Two American men took their newly wed brides to a baseball game for the first time. The brides belonged to two different countries, one came from India and the other from Peru. The game was a hotly contested one between two rivals. Both the American men were fans of a team from Boston. The women went to experience the all-American game of baseball, and perhaps to get an inkling of why this game appeals to so many in their newly adopted country. They failed to understand though. But not due to the lack of efforts of their very attentive spouses. The husbands bought yummy ball-park food, put their arms around their respective wives and whispered sweet nothings in their ears when they were not screaming at their team’s success, explained the rules and the reasons whenever they got the chance, yet the women found it hard to keep their focus on the game. They looked everywhere, sighed, stretched, looked at their watches and asked how long the game will last. The Indian one, a big fan of cricket, found this game terribly slow, which surprised her husband. Once the game was over and the ball-park spewed out thousands and thousands of excited fans onto the streets of the city, the Peruvian woman said to her husband in her endearing accent:
‘You like this game? But this is SO BORING!’
She spoke loudly enough to attract some looks. Her husband grinned, looked around and said, ‘Shhhhh…..!’
The Indian woman promised never to see another baseball game ever again. What a waste of time, she said. She could have read books in that time, she scoffed at her husband. And then her sly husband did something to make sure that she would start taking interest in the game. After 6 weeks of giving birth to their first child, when she was desperate to lose the baby weight, her husband urged her to join a women’s softball team. As I said, she was desperate to get rid of the extra pounds so she agreed. Being somewhat athletic, she caught on quickly and played in a local team. She had fun. But still she did not watch baseball. Once was enough.
Then she gave birth to a boy who lived, dreamed, breathed baseball. She made an effort then, to learn the game. She started watching it with the husband and the son. She learnt what tagging meant, she caught on to infield fly rule, she learnt about curve balls, sliders, knuckle ball, stealing home, double play, grand slam.
Now she loves it! She is almost as big a fan of the local team as her son. Almost, not quite. She discusses baseball with friends, neighbors, coworkers. She wears the jersey of her favorite player when she goes to watch a game and wonders how did she ever think the game was boring. Each wind up of her team’s pitcher is full of anticipation, each strike by the favored pitcher promising, each ball disappointing.
She went to a ball game recently with the husband and the son (the daughter refused to sit through it). And she thought back to her first baseball game at the ball park as a young bride, as she jumped up and high-fived the man next to her as a player hit a home run. She screamed with thirty thousand other spectators CHARGE, she clapped with them, she danced with her arms high and did the Mexican wave.
As she entered the ball park with thousands of other people wearing the same colored jersey as her, she felt a certain sense of belonging to the city which brought a smile to her face. She took off her sunhat and touched her chest as the national anthem was sung, and sang along. She noticed a dad with two little girls watching the game with their grandfather. The littlest one, maybe 3 years old, took care of the granddaddy by offering him drinks and putting her little head on his shoulder. She saw on the big screen, little babies whose parents held them in one hand and held a poster in the other, saying ‘Baby’s first ball game’. She noticed a son and probably daughter in law holding the hands of a very elderly lady as she navigated the steps to reach her seat with a wide smile on her face. She noticed the play of clouds up above and urged the husband to take a picture with his phone. She got teased for that, but the husband took the picture, anyway.
She smiled as she thought of her first game in the same ballpark all those years ago. She has adapted, adopted and grown indeed. She has come a long way.