Tiger's effect on Bedi: Weight lost and invigorated
Calcutta: "Let's say I'm recuperating... Trying to catch up on lost sleep... The effort had, of course, all been for a wonderful cause and I'm delighted the objective got realised."
That was Bishan Singh Bedi, a charismatic former captain of India, on Saturday evening - 72 hours after the truly star-loaded Tribute to Tiger in New Delhi.
Naseeruddin Shah, Kapil Dev, Aamir Khan and Yuvraj Singh (in that order) wowed the around 500 guests on the lawns of a five-star property.
Organised by the Bishan Bedi Cricket Coaching Trust, the evening also celebrated 25 years of a set-up which has been going about its activities without any noise.
"I'm not the type to gloat and the Trust does its work without fuss. The evening was a tribute to the legendary Tiger (Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi), everybody remembered him and I hope the family went home pleased," Bishan, now 71, told The Telegraph.
Bishan added: "The physical toll apart, the evening left me invigorated. I've got a boost to continue my association with the great game of cricket."
Laughing, Bishan continued: "I've probably lost 10 kgs or so, but I'm not complaining. I seriously needed to lose weight!"
Tiger, who passed away in September 2011, was the Founder chief patron of the Trust.
Eldest child Saif and his Begum Kareena couldn't make it, but the always graceful Sharmila Tagore and both daughters, Saba and Soha, were present.
Speaking exclusively, in the morning, Sharmila said: "We did come away touched... Bishan makes everybody comfortable... He wanted to honour Tiger, somebody he was exceedingly close to, and did so very nicely."
Saba, in fact, spoke of Bishan with plenty of warmth. "Uncle has been like a father figure, available to guide and talk about life in general...
"Indeed, uncle reduced the pain we all felt at the passing away of Abba, forever present to lend his shoulder. He put together such a splendid, emotional evening," Saba emphasised during a conversation with this Reporter.
Saba is a Mumbai-based jewellery designer. However, being the Mutawalli (or custodian) of the Aukaf-e-Shahi Trust, she keeps travelling to Bhopal.
"Bishan and Saba developed a bond when Tiger was in the ICU and that has only got stronger with time...
"I remember Bishan was in J&K then, on a coaching assignment, but he'd keep calling right through the day...
"Obviously, I couldn't take all of Bishan's calls. Instead, I'd put him on to Saba. That's when the bond between the two took root," Sharmila pointed out.
Asked if the proposed Tiger Pataudi Cricket Nursery, involving the U-14s and the U-12s, would have a branch in Pataudi, Sharmila replied: "That was a googly from Bishan... We'll have to discuss it...
"The Nursery would have to be looked after almost 24x7 by somebody, for I won't be able to take on any further responsibilities...
"So, let us see."
Pataudi, which is in Haryana, is around 70 kms from the heart of New Delhi.
Depending on the funds, the Nursery would start at Bishan's Cricket Abode (some 35 kms from Connaught Place).
"The Trust has 35 wickets which are ready, but I need nets and I need rollers there. Basically, funds are required. The Nursery, however, is close to my heart," Bishan commented.
While youngsters who cannot afford to pay the fees of camps run by the Trust don't have to, Bishan was quick to dismiss them being labelled underprivileged.
"If a youngster has the passion for cricket, he's privileged where I'm concerned, forget the background he comes from. My take on things is, as you know, different," Bishan signed off.
Anybody with a love for cricket can never ever be underprivileged... Perhaps, we need to thank Bishan for that from-the-heart thought.