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How my Dad watches the IPL Match


Time - 7:45pm

Place - Home

A portly old man sits on a chair, legs rested atop the teapoy, eyes piercing the screen of the television set, his gaze meeting Mohanlal’s (Malayalam movie Actor) eyes; almost telling the actor what to do next. Of course this man knows what happens next, for he has seen Mohanlal in the same setting romance a girl young enough to be his daughter more times than even he can remember. He wants to tell the actor not to do certain things because he knows that the outcome is not good. But he remains silent, for the only reason that he has to pretend like he does not know what happens next. Even though he has seen the film a hundred times, he must continue to make others believe that he believes he hasn’t seen it even once.

A strapping young lad hops out of the shower and heads to the bedroom. In a minute or two, he comes out and plunks down on the couch beside the old man. The lad dressed in his finest night-time PJs and the man in a traditional South-Indian ‘lungi’, greet each other with cold stares. The object of control – the TV remote, rests in the geriatric human’s hand. The youngster ponders over how to wrestle this coveted remote from the giant hand that engulfs it. He needs it to change the channel to SET MAX which airs the IPL. His opponent knows this, because the old man, is after all his old man, his dad. The young lad..me.

My dad reassures me that he too wants to watch the match and will switch the channel when it starts. He does not want to listen to someone wearing a turban, coming up with phrases and laughing as loud and as annoyingly as nails on a blackboard. Nor is he interested in watching pretty ladies interview cricketers. I say to myself, “At least he will let me see the match.” But he never said anything about ‘how much of the match.’

It’s 8:10 pm by the time I convince my dad to change the channel. The first over has already been bowled, but thankfully I haven’t missed anything exciting. The second over begins. Sachin plays some cracking drives and flicks and shows me what poetry in motion is. As soon as ball 6 of over no. 2 is done, we are looking at some guy bust his nuts on the bed because there is no light. Talk about a ‘Duh moment.’ But before I know what the ad is about, I’m now watching a bad guy try to rape an innocent young girl. I refrain from complaining because I have false hope, that my dad will change the channel in time. He takes longer than expected. Ball 4 of over no. 3 has just been bowled. I am now watching the replay of Sachin playing an exquisite lofted cover-drive. Bending down on one knee as if proposing to a girl and extending his arms creating a stunning portrait. I yell out, “See, we missed it.” “No we didn’t, you just saw it in slow motion. Much better” replies my dad. I can do nothing but accept the retort. Balls 5 and 6 pass by uneventfully. Click, the channel changes. This time, an elderly woman seems to be slapping the same young girl, yelling profanities in a language in which I understand only profanities. So this time, I’m intrigued. I think, ‘Huh! What the hell is happening?’ We continue watching it. Mohanlal seems to be interested in, what appears to be a ‘punching bag’ of a girl. A nonsensical sequence zaps me out of my trance and I argue for a change. My dad agrees and presses the button on the remote. 210 is the channel number. He presses 2, and then 1, but the 0 does not register. He presses it again. Still nothing. He slams the remote on his hand, hoping that will charge the batteries up. It works. The channel changes. But instead of the God of cricket, I see a mockery of God. Some guy in a white suit, a white background, sitting on a cloud and waving a phone in his hand saying 3G,3G,3G!! After this annoying ad, we discover that Sachin has been dismissed. I can do nothing but wait for the broadcasters to show me a replay of the wicket. A few more overs pass by in similar fashion. A bit of Mohanlal folding his lungi and a bit of Pollard smacking some sixes. By now, it’s dinner time.

My dad gets up to serve himself. This is my chance. I pounce on the remote and immediately switch on the cricket. He can hear someone giving expert comments on what happened in the first innings. A beep of the microwave indicates my dad has heated up his food and is on his way back to regain control. He commands me to return what is his. I decline. The command becomes a growl and I sheepishly hand over the remote and set my plate in the microwave. A beep and it’s warm. My meal is wrought with the hope that the next morsel that goes into my mouth will be while I’m watching the match instead of a dance sequence. My faith is eventually rewarded. As the fluids in my stomach digest the rice I ingested, Sehwag sends a good delivery to the boundary. The second inning is no different. This time, however, even Mohanlal is smacking some bad guys, just as Sehwag is smacking some sixes. The next time I watch the match, one of the teams has already won, the other walking nonchalantly back to the dressing room.

Oddly enough though, I secretly want to see the end of ‘Ravanaprabhu’, the Malayalam movie we were watching. Somehow, I am more interested in knowing how the hero bashes up the bad guy and wins the girl’s heart rather than who the man of the match is. Is it the sheer number of games in the tournament, the problem of too much cricket, annoying experts, lackluster cricket and the argument that it’s a carnival and not cricket, or is it simply my testosterone driven urge to watch pretty girls dance around? I cannot seem to be able to watch the entire match, ball for ball. This is not to say that I do not watch the IPL. But the excitement that the 2005 Ashes series provided can never be matched by 20 overs of slam-bam cricket. Is it Test cricket that is dying or is it cricket itself? Are we as an audience watching the cricket or are we there just to watch the ball cross the boundary? I guess only time has the answers.

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