In true cricketing spirit (and subdued fanatical tendencies), a couple of buddies and I decided last night to prowl around the up-market Sandton City shopping mall in Johannesburg in search of members of the Indian cricket team. The grapevine insisted that the team would be housed in the glamorous Sandton Sun (a hotel in the same complex as Sandton City), and so, the probability of spotting a member of the team should be pretty good. So, armed with trusty camera-phones and a sizeable measure of charisma (gotta charm the cricketers and/or their WAGs into posing in photos for us), we ventured into uncharted waters hoping to be the only ones to single out helpless cricketers on our radar.
Very big mistake - the place was uncharacteristically populated with brown-skinned, camera-toting Indian families furiously scouting every nook and corner for signs of a celebrity.
The evening started well for us though. In true alpha male fashion, we decided we would stop over at the Nando's Portuguese fastfood chicken outlet before sending out the search parties. After ordering the usual, we grabbed a table and started engrossing ourselves with chicken and chit-chat (why the chicken crossed the road seems to be the favoured topic at this restaurant). Through sheer luck, I let my eyes wander from my plate (bad Pramod! bad! No food for u!) to the unfunctioning escalator in front of me. Lo, and behold, the figures of Munaf Patel & Wasim Jaffer walking down and turning towards the information board. After meekly mentioning it to my buddies :-) and startling a few customers, we strategised on our next move. Luckily, there weren't any other scavenger Indian supporters around, so we decided to make our move (ok, ok- it was more instinctive).
Anush decided he'd go up to them and ask them where they were from and what they wanted. I was left to look after the food (again, true alpha male style). Lucky guy, that Anush - his fluency in Hindi has never let him down. After approaching them, and chatting for a couple of minutes, he came back and announced that they might be having supper at Nando's (yeah!). They also promised photographs after their meal. So, cool and composed, we carried on with our supper, peeking up frequently to calculate how much distance was reduced between them and our table.
They eventually ordered and sat at a table next to us. In the mean time, we prepped ourselves with possible advice to give to them on how to beat the South Africans at home. For the gossip columnist reading this blog, Munaf Patel eats a s*(&(t load of food - one full chicken and 4 Portuguese rolls (usually reserved for a family of 4).
Feeling a little embarrassed of the possibility of making fools of ourselves next to our cricketing heros (and the rather impatient row of people waiting for out table), we decided to wait for them outside the restaurant.
While there, we met another league of supporters from TCS who also spotted the pair and decided to meander around the restaurant. One of them mentioned that they had spotted Dravid around the corner. Our party quickly broke up with half of us rushing to that side of the mall in search of him. No luck - apparently he'd left. I have my doubts - I think our fellow supporters were trying to wiggle their way to the top of the queue... Hmmm..
Well, they eventually came out, and we took a few pics before letting them go. The TCS pack started running after them like little schoolgirls, but we decided to keep our pride and try the hotel area instead.
Best move of the evening. We (by luck) managed to block off Tendulkar, Sehwag & WAG, and Agarkar on their way back to the hotel. Pics taken with them was posted earlier.
Details of this unscrupulous operation the next post...