In less than two weeks, on the 14th day of February (not referring to it as V-day is this writer's small yet rebellious victory against conformism) or the 45th day of the Gregorian calendar or as the day has come to be known now - 'Honey, gift-cards ARE romantic!' Day, the pinnacle of cricket achievement will be upon us - The ICC Cricket World Cup.
(To my industrialist friends, no, the IPL auctions are not considered the pinnacle.)
As cricket fans descend into fear, paranoia, anxiety and multi-lingual competitiveness (yes, we are all finely trained in the arts of sledging across borders and languages), one cannot help but feel the good times are upon us! The truth being, the above while natural and commonplace are only a small fraction of the range of emotions we will embark upon, once that first ball is bowled, that first catch is dropped or that first six is hit of the sweet spot. Triumph, exhilaration, uncontrollable joy and the sheer spirit of human endeavor will set the stage alight as Australia and New Zealand play host to the 2015 Cricket World Cup.
Rest assured, for the next two months we all claim to be placid and contented men. Though, our faces and lifestyles will be as obvious & predictable as the Indian bowling attack.
A friend of mine once stated at a party that, "the Cricket World Cup is not just a sporting event. It is an occasion we immerse ourselves into." Now I know what you're thinking, how boring was that party? Forgive the setting of the anecdote (and it was a crazy party, as crazy as a 5 person party can get on a Sunday afternoon), but he was right. The roller coaster of a Cricket World Cup is an occasion we immerse ourselves into, both socially and personally, and not far off from that blissful time of the year we immerse ourselves into, when we file our taxes (minus the obvious negative connotation).
I mean think about, a group of individuals sitting around a boardroom (cliché, but makes a great photo-op, especially if there are many pens and multiple folders) decide who will represent the country at the World Cup, again not far off from the selected few who determine how much I can save, should save and most definitely must pay (albeit in contradiction to the campaign message they ran on the previous year).
While tax season brings with it many moments to choke on (even though it would further my analogy, I'm avoiding all urges to make a South African team - Cricket World Cup joke for it would be too easy), the biggest hit tax season brings upon all of us is, personal grooming!
Un-shaved, un-bathed, looking dingy, wearing worn out clothes, we gather those receipts and begin the process. The effects of a World Cup are far too similar. I assure you (since I was there and was one of them), while the Wankhede crowd on that faithful day in 2011 was the happiest in the world, we were also one of the most poorly groomed crowds to gather. You cannot blame us though, there was too much going on and too much to worry about! Who was coming in at no.4 was far more important than a 12-hour deodorant.
Regardless of how the year had panned out heading into tax season, there's always that glimmer of hope, always that beacon of sunlight, amongst even the most pessimistic of us that we will be able find a deduction or an exemption somewhere! That despite common sense and logic, we might be able to find that one receipt we can write off as savings or we might just be a candidate for the Holy Grail - a Tax refund. Similarly, despite the fact that we have won nothing this year there's always that glimmer of hope that Virat Kohli will win us this World Cup. (Wouldn't be surprised if this was the tag line printed on the business cards of our selectors.)
From a more social perspective though, there's no bigger contribution that tax season/Cricket World Cup brings, than to the world of small talk (or what co-passengers on an airline refer to as 2-hour conversations). From waiting in lines at the movies to adjacent restroom terminals, from grocery stores to coffee breaks at the workplace, from date night to meeting her parents, from calling up mum and dad to spending 2 hours more than everyone else at your boss's house warming, 'small-talk' and the value the Cricket World Cup brings (or tax season for that matter) deserves a Padma Shri or at least to make it to the cover of TIME. Everyone has a point-of-view and everyone is right.
And you know what, none of us, would have it any other way. Simply put, the romanticism of the Cricket World Cup is a journey, one that we will embark upon once every few years, one that we will cherish and most definitely one that we will pass on as a legacy. As the Pulitzer-Prize winning author, Herman Wouk, once cheekily wrote - "Income Tax Returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today."
Dear Cricket World Cup, you have our attention, you have our audience, you have our imagination, and it's time for you to write the next chapter.
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