Bagful of memories & Mysore Pak [Times of India]

Bagful of memories & Mysore Pak [Times of India]

Bangalore: Borders melted, and so did the Mysore Pak. For the touring Pakistani football team, Bangalore was a city which welcomed them with open arms, love and good food. A few jeers, maybe, but those were soon forgotten.

As they boarded the return flight on Thursday evening, they took home a bagful of memories and laddoos too. For many players, it was their first trip to India.

“It was an amazing experience, we got the full support of the crowd. Wherever we went, we were welcomed and taken care of. We’re hoping to visit India more frequently,” Pakistan team manager Asgar Khan Anjum told TOI. “There is hardly any difference between the people of Pakistan and India. Our food habits and attire are pretty much the same.”

Anjum, who played for Pakistan in the early 90s, said warm exchanges between people of the two nations should serve as an eye-opener for politicians. He hoped for more interactions, especially the revival of the Quadrangular tourney.

Star player Mohammed Adil, who plays for Kyrgyzstan club Dordoi Bishkek, has a closer connection – his home town Bahawalpur is just 40km from the Indo-Pak (Rajasthan) border. “With Allah’s grace, I hope to play (for a club) in India,” said Adil, whose cousins live in Gurgaon.

Flamboyant defender Ehsanullah, from Quetta, had heard a lot about Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). “When I learnt about this trip, I was reminded of RCB. I also wanted to visit Lalbagh and Mysore,” he said.

The squad did visit Lalbagh, and Anjum said if it hadn’t been for visa restrictions, he would have brought his family along. “Lalbagh reminded us of our pride — the beautiful Shalimar Bagh. We also gorged on Mysore Pak and laddoos, thanks to our local manager SS Sahi. We’re even carrying some sweets home,” said Anjum, who bears a striking resemblance to Pakistan cricket legend Javed Miandad. “I was once mistaken for Miandad at a market in Dhaka,” he recalled.

It was clear the bitter football rivalry ended with the final whistle: Muhammed Ahmed, Pakistan’s pillar of strength when it comes to defence, didn’t blame the Indian players even after suffering a bad bruise on his face, following an elbow charge. “I still remember a big portion of the crowd supporting the Indian cricket team during their tour of Pakistan in 2004. At Rawalpindi, there were many spectators cheering for India,” said Ahmed, who also plays club cricket. Like most Pakistanis, Ahmed doesn’t miss Salman and Aamir Khan starrers, picking Sirf Tum as his favourite.

Midfielder Saddam Hussein, who scored Pakistan’s second goal on Wednesday, said cricketer Virat Kohli is his favourite. “We have Ahmed Shehzad who plays just like Kohli,” he said. Hussein recollected meeting tennis star Sania Mirza, married to Pakistan cricketer Shoaib Malik, during the last Asian Games in Guangzhou.


This trip sends out a loud and clear message to our parliamentarians. Sport has no borders or language. Sport conveys the message of peace

We weren’t one bit homesick in Bangalore. We’ve toured many other countries but wanted to get back home as soon as possible. Here, we didn’t feel like that. It felt like our own place