The time was about 10:55pm and as I stepped out onto the streets I realised that I wasn’t alone. I could see several others equally delirious with joy and unable to believe that their long cherished dream had finally come true. The moment I hit the street a couple of complete strangers ran towards me, gave me a high-fi. They were screaming INDIAA INDIAAAA!! at the top of their lungs to ensure that they were heard over the then ubiquitous and incredible loud din of firecrackers being lit in almost every single housing colony in my area. More and more people kept pouring out into the street till it became a huge procession. Out of nowhere, there materialised a set of drums and two huge Indian flags and we set out to the nearest important thoroughfare, Vile Parle's Hanuman Road where a kind cricket loving shop owner had put up a large screen at a crossroad.
In the less than 2 mins that it took us to get there, I must have seen at least about fifty other people pass us in their vehicles and as far as I could make out no one apart from the driver was bothering to sit 'inside' any of them. Every SUV had men sitting on top and shouting slogans, many others had their torsos out of the windows and were waving flags. Every single motorcycle around was carrying 3 or more people and almost every other one had a flag. The big screen had become a gathering point and almost everyone from Vile Parle assembled in front of it. By the time I reached the place, the sound of fire crackers was dying down and the drums took over. Almost a hundred delirious fans were already dancing in front of the screen in jubilation and the crowed continued to swell because every person witnessing the scene called up and exhorted his friends to join. Men, women and children from all around converged in front of the screen. While most just came shouting 'INDIAAA!!!' others had grabbed their whistles and IPL horns which were being blown loudly. Everybody was congratulating everybody else as if all of us had hit the winning six ourselves.
The numbers multiplied till there were about thirty to forty Indian flags and I estimate probably more than five hundred people.The big screen began to look rather small compared to the crowd in front of it. Some creative genius then brought a styroform replica of the world cup and placed it atop an Innova car at the centre of the crowd. The crowd danced with renewed vigour at the sight (albeit a replica) of what the country had gained on the historic night. It was delightful to see the senior citizens, old men and women break a leg and do a jig as well. The world cup is a matter of national pride in our cricket crazy land and the fans dancing were of all ages, various communities and both genders. The unity and national pride (and the number of flags as well) on display was greater than I have ever seen before. Greater definitely than even that of 15th August and 26th January.
Then the presentation ceremony began. We cheered as loudly as possible every time an Indian player stepped up to take his medal. Just when it seemed that everyone had lost their voices by shouting till they were hoarse, the city-boy was called to the podium and chants of SACHINNN SAAACHIN!!!! became so loud that the sound of the drums was momentarily drowned out. The moment the presentation ceremony ended the dancing began anew as if it had never stopped. We, the under-30 generation which had never witnessed a world cup triumph were high on joy and energy seemed limitless. Almost an hour after the big crowd had first gathered, dancing and flag waving was continuing unabated with only the chants varying between BHARAT MATA KI JAI!, INDIA INDIAA!! and the all time favourite SACHINNN SAAACHIN!!!!
Only after much efforts and requests from the police did the crowd disperse enough to let the traffic flow again. However, most fans were only moving to other places rather than returning home and most of the traffic was jubilant fans going on a victory lap of the city. I am told that the scene I witnessed was replicated across Mumbai and probably all over India as well.
It is a night that I will never forgot the passion on the street was something that I had only read about before. A person unfamiliar with cricket could be forgiven for thinking that it was something like a revolution that Egypt saw a few days ago with streets overflowing with people and people riding atop cars and waving massive flags out of the windows.
To say that this post paints an exact picture would be utterly wrong. My writing skills fall woefully short and are completely inadequate to accurately describe the passion on the streets. I wish that most of my beloved friends who were unfortunately away from Bombay were here with me to witness the night of extraordinary celebrations. I hope that the Indian team will give us more cause for such wild celebration again when all my friends are in Bombay. So now begins the wait for the third one...