The IPL, which has become one of the biggest festivals of India, came to an exciting end a few days back. Over the last decade, IPL has achieved the iconic status of, perhaps, Kaun Banega Crorepati, the show that brought families together. It has grown far beyond the game — it’s a festival! All those blue-blooded cricket aficionados who have criticised the commercialisation of cricket should see that mum emerging from the kitchen, wiping her hands on her pallu, saying, fondly, ‘Virat ka haircut itna achha lag raha hai. You should also get a haircut like that, Bablu’ or ‘Ambani ki missus phir se moti ho gayi hai kya?’

The specialists are appalled at the sight of boys in pink, red, gold jerseys with logos of pizza companies stamped on their thighs. They despise the Western influence: the prancing cheer leaders, despite their sweet gesture of wearing a bindi with their shorts and sequinned tank tops. And, most importantly, they are disgusted with the format, lamenting the fading of technique: even an untimed shot yields a six. It’s a circus, they say. Maybe, they haven’t experienced the delight of hearing Lucknow-waali chachi ask while peeling potatoes, ‘Inki pant-ein phat-ti nahin jab yeh girte hain?’

What about the employment it generates? We have retired cricketers, mostly from Down Under who get good pay-checks and free Fab India kurtas. They’ve tried their best by picking up phrases like Kya baat hai and Theek hai to relate to the masses. They are so popular in the country now! At this rate, it won’t be long before Dean Jones puts forth his nomination for Lok Sabha elections. I mean, he has the kurta pyjama already.

This year, I watched the IPL finals with my beautiful, sanskari friend, Sarika who spends most of her waking hours in the kitchen. Sometimes, her family has to get the gas stove and utensils to the bedroom to lure her into feeling at home there, too.  We decided to strap Sarika to a stool in front of the telly so that she’d watch the match with us. ‘Let’s just order in’, we decided. But, much to our dismay, and Sarika’s elation, all restaurants were completely sold-out. Not a single dish available for delivery! Not even from Manjunatha Kitchen which caters to the doddering clientele of the arrack shop across it. 

So, Sarika had to cook, which gives her the same thrill as Gayle gets when offered a loose delivery. She sprinted to the kitchen, faster than Jofra Archer in his run-up. We stood there, dismayed, like the captain watching R Ashwin, the fielder, dropping a catch. 

We made a half-hearted appeal, like Dhoni (of DRS aka Dhoni Review System). And, we just continued to enjoy the game as yummy home-made pizzas made their way to our plates. She popped out occasionally, to ask, ‘Dhoni ki wife ro rahi hai kya? or ‘Kitna paseena aa raha hai bechaaron ko.’

The match was reaching a crescendo. The air was taut with anxiety. That is when she entered with a bowl of masala peanuts, and yelled loudly, causing our collective hearts to drop into our pelvises, ‘OUT HO GAYA KYA?’

Her son told her wryly, that it was an action replay. ‘Oh flashback thhaa? Tab theek hai.’

Best-selling author Rachna Singh (www.rachnasingh.in) is a sit-down comedienne

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