Undercurrents #6: Balls in the ears

12.30pm, 26th March, Nariman Point

I’m heading out for lunch, the streets are quieter than normal. Fewer black and yellow taxis. The footpaths are a bit emptier. The usual hum of the city, chatter on the streets and the incessant horns a bit dimmer. The crows don’t know any different.

Then I start to see them. First walking alone along the pavement. A focused, intense gaze. Phones nestled in their shirt pocket along with their selection of pens — ear phones protruding out. One guy with a cup of steaming chai in the right hand — grasping his phone to his ear in the left. My favourite dosa man (my lunch of choice), less chatty than normal, he has the familiar white wires snaking down around his neck and chest like a stethoscope.

They’re all listening intently to the little plastic balls in their ears. Both there in front of me and not there at all.

One enterprising taxi driver has his doors wide open with a huddle of local workers crouched down, staring at the newly resurfaced road in front of them. They’re listening to the radio waves ripple out from the vehicle- it’s the cricket World Cup semi-final. It suddenly all make sense.

Australia won by 95 runs.
Australia — 328/7 (50) vs. India 233/10 (46.5)
The Indian World Cup dream was over.

end

_________________________________________________________

Cultural Undercurrents
What might this story tells us about the invisible forces at play in society?

· Cricket is taken incredibly seriously in India and is seen as the national sport. A huge amount of pride is attached to the national team, so it becomes an emotive spectator sport

· Two of the largest open spaces in Mumbai are also dedicated to cricket, these areas filled to bursting most mornings and weekends with multiple games all running in parallel. You see make-shift cricket games set up all over the place. Cricket is a core ingredient of the social fabric and interactions right across the country.