1984- I was in high school and fairly popular; not because I was the prettiest, but I was the daughter of well-known Chemistry teacher. Everyone who knew me well knew that I had a major crush on… None other than Ravi Shastri, the yesteryear Cricket star. It was a year after India had won the 1983 World Cup, although stalwarts like Kapil Dev and Mohinder Amarnath stole the show, Shastri did manage to hit a few half-centuries. During those days, having a crush was unheard of, so it was a well-guarded secret, but not for long. People always associated me with Ravi whether it was cricket season or off-season, and naturally I wanted to talk about him all the time! I dwelled in joy with those glorious moments and relished everything that people were saying about me.
Ravi Shastri, naturally, was the object of my affection. Why not? He was tall (6' 3"), handsome, and hailed from Karnataka. That was enough for me to have a celebrity crush. Those were the early years of Television in Indian households; I swooned every time when the "Thums-Up" ad aired on TV. I did not care t accept that Sandip Patil was more handsome than Ravi, because Ravi was the cutest ever.
In those days, Bangalore was almost never selected for any Pro Test Matches/One-day games. It was in 1984 when a Test Match was planned to be held at Chinnaswamy Stadium, and I wasted no time coaxing two of my friends accompany me. The tickets were Rs.30/- each, and we bought tickets for a day. I did not pay attention to where we would be seated. I dreamt of being spotted by Ravi while fielding, or Ravi hitting a sixer that I would catch, falling in love with me, and instantly proposing to me! I was madly dreaming to have a real love story with him, a famous cricketer!
On the big day, I wore my best outfit and dabbed more make-up than usual, pulled my hair into a ponytail, donned a visor and sunglasses and voila! I was READY. I went with high hopes and expectations. But nothing like that happened. The unsheltered bleachers where we were seated were quite far. Players looked like ants, and there was no excitement. We returned home in the evening, sun-burned and exhausted. My dreams of dating him, celebrating valentine's day with him shattered....
In 1985, Shastri was the 'Champion of Champions' and won an Audi Car at the Benson-Hedges tournament. I even bragged that I would be the girl sitting in that Audi one day! Verbal devotion aside, I had pictorial shrines (newspaper clippings, posters). Despite coming off as shallow and self-centered, I was determined to show the world that he was mine. My celebrity crush was turning to real love where I wanted a story with Ravi Shastri. His name was linked to Amrita Singh (he even affectionately called her 'Dingy'). TV screens were plastered with a cheering Amrita on the stands, but I didn't care. My infatuation or love was strong and I always thought he would be mine and only mine! Anyone who has a crush during adolescence is strongly devoted to them and refuses to believe anything that is said negative about them.
Obviously, crushes don't last forever, and I outgrew my teenage crush towards him. Time changes everything. Now, I feel childhood crush is human nature which everyone goes through in the teenage! I got over the feeling completely and now, whenever I hear Ravi Shastri's voice as one of the BCCI commentators for IPL, my heart does not flutter. Flashing back to that form of myself makes me smile. There is something wonderful about having a teenage crush at the age of fourteen and the emotions can never be faked. There is naivety in believing that one can have an infatuation or get strong feelings for someone they have never met, and that is enough to give them a chance with a total stranger. Once you are older and realize how silly that idea is, there is no way to return to that innocence.
Happy Valentine's Day!