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Chef Mohit

From cricket to cooking

My journey with cricket has moulded my personality for the better. The game has brought me recognition and also made me self-dependant, calmer and patient. Once you start staying away from home you have to do things by yourself so I thought I should know to cook well.

I had started living alone since the Under-19 days. At the time we had to stay away from home for 40 days or so because there used to be only one venue. Then when I started playing Under-22 and kept moving further ahead and would stay in Lahli, I felt that I should know to do a few things by myself. I believe there should be a few things that one should do by themselves; that is the time when I started cooking. Not that I needed to do, but I just felt that I should. I cook dishes that I like to eat.

I was always interested in cooking and I am still learning how to cook. My mother is my teacher. So far I have learnt to prepare basic stuff like aloo sabzi, dal, kadhi, which are my favourites. Besides all that I make omelette, tea etc. Earlier I used to always think of doing it someday, but now when I get the time I do it. It also helps me keep myself involved in something and not thinking only about cricket all the time. I try to find new recipes and make them but it doesn’t always turn out as expected and when it isn’t good enough I feed it to others. I also watch cookery shows that are on television when I can. Initially my mother was very happy, but now with all the mess that is in the kitchen she is not always so keen.

When we travelled abroad to countries like Zimbabwe, Amit Shah (Ex-team Physio) and Mane kaka who were with the Indian team would have the raw materials. They would do so many things for the team that even I would feel like chipping in in some way.

Apart from teaching me to be self-reliant, cricket has taught me a lot of other things. I try to do be independent how much ever I can and that quality has developed because of cricket. I have become calmer and more patient. Until I entered the international arena I was very aggressive and would speak in the heat of the moment. That has stopped now which also helped while leading the state team. While captaining you have to think of the bigger picture and hold the team together. Now I try to think from the other person’s point of view as well. Yoga and other exercises have also helped in bringing about this change.

Mohit Sharma

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Mandeep Singh – The love and affection of fans

The Punjab batsman says Indian fans make them feel at home on away tours

I can’t thank cricket enough for all that it has given me. Whatever I have is because of cricket. Life has come full circle from the time I took Harbhajan Singh’s autograph as a kid. Now, we have fans showering their affection.

I had fans in school and then slowly had a following in the city. I got to meet more fans when I went out. When we travel, the interactions with local Indians are quite memorable. When I had recently gone to New Zealand with the India ‘A’ team, we met a person who was a big fan of the Kings XI Punjab. He looked after us really well.

He owned a restaurant so he took us there often. He was a huge fan. All that he wanted was a KXIP or India ‘A’ T-shirt, so a few of us signed a T-shirt and gifted it to him. Similar things have happened in Australia as well.

When we travel abroad, fans try to ensure that we feel like we belong and not feel left out or home sick when we visit another country. Sometimes on tours some might have problems with food so the locals help. They are always keen to help and guide us. They look forward to cricketers visiting from India. They know the exact dates, places and timings. It is fun.

When you meet someone from the same community away it always feels good. I am a Punjabi so when I meet another Punjabi there is a bit of an emotional connect when they come talk to you in Punjabi. The first time you meet it’s just a casual greeting. Once when that person comes to watch a match, you meet as you feel he is a genuine fan.

The person I met in New Zealand was from Jalandhar and since I also belong to Jalandar, the emotional attachment happens. When we go to a place we know little about, it helps to know someone from your own land who can guide you around.

When we were in Australia as part of an Under-19 India team a few years back, we went to a restaurant and the first time they didn’t pay too much attention. When we went there again, they had found out that we were part of the India Under-19 team and they took extra care of us and even offered discounts. It was I guess a South Indian restaurant in Perth. They took pictures and we gave them a T-shirt with our autographs.

That’s what you cherish – the affection the hospitality. I feel proud of that. Being able to travel to other countries, the fame and everything else is because of cricket. 

Mandeep Singh

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