My husband has two great passions in life and one of them is cricket. Ah cricket, I was a lover of the game until it looked me straight in the eye and unflinchingly challenged me to a duel, and in my naiveté, I took the challenge. I have since been beaten every time.

Come 1999 World Cup, I was in Miami and since we had no money, therefore, no expensive satellite hookups to watch the genteel game at home. Thus began our search for that special someone who would accommodate our cricketing needs ungrudgingly. A note here, game time in the US is almost always in the wee hours of the morning and inviting strangers into your home in darkness is never considered a good thing in any part of the world, let alone the US. Luckily, we found someone who happened to be an acquaintance of our halalmeat man. Desperate times, desperate measures, imagine what young immigrants have to endure in the name of love and cricket.

I found myself pre-dawn is a strange home, abandoned by my husband who was genuinely engrossed in the game and unaware of strange eyes everywhere.  Until the evening before he was most perturbed bythe meat guy’s not so impertinent query: ‘will you be taking bhabi?’ Why was he so interested in the answer to that question? Maybe because he assumes all self-respecting Pakistani women love cricket.

Much to our misery Pakistan lost that match, but I gained some insight and wisdom, thanks to the lady of the house, into how to hold onto my marriage: ‘have children jaldi.’ Okay stranger, as you wish.

The game made us extend boundaries into the lives of people we would never have crossed paths with otherwise. Gracious, humble people who welcomed us into their home simply for the love of the game. They shared their family, food and joy, and willingly let us encroach into their intimate circle. I distinctly remember sitting on a chawki supporting my back with a gao takya, wondering if I would have opened my heart and entertained them into my tiny apartment had they been lacking the satellite hookup. I hope so.

Twelve years down the road, I find myself in a dissimilar situation and no dilemma, but the passion for the game remains the same. We have the advantage of watching the game at home on HD but my husband still prefers to watch it with a group of friends, which generally means a car drive in the wee hours of the morning which sometimes translates to non-HD viewing, but this time, not to a stranger’s house.

This time however, we hosted the quarter final between Pakistan and the West Indies. The first doorbell rang before 1:30am and by victory time, there was a band of brothers exchanging high-fives over parathas, fry andas, keema, aloo bhujia and karak chai. It was lovely to watch.  Now the band of brothers plans to congregate on March 30. I will watch the match at home; I did pay heed to the strange lady’s advice, I need to watch my kids.

As Pakistan prepares to battle India in Mohali I can think of countless reasons why Pakistan needs to win the semi-finals, and one of them may just be that we are, in our minds, unprepared to lose. We, in Vegas, have already decided on a home for the ‘raatjaaga’ for the semi-finals, and I am trying to coax people into committing for the final, but apparently commitment is a jinx. Therefore, we will just have to wait for the last ball of the semi for our ‘Breakfast at Tiffany.’

There are ultimate optimists, like me, who have decided on hosting the victory celebrations, and many a pessimist who chant, ‘ho hi nahi sakta’, to which I say, ‘mark my words, this time we will sip from the Cup.’

I hosted a dinner party last night and the atmosphere was electric. All my friends were from the homeland, but one. As the black sheep entered hostile territory, all gave her a sheepish smile and goaded her. The sheep remained unperturbed, but hummed this popular Hindi song on several occasions, ‘aaaa dekhain zara, kis main kitna hai dum’. To which came, ‘boom boom, jab bhi miltay hain hum aur tum.’ It almost felt like a wedding. Who will take the bride? Your guess is as good as mine.

Afridi and his boys have worked a wonder, they have for the moment, brought us together. Admittedly the passion for the game has broken divides for years, but this time the elements are somewhat different. I feel like I am at a ‘sema’, the music is loud, the feeling tremendous, the circular dance motion euphoric – bring home the cup my boys.  We will leave the light on for you!

Bisma Tirmizi is a writer based in Las Vegas

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

The writer is a former Dawn staffer, currently a freelance journalist. She loves food, music and simple pleasures. She can be reached at food_stories@yahoo.com.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Comments are closed.

Comments (42)

nig
March 27, 2011 7:15 am
we will have a terrific victory inshAllah..
sadia
March 27, 2011 7:40 am
indeed this game and our national team unite us as no one can and no one does..who doesnt have a lump in their throats hearing the national anthem before the match..or after a win for that matter..decaying, divided, disturbed..yet for (almost) all of us, no place like Pakistan..and you never realize it more than watching those green shirts play their hearts out..
ahq Hadi
March 27, 2011 8:38 am
as we dOn't have the facility to watch cricket here, as it's expensive, we are going to watch it at one of our Indian friend's place... Hadi from Sierra Leone
Rauf Khan
March 27, 2011 8:45 am
Heartening to read! :) Enjoy da game!
Hassan
March 27, 2011 8:46 am
Haha very nice and true. Its correct that we are unprepared to accept defeat, same is the case with our Indian friends across the border. It will be almost impossible for them to accept defeat in their home territory. But Inshallah (oops they have more muslims there), hopefully we will win at Mohali as we have done on previous occasions.
Arun
March 27, 2011 9:01 am
Very nice write up Bisma throughly njoyed it even being a Indian team supporter.. The mode is pretty much the same Los Angeles where I stay and a Indo Pak match is always a pleasure to watch where ever we are in the world.. All I say is may the best team win the cup..
Summi
March 27, 2011 9:57 am
a truly heart touching artlcle - an excellent piece of work keep it up! all the best!
Ahmed
March 27, 2011 10:00 am
Incredibly beautiful piece. You have depicted your own and at times our common emotions really well. Yes I can relate with you somewhat as I have myself been an expat Pakistani in different countries since 2000. Andyeah we all long for the cup. But even if they put up a strong fight we should be thankful to Afridi and his boys. Pakistan Zindabad.
mehmudah
March 27, 2011 10:21 am
awww.. what a nice blog! loved it Bisma!
Ali Hassan
March 27, 2011 10:29 am
Great article. Gave an insight of how expatriate Pakistanis watch the game of Cricket and support their country to win. It was very disappointing to see Pakistan not win against India in 2003 (World Cup) but Insha'allah, this time Pakistan will beat India. God Bless Pakistan.
Bashir
March 27, 2011 10:33 am
I wish for a day when Team USA will be in contention for the Cricket World Cup. Then, Ms. Bisma Tirmizi, we will not have to draw up excitement for surrogate teams from distant lands.
indian
March 27, 2011 11:38 am
aaaa dekhain zara, kis main kitna hai dum - What more else need to be said.
Saqib
March 27, 2011 12:51 pm
A very well written article from what seems like a minority, a patriot Pakistani woman who is willing to express that patriotism.
Madiha Usman
March 27, 2011 2:00 pm
something very similar is going on here in Dubai...we have a very large expatriate community and our family friends n colleagues are constantly debating about who is going to win....discussions are on whether to watch the match at a coffeshop or sports bar or at someones house.....All my Asian friends and colleagues have taken off from their work just so that not even one ball is missed...... for many, this match is actually the final of the world cup and people from both the Nations are hooting for their team.....May the best team win(INSHALLAH PAKISTAN :) :) :)
umar
March 27, 2011 2:08 pm
kashmir prays for the victory of pakistan.
Tanveer Khan
March 27, 2011 2:44 pm
I hear you sister..
MM
March 27, 2011 3:06 pm
I hope Pakistan wins. However, I am touched by kind words from our Indian friends - may be just may be things are changing for the better with Pakistan, India relations.
Syed Ahmed
March 27, 2011 3:33 pm
I remember when my family first moved to New York in 2000 the only news we ever heard about cricket was from the local Urdu New Papers. It wasn't until 2005 that one of my friends informed me about this website on the internet where you can watch cricket for alot less compare to dishnetwork which is a major rip off. But ever since I've discovered this website the passion for cricket is greater than it ever has been. Planning on inviting a group of friends over but the only problem is that I have a mid term on the same day as the semi-final. So depressed ;(
Ajay
March 27, 2011 3:38 pm
Will have to wait and see how the Indian batsmen face the strong Pakistani bowling. Can't wait for this one.
rabia adeel
March 27, 2011 5:03 pm
this is how people living overseas recreate their homelands on special ocassions and cricket being one of the most important ocassion in our lives,how vividly Bisma has depicted the feelings and emotions of the gender she's representing and giving us an insight into the passionate devotion of pakistanis for cricket.
Indusonian
March 27, 2011 5:19 pm
It all depends on that day! Best playing site on that DAY will win.
momina shah
March 27, 2011 6:05 pm
ya.......... this team really brought our unity back!!! beautiful article may u will have chance to celebrate victory
Cricket-lover
March 27, 2011 6:37 pm
was alright, but could have come to the point of the story sooner! Good effort though.
Hassan
March 27, 2011 7:39 pm
Pakistan is in our heart Bashir, we cannot be part or love Team USA. And Pakistan is no surrogate country. Our every breath and heart beat has remembrance of Pakistan.
rehmat
March 27, 2011 8:47 pm
You know while we have not been paying attention, the 3rd South Asian country has also convincingly entered the semis (Sri Lanka beat Englad by 10 wickets just like the Pak-W. indies match). So thus far we know that at least one South Asian team (India or Pakistan will be in the finals) and if Sri Lanka beats S. Africa, both teams in the finals would be fro SOuth Asia - guaranteeing that the wnner would be SOuth Asian. Wouldn't that be awesome?
Sana
March 27, 2011 8:47 pm
Loved it, Bisma! So many reason we needs the Cup.....the country needs to focus on all that is positive, lively and fun to draw us away from the doom, gloom, and negativity that somehow wants to entrench itself amongst us. Boys in Green, spin your magic. Work hard, play hard. We will support you no matter wha for you have already done a great deed indeed. Hoping and praying you get through to the finals and get to lift the Cup on the 2nd! :)
kaliraja.t
March 28, 2011 12:03 am
This is not the a battle b/w India and Pakistan and don't write like that.A game played by two cricket teams.In any match Only one team has to win,other team has to lose. I hope our people of two countries have good time enjoying the game.
Zi@
March 28, 2011 3:08 am
Well written article that truly demonstrates our Paki culture and feelings. I live in NY and more or less go through the same routine except inviting friends as my wife is not too much into it.... but guess what, for the semi's she has invited everyone so that we can witness the fun all together at 4:00 am. This time Pakistan is ready to take the challenge and I wish-n-pray for their success... You may add Ras-Malai to the menu this time for the celebrations.... take care and all the best...
Sitwat
March 28, 2011 6:23 am
dude, are you serious?
Nadeem (Houston)
March 28, 2011 6:32 am
Yes, may the best team win the match.
Babu
March 28, 2011 8:15 am
Whenever there is Indo-Pak match, people from both the countries take it very seriously and pray for a win. Finally its a game. One will win and another will learn from the loss. Important part is as mentioned in this article...Conect people...bring them together...Share the momemt together...Life is all about time slices and end of the journey its important that you enjoyed the journey. If this type of matches unite people in a country ( even if not across border), thats the achievement...Would request everyone to enjoy the game, pray for your team, encourage them, be together, be united and whatever be the result accept that with a smile:)
Kamran
March 28, 2011 8:17 am
very nice article! liked it :) and All best Wishes for Pakistani Team !
harpreet
March 28, 2011 8:22 am
great read !! very well written.....you got bowling & guile...we've got batting & maturity...wish it was one team then it would have been a very predictable outcome .....anyways the current situation is the reality ....so may the best team win ...and it will be the one which can keep its COOL ..period ....with so much high profile attendance from both sides ...pressure to barh hi gaya hai ...' ))) ....Ki farak painda hai....after all its just a game of cricket ....only over zealousness can make it seem like do or die ....after the match yopurs and mines life are going to be the same ...no real change ....so just lets us also keep cool and JUST ENJOY A THRILLING GAME !!!!!!!
aseem
March 28, 2011 8:42 am
Let the game begin....pray to almighty that it bridges the gap between two nations and bring us close. let the victory be of peace and brotherhood
Robert
March 28, 2011 10:01 am
In my opinion pakistan need to win the match because so far in the tournament it has played as a full team. In the case of India it has reach this stage with the power of its batsman and they don't have the bowling power at all. so good luck Pakistan play like a team rather than indual skills.
Robert
March 28, 2011 10:06 am
You are wright. Pakistan has the better reasons to win the match than India. So prepare for the party from now.
salman
March 28, 2011 11:35 am
i really love the article, best wishes for pakistani team
ruby
March 28, 2011 7:07 pm
WOW Bisma,This is a true narration of a Cricket lover...we need to win!
naveed Nawaz
March 28, 2011 11:37 pm
awesome piece of writing let's hope that cricket diplomacy will bring peace between two arch rivals. lahore
AMit Patel
March 29, 2011 2:06 am
Six Sixes in an over by Yuvraj ,, ,agaiiiiinnn ,,,,, Lollz ,, just kidding brothers ,, May the best team win on that day after all we wont allow cup to run out of Asia this time ,, yey
Zohaib
March 29, 2011 6:16 am
Why do you people write like that about living in the states? And how expensive do you think satellite networks are? I had a 60 dollar package in which we got ARY, Geo, and a few other Desi channels. I've lived in the states for 4 years and loved every moment of it. No one looks down upon you in any way at all. And OUR love of cricket is actually taken very nicely by any americans since its the one thing that is even remotely close to their obsessed with Monday Night Football. "Imagine what young immigrants have to endure in the name of love and cricket". Are you THAT big of an outcast in the country that you have to write like this? Jeez. Its people like you living in America that make me want to just pull you out of the country since you're apparently so unhappy and freaked out about how to live your life there. Please, for the love of God, stop representing Pak-Americans.
Fahad.M
March 29, 2011 8:09 am
A fun article took me back in memories of these jams with friends in N.A. India seems favourate but Pakistan can do wonders let's see... I think they should show this match on one of the screen at Vegas strip, tons of ppl will watch.
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