Query: What connection does it have with crockery, Banaras and sarees?
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Again within the subcontinent, up north in India, in Jalandhar, a bone china crockery set used to relaxation properly in a Punjabi family, till it moved to the US with the household. It was a present from nearly 500 km away, however a unique nation, Pakistan. The items of that crockery set have not made many journeys to the eating desk. They’re extra a mark of friendship that’s divided by borders however united by hockey.
This friendship developed when an India-Pakistan match did not require a impartial floor; when the Pakistani crew would come, play and savour butter hen at a well-known dhaba in Chandigarh; when an Indian crew might go to Lahore, play, dig into the road meals and are available again saying ‘Jinne Lahore ni vekheya oh jammeya ei nai’ (one who hasn’t seen Lahore is not born).
It was earlier than the steadily deteriorating political ties between the 2 international locations additionally had a huge impact on the sports activities performed between the 2 nations.
Successful and shedding mattered in these days as properly, however friendships mattered equally, if no more. Even when bruises from an in depth defeat lingered, the consequence was quickly left for the historical past books to deal with, and camaraderie off the pitch took over.
One such friendship, between former Pakistan captain Waseem Ahmed and India’s former attacking midfielder Baljeet Singh Saini is stuffed with anecdotes and fascinating tales — the warmest of which brings Peshawar crockery and Banarasi sarees into the combo.
(Waseem Ahmed and Baljeet Singh Saini – Getty Photos)
Ahmed, the participant with essentially the most worldwide caps (410) for his nation, is these days the supply of that outdated Pakistani aptitude for the SUHC. He moved to Australia in 2015 and for the final two years is a player-cum-assistant coach for the membership.
Saini, the present coach of the Indian junior girls’s hockey crew, retains shuttling between India and the US, the place he moved together with his household.
“Our fiercest rivals on the pitch are Pakistanis and our greatest associates off the pitch in worldwide hockey are Pakistanis as properly,” Saini arrange the nostalgia with a nicely-phrased assertion.
“Badi dosti hai (we share a robust friendship),” stated Waseem over the telephone when Timesofindia.com rang him.
The story each of them recalled is from India’s tour of Pakistan in 1998. Tahir Zaman was main Pakistan and Ahmed was cementing his place within the midfield after his debut in 1996. It was an eight-match home-and-away sequence, with 4 Exams in Pakistan and 4 in India.
Pakistan gained it 4-Three on Indian soil, after their house leg ended 2-2.
“Dilip Tirkey (Man of the Sequence) and Baljeet Saini had been kids like me. We had Shahbaz senior and junior with us, and Tahir Zaman. We gained the primary two matches in Peshawar and Rawalpindi. In Lahore, they defeated us, after which in Karachi as properly. Public began throwing stones at us,” Ahmed recalled.
In Peshawar, Saini needed to take house a memento. That is when he stepped into the Pakistani camp.
“Saini got here and stated I need to purchase a dinner set. It (crockery) is kind of well-known there (Peshawar). It was a few 70-80 piece dinner set,” Ahmed advised TimesofIndia.com.
The working joke at the moment was that the whole Indian crew needed to deal with the crockery over the following three Exams in Pakistan earlier than flying again house.
“Sure, that was only a joke,” stated Saini whereas taking Timesofindia.com down reminiscence lane.
“He (Ahmed) should not have advised you that he gifted me that,” Saini revealed so as to add extra heat to the story, as Ahmed by no means talked about that it was a present from him. “Our friendship grew and we’ve stayed in contact ever since.”
“It was an enormous field, fairly heavy, product of bone China. It is like vintage crockery with stones embedded. I nonetheless have it.” Saini advised TimesofIndia.com.
Just a few years later, when Ahmed’s sister was getting married, the Pakistani midfielder contacted Saini as he was on the lookout for some Banarasi sarees — a conventional Indian apparel that’s well-known in Pakistan as properly.
“We had a team-mate at the moment, Anurag Raghuvanshi, who was from Banaras. I reached out to him to get the sarees after which despatched these to Waseem,” stated Saini. “After that, he even visited me in Jalandhar.”
Ahmed went on to play until the 2012 London Olympics, having come out of retirement in 2006.
Apparently, he made his worldwide debut in India, in the course of the 1996 Champions Trophy in Chennai as a 19-year-old teenager.
India and Pakistan performed the concluding group fixture with a spot within the ultimate at stake. Pakistan edged India 3-2, and Ahmed distinctly remembers the jiffy he acquired to go on the pitch.
“India had a fantastic crew at the moment, very skilled. We had a younger crew and we had been fortunate (to win the match), you possibly can say. We had the identical variety of factors (7) going into the match . It was house floor for India. Mukesh (Kumar), Pargat (Singh), Dhanraj (Pillay), (Mohammad) Riaz, all prime gamers had been taking part in for India. We gained 3-2 to succeed in the ultimate.
“I performed just for the final 5-7 minutes and did not get a single contact, simply loitered round (laughs). However one transfer between Dhanraj and Mukesh has all the time stayed with me.
“They began from their 25-yard line and lower by means of our midfield and defence. Your complete Pakistan crew was crushed. Dhanraj took the shot at objective however it went huge. He threw his stick and it crashed on the sideline boards. I all the time keep in mind that.”
Ahmed lately made an look on the Pakistan teaching bench late final 12 months, when the crew toured Netherlands for its two-match Olympic qualifying occasion. The crew was taking part in a world recreation after nearly a 12 months, however the inputs from Pakistan’s most skilled participant clearly had an impact.
Pakistan drew the primary recreation with an exhilarating 4-Four scoreline however could not keep the identical tempo in Recreation 2, wherein the guests had been thrashed 6-1.
“Asif Bajwa, the Pakistan Hockey Federation secretary, requested me ‘if we name you, will you come?’ I stated, ‘why not’, as a result of what I’m right this moment is due to hockey. So I joined the crew in Holland,” recalled Ahmed.
“I used to be there with the crew for 3 weeks, however how a lot are you able to put together in such a short while? Regardless of such little preparation, we managed to shock Holland in Holland within the first match. It means expertise is there, we simply must groom and educate it.”
What expertise can do reveals in what Ahmed has achieved together with his present membership SUHC.
It was on the backside of Males’s Premier League when he joined, and in his first 12 months with the membership, the crew completed within the prime 4 and entered the play-offs. For the final two years, they’ve been the champions.