I wrapped the cash and tickets in plastic and placed it inside my socks. Travelling with a twelve-year-old, and two other grownup kids, this responsibility had to fall on me. 'It is ok, chacha. See now you can go to your election rally in Baroda,' I said. 'That's right. I cannot leave Ali with his ammi for four days.' 'Are you getting a ticket this year,' I said as I chained our suitcase to the lower berth. The train began to move. 'No, no. I am not that senior in the party. But I will be helping l he Belrampur candidate. Ali beta,' don't jump between berths, Ali...,' his voice trailed off as the train picked speed. Ish pulled Ali's arm and drew him into his lap. 'Say bye properly,' Ish said. 'Khuda Hafiz, abba,' Ali called out as the train left for sunnier climes.
ď‚Ť 'Organisers. We have to meet the organisers. Let us go in,' I said. A hairy arm stopped me. The arm belonged to a security guard outside the VIP stand. 'Thirty thousand people here want to go in there. Who are you? Autograph hunters?' 'Say it,' Ish said to me in a hushed voice. 'Get your senior. I want to talk to him.' 'Why?' the hairy guard said. I flashed out a card. It said 'Zuben Singh, Chairman, Wilson Sport,' Pandit-ji had once met the chairman of the biggest sports company in India. I had borrowed the card from his trunk. I own Wilson Sports. We want to talk about some endorsement deals. Now will you cooperate or...' The security guard broke into a sweat and called his manager, I repeated the story to him. He called the senior-most security person who came in a suit. I made a fake phone call pretending to talk about ten-crore-rupees business orders. He remained sceptical, I ended another call in Gujarati and his face softened. 'Gujarati?' he said. I stared at him, trying to decipher the better answer. In India you don't know whether someone will like you or hate you because you are from a certain place. 'Yes,' I said guardedly. 'Oh, how are you?' he said in Gujarati. Thank God for India's various regional clubs. I just landed from Ahmedabad,' I said. 'Why have you come without an appointment?' he said. 'I came to see the match. I saw the Australians play and thought maybe we could find a brand ambassador.' 'Why Australian? Why don't you take an Indian?' A totally irrelevant question, but it hinted at his growing belief is us. 'Can't afford the Indian team. The good players are too expensive. The bad ones, well, tell me, will you buy a bat endorsed by Ajit Agarkar?' The guard nodded. He spoke into a microphone hanging from his ear and turned to us. 'One of you stay with us,' the security head said. 'He will,' I said and pointed to Omi.
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