“Climbing up winding steep ramps never ending
But halfway up there is that first glimpse of green
On a field spread so gracefully it was no wonder
That one graceful fielder grew after another.” - Feldman BarryIf joie de vivre could ever be assimilated and experienced for real, then the ideal place to do so would be a stadium. The plethora of sports and the variety of games may differ but the untamed energy, the scintillating pulse is something which is characteristic of every stadium. The whole experience and the excitement surrounding it is augmented by its sheer presence or perhaps by the unclamped enthusiasm and wave of zest in the crowd that enlivens the stadium. Watching a match from the stands is parable to seeing a battle unfold right in front of your eyes and that is a surreal encounter, a cherished memory for life. The verve of a stadium environment is so engrossing that no matter where you are, the cheer and the glee will follow and no matter how many matches you have been to, the stadium will continue to exude an insatiable enticement. No one can be there just once. Needless to say, it is a one of a kind experience pretty much inimitable even for the most posh and dandiest of television screen.
However, when asked to zero in on one particular stadium, I seem to be quite at a loss. Personally I’ve been to just one stadium to watch a cricket match. It was, true to its name, the Eden Gardens. Well, need I say more? Enthralled and thrilled as I was, I can never grow out that episode. Climactic rapture and true adrenaline rush is what I experienced that day. But there is also something else that intrigues me more than the stadiums themselves. While one battled for tickets and passes and delays and jostle among the throbbing crowd, some fateful souls traverse the easier route, then climb up the biggest and the sturdiest trees and thereby settle in their branches appropriately .and thus partake of the stadium mania all for free! It is this seating arrangement which has attracted me always and whenever the camera focused on these arboreal spectators, I would almost peer into the television screen. It is hilarious to see how people adopt different postures and stretches to perch up there and their enthusiasm in laying their hands on a ball send little too away from the boundary or in preening themselves visibly when the camera lens focuses on them makes for an interesting observation. So, if the IPL tickets have run out and entry seems bleak, one knows where to go. I, too had my share of this unique adventure, although of a minuscule scale.
In one particular summer, few years back, our colony had challenged the adjoining one to a cricket match. This was an extremely grave and strategic occasion for all of us and preparation began in full swing. Finally, when we reached the stipulated venue, a nearby park, after a few innings, we, the audience, realized that the grass abounded in roaches and ants, so not a very conducive place to sit. So as an alternative, we climbed up an old Mango tree of not too great a stature within the park premises and blissfully watched the rest of the game, with a few sparrows and crows to give us company.
However, stadiums always remind me of Netaji Indoor Stadium in Kolkata. Not an apt location for outdoor sports, but this particular stadium with its huge dimensions, convenient seating order and air conditioned interiors was the site of my school’s annual cultural show, Spectrum. Yes, we did transform the customary sports and exposition site into an extended stage. But the mesmerizing view that the audience were accorded and the exponential joy that we savoured while performing there can hardly be expressed in words. So, while the conventional stadiums with their hallowed match ups continue to be sought after, these queer detours, too have their own charm.
Contributed By: Yashaswini Basu