A one day international cricket match was hosted on 11th Oct 2015 at Green Park in the erstwhile Manchester of East- Kanpur, a city very close to my native place Lucknow (80 odd Km only). Any international match was being hosted at Kanpur after a long time as the ownership and management issue of Green Park remained unresolved for decades. Seeing the proximity of the venue, I had planned to go there with one of my friends, but due to some other engagements I ended on that day at borders of India and China in the state of Uttarakhand. Although my love for cricket is nowhere close to what it used to be in the days of eye candy, early morning broadcasts of 1985-86 Benson and Hedges series in Australia (Shastri as man of series won a 5 ring Audi in that famous series), the curiosity of knowing the scores whenever India is playing, persists still.
However on that day I was in non-inhabited areas much further from last Indian village, Niti (famous Niti Pass is named after this last Indian village) areas where mobiles don’t work and you don’t find a TV set. I was little resigned to the fate of not knowing the score or result therefore over next 2 days. I was therefore focusing on the beauty in surroundings at this height of 14000 feet above mean sea level. The scenery around was breathtaking. The snow covered hill tops were at a stone’s throw away and the chill effect was getting increasingly difficult to handle. I took few clicks and was thinking of returning to our base camp for night at village Malari, situated approximately 60 km further up from Joshimath.
However, when we reached at the last border post of India, we noticed an ITBP post and decided to talk to jawans manning the post in that extreme weather. The JCO there, invited us to his specially designed igloo shaped iron-fiber hut, made to withstand the extreme temperatures and weather at that heights. As I stepped in, I was not only relieved of vagaries of weather but was ushered into a room having a TV set. To my utter surprise, TV screen inside this Igloo was having the live Indo-South Africa match. I was really amazed at the turn of events and felt extremely lucky. JCO told me that in that non-inhabited and inhospitable cold and rugged terrain, cable TV through smaller dish antennas was the only source of entertainment. I thanked the technology and the God and ensconced myself on a chair to watch the match. India was in a good position chasing the score done by South Africa with only 2 wickets down and only 100 odd runs were left to chase. To keep us warm and good, we were offered piping hot tea. It was one of the best teas of my life. Holding the small steel glasses between the palms, we had it warm with other jawans. I really enjoyed watching the match for some time with strong willed jawans and talked to them about their life. Jawans were connected to their families by satellite phones and looked motivated to defend the frontiers.
We thanked everybody before leaving the shelter for our onward journey. I have seen many matches in my life on TV and and on ground, but this would always remain a very special one (India lost the match though at last ball by 5 runs).