TWAS just before the Covid wave a friend called, “I’ve got tickets for the IPL matches, want to come Bob?” “You crazy?” I asked him, “I’ve got my old TV and where else can you watch 18 balls being bowled per over?” “There’s only six balls Bob!”
“On my TV I get two action replays for every ball bowled!” I replied condescendingly.
Where else but on idiot box would camera man focus on pretty, overdressed, self-conscious wives on stands and cheerleaders in bikinis instead of on some tired bowler bowling to an equally tired, exhausted batsman?
Where else, but in front of my TV, can I sit with AC going full blast and pity poor spectators sweating it out on steaming stands, not sure whether the sun is going to get hotter or the promised sea breeze arriving only after the match! Where but in front of my TV, can I also cheer for a Pakistani batsman without being branded unpatriotic and a government dragging me to jail on charges of sedition?
Give me my idiot box instead of a seat on the stands, where with myopic eyes I try and squint to see whether batsman has already arrived at crease, clap wildly for six only to be told, “Uncle, what you saw was not the ball, but an aircraft landing!”
Where I will wave wildly at man selling popcorn who will deftly and cleverly evade my glances, my shouts, my frantic waving and will later come my way empty handed after selling his wares to other luckier more agile souls, while those by my side wonder if I’ve come to eat or cheer their home team! Whereas in my bedroom with vintage TV blaring I with calm relaxed movement move right arm in direction of my box of cashew, left arm for hot samosa and clap gently to the wife for another and another and another cup of tea.
And then with all the excitement I need to find the cloakroom. I look at stands and wonder where it is? Has one to hold one’s breath and bladder and wait for the end of match, then be crushed in a stampede to the john, or like a king walk in regal splendor from bedroom to bathroom and back as many times as I want?
Ah the freedom my TV gives! Can one dream of such luxury when sitting in a cricket stadium watching sometimes agonizing maiden over being bowled, with the batsman’s bat going block, block, block! While here in front of my TV, I switch from cricket to a Netflix or Amazon movie and watch my favourite actor dodge a hundred bullets while on cricket field the batsmen run a tired single! But, and here’s a big but, the players need their crowds, and this I see as I watch the sad Tokyo Olympics where athletes perform listlessly to empty stands..!