For seven hours on Sunday, Simar Paul Singh and Khurram Ahemad will cease to be friends and business partners. And Indo-Pak Cuisine, the restaurant they jointly run in Salisbury, 25km from the Adelaide Oval — the venue of Sunday’s prize fight between India and Pakistan — will stay closed for a little more than that.
But once the hurly burly’s done and the battle lost and won, the 26-year-old Singh, who comes from Chandigarh, and the 30-year-old Ahemad, from Karachi, will go home together.
The ‘Indo-Pak war’ in this small South Australian city of parks and restaurants started on Saturday itself with rival crowds jeering each other at the Oval. The city is over-run with Indian and Pakistani fans not just from across Australia but from the subcontinent and elsewhere too. They’ve taken over the streets and restaurants, the blue of India and Pakistan’s green mixing freely.
With cricket fever in the air, among the many things in short supply here could be taxis since most drivers are of Indian or Pakistani origin.
Many who work in Australia have planned an extended weekend of fun and game. “I have taken leave on Friday and Monday. World Cup mein itna toh banta haain (all worth it for the World Cup),” says Prashant, who came from Melbourne.
“I am going to the match with eight friends, including three Indians. Many other drivers from my company have taken Sunday off for the match,” says Farook, who is from Peshawar.
From India, the Swami Army band of dedicated Indian supporters — led by Sudhir Gautam, with his trademark tricolour-painted face and conch — have already touched base. There is a lot of intensity in the rivalry, but for some, it is strictly temporary.
“He (Ahemed) has a ticket for the Eastern Stand where mostly Pakistanis sit. I will watch from the Western Stand with the Indian fans. He will support Pakistan and I will cheer for India. But we will start work tomorrow as we do every day,” says Singh of his buddy from their days together as accountancy students in the University of South Australia.
“We don’t know what will happen in the match but our relationship will never change. Because what happens at the Adelaide Oval stays at the Adelaide Oval,” adds Singh.