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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What is the link between India fast bowler Praveen Kumar and Indians' love of gold?

What a shining example of a good intro!

Writing in the Outlook issue of November 7, Arti Sharma begins her story on Indians' current craze for gold with this little incident that occurred during a one-day cricket match between India and England:

It happened once upon a time in Mumbai, last Sunday (October 23). Having strangled England with his banana swingers all season, Praveen Kumar rolled in to bowl yet another over in the revenge series, at the Wankhede. A boundary was followed by a wide down the leg side. Next ball, horror — another wide, this time even wider than the previous one. Skipper Dhoni lay behind the stumps, mystified at the Miser from Meerut uncharacteristically squandering away sundries.

After pondering for a while at the wicket, hands on knees, Kumar proceeded to return to his bowling mark. And, as he passed the non-striker’s end, the bowler suddenly seemed to realise the cause of his temporary strife. Nonchalantly, he put his hand inside his shirt, pulled out a gold chain thick enough to strangulate a 400-pound bear, handed it to the umpire at the bowler’s end, and returned to discover his line and length.

So what? Maybe your bowling hero is Shantakumaran Sreesanth. But that action, in the full glare of cameras, captured India’s magnificent obsession with the yellow metal that now cheerfully afflicts everybody: from city-slickers to the small-towners; from women to men to medium-pacers. And, unlike in the past, when gold was what you stashed away secretly in safe deposit lockers, away from evil eyes, now you flaunt it, if you can afford it.

PRAVEEN KUMAR
It would have been so easy — and so boring — to begin a story on gold consumption in India with the story of a young couple buying jewellery or the tale of a housewife stocking up on the yellow metal for the sake of her children.

But, like a good journalist, Arti Sharma looked for the unusual and found it in a game of cricket. Isn't that something?