India, April 20 -- As a cricketer, I often get to hear this, "Sir, I am a big fan of cricket. I have named my son Gautam after you. Can I have two passes for the next match please?" Or this one: "Hi, Gauti, pehchana? Dhruv here. I was in Class 2nd B when you were in section G. Brother, we didn't stay connected for a long time but I am the guy who had the first automatic sharpener in our school. Remember me? Can I please have four passes for the next game, please?"
It is funny how close to any game in Delhi and now in Kolkata, from automatic sharpeners to children names are used to get complimentaries.
All of a sudden, acquaintances become friends and friends become buddies. This season has been no different so far.
I really don't know how and when this whole culture of complimentary tickets crept in.
I also love freebies, who doesn't, but my issue is with people who have the resources and means to buy tickets but still go the complimentary way.
Someone in my hotel room is suggesting this is a North Indian thing or more of a Delhi thing. I am sorry, but I disagree as I have seen this happening pan-India. It maybe more in Delhi as it is the capital of the country.
Besides a home to embassies, ministries and important departments, Delhi is also a place where it seems almost everyone has a connection in a passport office or police stations or with mantri ji.
For the record, every India cricketer gets about four complimentary passes for their family. These are the best seats in the house where food is served as well.
Coming to help
For any cricketer, the demand and supply curve of these passes never meets. So, it has become a norm that team-mates will offer their quota of passes to the player who is playing in his hometown.
For example, I give my quota to Balaji when the match is in Chennai and he does the same when we play in Delhi.
Also, I am confused if we revere the stars and the stage more than the sport itself. Recently, Sachin paaji was playing a Ranji Trophy semifinal against Services at Palam.
I am told there were not more than 100 people on any given day to watch world's best batsman play from a distance of 80 meters.
By the way entry is free for almost all Ranji matches. Why? I don't know? If you do know, please mail the sports editor of this paper.
I remember once before a match in Mohali, my friend Yuvraj Singh had put a status message on his Blackberry which read: "Yes, I have tickets, but of the Punjab Roadways bus from Chandigarh to Mohali."
Kaizen Media Solutions. The writer is KKR skipper.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.