Looks like we’re having kangaroo for dinner

All we’ll remember is changing our Facebook profile pictures to Shahid Afridi and tying the national flag to the roof.

Meiryum Ali March 23, 2011
Forget the fact that exams are less than two weeks away and that we don’t even have time to sleep or eat in our minutely worked-out study plans.

Just know that when we look back at this moment in our lives, we won’t remember how voltmeters should be attached in a circuit, or why Napoleon failed in Russia - all we’ll remember is changing our Facebook profile pictures to Shahid Afridi and tying the national flag to the roof because Pakistan won against Australia after 19 years. That’s a world cup achievement in itself.

Yet, no matter how many times we wear our new Pakistan kit, for some that won’t be enough. The real patriot would be sitting in Premadasa Stadium itself. Which brings me to Daniel H.

Daniel is not your average World Cup spectator. This guy actually took time off from the midterm break reserved for studying to catch a flight to Sri Lanka - in student terms this degree of sacrifice makes him more of a patriot than Chacha Pakistan. More importantly, he was there, one of us was there … ‘blowing my horn like crazy, dancing to bhangra music after every boundary and wicket’.

This match was less about the players (though there were some: ‘Brett Lee was fielding directly below us and he kept blowing kisses’ or ‘we caught Umar Gul for a while, fielding’) than it was about being part of that stadium’s crowd. What was it like?

‘A Pakistan fest.’ Not just Pakistanis but all the Sri Lankans too? The answer can be summed up in this picture he took in the spur of the moment.

Our distractions back home consisted of frantically calling cable operators in attempts to dissuade them from their strike, while Daniel’s distractions involved some Australians taunting him. ‘This super drunk Australian guy in the middle of Pakistani supporters kept screaming PAKISTAN, NEW SOUTH WALES.’ My god, what did you guys say back? ‘HOP HOP GO AWAY, especially when the Aussies started losing’.

But apart from that, you could tell the crowd was having fun. ‘We laughed, they laughed, it was chiller.’ ‘Chiller’ is a term that applied to everyone in the stadium. ‘When the Aussie fans left, we started applauding, so one of them actually turned around and bowed, LOL at that.’ But generally ‘there were no Aussie taunts about Pakistan, pure respect.’

‘Chiller’ is a term that could be applied to Sri Lanka as well. Some of it was different: ‘The whole place was so green, and almost everyone spoke English’ and other details, for instance in the stadium, ‘we reported these smokers since smoking was illegal there and they gave us one of those evil looks, but that’s about it. I mean in Pakistan we’d be throwing food around and there’d have been like 10 fights by now but Sri Lanka was so… civil’. Still some were more familiar: ‘After the match ended these little kids came around with plastic bags to collect garbage, it was sad, really.’

Most of his trip smacks of a typical holiday: the planning, the getting to the stadium three hours earlier, the meeting up with friends and fellow fans (not all came from Pakistan either: one family had come from Bahrain), the souvenirs, the picture of him hugging a life-size elephant mascot. And yet some of it wasn’t typical, especially when the last ball was bowled.

How did you feel then?

‘It was the greatest experience of my life. I was happy, tired, crazy, estatic…’

And he runs out of words to describe it. Don’t worry, H, we understand what you feel. We’ll go ‘like’ your live statuses from the stadium and we’ll forget about our AS levels for a moment because Pakistan won, and that’s reason enough.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2011.

Meiryum Ali A freshman at an ivy league school who writes a weekly national column in The Express Tribune called "Khayaban-e-Nowhere".
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


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