Monday, 30th October 2017

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Cooking to cricket, a man of many parts

His contribution and achievements, as a player and coach, are far beyond what anyone can accomplish

By Erapalli Prasanna
  • Published 21.03.20, 4:18 AM
  • Updated 21.03.20, 4:18 AM
  • 2 mins read
Erapalli Prasanna Telegraph picture

I didn’t know PK Banerjee was my neighbour when I started staying in Calcutta from the middle of 2003. It was a chance meeting one evening and after that we became very good friends. We met regularly for almost four years and I will always cherish those golden moments.

Pradipda’s house was in GD block, opposite Susrut Eye Foundation & Research Centre at Salt Lake, close to the locality where I used to live. I don’t know how it is now but during those days, finding a house number at Salt Lake seemed like a jigsaw puzzle. It was so confusing, and unless you knew the place well, you would end up moving in circles.

One day, I was out for my evening stroll when I lost track of my building and bumped into him at one of the several crossings which seem identical at all points. He recognised me instantly, exchanged greetings and, dropped me to my place. That bond grew with time and he became one of my close associates in Calcutta.

I would always seek his opinion when it came to picking up items of daily chores. He was a great connoisseur of fish. He would advise me on where I could find the best variety at Salt Lake and why he considered hilsa to be superior to bhetki. He was also an expert when it came to culinary skills and would advise accordingly.

Despite being one of the best footballers of India, he was equally interested in cricket. We spent several hours talking about the game and his in-depth knowledge often surprised me. He often wondered why the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) never used my services.

He always believed that the CAB should use my services when it came to the development of the young Bengal spinners. Once he even wanted to speak to Jagmohan Dalmiya but I discouraged him. My argument was that the invitation has to come from the CAB voluntarily. Maybe Dalmiya didn’t want it.

I will always regard him as an excellent human being and the ethos of a true Bengali was ingrained in him. I have only heard stories of him as a player and how he conquered impossible heights as coach for East Bengal and Mohun Bagan.

I would regard him as an intellectual, far beyond my level of intelligence. He was well known as a raconteur and remained well versed with everything that was happening around the world. He could speak for hours on any given topic and could keep everyone spellbound.

His contribution and achievements, as a player and coach, are far beyond what anyone can accomplish.

As told to Indranil Majumdar