Thursday, March 10, 2011

Battle Royale in the stands at Kotla

This post on the game in Delhi is going to be a comparatively shorter one given that I covered the standout moments from a cricketing standpoint for Cricinfo’s Fan Following section. (Click here on the link to read: External Website)

Everyone stand up
From a spectator point of view I would love to ask the DDCA about who approved the design and money they spent to create a “world class stadium” in Delhi. A “world class stadium” where the stands are so badly constructed that 20% of the seats in the East and West stands are obstructed to such an extent that watching the match sitting there is virtually impossible.

First the tiering at the stadium in the East and West stands is completely messed up. While sitting on the seats in those stands the tiers are virtually flat and a person of average height sitting in front of you leads to an obstructed view, which in turn leads to row after row of people standing up because some jokers up front want to dance or click a picture. Given that watching the match is typically anyway a sideshow for the crowd in Delhi as compared to the serious business of heckling (abusing) players and trying to dance their way onto the TV screen, I don’t think too many people mind this but if you are going to the Kotla to actually see the cricket then good luck.


Would you pay for this view?
Second, I refuse to believe that we in India cannot design stadiums without pillars. This was a problem with the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore as well but considering that the new stands at the Kotla were built in the last 3-4 years I can’t believe that they actually approved the design with such major flaws. If Kalmadi & Co could manage to renovate the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, which has a far greater seating capacity than the Kotla, without the need for pillars then is it too much to expect the same from Mr Jaitly and the honchos who run DDCA?
I would be the last person to say good things about Delhi Police but had it not been for their personnel in the stands who ensured that people kept to their seats in spite of their penchant to start dancing at the end of each over or even in between balls., I would probably have had to watch the entire match standing up.

Costa Coffee at the stadium, woo hoo

On the brighter side, the DDCA has done a good job with the catering inside the stadium and we had full availability of good quality burgers, biryani and sandwiches till the end of the match. The best bit though was the availability of Costa Coffee which was a perfect accompaniment for the cool evening while enjoying the Sehwag & Sachin show.

Also related to the food was the interesting effect of Delhi police’s rules regarding ban of coins inside the stadiums. This seems to be a rule peculiar to Delhi as the cops in Bangalore or Dhaka did not seem worried about the WMD potential of coins in the hands of spectators. While quite a few people had to “donate” their coins at the entrance, the impact of this on the food and drink situation became apparent when I went to the buy a Pepsi, which was priced at Rs 15. The contractors at the drinks counter did not have Rs 5 change and were giving away packets of Kurkure of the same value. This led to a lot of cribbing among the customers and some verbal fights about not wanting the chips but wanting their money back. It was only later that one of the men manning the counter told me that they did not have change as the police did not allow them to bring Rs 5 coins inside either and that they ran out of 5 rupee notes very quickly.

It surprised me that the various agencies doing the organizing don’t actually “talk” to each other. Knowing that coins would not be allowed inside, Pepsi should have priced their drink at Rs 20 and made more money or if they were feeling generous in terms of giving to the customers then upsized the glass or gave a Kurkure free with each Pepsi (Mr Kurkure Marketing Manager that I know, are you reading this??). I know these are small things but it led to fights that could easily have been avoided.

For those who have been living in the Delhi NCR region for some time, have you wondered who would come out on top if a Haryanvi Jat and a West Delhi aunty were to cross swords. During the match I got the opportunity to find it out first hand.

Disclaimer: If regional stereotyping is something that distresses you then please DON’T read on.

The problem with watching cricket games in Delhi is the brash elements that they invite. Whether it is your spoilt South Delhi teenage, the Noida ka bhaiya or the Haryanvi jat, each element comes drunk about his invincibility due to his connections which has already been fuelled by the complimentary tickets that he has gained. Their main objective from the day is to gain attention of the players on the field and the TV cameras by whatever means possible. Once the baseline on the objectives is drawn it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the cricket is a distant sideshow and the time at the cricket ground is spent heckling and abusing players, rival supporters and dancing generally in between every ball and especially after a boundary to get the attention of the cameras.

I was unfortunate to be sitting in the row behind a group of such Haryanvi jats who spent their time abusing Nehra, Chawla, Cooper and the other fielders who fielded at the boundary near us. This was followed by multiple instances of showing the middle fingers to the players when they didn’t respond and to the few Dutch supporters who dared to cheer the few boundaries that their players struck.

I was happily snoozing through the middle of the Dutch innings when I was woken up from my slumber by your typical West Delhi BTM (behenji turned mod) lady, barely into her thirties, bursting out from her tight pair of jeans, flaunting her ample person in a knitted net sleeveless pullover, accessorized with a matching Rado, multiple diamonds all over her person carrying her two sons along. There were 3 empty seats next to me which had been vacated by a group that had had enough of the jumping jats in front of us. The lady occupied the 3 seats and then called over her friend with her 2 kids and the husband. This group of 7 then proceeded to fit themselves in the 3 seats and spread the kids around asking them to adjust with the other spectators.

One of the people asked to adjust so that the kid could sit was the leader of the sprightly jat group who continued to ignore the mother hen and her entire brood. The mother hen could not take it anymore as the kids got rowdier and started bawling their eyes out and got up and asked the leader to adjust a little. Post this request the conversation went something like this:

Jat leader: Auntyji humein match dekhne do, hum idhar se hatne vale na hain” (For those that don’t understand hindi that roughly translates to “Aunty, please let us watch the match. We are not moving from here)

WDBTM (West Delhi Behenji turned Mod): Aunty hogi teri Maa, uthta hai ya doon kaan ke neeche (Go call your mother an aunty, will you get up or should I give you one under your ear)

The Jat leader suddenly realized he had grossly underestimated his adversary and had met his match. With his gang expectedly looking for direction and realizing that this was a fight he could not win he suddenly broke into his most charming smile and went:

Jat leader: Arre didi aap kha ma kha naraaz ho rahi hain, hum to confuse the ki aap ko Didi bulayein ya bhabhiji. Galti se mooh se auntyji nikal gaya. Yahaan zaada jagah nahin hai lekin aap kahti hain to hum adjust kar lenge. (Sister, you are unnecessarily getting angry, we were only confused whether to call you Bhabhiji or Sister and by mistake called you an aunty. There isn’t much place here but since you are asking we will definitely adjust).

The mother hen had clearly won the day.

I now head to Nagpur hoping to watch some cricket as India take on South Africa. Before that though is the small matter of the Semi final and Final ticket ballot. I will come to know tomorrow if I have been lucky to have had my name drawn up from among those who have applied for the semi final and final tickets. In case I don’t and one of your readers has an extra ticket, please please think of me J

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