The Allegro That Didn’t Move: What the World Cup 2003 Meant to an Eleven-Year-Old in Ranchi

22 February 2015
REUTERS/Howard Burditt
REUTERS/Howard Burditt

As an 11-year old in 2003, I didn’t have too many things to cheer about. Neither did the street I lived in. These are my memories of a time when cricket was all that India had.

The day of the final, I was to earn my own memory. I would no longer need to listen to Bhaiya’s (my brother) accounts of cricket matches. But our TV set was painfully small and often black-and-white. Nani (my grandmother) had generously left it in her old house for us to use. Her new house was near the naala. When I asked my mother what a “naala” was in English she said “stream,” but father called it a “drain.” Nani was a rich woman with a big colour-TV set, but she could not get a cable-connection in her house because of the naala. One of the most creative undertakings of my eleven-year-old self was to imagine a setting where Nani’s TV set would come to our house and ours would go to theirs. At least one TV would be complete then. But the day of the final, India and Australia were both colourless. Even the pink Allegro bicycle did not work in Ranchi like it used to in Indore. The fixed exercise cycle, advertised by the name “Allegro” in glossy brochures, was one of the many things damaged in the truck ride from the west of India to the east. In Indore, the Allegro was the hottest part of non-alcoholic Muslim parties at our swank flat. It kept children occupied in pedaling competitions, which gave bellied uncles and aunties the chance to play tombola, and trifle with each other’s spouses.

“Arey, why is Gul not eating?” my father said.

Shireen Azam is a PhD researcher at the University of Oxford.