Never have I been more excited about touring a country, than this trip to India. I can clearly remember when I was young, I wrote down a “to do list” and started jotting down all these great adventures that I wanted to do before my time was over. Some of the adventures included balloon safari, cage diving with great whites, and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to name but few. I am fortunate enough to say that I have ticked some of those off the list, but one that clearly stands out for me was, touring India for cricket, being it in a player capacity or Coaching role. And here I am…
It wasn’t even 30min after we touched down in Mumbai, that I spotted my first big ass rat. There it was, crossing the walkway just outside the Airport, not worried about the presence of people whatsoever. This of course was not my first encounter with a rat (the reed rats that I used to hunt on the farm were the size of cats I kid you not), but it was my first visual intake of India. It must be said though; we had a 4am flight out of Dubai and arrived in Mumbai pretty jaded, so for me to even spot the rodent was a pretty good effort.
Apart from spotting “Splinter” (the rat boss in teenage mutant ninja turtles for those who do not know), the smog, heat, smell, and incessant noise were the other first impressions that stood out for me.
The 1hr bus ride to our hotel was a bit of a blur for me as I was asleep for most of the way, but it soon stood out quite clearly for me that we have entered a country that seems to run a lot like East Africa. Organized chaos is probably the best way for me to describe as to what I mean. There are no rules, but rules are followed. Un-written rules, like the use of lane ways on main roads, or the total disregard for lane ways if you catch my drift. It is safe to say that, in India, only a local would be able to drive around in India. It is an absolute nightmare. If you don’t have a hooter/horn/honker/tooter (whatever you want to call it) you might as well walk to your destination. I can’t stress how critical the addition of this tool is to your survival kit for India. So much so that, if you find yourself without one, death will be painful and imminent.
Again, no real shock for me as to what I have seen in Africa in terms of squalor and pollution, although one peculiar sight that caught my eye, before I drifted into a semi comatose state of sleep deprivation, was the sight of children and adults alike playing cricket in every street, field, or space available. A magnificent sight really, that brought a smile to my face. For in Africa, the stumps and bats are swapped for the more beloved round football and goal posts. Cricket here, in India, is truly a way of life.
Consisted of me falling asleep in front of the TV with some test cricket on in the background. Surely, apart from watching golf, nothing beats catching a 40 winks while the sounds of hard fought test cricket is on the telly. Once I had awakened, I was summoned to the lobby for a quick ‘schedule planning’ meeting for tomorrows training at the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai. This was followed by some dodgy x-mas shopping for some of the lads in the team, as in Dutch tradition, Sinterklaas gets celebrated and we have to buy a gift or two for some team members and write a poem in Dutch about your gift for them. I’m afraid no poetic masterpiece will be coming from my side although my gifts should bring about one or two laughs. Its quite tough deciding what to buy people seeing as though I have never really celebrated x-mas since that fateful day when my witch of a sister told me that Santa Claus didn’t exist. So Sinterklaas will be celebrated with a team dinner on the 10th.
A green Thai chicken curry was taken down at one of the local restaurants together with our team Manager Ed van Nierop, and Sponsor Manager for ABN AMRO Steven Sedee. I must say that the spice explosion in my mouth was absolutely divine, and I can see myself gaining a few pounds in the next few weeks as I work way through all the curries that India has to offer. Cant wait to try a few with our own team food pundit Michael Swart (@mickyswart).
Caught up with Coops (@tomcooper26) over skype, who’s team the Melbourne Renegades had just completed a demolition act against Shane Warne’s team the Rebels in Australia’s Big Bash 20/20 tournament. Was good to catch up with him and find out what the latest news is from down under.