India’s tech city logs out for Mumbai final (Lead)

April 2nd, 2011 - 11:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Bangalore, April 2 (IANS) As the World Cup cricket final between India and Sri Lanka cruised for an exciting finish in Mumbai late Saturday, India’s tech city logged out within a hour after the do-or-die match got underway as frenzied fans, both men and women scrambled to homes, pubs and clubs to watch the action live.

In contrast to a bustling weekend when denizens are on the move for an evening out or on a shopping spree with families in tow, compounding the ubiquitous traffic snarls and grid locks on the thoroughfares in downtown, an eerie atmosphere spread across the city, with rain-bearing clouds hovering over and cool breeze wafting through.

“After a long time, I am seeing near empty roads and very few people in the central business district, especially on the first weekend with the Kannada new year festival (Ugadi) around (Monday). Vehicular traffic is about 20 percent of a normal Saturday and less than it was Wednesday during the India-Pakistan match at Mohali,” Assistant Commissioner of Police A. Raghuveer told IANS.

In a desperate bid to catch up with the game from the first over, thousands of commuters were seen crowding the roads in two-wheelers, cars, autos and public transport (state-run buses) to head homes, bars, restaurants and the nearest neighbourhood to avoid getting caught in traffic jams and missing the fun.

When word went around by word of mouth, through SMS and mobile radios that Lanka won the toss and elected to bat, there was a bit of relief for many who couldn’t reach their destination in time and were relaxed as they had enough time to watch the “men in blue” (India) bat in the second half.

“We are waiting for India innings to start. We want to see (Virender) Sehwag and (Sachin) Tendulkar fire. We came out of the restaurant to relax as the Lankans are batting a bit slow and nothing exciting is happen on the ground there,” N. Gautham, a techie with a software firm, said at a corner off M.G. Road.

Though shops and malls were open with salesmen and owners waiting for an odd customer to walk in, several pubs and restaurants on Brigade Road and Church Street in the heart of the city were packed with die-hard fans savouring every moment while sipping beer or vodka and munching snacks.

“For a change, the Indian bowling and fielding has been very good. They have been able to contain the Lankan batsmen. Hope Lanka will be restricted below 300 runs so India can chase to win the World Cup,” said Deepak Kumar, a sophomore, who was at Java City pub with other six college friends.

Even as curious fans in dozens huddled at electronic shops and other showrooms to watch the proceedings in hush, a bookshop owner in a shopping plaza on M.G. Road lured as many customers inside by showing the game on a laptop by logging into, which was streaming the final live.

“I walked in to check out some books I have been looking for and was able to know the latest score and get updates from the owner who was more glued to the laptop than to his customers,” said Ayub Khan, a marketing executive and a fan of Indian speedster Zaheer Khan.

With the booming IT industry having an extended weekend, as Monday is a public holiday for Ugadi fest, many back-office companies providing business process outsourcing (BPO) services and call centres decided to maintain essential operations and allowed majority of their employees to report for shift after midnight.

“Business is down to a trickle. The regular crowd is missing. We are hoping for a good number of customers to walk in for late dinner, as we are also showing the match live in our bar and restaurant,” Empire Hotel manager Hameed said.

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