Last weekend i flew in to Bangalore to catch up with a couple of school buddies. And what better way for us Indians to bond than over a cricket match? And if it is cricket, then it doesn't get bigger than the Indian Premier League (IPL)!
The excitement was palpable as we waded through the sea of humanity and joined the serpentine queue at Gate # 2 of the Chinnaswamy Stadium. A sell-out crowd of 40,000 was expected, so we reached the venue an hour and a half before the 4.00 pm game. The security officer at the gate took one condescending look at our e-ticket and asked us to redeem it for "proper" tickets at Gate # 12! What? We weren't informed about this when we booked the tickets online! And for god's sake, this was Bangalore... the IT Capital of India! If you guys don't recognize an e-ticket, who on earth will???
15 minutes of jostling later, we were at Gate # 12. Thankfully, there were only 9 guys in front of us to redeem their e-tickets. Phew, this wasn't as bad as we had expected! But hey, 45 minutes of baking in the sun later, there were still the same 9 guys in front of us!!! On enquiring, we found out that the counter had run out of tickets... so someone had gone to fetch them! I mean, would you not "know" how many people had booked online and stock tickets accordingly?
And while we were waiting, a bomb exploded barely 100 meters from us. As expected, people ran towards the explosion rather than away from it to get a ringside view of the happening. Neither we nor a single person from our queue budged an inch... it would certainly take more than a mere bomb blast to keep us away from a mouth-watering contest between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians! In any case, we were here to have a BLAST, remember???
Our adventure didn't end outside the stadium. When we finally reached our seats, we found them to be already occupied. We were given to understand that the seat numbers on the tickets were invalid and it was a "free seating" arrangement... so much for paying top dollars (okay, rupees!) for "special" seats.
The match was delayed by an hour because of the blasts. Once the game started, the speakers at the stands took over the job of making our IPL experience even more memorable. We couldn't make out a single word of what the MC was saying... it was sheer cacophony! With the match turning out to be a lopsided affair, the only saving grace was the food served... a great spread of mouth watering delicacies!
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is the richest sports body in the world, and the IPL is the second-highest paid league after the NBA. Yet, the fans who have made the IPL the humongous success that it is, are treated with utter disdain. At this point, the IPL is banking on the fact that they have a fantabulous product in their hands and care a damn about their customers' "purchase experience". And they are raking in the moolah by the billions. But can an organization afford to neglect it's customers and last on the sheer strength of it's product? Only time will tell.