Dear Mr. Flintoff, It was my privilege to see the India - England Twenty20 match last night live on TV. You will agree that it was quite a memorable match of cricket especially because India won and once again proved without doubt that England should restrict itself to inventing games but not actually expect to win any of them. This is a small selection of such sports and games for your perusal:
- Football - Cricket - Tennis - Hockey - Rugby - Badminton - Anything that involves running (except running industry to ground), throwing (except throwing up outside pub) and jumping (except jumping on head of supporter of rival football team).
I am not trying to rub this into you in any fashion except that, when I really think about it, I am.
But while I try to wipe the grin off my face I also want to highlight the crux of this correspondence. The essence of this letter is to prevent you from committing again, the very grave mistake you did yesterday.
I am referring to that moment before the nineteenth over when you walked up to Mr. Yuvraj Singh and told him something that made Mr. Singh very very angry. If I remember correctly Mr. Singh approached you rapidly with cricket bat in one hand, I think right, before the umpire restrained him and saved you from buying a new English face post-match.
Of course we all know what happened next. Mr. Singh went on to thulp six sixes in the next over which was lovingly presented to him by one Mr. Stuart Broad. I do not know how this comes across in English but in most parts of North India they would say that "Yuvaraj Singh made England's mother and sister into one..."
I know you are now regretting this move and wished you had not riled Mr. Yuvaraj Singh so.
Earlier today it occurred to me that you may have committed this folly because of a certain ignorance of the finer aspects of India's great ethnic diversity.
So I have taken it upon myself to inform and educate you on how to avoid such mistakes when playing against India again.
The first thing you do, when you feel garrulous on the field of play, is that you gently check up on their surnames.
Let us take the case of Yuvaraj Singh.
If you observe carefully you will notice that his surname is Singh.
You can do it. Try again.
When you observe this surname on an Indian person in a competitive setting, such as a cricket match, traffic or in a crowded disco, you do not rub them the wrong way. In fact you avoid conversation at all costs. I would go so far to say that you complement them on their looks/wealth/health and relieve the location of your presence immediately.
While I am not a Singh myself I have had the opportunity to interact with several Singhs many of whom, inspite of my jokey, sarcastic demeanour, did not impel me to undertake critical surgery of any kind.
But that is because I said NOTHING. NADA. NIL.
This is a very good policy to follow with Singhs.
Singhs, by and large, are some of the most jovial people in India. They love a good meal, heady drink and back slapping good humour. They work hard at whatever they do, party all night to the most infectious music and believe in living life to the fullest.
I know some Singhs who have two washing machines at home: one for washing clothes and the other for making Lassi. (True Fact.)
But within this merry, albeit cholesterol full, demeanour hides a race that can rapidly combust when angered. When the average Singh has been driven to wrath he often throws things, throws things at things and sometimes drives things through other things. Such one other thing, once I observed, was a tractor.
And it's not just action but also words. And whatay words!
Rivaled in his insulting fervour only by a hardcore Chennai Tamilian from a suburb like Washermanpet, the average Singh can run through entire generations of Flintoffs, bestowing individual terms of endearment, without ever using the same abuse twice, or waiting to catch his or (this is the scary part) her breath.
I am, incidentally married to a lass from the Punjab which contains many many Singhs. Whenever I leave laundry lying around or forget to pay the Power bill she immediately updates me of my responsibility by reminding of who I am, where I came from, what will happen to my tender parts and where I will end up in the long term all in one succinct, crisply delivered sentence that would make an average member of the Barmy Army fall to his knees and beg for forgiveness at which point she may let him off with a minor rap across the knuckles with a fridge or sofa.
She also has this fearsome backhanded slap across the face that you hear moments after it hits you because, when sufficiently angered, her palm moves faster than sound.
You may also like to know about one Mr. Navjot Singh Sidhu who used to don India's blue many moons ago and is today a well-known cricket commentator and TV presenter of ill-repute.
Mr. Sidhu once had a minor tiff with another individual in a traffic-related situation. Now I am aware that Englishmen also get into traffic tiffs and then resolve it by hurling abuse at each other or a little pushing and shoving.
Mr. Sidhu, after due thought and introspection, killed the other man. Kaput. Khallas. Phineesh.
Which is why you should be thankful that Yuvraj Singh hit that ball for six so many times rather than, oh off the top of my head, your kneecaps.
And finally I must tell you about an old friend of mine in engineering college. A Singh of, until this incident, mild repute.
Somehow it transpired that a friend of his was made fun of and minorly slapped about by a ridiculous fellow in the NRI quota who, like you, was unaware of surname based profiling.
My friend, on hearing of the news, walked toward the perpetrator's room, picked me up on the way to clean up after, along with a large hollow concrete brick the size of Gladstone Small and barged in.
He swung, I jumped up, perpetrator passed out, he missed and the brick proceeded speedily through an entire wooden bookcase, right through a Sony stereo system and a stack of CDs before ending up wedged well between my legs. Thankfully it missed my belly by a few inches and hit me full on the cojones (ka-ho-nees).
At the time it was not much fun. Over the weeks we learned to laugh at the whole thing but not too much because I had bladder control issues for a while.
So, in closing, I ask you to refrain from such verbal excesses in future. Currently we have Mahendra Singh Dhoni, R.P. Singh, Harbhajan Singh and of course Yuvraj Singh in the team. And perhaps in time, because there is no logic or cricketing reason to do so, BCCI may pick VRV Singh as well.
Keep your trap shut.
Namaste London, Sidin Sunny Vadukut
p.s. Next week I will write to you to tell you why you should also be wary of South Indian Cricketers even if they are named after popular breakfast and tiffin items.
Picture courtesy Cricinfo.com