Since I drive to Uttara from Baridhara everyday for work, I have been able to observe the progression of decorations being put up on Airport Road over the last month for the 2011 cricket World Cup. My drive on the way to school and back always gave me something new to look at- colorful lights being put up on the lamp posts, enlarged versions of various flowers and animals randomly placed around the paths, new flowers and trees, balloons, and various billboards with photos of the country’s scenes and catchy slogans. Beximco endorsed a giant cricket bat- deemed as the largest cricket bat in the world– on this road, allowing for people to come by and sign it and to wish Bangladesh’s team luck.
Two nights ago past midnight my cousin and his friends came by to pick me up and we went to airport road to look at the scene around this bat. People kept coming and parking on the highway to sign the bat. There were no police or anyone nearby to monitor the scene. As usual, anything goes in Dhaka. While it was late at night, there were families, children, women and men there taking photos and signing the bat with markers and spray paint. Someone got out a huge speaker from their car and put on Bollywood music nearby that matched the energy of the night. There were names, wishes, even cell phone numbers and love notes on this bat in various colors and in both English and Bengali all over the bat.
My cousin’s friend got a hold of a red spray paint bottle from someone, climbed up to a box with the help of strangers, and reached the bat’s giant handle and spray painted our initials (“Oli” for me) in large letters as onlookers watched. Thus, as you pass by the road now and look at the bat’s handle, there it is, our initials permanently written in red.
It was refreshing to see places such as these where Bangladeshis can come together in one place and enjoy this moment before the World Cup. While I will be in Nepal for the beginning of the tournament, at least I was able to experience some of the hype and excitement. Sporting tournaments such as the various world cups have a way of uniting countries and instituting a new kind of nationalism. They are the one event where people from a nation can unite despite differences social classes, age, or sex. Recognizing with the nation is the minimum and the most important requirement. Most interestingly, you do not even have to be a fan of the sport itself. Identifying with a set region (its language, or history, the culture, and the likes) in this case becomes more important in this relationship- the sport, in this case cricket itself is just the catalyst.