June 4: India overcomes Pakistan, cold overcomes me
It’s almost midnight & I am in a bus that’s going to take me to Birmingham.
After having small-talked a tad with my co-passenger next seat, I feel myself drifting away. It’s probably the medicine I have had to gobble up for my cold, that’s had its effect as well.
Only the jerkiness of the bus-ride keeps my sleep on its toes. And the continuous chatter of the guys behind me.
As I am about to nod off for the nth time, I inadvertently eavesdrop them disgustedly swear at something. I am in a dazed state but I can hear words to effect of ‘attacks…London…again’ and at once I am awake.
I check online & it’s there. London’s been under attacks again.
Reading the account makes me shiver. And this time, it’s not the cold alone.
A major road in Birmingham has been closed off as well, a news report says. I am not sure if it affects my plans for the night in any way but a slightly scary thought is that I will reach Birmingham at 1.30 am. And my abode for the night is a good 30-minute walk away.
In the end, the Birmingham night’s as safe as houses.
It’s the cold that’s killing. Single digit centigrade, and winds.
By the time I check in, I am a royal mess with a combination of body-ache, consistent sneezing and that uneasiness you associate with it.
It’s 2.30 by the time I am in bed, with the need to get to the stadium by 9 am. Not too many hours to go for that then.
The atmosphere outside is as you would expect of an India-Pakistan encounter. Having been at the previous two such games, however, at Adelaide and at Kolkata, it’s safe to say it could have been a lot more boisterous without being surprising.
Bhangra is a common theme among the fans but some of the more interesting chants have Ravindra Jadeja featuring in it.
The good news is the crowd isn’t as abusive as it can sometimes get for such matches.
Lest you forget I am in as bad a shape as the Pakistani batting. Stuttering and stumbling my way through hot cups of water and tea and coffee.
How I miss some homemade ginger tea or even ginger-honey juice. I comfort myself in the confines of a warm press box, a luxury not too many others have.
The cab driver on my way back to my friend’s hotel is a Pakistani who has no clue about the result. When we tell him, he shrugs it off saying – ‘it’s expected out of this team’.
Points to the side’s poor batting and references the PSL fixing issues.
And then much like many Pakistani cricket fans, remembers those glory days that had the names of Akram, Waqar, Inzamam and co. written all over it. Goes to the extent of saying the team that played in the 1999 World Cup was way stronger than the one that won the 1992 edition.
I decide not to disturb his reminiscing. His nostalgia is only rudely interrupted when he brings us to the wrong hotel.
Our fault. Should have woken him up earlier.
After recording a quick video, I walk to my hostel. Much like how I had the previous night, but much earlier on the clock and this time with another friend. Feels a lot safer.
The weather, however, is a different thing. Probably it’s just me and my horrible cold, but it seems like things have become more bitter.
I curse the English summer, and not for the first time that day.