IPL 2019: The name MS Dhoni strikes a chord in Chennai hearts
What’s in a name? A lot, if it’s Dhoni and you live in this part of the world.
It’s considered auspicious, a winner and obvious in a city that’s head over heels for MS Dhoni since 2008. You see his face everywhere — on fruit juice vending machines, signboards of small eateries and bakeries, at bus stops and even inside the thousands of autos and taxis plying in and around Chennai.
Match days are opportunities to wear their allegiance to the team and the man. Not a single yellow shirt seen outside Chepauk on Saturday bore another name. It makes you ponder how deepseated this sentiment is for MS Dhoni. Don’t look too far if you are standing on the last crossing on Wallajah Road before the MA Chidambaram Stadium starts occupying the skyline.
On its corner stands Dhoni Sports, a store that mainly deals with cricket and a little bit of tennis and badminton equipment. Established five years back, the store adopted the most famous name in Indian cricket because it’s ‘obvious’, according to a salesman. “We love Chennai Super Kings, we adore MS Dhoni. We are situated opposite Chepauk. It’s obvious,” he said.
A few yards down the street stands the slightly older Sachin Sports, another sports retailer, that proudly displays this city’s reverence for the tragic hero of the 1999 Test it had hosted against Pakistan.
Not just sports, Dhoni has infiltrated the food sector as well. Dhoni ka Dhaba, situated at Red Hills area, is a restaurant popular for its north Indian and Chinese cuisine. “The owner thought that the name would bring good luck so he named it after Dhoni,” said Rafique, the restaurant manager.
Two more interesting stories popped up during the search for business enterprises named after Dhoni. One is the Dhoni Dhanush Salon at Bharathi Salai, Ramapuram. The owner, Guna, a barber himself, said he couldn’t have thought of any other name than Dhoni because his one-year-old is named after him. Also, Dhanush — one of the most bankable stars in the Tamil movie industry — is his all-time favourite. “But nothing tops Dhoni. I have been a fan since 2008,” said Guna who is an experienced hand at styling the several Dhoni haircuts we have seen over the years.
M Sathish has a similar tale to narrate. A medium pace bowler himself, Sathish was bowled over by Dhoni’s charm long ago. So when his son was born two-and-a-half years back, he didn’t think twice before naming him Dhoni. This being Tamil Nadu where the family name in written first, Sathish’s son became MS Dhoni by default, a happy coincidence for him.
Only last year, Sathish decided to try out his luck again with Dhoni, this time using it to name his cricket academy in Mylapore. He has two other smaller branches where boys aged 5-18 flock the nets in the evening. “It’s named after Dhoni but we are careful about teaching the basics of batting first,” said Sathish when asked if any of his wards have been experimenting with the Helicopter shot, a Dhoni trademark.
Both Sathish and Guna agreed on one point — businesses are named after sons in the hope it will bring luck and good fortune. But naming their sons after Dhoni was a way more personal decision, one that stems from enduring love and respect for their thala.