24th April was the birthday of Sachin Tendulkar. A lot has been written about his sporting talent and his qualities as a human being over the past two days. I also had a few occasions when I could meet him and observe him. The following is the piece I wrote this 24th April on my first meeting with him when I truly understood what a phenomenon he is.
A few years back when I was serving as Joint Secretary in the Department of Sports, Sachin Tendulkar was one of the invitees to a meeting, chaired by the Sports Minister.We did not inform anyone about his arrival, but people came to know somehow.
Shastri Bhawan in New Delhi is a sprawling complex with a lot of gates,staircases,corridors and floors.Quite a few Ministries and organizations of the Government of India work from here. Sports Minister sits on the fourth floor.
It was around lunch time when Sachin reached Shastri Bhawan. The scene was unbelievable.Thousands of employees were waiting to catch a glimpse of him. Many of them must have skipped lunch. Staircases and corridors were overflowing.
By the time the meeting ended, the crowds had swelled. People had not gone back to their seats. They had been waiting to catch another glimpse of Sachin and new people had joined them.He could be taken to his car with great difficulty through his cheering fans.
It was on this day that I realized what Sachin actually was. I had not seen anything like this before.It was on this day that I realized, Sachin was truly the God of Cricket. What is remarkable is that he carries this aura with a lot of humility.
Happy birthday, Sachin. I am sure, India has not seen a more popular sportsperson than you.