I’ve known him since he was born. My family moved to Sahitya Sahawas in Mumbai’s Bandra in 1967 and Sachin’s family moved into the society in 1972, a year before he was born. He enjoyed cricket and was okay at it as a kid and for all of us, he was just a normal kid, till he was about 10. That’s when he went to Sharadashram and things changed.
Sachin enjoys his holidays, all of us do. Our families go to Lonavala together, and have been to Euro Disney (in May 2004) and to Iceland in July 2009 among other places.
This summer, Anjali said we had to vacation in Iceland. Initially, we didn’t think Sachin could join us. It was therefore a pleasant surprise when he dropped in from England. It turned out to be a fabulous week.We had informed the hotel staff that they were going to have someone more famous than the President of India. So when Sachin did get there, our local driver, who had driven the former President of India, Abdul Kalam, around Reykjavík a couple of years ago, was taken aback.
He had probably expected someone with a rockstar attitude. What he got was Sachin’s simplicity.
We took speedboats out on ice and also went horse riding. It was one of the rare times that Sachin actually sat on a horse, and he thoroughly enjoyed himself. He invariably does. Sachin and his son Arjun would also play cricket in the hotel’s passage and luckily for them, most of the rooms were unoccupied.
Incidentally, Sachin is a good dancer and though most people don’t know this, he enjoys dancing as much as the Yuvrajs and Harbhajans of the Indian team. He is the perfect host, makes an effort to involve everyone in conversation, and it’s almost tradition that he prepares everyone’s first drink.Sachin’s wife, Anjali, meanwhile, is like a group mother for our bunch of closely-knit families (Sachin’s, Atul Ranade’s, Sunil Harshe’s, mine, and that of two other friends’). She’s always well informed and sensible and we take her advice on everything, even stuff like changing schools for our kids. The way she handles things, with poise and grace, is quite amazing.
So what is Sachin like? What he’s always been like! This probably sums it up. On his return from Pakistan after his Test debut, we had a party in our colony on New Year’s Eve. Early next morning, over 10 of us crammed into in an Ambassador and went off to Madh Island (in Mumbai). Because of the crush, Sachin perched on a friend’s lap. There, because of the crowd that gathered around Sachin, we left. On our way back, the car, inevitably, broke down. Sachin came home in an auto, no fuss, nothing.
Thanks to Sachin, I have become a better human being.
(Vivek Palkar, a friend of the family, spoke to G. Krishnan)