In the previous, each time he crossed Marine Drive, Vasant Mohite, a 57-year-old groundsman at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, would surprise what it was like to remain in one of many luxurious motels alongside the seaside promenade. It was a dream past his means.
But this IPL season, that dream has come true, with confectionery firm Cadbury deciding to offer five-star lodging to reward the unsung floor employees. They have additionally been given uniforms designed by movie star designer Masaba, meals, and a bus to ferry them from the resort to the bottom and again.
“A miracle,” says Vasant.
He says there have been whispers earlier than the beginning of the season that they’d be put up in a five-star resort, however he didn’t fairly imagine it. “Then one day, MCA (Mumbai Cricket Association) told us that Cadbury would take care of our accommodation (for the season). They would give us clothes and food for the next two months of IPL,” recollects Vasant, seated on a cushion with a view of the Arabian Sea hugging the Marine Drive.
He remembers how totally different, and sometimes troublesome, it was earlier than. As the matches typically finish late — their shifts finish a lot later — they couldn’t return residence. So they’d spend the night time in a small room under the Vittal Divecha Stand on the stadium, the place mosquitoes made sleep troublesome. “Machhar kaat ke deemag kharab kar deta hai (mosquitoes would drive us mad). After the match, we could not go anywhere as train services were shut. So we would sleep in our office at the ground itself. If there is no game, we reach the stadium by 9 am and leave by 6 pm. But on match days, we come in early, and the MCA pays double if we work late,” says Vasant, clad in khaki shorts and a crisp white shirt.
In his new room, although, he has a distinct set of considerations. Locating the change for the lamps was troublesome, he says. So a lot in order that he doesn’t change on the lamps in any respect. He will get good sleep, however the mattress is a bit too comfortable, he says.
“Walking to the dressing room is different now. We have our own bus which drops us. We don’t have words… the only thing we can say is thank you,” says fellow groundsman Nitin Mohite.
Often, that’s all they get from the gamers too. A “thank you”. But that’s all they need.
Vasant recollects how former cricketer Mohammed Kaif walked in and hugged him two years in the past. “Under-19 se yehi hum logon ke seva karte tha (he has been helping us since the U-19 days),” Kaif advised his fellow commentators, he says. Vasant was overjoyed.
However, the brand new technology doesn’t share the identical heat and appears busy in their very own world, says Vasant, who has been a dressing-room attendant throughout match-days because the ’90s, serving gamers and assist employees, offering towels, soaps and ice.
He says he has been lucky to have watched some legendary gamers from shut quarters. From Sunil Gavaskar to Prithvi Shaw, his service cuts throughout generations. He has seen the rise of Sachin Tendulkar in addition to the rise and fall of Vinod Kambli.
Needless so as to add, he has a particular fondness for Mumbai gamers. “They have been the best for me. They come and ask about my haal-chaal (well being). Kambli, Tendulkar, Ajit Agarkar — they used to make sure I never felt uncomfortable inside the dressing room. I have seen how passionate Amol Muzumdar was about his game. He would get upset the most whenever he got out,” he says.
But when he sees that somebody is disenchanted, Vasant quietly strikes to a different room. “Players need space, I have seen players getting angry and getting happy. I have seen how Tendulkar walked back crying. When he went and touched the pitch at the end of his retirement game, I couldn’t control myself. For the next two days, my heart was full,” he recollects.
This IPL season, his coronary heart is full as soon as once more.