Its a very chilly night, perhaps the coldest I have seen till now. The sleeping pads, the heater, razaai just making sure that the death count in Grand Canyon does not go up. The thermals, jacket, sweater, gloves, socks, sleeping bag - losing the battle against the invincible cold. I am slightly shivering, unable to sleep.The whooshing wind outside acts as the perfect partner for the cold. Just like the pace bowlers, they hunt in pairs. My co-occupants of the tent - Krupa and Saif are sleeping peacefully. May be they were too tired by the travel or they have had their share of struggle with cold already. After more than an hour of losing sleep, I feel a bit drowsy.
I enter my home in Mysore. Its too crowded. Dont know why there are so many people, may be some function. I proceed to the backyard, where a few cousins are sitting and chatting. I join the conversation. All of a sudden, I realize that there was a cricket match the previous day. What happened to the match, I ask my brother. He has no clue. I make my way into the room saying hi's to the relatives sitting along the way. I open Cricinfo and see the heading - "Match ends in a thrilling tie" The home page has the picture of Stuart Clark holding a stump in his hand and another Australian who is not visible in the photo, possibly running towards their team in celebration. The two Indian batsmen are behind them. Che, let me see the full scorecard. Australia 317/9 in 50 overs. India 317 all out in 49 overs. Last over reads 0-4-1-0-W-W. What??? Now, I can understand why Aussies were so happy. On any other day, for them, a tie is as bad as a loss!
I know that the tent is placed on a vehicle, I can feel it move. How else can it be so windy?
The green cricket ground. Shoaib Akhtar is the 12th man. He is running towards the pitch from the boundary. He has discovered a new type of ball that resembles a mace. The ball tied to an elastic rope, the bowler holds the rope, swings sideways and throws it at the batsman. This is so batsman friendly, that the ball can travel higher and farther. The batsman plays the shot, the ball travels higher and higher and I can see it traveling over my home in Mysore, going past my neighbor's house and landing inside the compound a couple of houses away. They send me to fetch the ball. I go there, I can see the ball next to the gate, surprisingly its size twice that of a football now. Half of it has become very muddy. I see a fat fair lady inside that house watching tv with a remote in her hand. She is wearing an off-white long gown, which somehow does not suit her. She is changing channels with absolutely no change in her facial expressions. I shout at her if I can come inside and take away the ball. I get no response. I decide to enter and take it, when I see a man emerging from the muddy pond in front of her house. He is bald, covered in mud from head to toe. I get scared and run away.
As I approach the end of the road, I see a few dogs coming to the middle of the road. Four dogs become eight and then twenty. They dont show any signs of urgency to attack me. They howl very loudly at me. I remember Hitchcock's "Birds" - I can slowly walk and get away. The dogs come nearer and nearer till they almost block the road. I howl at them in return!
The tent is still moving and it suddenly comes to a halt. We have stopped to get Gems chocolate from some store. We get out of the tent and see lot of 2 dollar coins near a telephone box at the corner. Why are there so many 2 dollar coins thrown here, I ask.
I wake up. Its still dark, cold and windy. I recall the vivid dream I just had with the minutest detail and wonder if I really shouted or I only shouted inside the dream. I get sleepy again.
After getting up in the morning, I hesitatingly ask Krupa.
"Did I shout in the night?"
"Not exactly, you howled", she seems really amused.
"I was not exactly barking I guess"
"No, your howling was cute. You were almost pleading in that howl"
"I know, I was not shouting at the dogs, I was just trying to convince them that everything was okay". I was least embarrassed even as I speak so incoherently.
"I should have had a voice recorder", she starts laughing.
We all have a hearty laugh. She starts telling about her dream - where Deepak Tijori was the murderer and how she could not convince us about that!