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Much Water Under The Swamy Army

The Bharat Army

Much Water Under The Swamy Army
Atul Loke
Much Water Under The Swamy Army
The forecast was right. In South Africa, it's raining men of Indian origin. They are pouring in from the UK, Canada, US, Australia and India. Fragmented Indian mobs bond in the stands over beer and lesser things. They walk in with faces painted, holding placards ('Screw The English') that are distinctly different from the vegetarian ones seen in India ("Hello Tony Greig"). They are chiefly in blue, unless they have made shirts out of the tricolour, they also wrap the flag around the waist in a manner that will get them arrested in India under the IPC. One of these groups is a bunch loosely called Bharat Army which gathers friends and strangers over e-mail and phone to come join them.

A Canadian-Indian, 25-year-old Mukul, who is lost-and-found in Durban's Kingsmead while searching for fish and chips, is a classic example of the ad-hoc fringe group that pads up the minuscule core of Bharat Army. "I just came down for the cricket. A friend who is part of Bharat Army said I should hang around with them because they were all Indian supporters." The Bharat Army converges on the ground in a way that the Lord's gateman will look down upon. At the India-England match, some of them were dressed as Nehru. They had planned this the previous night fully drunk, which they still were when the match started.

Another group with no distinct name travels from venue to venue following India, along with a 'sadhu' who blesses the general population in the stadium, spending extra time in the cheaper stands where the bikinis lie lazily under the hot African sun. Watching an India match in this World Cup is like being in any Indian stadium, the crucial difference being that there is no need to report four hours before the match starts, the bladder need not be held for eight hours, and when the cricket gets a bit tiring to watch, well the women never are.
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