Posted by: seasin | August 5, 2009

Of cricket and curry and other things British, and very happy Transilvanians

Last week-end we traveled to the UK in the hope that I’ll finally manage to watch my first ever professional cricket match. Never mind if you don’t know anything about cricket, all you need to know is that it’s the coolest team sport on the planet. No argument about that whatsoever. No. I’m not taking any.

After two miserably failed attempts (first time in South Africa, where because of the lack of planning we didn’t have tickets in advance and we went to the venue on the day of the match, only to find out that it was sold out-DB was completely surprised there, he said that’s unheard of because it was a 20-20 game (this bit was edited at DB’s request; he asked me to add the word “domestic” before “20-20 game”, because a. that’s what it really was, a 20-20 game betwen two SA teams-so in the interest of accuracy and not having my lovely bottom sued by Geordies for misquoting them on the www, I had to make the correction; and b. he’s crazy about me and he doesn’t want me to make a fool of myself with stupid explanations, because it was the fact that a DOMESTIC 20-20 game was sold out that was astonishing-he tells me that 20-20 is the most popular form of cricket otherwise, and international games are often sold out; so there, DB, now you don’t get to sue me anymore!); the second time at Lords in England, where we did get tickets but the bloody players decided that they’d better up and end the game before the last day-for which we obviously had tickets-so instead of watching cricket we spent the day playing pitch-and-put) it was my third go at finally experiencing the miracle of cricket, and we were doing it all right. We booked everything way in advance (mainly because we went for day 4 of the third test match of the Ashes series-again, if you know nothing about cricket, just imagine this is like the Final of the Football World cup, that even the Americans watch, except it has five matches that last for five days each, over one whole summer, and unlike the said Final, it does without fail oppose the best two cricket teams in the world-England and Australia. It doesn’t get better and more intense than that in the cricket universe, and I don’t need to tell you that tickets are sold out while the paper they should be printed on is still swaying in the wind in some doomed forest. Sort of.) and thought we had it all sorted out. I was in for my treat. And to make it all sweeter, the match day we booked was at Edgbaston, which is in Birmingham, the birthplace of British curry. In my book, you can’t top that.

Over the past three months or so, whenever I was thinking about the first week-end of August, I was getting so hyper that DB must have thought that the mutated cricket-and-curry virus was definitely real, present and causing worrysome symptoms in Transilvanians. However, because cricket is what it is (what do you mean what, it’s the coolest team sport in the known universe, that’s what), a million things completely out of my control can occur only to completely ruin my experience.

Like in the first case, when the tickets were gone. Well, we had that aspect sorted out this time-tickets clutched to my ample bossom from the minute they arrived in the mail. Or in the second case, when they finished playing before they were supposed to finish. Because that’s the beauty of cricket-anything can happen. So I started monitoring the way the match was going this time, over the internet, from day one (we had tickets for day 4, remember?)-well, after two days, it looked like we had that aspect covered too-because of bad weather, they had played so little on the first two days (and not at all on the third) that most certainly they weren’t going to finish playing before the fourth day.

Which brought about the third possible reason why I wouldn’t get to watch my cricket, even the third time around. Rain. That was why they didn’t play much on the first three days. See, cricket is a sport for sunny days and dry grounds. It has all to do with the ball. I won’t explain (I’ll do a cricket tutorial for those interested, separately if any requests present themselves, but I wouldn’t request it from me, if I was you!) but you just can’t play with a wet ball. So as the week was progressing towards the Sunday, THE BIG DAY, I was getting more and more sure that nope, I won’t see any cricket this time either, because in the Midlands it was pissing down like the sky was nine months pregnant and the waters had just broke.

That’s one reason cricket is the coolest and best sport in the world. It teaches you about life and humility (these deep words of cricket wisdom are copyrighted to DB). And about patience and zen and karma (these are mine). Because, as a Transilvanian, no matter how much you love planning and organizing everything up to minute details (perfection’s in the details, baby!), cricket will screw it all up for you in a blink. ANYTHING can happen. And ALL you, the Transilvanian (or other cricket afficionado) can do is sit back, let the frustration and anger pass through you, reach your serene zone and wait for whatever the mighty gods of cricket will throw your way.

Imagine my Transilvanian bliss when I woke up stupidly early on the Sunday morning to bright blue English skies 🙂 we had breakfast, and we started towards the grounds.

Now, a very brief explanation is in order. A while ago, this Transilvanian used to work for a football club (soccer, for all you Americans). So I’m used to going to football matches. Where supporters of the two sides are strictly separated because otherwise they’ll bite each other’s heads off or something. Where they don’t sell alcohol because you know, drunk supporters will bite each other’s heads off even worse, and vandalize a large town faster and more thoroughly than Hurricane Katrina, in the process. Where they don’t sell food because, well, it only takes two hours for the whole thing to be over and done with, and the break is only 15 minutes. So knowing all that, I’m all of a sudden plunged in the wonderful old fashioned world of a cricket test match. And people, let me tell you-it’s different!

Oh, my friends, this sport is sooo up my alley 🙂 the sport itself is wonderful- it has pace, it has speed, it has amazing athletes wearing incredibly posh white kits and amazing fancy hats and unbelievable knitted sweaters (on a sports pitch, can you believe it? I know, I know, but wait, it gets better!)-but the people who go and watch are wonderful as well. They’re…British, you know-even if their passports might say otherwise. There were food and drink stands all around the grounds. And no, I don’t mean hot dogs and hamburgers and beer. Well, there were hamburgers, but Gourmet 100% British Beef Hamburgers. No sign of hot dogs, but traditional sausages, Cornish pasties, Indian food, Fish&Chips, seafood, and even a Salad bar. And a gourmet coffee place which was selling amazing cupcakes and muffins and scones with cream and jam. And yes, there was beer, but real beer as well as lager, and and and…oh my heart-be-still, a Champagne bar. And you could take the booze into the stadium, and sit with it on your seat that no one was going to try and nick, and no one would spit at you or swear or throw things at you because you happened to be an Australian supporter (which I clearly wasn’t because I even bought a really cool official England kit replica hat, which I wore all day and all night and on the bus to London and on the plane to Sofia and in the car all the way to the office).

So you’re sitting there thinking I got myself a bottle of champagne then went to my seat to finally watch the cricket, right? Well, WRONG! Because it was all so British, that I decided I can’t possibly have champagne (I know, cricket is a severe terminal disease once you caught it-I mean, I wore A HAT and I DIDN’T have champagne!!! I’m changing into something else!! Next thing you know, I’ll be growing a sense of humor!) and I went instead for a very large, very satisfying glass (more like a bucket) of Pimms. There really wasn’t a choice. Gorgeous Sunday morning, cricket, nice crowds, it could only be Pimms!

The cricket itself only started at noon instead of 11, but I was at the point where I couldn’t care less. I knew it was not going to rain (because, you know, I had made it into my seat, and NO ONE would have dared to get between me and my cricket at that point), I was holding a gorgeous drink, I was holding my lover’s hand, and I was watching the crowd around me…life doesn’t get much better than this, I thought. Then they started playing. And it did get much better 🙂 because I saw some awsome bowling, and really good batting, and Freddie Flintoff batted a half century and we all know he’s a GOD and then…we stopped for lunch. One hour after they started playing, we stopped for lunch. How civilized. How perfect. How…entirely, completely ME!!! Obviously, I had sausages (mixed game and pork with mushrooms thrown in for good measure, delicious thick grilled tubes of goodness perfectly complimented by sweet onion relish and English mustard)-I was hesitating between them and curry, but then DB announced that I had yet more reasons to become addicted to cricket, because my friends, NOT ONLY do they stop for lunch, but…but…they ALSO STOP for tea! (sort of an early dinner, for you and me barbarians from outside the British Empire). So I quickly decided it’s going to be sausages for lunch, and curry for tea 🙂 Oh I was so happy 🙂 so happy 🙂 I felt right at home and I loved every single person around me, evidently loving DB a million times more than all the other people together, and even loving the complete weirdos wearing…costumes. Or fancy dress, as the Brits call it.

That’s another cricket tradition, apparently, although Lords frowns upon it (I’m right there with you on this one, Lords). Grown men (and women, they tell me, but for some reason last Sunday all women in attendance seemed to be perfectly normal) dress up as…condiments, star troopers, cheer leaders, nurses, you name it, I saw it last Sunday at the cricket. I even saw a trio (although it was a quartet, in practice) of a horse (two guys, one wearing a horse head and the other spending his day with HIS head up the bottom of the first bloke, while impersonating a horse’s bottom at the same time), a jockey and their wealthy Arab owner. I’m, as you certainly figured by now, Transilvanian, and therefore why grown persons would chose to spend a day making complete ridiculous fools of themselves in public is certainly beyond me. And while I completely get cricket and curry, in my oppinion this manifestation of the child within is best left to…well, children. But you know, as the day was progressing and the cricket was unfolding and I was cheering with the crowds and draining large quantities of Pimms, even the fancy dress somehow started to fit into the scene.

Ladies and gentlemen, I had without doubt one of the most perfect, happy, wonderful days of my life, past, present and future, last Sunday at Edgbaston Cricket Ground. And I’m addicted to cricket as a lifestyle. Sigh. Told you I’m easy and I fall inlove at the bat of a lid.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: