Sid or the proverbial Siddhartha is not guzzling Sam Adams, Boston's most-famous local beer. He still likes his Kingfisher, with red and blue feathers, and bottled in Bangalore. And more so, when he is immersed in Hit Wicket. Not the one he bowled during his kindergarten days in Chennai, but his favourite destination to watch the Cricket World Cup 2015 in Boston. For me, Hit Wicket was about more than its delectable fare: it epitomised the push and pull of identity between Boston and the game.
Boston is different from other small University towns in hinterland USA, where cricket can be the only melting pot for brown folks. Here, they can choose between samosa and vada for dinner, as they move dexterously between lab and library. Neither does it have the luxury of a techie enclave as does the West Coast, where the salaried class can play the game in pure whites, at the expense of their corporate bosses. Nor the luminosity of a 26 Lexington Avenue where Indian and Pakistani taxi drivers have been post-cards of the game for too long.
So, Hit Wicket, the only cricket pub in the city, has to hold dual souls -- of the game and Boston -- to thrive. In short: a cocktail of past and future, local and foreign.
The restaurant-pub combination breaks the modern fiefdom of immigrant sports which starts and ends with soccer and Irish pubs in the USA. But, Hit Wicket remains true to its Boston passport and cricket. Paired with Aussie beers and Trinidad roti wraps, this was not going to be an Asian diaspora sport anymore. The multi-cultural character of the cricketing world and the city itself was there to taste.
From wall decals to cricket equipment, the space almost suffocates one with cricketing motifs and memorabilia. Yet, it falls short on both evolution and history, whether for the game or the city. By its absences, the wall art reveals the picture of a malnourished game in a high-potential sports-crazy city.
"The ambience at Hit Wicket on the rest days of Cricket World Cup 2015 was hard to digest. The TV sets played bottom-of the-rung University basketball games, with locals chomping away their favourite curries, not in the least curious about the creative use of cricket jargon on the menu."
Glen Maxwell's Bhangra-shot has not made it to the walls. And, Twenty20 screenings are yet not a regular fixture. Isn't that disservice to a city which is considered to have the 4th highest potential in the world for innovation economy?
If one excuses this as entrepreneurial short-sightedness, then one would at least want refuge in history; for the colonial chapter of the country was born a few miles away. Along with everything British from those times, it is also recorded that in 1836, an English gardener named William Carvill, introduced the game to this side of the world. Wouldn't an old English gardener in whites and framed in black and white attract some nerdy eye-balls? Maybe then, the invitation would also have a context for the locals, who are for eternity rooted in history, even if not by choice.
The ambience at Hit Wicket on the rest days of Cricket World Cup 2015 was hard to digest. The TV sets played bottom-of the-rung University basketball games, with locals chomping away their favourite curries, not in the least curious about the creative use of cricket jargon on the menu. Was I hoping against hope that they would walk around the miniature museum of cricket? Or, at the very least get the chance to explain what the name of the place means to the game and how it that epitomises the tragedy of life itself? Meanwhile, there are Sids aplenty on match days. They roam around the place as if it were a neighbourhood cricket park, with the micro-pitch next to the restroom their favourite strip.
And there lies the story of Boston, cricket and Hit Wicket: a malnourished game in colourful garb; to be savoured only by the committed and not opened to embrace.