Fans cheer Team India all the way from Mumbai to Chandigarh
Once again it was an eventful journey from Mumbai to Chandigarh with Team India on a Jet Airways flight. Scenes that followed right from the airport were indeed special.
Passengers waiting in the lobby of Mumbai airport for other flights rushed and clapped for each player as he passed through security check. "Please come back to Mumbai beating Pakistan," shouted many of them.
The players waited for the flight at the Clipper Lounge bar and only those with lounge card membership were permitted. Our flight number was 0319, and that made a passenger comment: "Since the players are travelling on a flight whose number ends in 9, it will bring luck to the team."
On the flight, the crew had blocked the first 20 seats preventing passengers from getting close to the players. The captain of the flight announced, "God bless the men in blue. Hope you become the World champions." It was followed by almost all passengers getting up from their seats and clapping for the team.
The Chandigarh airport is undergoing renovation and it was really chaotic with nearly all flights full carrying fans for the match.
Incidentally, this airport is one of the smallest in India and they are scrambling for space to find parking slots for some of the rich businessmen and celebrities like Mukesh Ambani and Vijay Mallya who are expected to arrive by private jet.
All hotels in Mohali and Chandigarh are fully booked. Despite room rates having shot up from Rs2,000 (Dh164.6) to Rs10,000, they are all still fully booked.
Rooms are now available only at Parwanoo in Himachal, which is about 40 kilometres from the stadium.
Incidentally, all flights from Chandigarh after the match are also fully booked. When I asked one of the airlines, they quoted rates ten times the normal price to New Delhi.
"No one will be able to fly in and out in the next few days without paying at least six times the normal fare," said Alok Singh, who runs a travel agency. About 5,000 Pakistanis are said to have been issued visas and they will come by special buses through the Wagah-Chandigarh border.
From my hotel room I can see the Hotel Taj where both teams are staying. Over 1,000 fans and an equal number of police can be seen around the hotel.
"Never will a city experience such cricket madness like it will in the coming days. On Wednesday, the whole of India will come to a standstill and I have declared a holiday for my staff," said Alok.