BY: VARUN DIKSHIT
The last time when I came to Chepauk for the India-England Test match
the place was buzzing with excitement. Almost one month later, I was
back at the same location for reporting. This time the surroundings
around the stadium gave a deserted look.
The atmosphere around the ground was calm and peace and besides
security guard hardly anyone can be seen around the stadium area. The
Tamil Nadu team for the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament was given a rest
day and even the Indian bank at Chepauk nearby was closed on the
occasion of 26th January.
While walking past the Pattabhiraman gate, at the prominent Victoria
Hostel road, I came across a cobbler sitting in the corner of the road
with gloves and bats alongside him. Being an aficionado of cricket,
the man immediately caught my attention. I initiated a conversation
with him and to my delight he spoke in Hindi.
The initial five minutes of conversation revolved around his working
hours and the amount he earns in a day. Once I told him that I came
from a Journalism school he showed me a picture of his with Sachin
Tendulkar that was clicked in the dressing room of the M.A.
Chidambaram stadium. I realized that Baskaran was a not an ordinary
He told me that he had rubbed shoulders with the legends of the game
like Sachin Tendulkar and former Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
In fact, as a kit repairer, he assisted almost every team during every
match at the Chepauk since 1993.
R. Baskaran is a huge cricket fan and I was flabbergasted to hear the
stories he told me and the utter delight which he had on his face
while telling the stories was enchanting.
Our conversation lasted for an hour with a couple of interruptions
from his customers. I have been watching cricket from the age of four
but I never imagined the important role a cobbler can play in a
cricket match. It is only after I met baskaran that I realized that
even people like him who never comes in a cricketing conversation has
an imperative role to play.
The moment I ended the conversation with him, I wanted to write about
the curious personality I met and gladly my request was accepted.