Tuesday, October 19, 2004

With the Raj

I have to admit that I often skew well towards not being so journalistic when meeting some of my boyhood cricket heroes. It does happen with non-cricketers too, but how many really big heroes do we meet sitting here in India? You know, the names I grew up with.
When watching cricket was a purer experience; I watched, like most of us, without thinking much about negatives. Just the game and me. Almost as if it was being played out for me. I was the only one doing the analyses. Later, usually when no one else was around, picking up the bat and copying the shots they played. Totally pure, stupid though that sounds.
It's basically a meeting with Raj Singh Dungarpur on Sunday evening that got me all swayed. I had gone to meet him about the controversy surrounding the BCCI elections really, not a hero worship trip or anything. You know, the 'seamy side' and stuff like that. And, well, 90 per cent of the time we spent was in discussing Jagmohan Dalmiya and Inder Bindra and A C Muthiah and other such jerks.
But then, there was Raj Singh Dungarpur I was with. And I had to bring in some talk of cricket down the years and institutions like the Cricket Club of India and things like that. Not because I had to. Only because I needed to. For myself. Here was a crook sitting opposite me in the Taj Palace lobby...telling lies, yes papa. Contradicting himself. Making a general fool of himself. But then, it was still Raj Singh Dungarpur.
The not-plaebian demeanour, the slightly patronising smile, the arm on the shoulder from time to time. The use of those Victorian phrases that went out with Lady Mountbatten and The Englishman. The "I wanted for you but I left the lobby because you were not there on time, please wait another twenty minutes" crap! (I was five minutes before time, his watch —as we found out to his embarrassment later —was off) It all added up.
And, well, I asked for his autograph later....
And, well, the story has since been spiked.