A police officer tries to keep fans from gatecrashing into the Eden Gardens before KKR’s IPL victory celebration on Tuesday afternoon. Picture by B. Halder
•Two-hour delay in Shah Rukh Khan’s arrival
• The minimum relative humidity of 71 per cent made the maximum temperature of 32.2 degrees Celsius feel like 47 degrees
• Missing food stalls
• Public address system failed when Mamata Banerjee and SRK took the mike
The Eden Gardens on Tuesday was a tough loyalty test for the legions of Kolkata Knight Riders fans who had trooped into the stadium to celebrate the IPL victory two days ago.
Friends Uttaran Das and Anindita Sinha were part of the 50,000-strong KKR fandom who sat through a function that started around 40 minutes late and often meandered along till Shah Rukh Khan arrived two hours later than scheduled, only for a mike malfunction to prevent them from hearing what he said.
The Eden crowd is not known to be a very patient one. But on Tuesday, team spirit scored over torment. The fans were bathed in sweat and hungry in the absence of food stalls but nobody budged, not until all the speeches they couldn’t hear had been made and the star of the show did a round of the stadium.
“I have been supporting KKR since the very beginning when we used to come eighth. Having endured that, now is our time to celebrate. We dominated this edition of the IPL like no other team. We are proud of it and there’s no question of leaving the stadium midway just because the weather is so hot,” said Uttaran, an insurance company executive who admires Gautam Gambhir.
Many of the fans had arrived outside the stadium as early as 9am, around an hour before the gates opened. Tulika Bhaduri, a Jalpaiguri girl based in Calcutta, was one of the early birds. “My mother had warned me that there could be a rush at the entry points, so I and my paying-guest mates Priya and Shilpa came here by 10.30am,” she said.
Tulika’s mother was right. Such was the chaos outside Eden that the girls lost the passes their landlady had gifted them! It was only after much pleading that the cops allowed them entry.
“We were sapped of energy by the time we were inside. But we are Shah Rukh fans and are here as much for him as the team. We won’t leave until the function is over,” Tulika said.
Humidity ranged between 71 and 95 per cent through the day, making the long vigil in the packed stands even more uncomfortable for the fans. The day’s maximum temperature of 32.2 degrees Celsius was four notches below normal but the “real feel” temperature, a term used by weather scientists to describe the combined effect of all meteorological factors on the human body, was between 45 and 47 degrees Celsius.
For the fans who came in first, the wait inside the stadium stretched to six hours before Shah Rukh made his appearance at 4.03pm.
The crowd had no clue why SRK wasn’t part of the function till then because there was no announcement. At one point, the organisers were seen requesting Usha Uthup to keep singing to keep the fans engaged.
The ageless and untiring singer obliged.
When SRK arrived, did his thing on stage and took the cordless microphone, technology decided to add to the torment. Few in the crowd heard what he said, apart from a stray word or two.
“I picked up ‘jeetbo re’ in his speech and guessed that he was talking about the victory,” said Mukta Kundu, who was in the clubhouse stand.
Even chief minister Mamata, who has never had to struggle to be heard, was let down by the mike.
Agrodeep Roy, a student of Class VII, said he was glad to be a part of the celebration but would have liked the event to be better organised. “We didn’t have a clue how long we would have to wait for SRK. They should have let us know.”