There are two people everyone who lives in or comes to Bombay hopes to meet or atleast get a glimpse of – Amitabh Bachchan and Sachin Tendulkar. My father once seriously considered becoming a member of a certain club in Bandra East, airily telling us how nice it would be to occasionally go there for Sunday Brunch. When I pointed out that we would have to go all the way to Bandra East, besides we don’t even go out for Sunday brunches that often. He sheepishly admitted, ” Sachin is a member. We might see him there.”Sachin has announced his retirement. Now we might really have to take that club membership to see him.
I did get a chance to meet him once. In 2011, the Cricket World Cup was being hosted by India. The final match, India v/s Sri Lanka was to be held in Mumbai. Both the teams were put up at the Taj Mahal Palace and Towers. Those days I was working for the Taj at their corporate office in Colaba. The whole place was buzzing with how Sachin would be there. Silloo and I were determined to see him, so we asked a friend at the hotel to let us know as soon as he is spotted. The day passed in wicked anticipation. We kept calling to remind and we assured each time that the teams were not yet here. When the teams finally got there, much to our disappointment, all the entries were blocked, including the employees backdoor. When we finally managed to get in we met a few of the players, including the Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara, but Sachin was no where in sight.
Later, a couple of friends from office were going to the hotel for a meeting. We requested them to let us know if Sachin was seen anywhere. Just as we were getting ready to leave office, I get a message, Sachin is in the lobby. The two of us raced to the lobby, only to find it empty. A well played rank, but we’ll see who gets the last laugh. We hung around the lobby. Checked out the poolside. Waled around the reception and elevator bank. We would keep seeing one player or the other, but no Sachin. We split to cover more ground,all the while hoping not to draw any attention to ourselves. Had the Manager gotten even a whiff of our behavior, not only would we have been thrown out, we would also have been severely reprimanded for stalking guests. Suddenly Silloo comes up behind me and pulls me urgently,” Come, they are all at the elevator banks.” We made it in time to see a the doors close on a few of the team. The doorkeeper smiles kindly and asks,*” Sachin ko dekha?” ” Nahi! gaya kya?” ” Abhi aayega” Sure enough, in a few minutes, Sachin walks up and enters the elevator. We saw SACHIN TENDULKAR.
We waited till we saw everyone from the team, and then Silloo pointed out that we were very rude. We should have wished them luck for the match. Since Dhoni took the stairs, we took them too, hoping to find the team. We found them just as they were going in for a team meet. We shook each players hand and wished them luck. I think Nehra had injured his hand, and Silloo asked him if he would be playing the next day. He were sweetly replied, ” I can’t tell you that today.”. We even posed for a picture with Sachin. The picture got fudged, but the memories remain. I saw Sachin. I stood next to him. I spoke to him. I shook his hand.
Mami got hold of some tickets at the very last minute and I got to go for the match the next day. The first time I went for a cricket match in a stadium, hoping to see the Master Blaster in action, he had injured his thumb and was not playing. In the world cup too, he got out pretty early. I was sorely disappointed, but Dhoni more than made up for it. We won the World Cup, and I was there to witness it!!! That, however is another story.
Silloo and I, along with a couple of other staff waited outside the meeting room, peering in, till we were politely asked to move so that they could shut the door and proceed.
* “Did you see Sachin?” ” No! Has he gone?” ” He will come now.”