The photographers couldn’t take it anymore. Minutes after Sachin Tendulkar had retired to the triumphant Mumbai dressing room unbeaten, the lensmen parked in that area received pleas for `we were there’ group pictures from varied people. First to occupy the sparkling white plastic chairs, arranged in a neat row, were the Haryana boys, who sat alongside a beaming Tendulkar. That was the approved and official shoot.
Subsequently, several informal and over-crowded frames got clicked around the same chairs. The camera cross hair remained on Tendulkar as the men around him changed. Ground staff, top policemen, television production team, private security unit, caterers, helping hands, match officials, ball boys; no one wanted to miss out on an opportunity to record their proximity to Tendulkar on the final day of his first class career.
Having obliged everyone, the photographers now finally stood next to Tendulkar. They dropped their cameras and grouped around the still beaming Tendulkar to finally end the extended photo session. Like most feel good movies with happy endings, this one too closed with a freeze frame of the central character at the middle of a joyous group.
In the stands, men put their smart phones on record mode for the final half hour of play and rushed to the edge of the pavilion when Tendulkar put his foot cross the boundary rope.
The telecast team, of whom many have covered Tendulkar for decades and captured several of his highs, couldn’t remain aloof. After Tendulkar had marked his signing-off by putting his signature on the transparent film on the camera lens, they came up with a unique idea to remember the day. The film was stripped from the lens and the broadcast team members took turns posing with it. Smiling ‘mug shots’ with Tendulkar’s signature across the face made for amusing and apt memorable frame. The metamorphosis of Tendulkar, the phenomenon, to Tendulkar, the memorabilia, has been kicked off at Lahli and the process gets completed at Wankhede when he ends his 200th Test.
Once they used to travel miles to see his bat now they are waiting for hours in the stands to wave a final goodbye. Lahli’s has been doing this for the last four days. Tendulkar too acknowledged the warmth he discovered towards him in this rural setting. He called his stay in Rohtak / Lahli “memorable” and “comfortable”. Luxury cars arranged, chefs called from capital and men