The only people in my family who watched cricket were two of my cousin brothers of whom I was not very fond of, nor met momre than once in a couple of years or so. My other brothers who also watched cricket were more passionate about tennis and equally passionate about football. I discussed the latter with them. Pete Sampras and Steffi Graf were far more interesting players than eleven men standing around on a field as far as I was concerned! The allegations of match fixing didnt help with my impression of the game.
In the Army world, where I grew up, the real civilian life was far away, and so were games like cricket. War and war exercises were what occupied adults, obstacle races and other sports occupied us kids. In many places radio was also a little far fetched, with focus on video tapes of movies and movie songs. Who cared about cricket when politics were much more dynamic and interesting? in the absence of cycling and Pitthoo, there was always Chandni, Shehenshah, ET, Back to the Future and Maine Pyar Kiya to entertain one!
Happy in my world of rigorous activities and own games, cricket was something that belonged to unknown masses.
When I finally wholeheartedly joined the world of civilians during my college years, we were a batch of 24. Of which barely a few would be interested in TV sports - maybe 5. College activities and college games were far more important that watching TV. Getting to know movies like The Wall of far more importance than knowing how much Sachin made in a match.
It was only when I moved to my B-School that the enormity of cricket really hit me. Suddenly I realised that small talk did not include just the weather and the political scenario, but also Cricket. The advantage of being in a school hostel however is that common interests move beyond small talk very soon, and get personalised. So after a couple of months, if people talked cricket, I wasnt aware of it. However, I was aware of the existence of the game, and its stronghold on the mango public. There was indeed an India-Pakistan match while I was there, which was shown on a special large projector screen in the cafetaria, in the winter months. I remember the crowd there to watch it. But I also remember the sizeable group which was uninvolved in the match, that had music on at the terrace and were partying while the cafetaria brimmed with both temporary and permanent cricket lovers. Needless to say, I enjoyed the music. Also needless to say I have no idea of who won. My existence was complete without cricket.
As media increased its stronghold over cricket, my awareness of the game increased - insofar that I knew it existed and I knew people were fanatics about it. My friend circle had only one impassioned cricket crazed person, who happened to my flatmate as well. But then, she was left alone to watch matches as the rest of us wandered around town exploring places and watching movies.
It was then that I was told that out neighbour was the brother of some cricket player. I couldnt care less.
One of my well-networked freinds tried extremely hard to take me to a live match in Ahmedabad where he would introduce me to all the biggies since I could sit in the ...um...the place where the cricketers sit during the game...with them. To me, it was an unexciting prospect since I did not know anything about the game, and saw nothing to admire in these Indians who were paid a bomb for not even running around.
This year, however, things changed. I am now married to a man who loves cricket. The Unthinkable happened. I now know a few terms of cricket - enough to make small talk on. And, then I sat through a few matches. I will not say I am interested in the game. I still find it extremely boring. The so called 'technical aspects' make it entertaining enough, but far from excite me. But it has been an interesting journey from a cricket hater to a pseudo cricket watcher. I still get bugged when offices cease to function because of a match, and I still cannot fathom how it can impact people for days. (If my favorite football team wins, I am happy. But that does not make me delighted about it for days!)
But who knows what the future will bring? Who knows what my response to cricket will be in a couple of years? I still feel al large part is fixed and there is too little gaming emotion in cricket. But maybe over time I will be neutral about it, maybe I will even start enjoying it.
As long as it does not bring anything negative with it, I am open to change :)