Calcutta, Aug. 16: First off the memorabilia-blocks was Sachin Tendulkar. Now, Kapil Dev is in overdrive on the same lane.
Of course, there’s a difference: Sachin’s collection is on display at his upmarket Mumbai restaurant, Tendulkar’s in Colaba, while India’s only World Cup-winning captain’s memorabilia will soon be on view at Chandigarh’s Kapil Hotel.
The compact 12-room (plus a suite) hotel, it may be recalled, was opened with fanfare soon after the 1983 World Cup but, since then, Kapil himself couldn’t devote much time. If anything, the property’s Sixer Bar probably had a bigger clientele than the hotel proper.
Now, once it reopens after refurbishing (in the next 40-45 days), Kapil will be investing quite a bit of his time there. Obviously, the hotel — which could be renamed — will then have landmark status in Sector 35 of his hometown.
“It was a year ago, after I won the Wisden Cricketer of the Century award, that I decided to decorate the hotel with my collection… Towards that end, instead of the customary paintings in each room, there will be photographs (with a small write-up) of my most memorable moments,” Kapil told The Telegraph this afternoon.
Speaking on his cellphone, he added: “Frankly, I’d never thought I would actually publicly display my memorabilia… Otherwise, I would have preserved my India debut (Faisalabad Test, 1978-79) bat and ball. Quite a bit of the other stuff as well.
“In fact, in India, nobody is really into preserving sporting history. That’s sad… This venture, though personal, is a small attempt to keep something for posterity… Kuch to log ek jagah dekh sakte hain…”
A trifle emotional, Kapil continued: “Fortunately, I haven’t misplaced or given away everything. For instance, I’ve still got the bat I used to score that unbeaten 175 against Zimbabwe (Tunbridge Wells, 1983 World Cup) as also the flannels I wore in my last Test (Hamilton, 1993-94). Both will have pride of place once the hotel is renovated.”
That “pride of place” may well be the banquet hall, if not the reception.
Wife Romi has been deeply involved with the project, but Kapil has also been taking the help of his many friends in the hospitality industry.
The reopening date hasn’t yet been decided, but he insisted that wouldn’t coincide with the (October 16-20) Mohali Test, versus New Zealand.
Apparently, Kapil remains hurt that nobody from Team India defended him when he got sucked into the summer of 2000 match-fixing scandal. He was, after all, then the coach.