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Dada's Gang of Boys

"The best way to ignite Saurav is to write him off" Steve Waugh

The other day K was referring to a couple of friends of ours as 'Tendulkar Fanatics'.

I said that it is easy to be a Tendulkar fan. He scores oodles of runs. Acclaimed by all. Owns most personal cricket batting records.

In fact you actually have to be fanatical to be a Saurav Ganguly fan in my opinion. Consider the evidence. A man with patchy performances. Glorious at his best. Farcical at his worst. Often inconsistent. You always have your heart in your mouth when Dada bats. You have no idea what he will dish out. And over the last years its often not been much. While, as many point out, Tendulkar's still going on like a well oiled machine.

I had met a gaggle of fellow thirty plus Bengalis a few days back. The most consistent support group of Ganguly. In contrast to Ten whose supporters cut across clans and countries. We asked ourselves about why we Bengalis support Ganguly. Even when he is obviously a spent force. Why do we let the heart rule over the brain? And then, in a larger context, why do all our heroes belong to the past?

Well the fact is that most Bengali heroes belong to a time when we were in our diapers. Uttam Kumar? No more. Satyajit Ray? No more. Kishore Kumar? No More. Plus they all belong to the word of cinema. There has not been any national politician of note from Bengal post independence. Pranab Babu remains a Man Friday. 

The sporting cupboards of Bengal are equally bare. Dalhousie Institute boy, Leander Paes, did well for himself. But tennis doesn't work in Calcutta. And despite much trying one couldn't discover any Bengali gene in Pele or Maradona. The fact is that Saurav Ganguly remains probably the only Bengali player of significance to have played for India.

And Ganguly is not any ordinary player. Yes, he had his cricketing moments. But more importantly he has spunk. An in your face attitude. He wears his heart on his sleeves. There is a sense of bravado in his demeanour. A willingness to take the fight to the opposition. A fighter.

There are many positive values associated with Bengalis. Love for art. Ability to think. Creativity. Culinary skills. Mishti. Ability to write. Rabindra Sangeet. But, a Bengali would probably not be your companion of choice if you got into scrap with someone.

We are the thinking race. We plan. We debate. We ponder.

We don't get into fist fights.

Ganguly changed it all. Here was a Bengali who walked with a swagger, his collars up, taking on the world, in a Quixotic manner at times. The last time a Bengali did that was Mithunda in B Subhash movies. And those acts were scripted.

So suddenly there was a whole lot of us who began to root for Ganguly. Like Danny De Vito in Twins, we puffed up our chests and said, 'you mess with me you mess with my family"

Add to this the fact that there was noone else to revere. Contrast this with say a Delhi who has Sehwag and Gambhir. Or a Bangalore which had Kumble, Srinath, Dravid, Prasad. We had one hero and we hung onto him with our dear life.

So Dravid loses the Bangalore captaincy to Pieterson. No problem. Laxman shown the bird by the Deccan Chargers. No problem. Yuvraj and Punjab. Ditto.

But drop Ganguly from the Indian team and the whole of Eden jeers Dravid and team India. Take away the KKR captaincy from Ganguly and SRK was left without a single Bengali supporting his team in IPL II.

Sounds strange?

But then have you considered our options?

Photo credit: Caesar Ceasar

Talking of  Tendulkar Fans do check out this lovely Facebook Note by Harshad on Tendulkar.

Here's the text in case you can't access it.

"I was in school and hated chemistry and lost the tug of war game and took my bleeding hands home and you batted for me.

I felt the high and had my first crush and I was trying to make sense of what was happening to me and you batted for me.

I sprouted a moustache and spent vacations in Pune with my long departed grandpa and loved every match you played and you batted for me.

I went to art school and made new friends and learnt new tricks and mixed new colours and you batted for me.

I saw a big riot happen and cities burned and my city was bombed very badly and we were all scared and you batted for me.

I sat through two day exams and poster colours cost five bucks and Mafco lassi four and you batted for me.

I got cable TV and foreigners were on my screen and MTV happened and Baywatch happened and you batted for me.

I shaved off my moustache and saw Shahrukh Khan rise and Amitabh fall and Madhuri retire and Amitabh rise again and you batted for me.

I fell in love and out of love and graduated and looked ahead at my brand new dreams and held a bat for the last I remember and you batted for me.

I created my first ad and my chest swelled with pride and I felt grown up now as I earned my pay and you batted for me.

I voted for Vajpayee and he became prime minister and India went nuclear and Kargil blew up and you batted for me.

I sat along with the country and a storm hit a desert and then you hit the storm and you batted for me.

I did many ads and changed many jobs and won my awards and you lost your dad and yet you batted for me.

I saw heroes fall and your game was defamed and all else fell down and you batted for me.

I lost my dog and I cried and I cried and I gave up non veg and you batted for me.

I saw 9/11 happen as did the rest of the world and the world changed forever and you batted for me.

I went abroad for the first time to Sri Lanka and you were there and then to Australia and you were bigger there and you batted for me.

I was in office and we friends bonded over you and we screamed ourselves hoarse on the streets and fluttered the flag as you ripped through Shoaib and you batted for me.

I made newer friends and newer enemies and every now and then you walked out on the ground and then all of us together camped around the office TV and you batted for me.

I got better pay and I bought my first car and a new house and a new LCD to go and on it too you batted for me.

I saw my city and your city held under a siege and great heroes were born and you batted for me.

I saw people lose jobs and not lose their hopes and the world was now a far tougher place and you batted for me.

I came back home from some really tiring work and a child in my building called me uncle and I put on the TV and you were there and you batted like I was still in school and like the world had not moved and you batted for me."

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