Three years ago, two men from India and Bangladesh connected via social media over their love for cricket on the backdrop of political disagreements between the two neighbouring countries.
The bond strengthened over the years with both sharing news and nuggets about cricket from their respective countries, reminding how sports binds people across societies. Their first meeting started taking shape due to cricket when Mohammad Jasimuddin, a businessman from Dhaka, shared with his Indian friend Sujit Kumar Das, a mobile-repairing shop owner in Dum Dum, his desire to watch the first day and night Test match in India at Eden Gardens between the two nations.
As Kolkata prepared to host the historic Test, the two friends on either side of the border went about planning their first meeting.
“Till that point I had interacted with Jasimuddin bhai only on social media. I would send him copies of write-ups on cricket from magazines and newspapers from here and he would send me the same from Bangladesh. We would also chat about food and politics. But I was overjoyed when he expressed his desire to come to Kolkata to watch the Test match at Eden Gardens,” said Das, 45, resident of Barasat.
The plan almost fell through when Jasimuddin failed to find accommodation for 15 people that included his family, cousins and friends, who were travelling with him to Kolkata. But the desire to meet his Indian friend and watch the match was much stronger and he sent an SOS to Das. “I requested Sujit-da to help me and he readily agreed,” said Jasimuddin.
“I went to Marquis Street and booked rooms at a decent hotel. I also planned out an itinerary for them to visit some landmarks of Kolkata,” Das said.
When they finally met, the two friends hugged each other and chatted for hours. “It felt as if we knew each other for ages. The common language and love for fish also played a big role. He gifted me a power bank and I reciprocated the gesture by gifting him a ticket for the Test match,” said Jasimuddin.
Das watched the first day of the Test match at the Eden Gardens along with his Bangladeshi friends on Friday. The passion of fans of both the countries has been on a high on social media, especially after Bangladesh managed to defeat India in some matches particularly the one in 2007 World Cup which engineered India’s ouster from the tournament. But Bangladesh has largely struggled in front of India in all formats.
“Of course, it is natural that I will cheer for my team, but helping others and sharing joy is our culture,” said Das.
Source: Times of India