A Visit To Eden Gardens

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There were three huge notices on the top of Gate No 9. One was the ICC’s anti-racism statement. One was a picture of Ajit Agarkar having an expression of pure terror on his face, as if he had just came face to face with his doppleganger. And the third was a statement as to how seriously the IPL took ambush advertising and what horrible things would happen to people who bought in an ad for a competing product.  Considering the different rights the IPL authorities wished to impose on the paying public, as codified on the back of the ticket (They own the images of people in the stadium, audience members are not allowed to take pictures, the IPL is not liable for any damages etc) I think from next year they should put up another notice saying that they own the organs of people entering the stadium and have the right to remove a kidney anytime they wish.

I was going to Gate No 12, standing in a line which soon became two which soon became three, being jostled and pushed, sweating as I waited to take my Rs 1200 seat. The cops were not interested in crowd control, as they stood some distance away in clumps having their afternoon tea. This left people in the queue to be assailed by vendors selling Rs 50 Korbo Lorbo Jeetbo flags and “unlicensed” KKR jerseys which seemed to have been locally made from purple colored sari “false” and cheap zari. Resisting the urge to buy one of these hideous made in Metiaburuj products, I made a note to self to see if there were some official stores inside the stadium selling KKR gear. I later found there was and the uniforms they were selling seemed also to have been stitched from sari false and cheap zari but were priced twenty-times more. Needless to say, they did not get my business.

Taking my seat inside H block, I found that my view to half the field was blocked by a pillar. Charming. The CAB does take their paying public seriously. Fortunately, there were many empty seats around and I moved to one such. The BRC boys were on my side of the ground—Praveen Kumar was aimlessly walking about like an old man out on an afternoon stroll, Kallis limbered around like a gentle giant and Virat Kohli tried his best to look serious and busy. On the other side of the pitch, Dinda was being used like a beast of burden as he kept on bowling and bowling.  Ishant Sharma sent down a few deliveries, one of which knocked out a stump sending the crowd into delirious applause. This wasnt the first time I had watched net sessions before but this was definitely the first time, the quiet experience of watching sportsmen at work was assailed by a DJ who kept on shouting “Hey Kolkata make some noise” as the sound system boomed with songs from “Murali Katrik calling Dinesh Katrik”. This particular gentleman would be a source of  constant irritation throughout the evening with his exhortations to do Mexican waves while an over was being bowled “Hey Kolkata Mumbai did six Mexican waves. Can you do better?” with my attempt to concentrate on how Murali Kartik was adjusting his length to Dravid being blocked by morons jumping out of their seats.

My irritation with the DJ was more than compensated by the couple that was sitting in the seat behind me for the first half of the game,sharing a packet of popcorn. She—all nyaka and talcum powder. He—the Bengali uber-male lecturing his girl-friend/wife (all I can say is that they were not brother/sister), his Bengali masculinity characterized by his sab-janta (know-it-all) nature and perhaps his ability to chew on the head of fish without throwing the bones out.

As Shreevats Goswami strolles out to open the innings, the lady turns around and asks her man—-Oi punchke bamon ta ke? [Who is that tiny midget?]. The man replies “Ke jaane. Bodhoye Malluyar chele tele hobe.” [Who knows? Might be the son of Malluya]. Just as I was trying to wrap my mind around this funda, she asked her second question as Karl Langeveldt marked his run-up. “Accha ar oi gobda dekhe takla shada-ta ke?” (Who is that rather fat bald white man?). This time her husband was more confident “Oita hocche Charlie Langto-field.”  After deliberating a while on whether the use of the word “Langto” (nude) was merely a lack of knowledge, a Freudian slip, or a result of hearing “Tu nangi acchi lagti hai” from Love, Sex Dhoka too many times, I concentrated on the game at hand.

As KKR applied the stranglehold on BRC and wickets fell, in walked Eoin Morgan. This was one person I was most looking forward to seeing .So evidently was the well-informed couple with the popcorn. Because as he came out, the Neville Cardus ka aulaad behind me declared “That is Deal Ston”. Yes “ston” which is how Bengalis pronounce “stan”. Definitely lot of Love Sex Dhoka going on here. Morgan had all the shots in the book. What he didn’t have was a sense of history or the knowledge of the curse on English players playing the reverse sweep at the Eden to left-handed spin bowlers, a curse that Mike Gatting knows only too well.

The crowd was totally into it. Everytime Ishant ran into bowl, the Eden crowd was solidly behind him with cries of Ishant Ishant rending the air. A glimpse of the King on the large screen was also cheered lustily. Of course all this was nothing compared to the roar that went up whenever Dada dived around , which he did quite well today, only to get up with an air of “Uff what all I have to do” which of course everybody found endearing. The only moment of discomfort for me was when Rahul Dravid came into bat wherein the crowd kind of fell silent and the woman at my back spat out “Eke ami chini” (I know this man) with malice that hit the back of my neck like a breeze from Hell with her husband saying “Biswasghatok” (Traitor). This was the signal for me to stand straight up and applaud Dravid every step of his way to the crease. Dravid started hitting the ball all along the ground with great finesse and the difference in class between him and the rest was immediately apparent. But there is only so much one can do and though Kallis did stay through the innings, it was a soulless inspiration-less phone-in kind of  performance, the kind that Brad Hodge is typically famous for.

KKR’s innings started with a vengeance. Manoj Tiwari got his legs wobbled during a run and then went postal hitting everything out of sight. Hodge joined in. With the rate at which they were going, one got the impression the match would finish in ten overs. I think the sponsors were petrified by that possibility. When the first “strategic break” came about, I noticed that the two minute clock did not start “counting” down till after about a minute into the break, thus possibly creating a time window for more advertisements. The Eden crowd did not mind joining in a joyous chorus of “All is well” as Bangalore were being given a pasting, none more severe than on the “Ston” guy.

But then two wickets fell. Dada pottered around and Pujara, with the pressure of the Tiwari innings on him, found himself totally unable to rotate the strike. The only people pleased must have been the organizers as that meant ads could be shown as scheduled. And just when I was dozing off, Dada rolled back the years and sent Steyn into the stands with the shot of the match. Needless to say, I stood up, roared and lost my voice.

With the match finished, I joined the sea of humanity leaving. My feet were trod on twice, an elbow was forced in my face, I had a splitting headache from the heat and my throat was sore. The match wasn’t exciting except to a KKR partisan (which I am not), the cheerleaders did not dance anywhere near to where I was sitting, I could not share a mango drink with Katrina Kaif and KKR’s Chief of Operations, Collen Venning did not make fransip with me.

But still I felt strangely exhilarated, having soaked up the sheer energy of the place. Because heaven this place is. And how could it not be? Its name after all  is the Eden, it is a Garden,  and it comes complete with its very own popcorn-eating Adams and Eves, blessed with the knowledge of the Gods.

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64 thoughts on “A Visit To Eden Gardens

  1. “Dada rolled back the years and sent Steyn into the stands with the shot of the match.” That was one awesome shot….Loved the fact that both Ganguly and Dravid showed glimpses of their class.

  2. I was there too, though on a much lesser priced ticket in Block D (Rs. 500/-). I jumped, cheered and danced every time there was a fall of wicket (of BRC) and shots played by KKR batsmen; and also during the entertaining songs played by the DJ.
    I too saw a number of couples, where the men were struggling to juggle their attention between the match and the woman 😉 Tough, I say…
    The charged atmosphere of Eden is was truly makes it what it… and KKR cheerleaders have no sense of fashion at all 🙂 and it was an amazing evening, all in all, though the ending dragged a bit 🙂

  3. Sorry for the spam, now on to the real commenting business.

    “This left people in the queue to be assailed by vendors selling Rs 50 Korbo Lorbo Jeetbo flags and “unlicensed” KKR jerseys … but were priced twenty-times more.” Just to be fair to Reebok, they’ve priced the ‘official’ jersey at 400 INR this time around, compared to 1500 INR from 2008 and 09. I say this with a sense of feeling short changed because I paid 1900 INR over the last 2 years for 2 such jerseys!

    ” She—all nyaka and talcum powder.” – Will be eternally indebted if Arnab or any of the readers can give me a one word translation for ‘nyaka’.

    “And just when I was dozing off, Dada rolled back the years and sent Steyn into the stands with the shot of the match. Needless to say, I stood up, roared and lost my voice.” – Any non-Dada fan too had to stand up and applaud that shot. Shot of IPL3 so far, IMO.

    “With the match finished, I joined the sea of humanity leaving. My feet were trod on twice, an elbow was forced in my face, I had a splitting headache from the heat and my throat was sore.” – Brings back vivid memories of my walk back home after Sri Lanka was awarded the match against India in the ’96 WC Semi Final. I was almost trampled over by a Kolkata Police horse.

    Diptakirti, if you’re reading then see, Arnab going to the field is a loss for Twitter & gain for the blog!

  4. I have just started reading your post , but from the few first lines one question I have. Did you get the ticket from ticket counter or from one of the affiliating institution? If ticket counter, then why tickets of the Ind-SA test match were provided to only members of affiliated clubs?

  5. arnab u conveniently forgot to mention the fact that tiwary proved u wrong. i know u will say that’s it is only one match,but here is a man who has almost single handedly took bengal to the vijay hazare trophy final twice in a row, n to the ranji trophy final also twice with the aid of ranadeb bose.in bengal’s darkest hour’s when it was relegated,he stayed with bengal risking his career where he had ample offer to move out.this is called loyalty.obviously people cooling heels in foreign shores and busy in nit pricking the system,where they hv not tried any way of changing it will probably not understand it fully……

  6. The first time i went to cricket match was in feroz shah kotla in delhi, it was india pakistan match.all that which happened to you and worse……I just could not find the bathrooms……..
    I could hardly see anything and i was sitting at the farthest corner of the stadium, The food was over priced and it was smelling

    I made a promise to my self to never go to a cricket match ever again.

    But then i went to waca recently (afridi eating the ball) incident.it was nice..

  7. Before I die, I want to watch a test match at THE EDEN and a boxing day test at MCG. I always dreamt about it but your vivid recount of the atmosphere makes it come alive. Eden Garden ki jay!!!!!!!!! We should start a movement to make it a national landmark of somekind.

    It is always amazing when you talk cricket (Although technically we are not talking) with someone who not just knows but feels the game. In all the noise and the DJ and Neville Cardus ka aulaad and the advertising, you can’t stop admiring the class of a Dravid or a SG and what seperates the men from the boys and ofcourse the magic of Eden.

    I don’t say this often, but, Good Post!!!

  8. Arghya,

    You mean the guy who played for Delhi Daredevils for two seasons. Contributed nothing and then was kicked out? Fat lot of good you staying inside Bengal has done for you. You dont even seem to know that Delhi is a place outside Bengal.

  9. Off topic: I read your book GB. Very funny and very insightful. I can lay credit for selling at least five additional copies to my friends. I also read the Gamechangers. It was a piece of garbage. Here is a request from a largely silent fan. Please write a book on cricket.

  10. “And they should get Vignesh, ICL’s stand-out performer, into the side as soon as possible in place of Manoj Tiwari”…………..

    eat your humble pie now. Please, do praise people who does well. Cheers!!

  11. How do you know Vignesh wouldnt do better? By the way the problem with people is when a star who is worth over 600,000 USD makes 50 runs, its me who is asked to eat humble pie ! Not that I wont if Tiwari makes loads of runs, which I want to happen because he was once stated to be the next big thing, but one innings?

  12. GB,

    Rahul Dravid has been one of the greatest batsmen our country has ever seen…and a honest man. But he had faultered once in 2005. Dropping Ganguly was necessary,though maybe not at the back of a century. But insisting that he should not considered for selection by replacing him with players like JP Yadav or Venugopal Rao could not have been Chappell’s or More’s decision alone. I am not a die hard Ganguly fan myself,but then again it does not take one to be a die hard Ganguly fan to understand what had transpired then.
    A Bengali has an elephant’s memory. You may be intellectually superior to either forego the history or not considering Dravid guilty for this ordeal, but you should not criticise an average Bengali when he calls Dravid a “Bishwashghatok”. Dravid had faltered once.
    Otherwise a wonderful read. Looking forward to read your book.

  13. Crypt,

    Whatever might have happened and we will never know what exactly did, what is beyond doubt that Dravid is one of the greatest batsmen and greatest sportsmen this country has produced. For that he deserves respect and not derision.

  14. Has anyone watched IPL match at a multiplex…kingfisher airlines type hostess catering to your comfort!!

    And if you want some ‘entertainment’ go and watch at fame cinemas at southcity mall ..morning show …gold class…and ask a seat beside “romeo-juliet” sofas..where couples need the blankets in hot and humid march!

  15. Hi GB,

    Read your book and loved it. I just have a small request. Can you spare a blog post to throw some light on the much debated topic of our country – Reservations amid the chaos surrounding recent bill.

  16. We do respect him for the batsman he is.I am a die hard fan of Dravid, the batsman. The man and his steely resolves would go down in History together.
    But he did faulter.Maybe it was such a small chink in his armour it would not matter to him ever.
    In fact, I do not find the same resentment for Dravid now that there was in Bengal when Eden rallied for South Africa. He has started winning his fan-base back. But,even if there is one obscure Bengali calling him a “bishashghatok”,you have to understand his sentiments. Does not mean you have to accept he is one or that I am preaching he is one. That was all that I meant.

  17. page 17 of your book….pardes character should have been apoorva agnihotri & not atul agnihotri as mentioned….:)

  18. Thank you , really thank you for doing that for Dravid and writing that for Eden. Somebody tell that to the authorities please when they give test matches to centers where they watched by only school kids. And somehow I feel that we Indian fans give more weight to glamour over substance. Dada was great in his own right , but while judging Dravid-Dada issue a pillar the size of one in front of you in Eden is cast in our minds showing the adrenaline of Dada and obscuring the mild almost cold but effective methods of Dravid.

  19. That was absolutely hilarious and reminded me of the sobjanta Bengali (or Bangla if you prefer) Anandabazar.

    As many of you know, there is no way to accurately pronounce Waugh in Bangla. We can’t do “wah” and the closest approximation is “o-aah”. Anandabazar the pichon-paka estabishment of correctness made him into “oo-aay” (kind of like way).

  20. “and KKR’s Chief of Operations, Collen Venning did not make fransip with me.”— Wts the pun with “franship”?

  21. I am sorry, but Dravid might be a greatest batsman – perhaps the 2nd best ever to play for India after Tendlya, but his attitude and behavior during the Chappell days leaves much to be desired. A great batsman has been forever sullied by his connivance with a nakedly divisive Coach to oust a former captain, and his naked ambition to become Captain of the side.

    If, in spite of being big fans of Sourav, we can all agree that Sourav had his flaws and faults, then we also have to agree that Dravid equally had his, albeit hidden under a mild-mannered and retiring exterior. He may not be a ‘bishwasghatok’ in the sense of ‘traitor’, but certainly in the sense of ‘betrayer’ wrt Sourav.

    For that he might be forgiven, in time, as many human failings are, but certainly his conduct will never be forgotten by Sourav fans.

  22. Looks like the veterans hate this stuff as much as the youngsters love it. Tour inside India play a few matches and you are few crores richer. Who cares for records anyway?

  23. Dravid may be a great batsman, but after he declared when Tendu was on 194*, I have never liked him as a sportsperson.

    Great post as usual. Do you think, with the way KKR is going, that they have a chance to win IPL3?

  24. Anirban, thanks for reminding me of the ‘Waugh’ wars in ABP. At the same time, Aajkal would write his name as ‘Owag’ (phonetically, in Bengali). Do you remember the great Gavaskar vs Gaoskar controversy? Aajkal’s editor Ashok Dasgupta was a big pal of Sunny, & when ABP started spelling his name Gaoskar, he had Sunny write an article (or maybe they interviewed them) where he said ‘Gavaskar’ was the correct spelling & pronunciation.

  25. @ Pankaj

    And they still write “Gaoskar” dont they?
    And dont forget them using “s” and not “sh” when they write Sachin’s name in Behgali. Their reason? Well there is no “sh” in the Marathi varnamala. There might not be, but ABP is a Bengali paper isn’t it?
    Pichon Paka all right.

  26. Where we have such young unknown names performing splendidly, we have people still talking about Dravid’s class and Ganguly. These two, I guess are the most uninteresting players to watch in a game of cricket, be it fielding, bowling or batting. Just the sight of Dravid walking into bat is enough to give me a panic attack. His batting style and the way he blocks and prods and pushes is repelling to say the least… Unless of course, once in a while, when ‘Dada rolls back the years’ But that happens very very few and far between.

  27. ‘These two, I guess are the most uninteresting players to watch in a game of cricket, be it fielding, bowling or batting. Just the sight of Dravid walking into bat is enough to give me a panic attack’

    So who is a class apart in batting. Yousuf pathan (100 in 37 ball). Afridi? Symonds? Even Irfan pathan can hit better than dravid sometimes. Is he a better batsmen? Do you like watching him.

  28. An out-and-out humorous post on Cricket after a long time. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
    Your irritation with the DJ and his music, M. Kartik Calling D. Kartik, how your vision was blocked by the morons standing up to make Mexican wave, “Malluyar chhele” , “Charlie Langto-field” they all take the cake and share it. 🙂

    By the way, it’s high time you start banning people who indulge into this irritating ipod thingy and keep posting “me first”, “me second”, “me twenty ninth”, “me pig’s arse” etc etc. If not ban them, at least delete these comments. I know it will reduce the number of comment your blog receives but not by much.

    @ Suhel Banerjee : Surname Banerjee ar Nyaka maane jaano na? Nyaka kothakar ! 😀

  29. DAARUN post .. arnab tussi great ho – i had tears in my eyes by the time i finished reading this peice of art .. cheers boss .. hopefully i’ll be calcutta on april 1 to catch an ipl match myself.

  30. What is it with Bongs and Tamils? They can never put India before their state or think beyond the borders of their states. I know with that I stereotyped all of them. But frankly most of them I have met were so. I am hoping I met all thw wrong ones

    I am not a fan of either batsmen. I enjoyed and was proud of Dada’s captaincy during the glory years, but once his form went down, he was dragging the team down. But still, he changed the attitude of Indian players once and for all from the shy guy to the confident and slightly arrogant(I meant it in a positive sense). But we also know how much politics dada along with Dalmiya played. Talk to any one in Cricketing world, they would say Dravid and Kumble are the two gentlemen of Indian cricket. (No I am not from Karnataka, I think it is just a coincidence that they are both from K’tka.

  31. Eggzactly RichAndFamous! He should’ve done that years back. But the problem is everybody thinks they are Sachin. Dravid and Ganguly along with Sachin were always referred to as the Big 3 and so if Sachin didn’t retire, why should they! I think actually, Sachin faced a lot of flak because of these two latching on to him.

  32. now i know why things like IPL somehow work?! Because there are bubbleheads like Rakesh who think watching Dravid, one of technically most sound batsman, gives them a panic attack!. Just today i was watching an his splendid 180 against rampaging Aussies way back in 2001, the perfect partner-in-crime innings to Laxman’s miraculous 281. It was Dravid’s solidity in first four years of this decade that lent Indian batting order some respect when Sachin had a dip in form & Ganguly was, well, Ganguly. This guy helped us push Australia to the brink in 2003-04 series with 619 runs, helped us win series in Pakistan with 270 (2004) & two halfcenturies @ Kingston which helped us win series in WI after 35 years (read this week’s ‘The Best I’ve Watched’ feature on cricinfo for more). My 15 year old brother is asked by his batting coach @ club to emulate Dravid. And then i see some guy doing a Boycott when he says his mum bats better! Heavens!!

    GB, all these times i have had a feeling that you have never been a big IPL fan. If i am right, now you got the proof. If we say test cricket is the best cricket to such people its like casting pearls to a swine without getting a pork chop in return.

    “Dravid, one of the most uninteresting players to watch”… f88kin moron!!!

  33. @Pankaj, hilarious stuff and I do remember. Anyone also remember Dipak Chudasama, the Kenyan cricketer? Propah Bangla papers changed his name to Choudashama. 🙂

  34. Hi Greatbong, when will your book be available in Mumbai…. Have made 2-3 trips to Landmark and Crosswords…. In vain….

  35. I was told by someone it was available at Crossword Mumbai yesterday. When did you go? The holiday on Tuesday screwed up Mumbai distribution to the larger bookstores. It is available at smaller bookstores I have heard from two people.

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  37. @J – That’s nice, but you know, doesn’t hit the spot!

    @debolin – Arrey nyaka maane jani na ke bollo? (Who said I don’t know the meaning of nyaka?) I want a one word English translation jate non-bengalider ei oshadharon shobod ta bojhate pari! (so that I can introduce this beautiful word to the non-bengalis).

  38. Had checked out at Crossword, Oberoi Mall, Goregaon yesterday and Landmark, Infiniti on monday eve… Wasn’t available at both the places…

  39. @KP – Bubblehead!!! Whats with this name calling? Are you like, still in school? I don’t like the way he bats that’s all. Not anymore. He’s old, he looks very finnicky while batting, the way he jumps and blocks a ball is ugly. Compare that 180 to the master Laxman’s 281 – now that is what I call watching cricket. Or take Azhar or the sight of Bret Lee running in to bowl on the first day of a test match in whites with a red cherry in his hand. These are the sights I want to watch. Not some old hag in colored clothes, who btw would have hit the least number of sixes in international cricket, trying to fit in T20 where the rest of his team is at least 10 years his junior.

    And no, I’m no IPL fan either but I absolutely do not like watching Dravid. What’s your problem with that? And no, I’m not still in school so I won’t call u names.

    Cheers! Oops, I mean, you might not be drinking age so rather… Good luck with your exams!

  40. @Rakesh,@KP FYI Laxman is the batsman who has hit the least number of sixes in any form of cricket. Check the records. Dravid was asked by Steve Waugh (who has helped a charity in Kolkata) to write a foreword for his autobiography. Shane Warne said in his autobiography that Rahul Dravid was the best player of spin in the sub-continent. During the Pakistan series there were tons of segments with Pakistani players openly voicing their admiration for ‘The Wall’. The best way to judge a professional is to ask his opponents and compatriots and Dravid scores either way.
    Now to the Dravid-Dada issue – this is way more complex than anybody believes and Dravid is a very minor character in this drama. Dada-Dalmiya politics first made and then slowed down Indian cricket post-03 WC. When the new regime took over this was always on the cards. Dravid could still have fought for him like he did for Viru but 1. He was old 2. He had been playing on borrowed time since a couple of years before he was first dropped under Dravid. His fielding and batting left a lot to be desired and attitude (mysterious last min injuries) wasn’t world class.
    Dravid was caught in the cross-fire between Mumbai camp and Chappel’s honest belief that Indian cricket needed a behavioral and attitude overhaul and hence people who didn’t confirm to his diktats should go. SRT was only saved by the Mumbai camp (he was playing so un-Sachin like that even Manjrekar complained). Dravid didn’t stand up for Ganguly because Ganguly didn’t deserve it on merit (playing ability at that time) and because Ganguly had not accorded him any special favors (he made him keep wickets a good while after Dravid had cemented his place in the side). Later when Dada actually came back in stupendous form and made the comeback of his life – Dravid did acknowledge this. Besides Dravid never had any malevolent attitude against Ganguly, remember the test in Pakistan when he came out to open the innings because he didn’t want to put Ganguly to the wolves. Who else would do that? Mahi? Sachin? Saurav himself? get real..Ganguly wasn’t screwed by Dravid/Chapell.. he payed the price for slacking off in Cricket and playing some politics during the Dalmiya years. He was made to play the karmic price for this by the Mumbai regime.
    Another point – Dravid didn’t screw Sachin on 194. Sachin was given a lot time to get his double. He still played at a snails place from 170 onwards. the decision to declare was taken because we had drawn matches earlier because of just falling short of time and it was the best decision in favor of the team. This wasn’t Sachin’s first double/a WR like the recent 200 that Sachin had to be consulted before declaring.
    Conclusion – All 4 are legends in their own right. Lets give these legends the respect they deserve at the same time lets not curb criticizing them if their play is not upto the mark, they are humans not Gods or SRK.

  41. “I think from next year they should put up another notice saying that they own the organs of people entering the stadium” …. mate, i just coughed water on the monitor reading this…!! LMAO!

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