationalists.
“Jaldi bhag, aabo ko bolao,” says a lady in hijab as a Pakistan TV reporter is organising a crowd for a fan reaction. Before he starts the conversation, he floats a condition and a request. He needs a cheer leader close to the mike and others are asked to look for a cue. “When I finish speaking, one of you has to say ‘Pakistan’ and others have to say ‘Jindabad’,” says the man with the mike. They are more than happy, they also add ‘Jiva, Jiva Pakistan’ and ‘Boom, Boom Afridi’. The last chorus is for the television network. It is the loudest.
A lady in the crowd is keen to talk, and almost snatches the mike. Dressed in Pakistan colours, she makes a revelation. “I want Pakistan to win. I am from Sydney, this is my daughter, that is my brother’s son and… and my neighbour.” Her voice is drowned by booming cry, “Boom Boom Afridi, Boom Boom Afridi and Doom Doom India”
In the blue corner where a dhol is playing, the shouts of ‘India Jitega’ are now becoming louder. There is a clamour to grab the mike and face the camera. On the fringes, there is a dilemma. “What should I say,” asks a lady to the well-dressed man next to him. “I guess by abusing Pakistan you have a better chance being shown of TV. With India Zindabad, you might be edited,” says the wise man. She is confused. The reporter is wrapping up the shoot, he wants a cute child. “Beta, kaun jitega? he asks. Sachin Tendulkar, is the innocent reply.
Cue to India’s favourite chant: “Sachhiiiin, Sachhhiinnn”. The reporter is signing off saying how Tendulkar will be missed. Around the stadium long distance calls are being made. “Check karke batata hun kitne baaje tv pe aagyega. Parul bhi hai, aapki wali frock pehni hai,” you hear.
Once you leave the stadium the vox populi is making sense. No you don’t believe what they are saying but you understand the longing to be seen and heard by those they have left behind and miss a lot.