Dear Miss Eden,
Pity we get to meet only once a year nowadays. There was a time I would have the pleasure of your company for five days in a row as we peeled oranges, flipped open plastic water bottles and devoured my ma’s chutney and cheese sandwiches. I was just 14 when I fell in love with you for the first time 37 years ago. I remember every moment. First ball West Indies vs India, Sudhir Naik caught Murray bowled Andy Roberts.
Hold on a second, let’s get all this mushy nostalgia off the sight screen and (square) cut to the first Saturday in May. My favourite teenager chooses to wear a purple T-shirt; I’m in an all blue kurta. You are looking beautiful as ever in your usual lush green. It’s 3 o’clock we are in early; so let’s ask you who are you supporting today? Blue or Purple? Come on be a sport, tell me?
Stop being coy... okay, if you want to keep that a secret, never mind. Who would ever say you’ve been a perfect hostess to ‘flannelled fools’ for 75 years? I like your new make-up: corporate boxes, bay windows, and LCD runners on the boundary. Little wonder even the kids think you are beautiful.
Just before the match begins let me share with you why I am on the Blue side today. Without being immodest, I have played a bit of sport in my time. Sure, sport is about technique, skill and precision. But that’s only half the story. True sport is also about passion, hunger and emotion. I can’t explain this to my favourite teenager, because she will quickly retort: “Baba, let me tell you frankly, with Dada there was only emotion and emotion, but we weren’t winning. And now look where we are on the points’ table”. I don’t have an answer.
I have never met the iconic owner of the Purple team, but would really appreciate if you would pass on a message. Actually some unsolicited advice to further build what he already has — a good brand, good players, good packaging. His team needs a little soul. Because Calcutta is a city with a soul. Bring on Dada... NOT as a player. Call him coach, call him mentor, call him chief architect, or call him whatever he chooses to be called... or just call the team ‘Dada’s Kolkata Knight Riders’ (that’s a free marketing idea!).
Miss Eden, my dear, let me end by making an honest confession. When Dada trudged his weary way back to the dugout, caught for 36, there was a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. No it wasn’t for Team Blue. I am not a big IPL fan. It was for a fellow Calcuttan, a fellow Xaverian, a fellow quizmaster and, without doubt, the greatest sportsman from Bengal to have walked on your front lawn.
Love you Miss Eden. Love you Dada.
With every good wish,