Tom Alter on the joy of watching Tendulkar
Tom Alter on what makes one shut down everything to watch Sachin Tendulkar bat
You awake with a sense of taut excitement in your entire being -- small, small things. The shadows of the morning sun on your bed, the angle of a pen on your desk, the scent of tea from the kitchen.
They are all, suddenly, so much more keen and so much more immediate. Your body tingles. You awake early. Exercise -- run and you are quicker and more agile than you were yesterday. You check the clock every fifteen minutes. You plan your day in segments of two hours, starting at 10:30. You make all your phone calls, check all your emails, make sure that no one is coming to the house between 10:30 and five. You have your tea and whole-wheat toast with honey, and you take the newspaper into your hands as if it were a Christmas or Diwali gift -- his picture is everywhere, and the smile on his face takes you back so many years, and forwards into eternity.
The first ever video interview of Tendulkar was conducted by Tom Alter for MID-DAY in 1989
At about 9:30 you turn on the TV, not to watch, but just to set the mood. The volume is off, and only images touch the corner of your vision, as you make yourself breakfast and switch off anything that makes a sound, from telephone to doorbell to alarm, you pull the curtains shut. You might, just might, call your son to get his comments or feelings. No one else, except for two old friends with whom you have shared the journey so deeply and richly, are worthy of your thoughts right now. Breakfast comes and goes -- energy for the day. You set your chair, the old rocking chair, at just the right angle. You thank all the gods that no one is at home, that your wife is working at school and that all friends and relatives that might suddenly arrive are thousands of miles away.
You check the score again -- the overnight score. He is not out on five, Dravid is with him, and Laxman and Ganguly loom ahead. The bowling attack of the enemy is really strong. Yesterday evening, a yorker had almost got through, and a top-spinner had jumped and almost found an edge -- so the battle is keen, keen, keen. Dravid is already on 35, and looking like a wall of much wonder. But it is him, he is the one. In the five runs he scored yesterday, he looked good. You had concentrated, and felt each twitch, each hike of the pants; you had not moved from your spot and he looked good for his five -- with him, five runs is enough to know.
And now he is walking in with Dravid. He swings his bat, looks to the heavens, to heaven he is in white, and the sun glistens. With a nod to Dravid, he takes guard, he grimaces, winces, flexes his knees, gently pounds the bat on the ground. Now he looks up, the bowler is coming in and Sachin Tendulkar is ready to bat. You lean forward in your chair, and nothing else exists in the entire universe. The joy of watching Sachin bat -- oh, my!