So yesterday was a very very eventful day in the history of the Clan of MinCat. My father is a little…how do I put this delicately…cricket mad. He and my mother’s brother have this habit of bouncing around the house in the afternoons acting out strokes and bowling actions. Yes, really. Yes, they are 67. My sister won’t ever wear her Tendulkar shirt because the one time she wore it, he got out on a duck and then we lost the match. My mother has once–a moment remembered with complete glee–hopped down the stairs on one leg while balle-balle-ing her arms to go buy chocolate because we beat Pakistan. My niece was throwing her hands up in the air with fingers pointed whenever anyone said sixer before she could stand.

I think you get the picture.

Now I, ever the changeling, have never really given a shit. I mean okay, when there’s a big match on and everyone’s excited and it’s the last ten overs; when it’s an excuse to faff off from work or studying, sure I’ve run about madly watching cricket and yelling and screaming. The child of the self proclaimed high priest of cricket, who is waiting for a form to ask him his religion so he can say cricket, I could not help but imbibe much information and awareness of the cricket world. And when I started work here, I ended up being assigned cricket books to copyedit since I actually know what an off-break is. And then it just stuck. So I ended up with cricket book after cricket book. I don’t know if I blogged about my my immense rage towards SRT when he scored his damn hundredth century the day I was handing over the updated bio, a day that was a Saturday and then I went MAD trying to get an extra chapter in. There was the Bishan Singh bio by the world’s most horrible man. There was the Harsha Bhogle columns reprint. And then there was the hundred centuries book, by a Hindi journalist and full of cricketer interviews, which meant I basically had to write it. And then we missed the date because we weren’t ready to publish. Which is when inspiration struck.

We decided to rework the book, which was basically in the format of a writeup on each brilliant century and then another writeup on Sachin and the century by someone who had played with him, preferably in that match. We turned it into the ultimate Sachin tribute. The book is out in stores now, and really is one of a kind. But I shall not plug it here. Working on it was HELL because there was no system to the way things were stored and unless one knew instantly what the names of grounds were and so on one had no idea which order the chapters went and so on. I really went mad. Like seriously. HATRED. ANGER. In those days CB was still speaking to me, and kindly assisted me with some sorting, and of course I just called the priest every so often for consults.

Last evening, we had the book launch. It was thrown together in forty-eight hours by the author, and we were all skeptical about it, coming right after the launch of the Yuvraj Singh book, studded with luminaries of the cricket world. But it came together. And how.

Which brings me to the ultimate irony of MinCat, least cricket interested of the Clan of MinCat, meeting Both Sachin Tendulkar and M.S. Dhoni. The former looks 25 and REALLY needs a stylist. The latter looks 35, distinguished and REALLY HOT. Like YOWSA. Be still my throbbing ladybits. Sachin was there briefly, and once he left Dhoni took the stage. And left me so impressed. Such an articulate man. Such presence and good humor. Having promised to relax and give an interview, he just did it. He stayed an extra ten minutes, chatting with author’s family, and when author’s dad went up on stage to give him the book, he touched his feet. I have heard many people talk about the team, the nation etc, but I have never felt it ring with sincerity like it did when this guy talked o how he would help Dinesh Karthik get better at batting even though they were in competition for the wicketkeeper’s position, because who cares, India has to win. So what if I have made 23 Test victories and dada has made 22–at the end of the day it’s India’s victories. When I retire I want to join the army. And go to the front. To the north-east and fight in the real wars.

I was left just a little starstruck–enough to breathlessly ask him to sign my book and gawp a bit when he smiled and handed me the pen he was using–which sadly was not mine. Of course clan MinCat is seething with joy and envy, and my sister, when told her birthday present now includes a Sachin autograph admitted it would be a hard present to top.

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