Rickshaw pullers turn celebrities (World Cup Diary)

By Sirshendu Panth, IANS
Friday, February 18, 2011

DHAKA - Till Thursday evening, Amir Sahin of Madaripur and Netrokonas Anwar Hossain were non-entities. But within the space of a few hours, these two men, normally seen in shabby clothes, have turned into celebrities.

Sahin and Hossain make a living by ferrying people on their cycle rickshaws and were among the 14 chosen to carry the cricket captains into the Bangabandhu National Stadium on their rickety vehicles for the opening ceremony of the World Cup here Thursday.

“Prithibatai zeno badlaiya gese ek sandhay (The world seems to have changed in hours),” said Sahin, who ferried Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on his vehicle.

For cricket fan Hossain, it was a dream-come-true to see Australian captain Ricky Ponting from close range.

“I had only watched him on television. I could not believe my eyes when I was selected for the programme, said Hossain, still awestruck.

For both, it was a fairy tale, and for the rest of their lives they would surely have plenty of anectodes of their fleeting moments of fame at the World Cup inauguration.


On cycle from Muzzaffarpur out of love for Sachin

Sudhir Goutam, a 35-year-old man, keeps following the Indian team across the nation. This time, he decided to venture abroad. And there he was, at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, after having cycled all the way from Muzzaffarpur in Bihar.

A familiar face at cricket grounds with his shaven head and trademark Indian team jersey, Goutam said he had come here out of his love for Sachin Tendulkar. I hear this will be his last World Cup. So I wanted to see him in action.”


Opening ceremony overshadows famed book fair

The 1952 language movement that saw three students attain martyrdom on February 21 is written in golden letters in Bangladeshs history. And February 21 is celebrated every year as Bhasha Divas (Language Day).

The main attraction at this time of the year is the Boi Mela (Book Fair) that is held at the Bangla Akademy. It always draws huge crowds.

This year, however, the fair was almost deserted due to the World Cup. On Thursday, as the World Cup inauguration ceremony was underway at the Bangabandhu Stadium, there was hardly anybody at the fair grounds. Booksellers and publishers seemed to have accepted this sportingly. After all, the World Cup will not be held every year in Bangladesh.

(Sirshendu Panth can be contacted at s.panth@ians.in)

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