11 February 2012 at 13:03
Notes which I had scribbled over emails and scratch pads after an unforgettable trip six years to this date. A trip sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank with 40+ strong contingent to watch Pakistan vs India on Feb 13th 2006 at Lahore.
– Pattu zinda hai!
– At Wagah border there was huge problem and we thought we would never make it.
– The Indian customs took 8 hours for a process which takes 2 hrs (they were looking for underhand deals).
– Surprisingly, the Pakistan customs looked more organized and were clearing in much lesser time.
– There some of us, including me, came on Headlines today & Aaj Tak channels when we spoke to their reporters and cheered live on camera at 8:30am. In a fit of excitement when asked what we expect to lookout at Pakistan, I blurted “Kebab, SHABAAB and India ka karara Jawab”.
– In the evening we admired the Wagah Border ceremony and proceeded to Lahore.
– Same day had a celebrity dinner with Waqar Younis and Siva Ramakrishnan & spoke at length with both.
– Later we went to food street and ate there till night 2am with kababs, phirnis, etc.
– Lahore is more busy a city than Mumbai, it never sleeps.
– Next day – Matchday – was all about cheering.
– A chill ran down the spine as our contingent walked towards the Gaddafi stadum stands, when a section of crowd stood up and clapped our entry and indicated a warm welcome. Some of them even shook hands and hugged too.
– I had a 3ft X 2ft India flag wrapped around me the entire day (pictured above).
– Lots of competition for “slogan baazi” – our best one which peeved them was – “Yeh andar ki baat hai, Inzi hamare saath hai”!!!
– Watching Yuvraj, Kaif and Raina field live on the offside was a treat to the eyes.
– Just before lunch time, an NDTV journalist asked 4 of us (including Prashant & Manohar) (possibly more active cheering guys) to meet him during the interval.
– During the break, we went live with both NDTV news channels (Hindi & English) where we again cheered and spoke.
– Before the cameras were turned on, the reporter was sweet enough to lend us his mobile and we called our respective homes asking them to switch to NDTV.
– Lahore stadium and facilities (bathrooms, seats) are much better than the ones in India.
– When Sachin cracked 95, a banner said loud “Mr Moin Khan you are too small to comment on Sachin”.
– Ladies at Lahore are just of out the world – features, skin, per sq feet density wise Lahore is much ahead of Delhi.
– That night we shopped for 1 hr and yet again people all around kept greeting us warmly and helping us.
– Although Dhoni and Yuvraj had won us the tense chase, I still had the flag wrapped around me the entire evening when we were shopping – this was the day when I felt proudest as an Indian!
– Next day, there was a strike at Lahore – we saw our picture in then Pak paper ‘DAWN’ at the hotel but could not buy one.
– While travelling morning through the bus, we had four instances where 30-40 people ran towards our bus with stones, sticks, swords and burnt tyres.
– But every time they heard guests from India, they left us saying “hamare bhai hai, hamare mehmaan hai, inko jaane do”. In Parallel, they also shouted anti-Mussharraf slogans.
– Later we came to know there was a riot like situation, 2 people killed, 15 injured, assembly burnt and army took control of the city by afternoon. But we had safely crossed over. On a strike day at Kolkata, you can never go beyond 2 kms radius of your house.
– Not much of sightseeing because of the constraints.
– Today when I reached office, my colleagues gave me a surprise, they showed me my picture cheering in yesterday’s MID-DAY.
– Later we dug into a copy of Hindustan Times and sighted our picture.
This would remain etched in memory as an unforgettable experience. An experience with a myriad of mixed emotions which have left an ever lasting mark in my life.