Think you partied like it’s 1999 at New Year’s? Bet it was nothing like the party in 2011, when India beat Sri Lanka in Mumbai to win the World Cup of Cricket for the first time in 28 years.
We were in Delhi, and we waded into a river of humanity flowing to India Gate – a monument in the middle of town that is the traditional magnet for celebration and sorrow. People piled into cars the way no one had ever piled into cars before. It doesn’t matter! It doesn’t hurt! The roof is a great viewpoint! We are the champions of the world! Everybody’s going to be there! Or since everyone was going to be there and cars full of people were jammed as far as the eye can see, many just parked their cars on the side of the freeway and turned up the radio and danced one of the many, many variations of the Indian-screwing-in-a-lightbulb wedding-type trance-dance.
Those who made it through to India Gate (thousands! tens of thousands!) put on their own victory parade, honking joyously all night; shouting, at the top of their lungs, “India-a-a-ah, India!” loudly, rhythmically and repeatedly, grinning from ear to ear, closed fists raised or index and pinky extended.
The street was a sea of blue Team India t-shirts, giant flags were everywhere, and ambitious fans had built a larger-than-life model of the World Cup out of… tin foil? which they displayed to roars of approval. The roofs and hoods of cars were sacrificed as fans bounced a hero’s tattoo. Ice cream vendors did a brisk business, devil horn headbands and flickering light sticks were everywhere – not that they had anything specific to do with the team, or the win, they just happen to be what the touts found to sell, and they looked…festive. The crowd stayed ‘til dawn, and when we left the country the next evening, news announcers were still crowing about the victory on every single TV channel. It was as though nothing else had happened on the planet. Time stood still; India ruled the world. And try as we might, we haven’t partied like it’s 2011 since.
story © Dianna Carr images © Francis Tremblay