There are fans, and then there is Sudhir Kumar Gautam who actually gets free passes for all his matches from Sachin Tendulkar himself.
|Sudhir Kumar Gautam with Sachin|
The 30-year-old fan from Bihar, who has been following Sachin to nearly all his matches for the past eight years, travelled to Bangalore (without a ticket!) for Saturday’s Mumbai Indians versus Royal Challengers at Chinnaswamy Stadium.
He’ll be easy to spot: A thin, wiry man with a haircut that’s shaped like the map of India in tricolour, waving the national flag vigorously.
CRAZY RIDEMost of the time, Gautam follows Sachin on a cycle. He told Bangalore Mirror, “On November 1, 2003, India took on Australia in Wankhede stadium in Mumbai. I cycled to Mumbai from Muzaffarpur in Bihar and even met him at his house before the match. He treated me very nicely.”
Twice, the Sachin fanatic actually ran into the grounds. “On November 6, 2003, India was playing New Zealand in Cuttack and I jumped onto the field to meet my Sachin. Then again, on November 15, the same year, Sachin hit a century against New Zealand. I ran and fell at Sachin’s feet. That’s when the security came running to take me away but Sachin told them not to hit me,” he reminisced.
That did it. Since then, Gautam has been getting passes for almost all Tendulkar matches from the Master Blaster himself.
SAYING NO TO SACHINHowever, the constant travel with no source of income is beginning to take its toll. “I have been following Mumbai Indians since IPL started. I couldn’t do so in 2009 when the venue shifted to South Africa. This year, I’ve exhausted my money and though I want to watch the match between Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians in Kolkata, I don’t think I have enough time or money to follow the team,” said Gautam.
Though Sachin offered him money, he did not take it. He has no particular reason for refusing except for the fact that he has great respect for the star. “Sachin has been very kind to me. When I went to his house, I even rode with him in his BMW,” he said.
“Money or no money, I will reach Mumbai on April 24. After all, it’s Sachin’s birthday,” he said.
TO HELL WITH THE JOBGautam is so obsessed that he even quit his job for Sachin. “In 2006, India was to play Pakistan. I wanted to go and watch Sachin play. I was working with Sudha Diary in Muzaffarpur but they refused to foot my travel expenses and wouldn’t give me leave either. So I just left the job,” said the defiant fan who has a wikipedia site named after him.
He then decided to cross the border on his famed bicycle. “I started preparing for the journey in January since I knew it would take time to get my visa, passport and other things in place. On February 12, I crossed the border and stayed at Pakistan Chacha’s house. On February 13, when India played Pakistan, I saw Sachin playing.”