World Cup Special: In the 'commentary box' a fan who can't see the game
There are cricket fans and then there is Karamveer Kumar Sherawat. Disclaimer up-front: This article contains the politically incorrect term blind instead of the, apparently, more acceptable visually impaired.WorldCup2015 Updated: Feb 05, 2015 00:18 IST
There are cricket fans and then there is Karamveer Kumar Sherawat. Disclaimer up-front: This article contains the politically incorrect term blind instead of the, apparently, more acceptable visually impaired.
Karamveer couldn't care less. First, he isn't bothered about debating such correctness; and second, because he would like it to be told the way it is.
That said, it is a privilege to introduce the talent unearthed by actor/director Varun Pruthi. Watch the video and then, if it interests you, read on to discover Karamveer.
"Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Suresh Raina, yeh teen bat zaroor chalenge World Cup mein (these three batsmen will perform well in the World Cup)," says Karamveer.
His English cricket commentary is what grabs attention, but since he doesn't know the language, the conversation is in Hindi (which will be retained in places).
"We have to beat Pakistan in our World Cup opener on February 15," he adds, seated in a plastic chair in a room with inadequate sunlight trickling in.
The play of light and shade in the room at the Capital Blind Relief (Helping) Society Blind School in Karala village in north-west Delhi doesn't bother the "25-something-year-old". It never has because he is "100% andha janam se" (blind from birth).
His statements are intense, but there is an easy smile playing on his lips. He knows he is a "story". His easy banter is discomforting because there is a concerted effort from the other side not to make any reference to sight.
He grins several times when the mistake - "You must have seen that match… silence" - happens. Yes, he has seen that match, through his ears and heart.
So, how did this commentary skill happen? Messrs Prakash Wakankar, Sunil Vaidya and S Krishnakumar, take a bow.
No one has soaked in the voice of these three cricket commentators on radio like Karamveer. He hasn't understood most of what they have said except the sixes, fours and scores, but has captured their style.
The goosebumps-inducing simulation of crowd noise in the stadium, however, is entirely his own. He has multiple versions. He does two while chatting. For a packed stadium, he hits the high notes; for a sparse crowd, he subdues the tempo.
The arm rises to his mouth and he draws the guttural sound from somewhere deep within. The air from his mouth hits the inside of his arm, which he moves ever so slightly to get the desired effect.
"I have been listening to cricket commentary since 1994-95, but started practicing in 2009." He calls it good "timepass" (a very handy Indian English word for whiling away the hours).
Fellow blind school resident Ram Vilas reveals Karamveer's wicked sense of humour. "Sometimes, he does such commentary in buses and unsuspecting passengers start looking around, trying to see who has the radio and what match is on."
Karamveer flashes a smile. "Once a person said he would rush to catch the match because I gave my commentary, stating the score had moved on to 66/3. He had no clue whether a match was being played or not, or which were the teams involved."
The laughter follows. Nagendra Pandey, the principal of the school, gets up and leaves the room as the banter flows. Pandey, also blind, has to look into the logistics of food and other such mundane stuff for his resident-students.
Without government aid, but with the help of a committee, the society is making do with contributions. There are more than 30 mouths to feed. In election season, a few leaders have come and left after giving "Rs 500, Rs 2,100" and "commitments". The principal is seasoned enough to not make much of such assurances.
A few resident-students have found work. Karamveer is hoping to have a vocation some day. He cleared his Class 10 last year and will prepare for Class 12.
Abhishek Pandey, the principal's son, says, "Karamveer is a great human being, as are the rest." The Class 9 government school student spills the beans on Karamveer. "He loves the Australian team."
Karamveer lets on his favourite. "It's Shane Watson," he says. Why? "He just is". Then comes the rejoinder. "Woh toh retire ho gaye naa (But that man has retired). The "woh" is Sachin Tendulkar. There you go. Of course, a Sachin bhakt (devotee).
He cannot see the heroes of the game he loves, but knows meeting them, especially Delhi boy Kohli, would be wonderful. "Arre pata nahin, aisa ho bhi sakta hai kya? (I don't know, is this even possible?)"
Karamveer, who came to the school from Bakkarwala (in West Delhi district) in 2006, has his heart set on the World Cup. He will be up along with millions early in the morning to track the matches.
He too has questions preying on his mind over India's recent ODI performances, but also the faith of the fan.
Abhishek Pandey will read this article out to Karamveer and the rest of the school's resident-students. India has nearly 12 million blind people, roughly 30% of the world's blind population.