England did it after winning the Ashes two years ago. Australia did it after pocketing the cricket World Cup early this year. Football teams do it routinely. India did it on Wednesday after claiming the World Twenty20 Trophy — got on a blue open top bus and rode through the city, flaunting the trophy and soaking in rain and admiration.
Thousands occupied every available space along the 30-km route from Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport to Wankhede Stadium to cheer their heroes as they danced and acknowledged their fans from the blue bus decorated with images of the team’s glorious campaign in South Africa.
The politicians too were there, how could they waste this opportunity for mileage? Among the prominent ones were Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and his deputy RR Patil. Former state chief minister Manohar Joshi was seen walking in to the airport.
The BCCI president Sharad Pawar, vice presidents Lalit Modi and Rajeev Shukla, secretary Niranjan Shah and chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar arrived on the same flight as the team.
In the beginning, it was chaotic, like Joginder Sharma’s last over to Misbah-ul-Haq. The huge crowd at the airport and deafening drumbeats did not synchronise with what the DJ was mixing on the team bus. It just added to the cacophony.
The mediapersons covering the event had no idea how to make their way through the heavy police bandobast and to the bus marked for them. They had to resort to fleet-footed chicanery.
When the team, led by captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and sporting fiery red tilaks, emerged, the policemen had a tough time keeping the crowd in check.
As soon as they got on the bus, the players whipped out their cameras and started recording the moments. It was a rare, amusing occurrence in which the crowd, the media and the players were all filming each other.
When the entourage moved out of the airport, heavy rain resumed. But it did not dampen the spirit of the fans who had been waiting a long time to catch a glimpse of their stars. The cricketers too did not hide under umbrellas. They got drenched but rarely ceased waving back to the fans.
S Sreesanth kept dancing to the accompanying DJ’s beats. The cricketers took turns to show the trophy to their fans. The parade had its share of problems. The arterial routes of the city were blocked for a long time, leading to a traffic nightmare.
There were points along the route where political parties seemed to be competing with each other in being the loudest to say “We welcome the Indian team” and thus get the media’s attention.
The crowd appeared to be the largest on Marine Drive though the number was high at the junction near Siddhivinayak Temple too.
It was after this point that the media bus got stuck in traffic and fell far behind the team bus. The journalists were left admiring the city view and got the next glimpse of the team bus only at the Wankhede Stadium. But by then the players had gotten off and the parade was over.