On a Mission of Meeting Sachin Tendulkar

It feels like yesterday when it all began. Not really sure where to start from.

I always felt I have known him since time immemorial. I remember my

childhood viscerally but ever since he became a part of my life I remember everything vividly.

I decided to go down the memory lane to share how it all started.

Before I begin I want to let him know “I owe him the happy days of my life”, if he ever comes across this.

On the contrary, as a growing child, initially, I

had no option other than watching cricket, as my dad has always been

an ardent cricket fan. Honestly, (to the extreme level of hatred) I hated it. I was happy being with friends and meandered around the city.

To my great surprise, I started liking the game slow and steady. My affinity for sports gradually increased. A

Young Indian was consistently making it big by hitting the hell out of

the bowlers at an international arena. My admiration grew each time I

saw him on the field. He was an emerging young talent that was bringing the entire nation together. His immaculate straight drives are to die for. It surely has got an Oomph factor. What a great timing!!!! He is pre-dominantly the LORD of that shot.

My respect towards him grew at an impeccable rate and I knew there were no heights his willow was not going to scale.

We all know who am I referring to? Yes! You got it!! Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar!!

How many of you have bunked school or college just to see him bat?

How many postponed their meetings?

Do you remember delaying stepping away intentionally from the idiot box?

OK! How many fought with their girlfriends, wives???

I still remember people closed their shops just to see him bat. Haven’t you guys come across these stories? I bet each one of you must have.

No one could come between him and me and my love for him was Invincible.

A famous quote that fits the scenarios mentioned above quintessentially.

“Do your crime when Sachin is batting because even God is watching him bat”.

He has flooded my life with innumerable reasons to celebrate. Going to bed crying without having food after Sachin got out was becoming a

daily routine. 1996 WC semifinal was no different and I was disappointed at the way team performed after a great start by Sachin.

During 1996 WC my home turned into a mini-theatre with a room full of friends, family members and neighbors rooting for India every time Sachin hit a boundary. Gradually, a mini theatre turned into a colony ground. I thoroughly enjoyed all of this but I started dreaming of watching Sachin play Live. It was a daunting task in those days to fetch tickets and we needed to stand in the queues for ages as there was no

option for an online purchase.

In 2002, India was playing ODI’s against New Zealand in Hyderabad and I felt that was the best chance to watch Sachin play as I, being a localite, would have an easy access to the stadium. Alas! Everything can’t be hunky dory and I realized soon it was not that easy. I was unable to manage the ticket realizing I had little money which was not sufficient to fulfill my dream. I was heartbroken but never did I give up and the universe was listening to my prayers. I got the glimpse of my Hero entering the stadium sitting in the first row on the left-hand side waving the crowd. The kid inside me jumped and words deceive me to describe what I felt at that time. IT WAS SURREAL!!

I was satisfied seeing Sachin a few feet away but it did not quench my thirst. I wanted to watch him play LIVE.

In 2003 BCCI had built a new cricket stadium. The first Ranji Trophy match was scheduled and Sachin was a part it. I was least bothered who were the opponents, all I wanted was to watch Sachin play exclusively. Period! I was on my toes to find out what will be the price of the ticket,  how many days in advance could I book the ticket? To my surprise, I got to know that since it was a Ranji Match the tickets were free of cost. Nothing could get better than that!

As I lived 40 km away from the stadium I made sure I reached on time, avoiding traffic as I wanted to make a hassle-free entry to the

stadium. I was bang on reaching the venue at 7:45 am and was waiting for the team to arrive. I repeated this consecutively for three days and it’s inexplicable to mention how I felt. It is one of the best feelings to watch Sachin Play. I was on Cloud Nine…..mesmerized and awestruck!

This was not it!! I wanted more of it and I had started becoming more of a chaser. For a few months, I kept my cool but sooner or later I knew that I wanted to watch Sachin play live again and now nothing could stop me from chasing my dreams. 

On October 5, 2007, India was playing against Australia. I wanted to watch it Live. I quickly recollected the mistakes I made in 2002. I was a grown-up now and there was no room for fallacy. Luckily, I had good contacts by then and I reached out to one of my friends who worked in media requesting him to get a ticket.

It was an amazing moment when I reached the stadium and Australia was batting and I was sitting in the covers. I was eagerly waiting for Sachin to come out to bat. The time arrived and Sachin came in to bat. Chants go crazy, Sachin!!! Sachin!!! Sachin!!! I froze and someone had to pinch to bring me back to life. I was wonderstruck!

While I looked at him he looked at heaven walking down to bat.

A dream comes true!!!! This was the beginning and I promised myself this will only go bigger and better.

In those days, we did not have the provision of replay on the screen in the stadium.  My apprehension was: what if I miss a shot? I was glued

watching him play and I didn’t take my eyes off him. While Sachin batted he was frequently looking at me. What a feeling it was!! You are watching your first international match and Sachin is constantly looking at you. What a feeling!!!!!! Though it did not last long as Sachin

got out and was walking off the field. I felt lonely after he got out and didn’t want to continue watching. As I was on the verge of leaving

the stadium walking down the gallery exit I realized he was looking at the scoreboard behind and not me. But who cares? That delusion was beautiful. I still get goosebumps when I think of it.

I became a male version of “Alice in Wonderland”-  completely lost. I delightfully shared the experience with my family and friends and I had a retrospect of Sachin looking at me for several weeks that followed. My dream was fulfilled watching Sachin bat. What more could I ask for? This was not the end though as I mentioned earlier.

A new form of cricket T20 was becoming popular and had transcended to IPL. It was the first season of IPL and it wouldn’t take an Einstein to understand that I supported Mumbai Indians because of Sachin. Ever since my childhood, I have supported and been a part of all the brands he has endorsed.

By the time Mumbai Indians were scheduled to play against Deccan Chargers, I became an active member of Orkut Sachin community and came across like-minded individuals. These people were not just emotional about Sachin but were prudent analyzing the game. Sachin’s birthday has always been a national occasion and we celebrated his birthday by extending our help to orphanages.

My first IPL match experience was ecstatic. It’s nostalgic to write how I felt when I tried sneaking into Gate no 6. to get a glimpse of Sachin standing near the team bus at gate no 1. I waited for almost two hours to capture the moment when Sachin got into the bus, however, the lights were cut off by the stadium authorities and all my toil went in vain.

During all this, I happened to meet a friend from social media within the same crowd. He mentioned he watched the match from VVIP Box and managed to have a conversation with Harsha Bhogle who invited him to meet Sachin at the hotel where the team stayed. My friend was kind enough to extend the offer to me too. On my way back home I was in dilemma and I was daydreaming. The thought of meeting my God was exhilarating enough to keep me up all night. I was rehearsing what I would say, what  I should talk about,  how it will be and the like.

My mind was circling with questions and I kept staring at the ceiling thinking about him all night.I hurriedly got up in the morning and got ready. By 7 in the morning, I was ready to leave for the hotel to meet a friend. Excitement grew bigger and I could hear my heart throbbing underneath my ribs. On reaching the hotel when we met Harsha Bhogle, he said “Sorry Guys!!! Due to some emergency, Sachin left for Mumbai in the morning at 7”.

My dream was shattered and I was broken into pieces. My heart was crying and I stood still for a while. It felt as if everything was over.I was heartbroken for a long time though I never lost hope and I believed someday, somewhere I would meet him. On the other hand, social media was becoming a part of my life where I started handling a few communities related to Sachin. Moreover, I also happened to join a session online with Sachin’s birthday celebration initiators. I learned that we can have a blog with Ad-Sense that will generate revenue and we decided to start one by each one of us. This is how the concept of came into existence in June 2008. I was engulfed in the task of updating the website for Sachin lovers and it became a daily routine for me. I was thoroughly enjoying all this, while my mind was always thinking of when and where I would get to meet him in person.

Within a few months of my association with the Sachin community, there was a Ranji match that was to be played in Hyderabad in Jan 2009 and Sachin was a part of it. This time I wanted to make sure nothing fell through the crack. I was determined to meet him and get at least a photo clicked with him. On the first day of the match, I was wearing a Sachin Tee and was carrying a huge Sachin banner along with a digital camera. At the entrance, the police stopped me from carrying my cell phone and the camera. Though I was reluctant to do so but I had no other choice.

I went back sulking and dumped my belongings in the car. When the crowd settled at the stands, I requested the cop to let me in with the mobile and the camera. I had to plead him hard so that he allowed me to do that. I had to literally prove my love for Sachin by showing him the banner and telling him thousand times that I am a huge fan. I got lucky on that day and finally, I got the permission as he helped me get the belongings inside.

The cop introduced me to a Sub Inspector who was in charge of the area near the players dressing room. He assured me that he would help me accomplish my dream and mentioned he had not witnessed anything of this sort before. During lunchtime, I quickly managed to finish my meal and I was hoping nothing to go wrong this time. He sent me along with the constable to have food who was serving the players in the dining room of the stadium. It was a massive table and a gigantic hall. Never had I come across something like this before.

All this while, I was only thinking of meeting God. I quickly finished my lunch and went back to the stadium and India got its first blow. In a few minutes Sachin came and sat next to Ramesh Powar who was sitting right next to me and the only hurdle that separated me from him was the Steel Rod in between. For a while, the world around me paused and it was just me on the left-hand side of Ramesh and Sachin on his Right.

I was spellbound to see that closeness and I felt like I should jump over that fence and go and let him know how much I worshipped him. I could not stop looking at him and I could hear him talk. I wanted to do something crazy but I didn’t want to put the Sub Inspector in trouble that had got me so close to him. Another wicket fell in next 15-20 minutes and now Sachin came into bat. Sachin got out early in this innings and returned to the dressing room. There were no signs of him for a long time. As I was curious to know where he had gone, I was waiting quietly and enjoying the moment. Now, I wanted to know where he had been. At the end of day’s play I went and asked the sub-inspector and he mentioned due to some commitments Sachin left for the day.

Once again my dreams were shattered and I was in a loss of words. It was tough to handle this heartbreak but I kept reminding myself every day that one day I would fulfill my dream. I alarmed my mind with a constant reminder every day to chase him until I meet him. In the same year, Sachin traveled to Hyderabad to play against Australia, on Nov 5, 2009. This time around as well,  it was a mixed feeling – a little bit of excitement and more of disappointment. On my way to the stadium with a friend of mine, we chased the team bus trying to get hold of Sachin’s attention. But things aren’t easy, are they? It was yet another mixed day for me. I personally enjoyed the ride though chasing my dream again. I was not ready to stop. Despite the continuous failure, I kept trying. Today’s effort was a disaster too but that didn’t deter me;  I knew I would make it sooner or later.

Next day the match was scheduled to start at 2:30 in the afternoon. I reached by 1:45 pm and was talking to my friend about how I felt on seeing Sachin while coming to the stadium. We didn’t realize how time passed by and we continued talking for more than 30 minutes. It was 2:25 p.m. when we were at the entry gate. There was too much of chaos while I was trying to enter and in that hustle, I was pushed horribly and got myself brutally wounded. My foot got hurt and the thumb bled for 4-5 hours. I was in atrocious pain but I was determined not to see the doctor, and nor have any medicine. People around me were petrified and had suggested seeing a doctor. I was obstinate that moment and under no circumstances did I want to leave the stadium.

My friend was adamant on visiting a doctor. It’s so surprising that I did not even feel the pain for so long despite being in great colossal. After a heated argument, I agreed upon first aid within the stadium. Upon asking the cops for first aid we got to know there was no such provision available. The funniest part is even the cop got horrified and suggested, “You need to see a doctor immediately”. This can lead you into serious trouble. Finally, I decided to go and see the doctor real quick and come back soon as I did not want to miss the chance of meeting Sachin. With everyone hounding me seeing a doctor I was not left with an option. I was focused and determined to meet Sachin post Match. On seeing the doctor, he suggested the nail needed to be removed and that I needed rest. I was in no mood to continue with the medication and told him just carry on with the first aid. My friend was angry and ferocious but I was assertive. With very little I could do, I had left the stadium and before I came down at the stands I made up my mind that I would be going to the hotel post-match to meet Sachin. I was in excruciating pain but I did not care. All I wanted was to meet God. I had plenty of fruit juice to keep myself hydrated because I had lost a good amount of blood. What was bothering me the most was that I did not want anybody at home to know about this.

On reaching the stadium I enjoyed Sachin hammering Aussie Bowlers. He scored Splendid 175. What a knock he played that day!! It’s still fresh in my memory. After he got out I reached home to freshen up to leave for the hotel. I made sure nobody at home would know about the injury. I was ready-to-leave in a flash. As soon as we reached the venue where the team stayed we noticed Aussie team entering the hotel and we started booing them. I also observed Umpires at the lobby waiting for the elevator. I walked up to the umpire and asked him,  “Why couldn’t you give not out to Sachin”? To this, he replied, “Sachin’s shot selection was wrong”. Hearing this, I went ballistic and there was no one to stop me from getting into an argument with him and I brought handy stats to his notice too. I am sure he remembers me even today. LOL!!!

I was waiting patiently for Sachin to come down for the cake cutting ceremony as there were arrangements made for the immaculate knock he played that day. Team bus arrived soon. When Sachin was approached by the hotel manager for the cake cutting, he refused and said he was in no mood and left. In fact, the entire team left and the wait was not over. I had to wait more and finally after 30 minutes Yuvraj Singh came downstairs at the lobby. It was a pleasure meeting him. Got photographed along and had a conversation regarding Sachin’s knock. I could not but ask him when Sachin would come downstairs. My dreams were once again broken into pieces when he said, “He has slept”. I tried understanding the full extent of the predicament I was in, yet willing to trade off anything I could to get another shot at making things work in my favor. Another year of hope and despair which brought me close but not close enough. 

 “Journey with Sachin” Continues…

Who can forget the Roaring 200 runs Sachin scored against South Africa in Feb 2010? What an amazing knock it was!!! Simply Superb!! It’s still so fresh in front of me as if it was yesterday. It’s 2017 and when I look back, I wish I could travel back in time and freeze those moments.

Also in the same year, Indian Cricket Team traveled to Hyderabad towards the end of 2010 while I was in the US, to play their first test match against………….

Not even a single day passed in the US when I did not think of Sachin, My God. Though I was pursuing a degree, I always wanted to come back and it was getting restless every day to continue. However, I came back to India for the World Cup 2011. We all know how he had chased his dreams since he was ten.  We all wanted it bad this time. Every time we had come so close, yet we could not make it. Fingers crossed, this was definitely THE ONE.

India played exceptionally well. The entire universe conspired together to fulfill Sachin’s dream which he had woven since he was just 10. It was celebrations everywhere. Thank God!!! I could make it and I was a witness to the historic victory at the Wankhede Stadium (Mumbai).

In 2012 I completed my degree in Aviation and came to India to Chase my dream again. I was determined to achieve what I have been wanting to ever since I fell in love with this Golden Hearted man. In August 2012 India was playing its first test match of the series in Hyderabad. It was around this time on 2nd of August I got my first Sachin Autograph Tattoo. The best thing I gifted myself ever!!!! On 19th of August 2012, India came to Hyderabad. My schedule every day was to go to the stadium, wait at the gate for the entire day and then hang out with friends at minus 6 as I assumed Sachin might grace us with his presence. On the third day of the test match, I had to go pick my sister who was coming from the US. My friends called up and told me that Sachin had come at the Level minus 6 and had an ice-cream and met everyone.

There you go!!!!! I was overwhelmed. I could not believe what I heard. I was in tears. I did not know how to react. I just stood still and random thoughts passed my mind one after the other.

Did I do something wrong? I have been waiting and pondering all day and night to get a glimpse of him. Is my luck rotten that he came at the same time when I was not available? Am I not worshipping him sincerely enough? People have gotten to meet him who probably is not even an ardent fan and when I am giving out everything I have, I still fall short of everything I do for him. What is going wrong?

That particular night I was completely out of my mind and could not sleep. Next morning I did not go to the stadium. In the afternoon I decided to go to CCD and wait. After two and a half hours of brainstorming, I heard cops escorting Team India bus inside the hotel. It was getting uncontrollable. I decided to gatecrash. I reached the hotel where Team India was staying and decided to wait patiently at the Lobby. I could see every player moving in the hotel but not the one my heart was searching for. It was a nail-biting moment and every second seemed like ages. I decided to speak to security personnel. To my surprise, he said he might not come today but since we have a match tomorrow you definitely can get an opportunity to at least get a glimpse of him. That personnel did not know what was going in my mind. I was ready to cross all the limits now. No more glimpses. I was firm with my goal and this time no looking back.

I kept waiting and decided I will not move until I meet him today. After a few discussions with the Hotel staff, I got to know that he might come in the lobby at around 5 PM. At around 4:50 PM, one of the security guys told me that” Sachin Tendulkar is not coming downstairs”. He has ordered for a coffee in his room. This time I was headstrong. I was not giving up. I had this faith somehow that Sachin will come down at the lobby with one of the security. I don’t know why I had this intuition. I decided to wait and not move until he comes. I have waited for years and now I had this belief that, today is the D-day.  I hellucinated Sachin coming out of the elevator with the security. I was unstoppable. I don’t know why I felt the next man to step out of the elevator will be Sachin. And, Bang On! That is what happened At 5:05 on August 22, one of the security guys stepped out of the elevator and there was another security guy standing behind him and amongst the security personnel I saw My HEARTBEAT!!! Now, I had to be on my toes as I knew I only had a few seconds. Anyhow, I wanted to go and say “Hi!” to God and tell him what he meant to me. Somehow I tried getting close to him as this was the only opportunity and I knew once I get close to him I am absolutely safe. As usual, the security guy was trying to shoo me away but I was determined that “I was not going anywhere”. While I was darting towards him, I kept reminding myself not to get amazed! Hold on to your emotions! And as soon as you get close to him. Don’t forget to ask for the picture. I am getting extremely emotional while writing this. As I approached nearer I started walking along with him. I am extremely nostalgic too while I contemplate. And I said, “Sir, may I please have one snap with you? I am Crazy about you” and showed him my tattoo. On seeing the tattoo, his reaction was to be captured as he said “Whoa!!!” The humble man that he is, he clicked a picture with me. And the most amazing part was the security personnel who were trying to buzz me off were the one who clicked the pictures. LOL!!! I thanked Sachin for being so humble! Meanwhile, I asked if he liked the Tattoo. He smiled and said “Yes”.

I started heading back to CCD. I was totally blank and I had no idea what had happened in the past two hours. Tears were rolling out my eyes and I was completely in the awe of those two hours. Last 16-18 hours were hell and it was those tough moments that made me reach so far. All these years I thought “he was accessible only to rich people”. Commoners like us do not even stand an iota of a chance to be this close to him. I was all over the place. I was on Cloud Nine!!!! That moment when I even thought of crossing the Electric Fence!! And now when I look back it is all worth it!!!

Among all the meetings so far, this was the most emotional and I still cannot get enough of it!!!