The curly hair had gone as had the shyness and innocence. There were no more monosyllabic interviews or reticent smiles. My first interview with Sachin Tendulkar “Sr” was on 3rd November 2001 (exactly 12 years ago) on a chilly spring evening at Goodyear Park Bloemfontein.
He had just scored a masterly 155 and overshadowed a dashing young debutant from Delhi by the name of Virender Sehwag. He scored. He spoke. He smiled. The words flowed as candidly as his cover drives.
My greatest memories of the master though would have to be sitting next to him on a long flight and chatting about fighter planes in the West Indies, interviewing him in his living room as he cut his birthday cake with Anjali, Sara, Arjun and his mother in 2004, and, on a cricket field, being asked to anchor the on field celebrations of his hundredth Test at the Oval in 2002.
The entire Indian team was present and presented him a memento as he walked on to field. I can never forget his words. He said then that getting it (the memento) from his cricketing family made it more special. The extended family is now getting set to bid adieu to a man whose career span needed to be covered by two generations of MY family!