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Bhajji and bhaji pau go together at Motera Friday, December 14, 2001

AHMEDABAD: Electrifying! This is how one would describe the ambience at Sardar Patel Gujarat stadium in Motera where the second Test between India and England is underway.

Sachin Tendulkar's ton, deafening roar of mass approval for hits to the boundary, went down rather well with dhabeli, bhaji pau, samosa, pulau, pizza and soft drinks as cricket fans indulged in what could best be described as cricket-picnicking.

Thursday, day three of the second Test, drew large crowds from all corners of the city _ thanks to Sachin Tendulkar's presence at the crease. The Gujarati fetish for food while watching cricket appeared to stretch through the boundaries of Gujarat, encompassing the overseas' cricket fans from Holland, London and Ireland.

As the cherry rocketed to the fence, having been despatched by the master blaster, the huge crowd came up on its feet for a standing ovation to yet another century at an opportune moment by Sachin. Dipak Bhatt of Navrangpura could not contain his excitement as he stuffed a huge chunk of pau in his mouth to free his hands.

Screams of delight, uninhibited display of glee and those incessant Mexican waves upset a tea cup that Harin Dave was holding. His white shirt immediately turned brown with the not-so-scalding tea all over. But, even that went unnoticed in the hullabaloo as Dave waved off and forgave the offender. Sportsman's spirit!

No less spirited was Sarah Van Rooijen from Holland, who tried fervently to understand the game of cricket by asking persons sitting beside her on the rules. However, Rooijen, a music conservationist by profession, had no doubts about the food at the stadium. "The samosas and pakoras are delicious. This is my first visit to India and I love the taste of Gujarati thali here and to be merry with the locals," Rooijen said, as she stood up to be part of the Mexican wave that had reached the upper pavilion then.

For Deepak Rawal, an advocate practising at the Gujarat High Court, Sachin (and not picnicking) was the reason why he along with his family had decided to spend the day at Sardar Patel Gujarat Stadium.

Sachin also made the day for the likes of Suman Shekhar, an ice-cream vendor inside the stadium, who was more than happy for the average Gujarati's fetish for gastronomic delights. Shekhar quipped, "I have already sold 500 ice-cream cones and our stall had to order for more."

William Davies from Ireland could have been one of the reasons for Shekhar's delight. "I have been sampling whatever my friends brought in from the food stalls and every bit was enjoyable. Gujarati fast food, channa puri, pizzas, name it and I had it. Good food is a definite plus, I had come here expecting some exhilarating cricket and lucky for me I got more than I had bargained for," Davies told TNN.

"It is different, my taste buds were taken on a roller coaster ride," said Stephen Bovey, a London-based journalist who has come to India for the first time to watch England play India at Ahmedabad. All praises for the Gujarati cuisine. Bovey was, however, worried about England's performance. "The audience is so boisterous that it certainly would intimidate.

News Source : The Times of India [India's best Newspaper]

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