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WAH Sachin WAH!

Posted by Neeraj Narayanan on Apr 23,2021

I used to love football. My earliest memory of watching a sport is the ’90 Football World Cup with my father, laughing at Diego Maradona’s showman antics, making fun of Carlos Valderama’s hair and supporting Brazil. Football, I gurgled then to my dad, was the best game in the world.

Two years later, a curly haired boy held a willow in his hand and kept carving the ball through covers and midwicket as others fell all around him Down Under.  And I, well I was mesmerized, perhaps a wee bit more than  travel writers who routinely get mesmerized by verdant valleys, murmuring brooks and magnificent  mountains.  And while I was busy feeling mesmerized, this boy kept hitting bowlers three times his size for sixes and fours all around the park.

They called him Sachin Tendulkar.

It was time, I decided, to go have a serious chat with my father.

I went up to him, he who was sitting there rocking in his rocking chair, and gravely informed him that I had been terribly wrong in my haste judgment. Cricket, I declared with that wise maturity that becomes part of you when you turn nine years old, was life.  That it was important that my bat sleep right next to me every night henceforth.  Also, that he should not expect that I would become a detective when I grew up as per my original plan.  He informed me that he had never expected the detective bit in the first place, but now that we had brought up the topic could I help him find his slippers. When I did find them, I was careful to scribble ‘Sachu’ on them in blue crayon before handing them over to father.  And while I was doing what Picasso himself would have been proud of, the boy was still hitting bowlers three times his size for sixes and fours all around the park.


Over the years, a lot of things changed. Doordarshan and Chitrahaar gave way to Star and Baywatch, classroom chits were replaced by internet chats, and from permanent long-on fielder I went on to become captain of my colony cricket team. The Indian cap dream seemed quite reasonable now. Sachin, was still hitting sixes and fours with elan.

Not that I did not work towards getting that beautiful India cap. I don’t remember a day during those school and college years when I was not waiting at the park at 4:30 pm in the evening, waiting for my platoon to troop in for our daily game, or spend the previous two hours playing all by myself in my garden.  In these garden games, I would always imagine myself as part of the Indian team.  Sachin would bat at 4, and I at 5. As soon as I was done with the pesky business of getting the top three out at abysmally low scores, Sachin and I would bat and win the match for India. I was always careful to let him score more than me though.

Those days are long gone now, though there is the odd day when the Indian cricket team plays brilliantly and I go back to imagining being part of the dressing room.  On April 2, 2021 though, the day Dhoni hit that historic six to win us the world cup final, at the end of it all all I did was stand in overwhelmed silence in Sachin Tendulkar Stand and watch team India and Sachin run like kids just metres below us, waving and clapping. It was one of my most private moments in the most public environment.

That day, the entire country was celebrating Tendulkar, the man had just had his most successful year in international cricket. The Wankhede and the rest of India kept singing his name and we would not tire of it.

A year later, on March 16, 2012, Sachin became the only man in history to score a hundred international hundreds. Well, what else could you expect from a man who kept consistently hitting sixes and fours for twenty three years? That day at the WAH office, we celebrated with gusto. Through the year, every time Sachin crossed a fifty, we would all be privately logging onto Cricinfo and refreshing the page every odd minute hoping that he cross the figure. It’s funny how many lunch time conversations in our office hovered around the man.

In the media blitz that immediately succeeded his latest achievement, officially we kept silent. We wanted to celebrate it as much as the next brand, but we did not want to be part of the herd. Love, after all, must remain a private emotion.  But we still wanted to celebrate him, in our own way.

The next week, we brainstormed on what best we could do as a travel company to honour him. After a lot of Sonu’s chai and discussions, we finalized on a campaign. To celebrate Sachin Tendulkar’s hundred hundreds, as our tribute to his tremendous achievement, we would create 100 new travel products.   And the USP of this project was that it would not cover any of the mainstream destinations or holidays that most tourists go to, or know of, or are readily available on every other travel website.  “What was Sachin’s biggest contribution to the game, to Indian cricket”, a colleague asked during the meeting.  That he was different, special, a great inspiration for millions – was our collective opinion. If a tribute was going across to Sachin, it would have to be special. We were going to introduce travel destinations on our website that were niche, not readily available but wonderful experiences that would be a traveler’s delight.

It is not a simple thing. People love to look at offbeat, beautiful places on the internet, but they will still travel to a Goa, a Rajasthan, a Kerala or a Thailand when they get that holiday break. But, as a website that strives to encourage travel, we decided that it was the right way to go.  The date to launch the campaign, we decided, would be the 24th of April, Sachin’s birth date.

Tomorrow, on the 24th, we launch the “A tribute to Sachin’s 100 Hundreds” campaign with the tagline “Thank you for all moments”. Starting tomorrow, we shall launch one new exciting offbeat holiday product every day for the next hundred days, and if you like any, well we are at your service!

All through these 100 days, we shall keep researching for new places, searching for beautiful pictures, looking up hotels, and hope that you like them. Sachin, though, will still keep hitting bowlers three times his size for sixes and fours all around the park.

Sachin, from everyone here, thank you for all the moments, and a very happy happy birthday!


Neeraj Narayanan
At WeAreHolidays, Neeraj Narayanan is Head of the Content and Digital Media Team. He has a Masters in Advertising & Media Communication, has had experience as a Communication Consultant to the Government of Gujarat, and as a Brand man in the IT giant firm - Cognizant. On weekends, he conducts Heritage Walks in Delhi.
Neeraj Narayanan

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