A diatribe against a tribe

An air New Zealand boeing 777-300 aircraft decorated with scenes and characters from The Hobbit.-AP

Journalists greet each other with the same line Virat Kohli is believed to have delivered when he first spotted his (perceived) antagonist. One reporter comes up with the idea of sticking name-tags to foreheads, so as not to be mistakenly tongue-lashed. By Shreedutta Chidananda.

The press box becomes a curious place to inhabit the morning after the Virat Kohli incident. Some are stunned, some indignant, some indifferent and some, like the Diary, don’t know what to feel. There is much laughter, though. Journalists greet each other with the same line Kohli is believed to have delivered when he first spotted his (perceived) antagonist. One reporter comes up with the idea of sticking name-tags to foreheads, so as not to be mistakenly tongue-lashed. “He’s a Punjabi lad, sir. Of course he will speak that way. Why are they making such a fuss?” an Ambala-born shop-keeper, whose establishment the Diary visits routinely to procure yoghurt, wonders.

R. Ashwin is put up for India’s next press-conference and he is asked if the two parties should “hug and give each other the gift of peace on the occasion of Holi.” Even as the Diary struggles to remain in its chair, Ashwin politely says he was not a witness to the incident.

Time travel

The flight from Perth to Christchurch has hit the Diary like a brick in the solar plexus and left it somewhat disoriented. It was 8 p.m., Saturday, when the Diary boarded and 7 a.m., Sunday, when it disembarked. But six hours in the air is all the Diary spent, unable to sleep a wink, and suddenly it was day. It felt as if nature had played a cruel trick on the mind, wiping clean a whole night from existence. On arrival, the Diary was told by cheery immigration authorities of Pakistan beating South Africa ‘yesterday’, when in fact it had watched the game with its very eyes a few hours before. A friend in India had clearly sent text messages on two different days – a boisterous note from a party Saturday evening, a humble admission of immaturity the next morning – but the Diary was still confined to the same long day.

Suddenly, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow begin to attain an ephemeral quality: clouds of time existing only in the imagination. When Sir Arthur Eddington laid out his concept of time in physics, explaining why it should move forwards and not backwards, he stated that a reversal of 'the arrow of time' would render the external world nonsensical. The Diary would like to argue that keeping it pointing to the right direction has not helped a great deal.

Lord of the sky

It's not just the Diary that is bothered by the travel. The Indian team, it turns out, has an itinerary drawn up by a man with a nasty sense of humour. “We have a fantastic journey from here (Perth). We go to Melbourne. From Melbourne we go to Auckland. From Auckland we drive to Hamilton, and we reach at midnight. I don't know what time we leave, so we have a perfect journey. That should keep us busy. That will give us less time to think about cricket,” M. S. Dhoni said after the West Indies game.

If the team was booked on Air New Zealand, though, it will have enjoyed a marvellous flight-safety video. Introduced as “the most epic safety video ever made”, the four-minute-clip is themed on The Hobbit and stars Elijah Wood and Peter Jackson. Attention is drawn to life jackets and emergency exits by characters dressed as Bilbo, Thorin and Elrond (with pointy Elvish ears for full effect). Smoking is prohibited, warns Gandalf (rather hypocritically), by forcing a man to drop his pipe. The video was shot over six days at New Zealand's Middle-Earth locations. Hobbiton, in fact, is an hour's drive away from Hamilton. Dhoni, though, is unlikely to be interested.