Exactly ten years ago, Sudhir Kumar Gautam was just another Sachin Tendulkar fan who decided to follow him wherever he went.
Today, he can’t dissociate himself from the country as much as he is ready, unwillingly though, to bid farewell to his idol. So don’t be surprised if you see that huge India flag being tirelessly waved around by a man painted in Indian colors post November 18.
“I will keep supporting my country as long as I can,” said Gautam, who became a regular after Tendulkar personally saw to it he got tickets to all India matches at home. “I still remember my first match. It was in 2003 when India were playing against Australia and New Zealand in a tri-series. It was against Australia at the Wankhede that I first got the ticket and since then I couldn’t stay away,” said Gautam.
Gautam’s an interesting story of how a man enamoured by Tendulkar pedaled his way on an old bicycle from Bihar to Mumbai only to meet the Master. But in these ten years he has grown into some sort of a mascot. His presence is almost a ritual with the India team, ushering them in by blowing a conch shell and waving the flag.
But what after Tendulkar retires? “This was bound to happen someday right? He might not play anymore but that doesn’t mean I will stop coming,” said Gautam as he went back to being an Indian fan.