Mr. Tendulkar’s Neighbourhood

Living next door to Sachin

By DILIP D'SOUZA | 1 November 2011

THE BEST-KNOWN CRICKETER on the planet is now my neighbour. I mean, even with my aging arm muscles I’m sure I could fling a stone from my balcony and shatter the pristine plate glass of Sachin Tendulkar’s windows, not that I’m about to attempt that feat. After three years building his mansion, he moved in one balmy September morn. That day, on the otherwise nondescript lane in our Mumbai suburb, there was a steady influx of TV cameras, pert correspondents wearing inordinately tight clothes, crowds of excited young men, schoolgirls carrying bouquets and wiping sweat off their brows, women carrying what looked like trophies of a kind, a group with a welcome banner that climbed a tree and incurred the neighbours’ wrath—all right, my wrath—when they casually snapped a few three-foot-long branches and threw them to the ground.

“We are doing good work here today,” one argued when I went over to remonstrate, “and you’re trying to stop us? These were just twigs! They blocked part of our banner! Besides, do you know how many poor people our organisation helps? Bet you don’t help any!”


And when Tendulkar appeared at his entrance in the early afternoon, the boom mikes snapped forward like a crowd of alert cobras, cameras pressed in, men shouted and up on my fourth-floor balcony, overlooking the scene but with no stone at the ready (I promise), I heard despairing feminine wails from somewhere inside the crush. The bouquet girls and trophy ladies were not even visible any more. Later reports, no surprise, suggested there had been some minor injuries.

That morning, I asked one TV crew: are you really going to spend all day here? Why would you do that?

“All right for you to talk,” said a slender man in an electric blue shirt, his lips twisted in envy. “You’re going to be invited to his housewarming party!”

Blindsided by this, I spluttered: Me? I don’t know him at all! Why would Tendulkar invite me?

“Go on!” he scoffed. “He wrote all of you personal letters before he started building this place!”

This is true. In late 2008, Tendulkar bought the plot opposite us, with its crumbling prewar bungalow (TV crews came then too). When gangs of men with long hammers arrived to tear down the bungalow, each of us who live on the street found a letter from him in our mailbox: “My dear neighbours,” it began. Tendulkar went on to say that he knew the construction would be noisy, but he was going to “make sure that the work is done in a manner causing least inconvenience to all”. He went on to say, too, that he looked forward to moving in.

Nice letter. But because I got one of those, I’m going to his party?

Letter or not, and no fault of Tendulkar’s I’m sure, in these three years the construction has been a nuisance often enough. Three times we called the cops past 10:30 at night to stop deafening sounds erupting out of there. Innumerable times we argued with the security guards or the foremen about the noise. Eventually we even got to be sort-of friends that way, even on first name terms with them—Milind, Iqbal, Simon and more, all pals with our kids. Simon lent us `20 once to pay a rickshaw fare. And one evening, we invited Iqbal up for a drink, to give him a sense of what it was like for us. Pleasant hour, pleasant man, though we had to shout to chat. Haven’t seen him since.

Then there was the time a monster truck with a load of something tried to back into the site. Its battery died, so it blocked the entire width of the street. Traffic making U-turns to retreat and find other routes, frayed tempers, you name it. Nearly two hours later, I went down to see what the matter was. The driver, sitting on the side of the road, asked me: “Do you know any mechanics around here?” He hadn’t thought to inquire. Look, I said, we can’t let this continue. Can’t we get a whole lot of people together and push the truck out of the way? He shook his head and smiled condescendingly at the depths of my ignorance. “Marble,” he said. “35 tons.”

But he hadn’t thought, either, of his partner truck, parked at the entrance to the lane, waiting for this one to unload. It had a similar load, but more to the point, it had a similar battery. When I pointed, he put a hand to his mouth, ran there, brought its battery over and got his truck moving.

As I said, all this was no real fault of Tendulkar’s. He has played so much cricket these past few years, breaking so many records, that I wonder how he kept track of this construction on the side. But we, with it happening in front of us, we kept track. Oh yes.

One morning some months ago, a gleaming Audi SUV was parked outside. The man himself must be here, we thought, so here was our chance to tell him our woes ourselves. We asked a thickset bodyguard—new guy, nobody we had gotten to know—can we meet him? Some hemming and hawing, some stifled grins, then: “You see, sir is in a meeting and it will take two or three hours.”

We’ll wait, we said. My wife brought down some exam papers to correct. I brought down a chair and my laptop. We sat on the street for the next few hours, working, waiting. I actually finished an essay I had a tight deadline for, I remember. Eventually, Tendulkar and his wife appeared. They were immensely gracious, listening patiently and then he said: “I would be upset too, if I were you.” Right there, he instructed the foreman about late night work. It never happened again.

But although we met him that one time, now that he is installed in his mansion we see nothing of him. (No, I wasn’t at the party, if it has happened, that is). What we do see are pilgrims, and I use that word deliberately. Most times I walk out of my home, a taxi screeches to a halt outside and disgorges half-a-dozen star-struck fans. Like so many eclipse lovers gazing at the sun through darkened glass, they stare up at the Home of the Man, pointing here and there, cellphones held just so to capture grainy likenesses they can call their own. Often it’s a young couple, cooing and giggling. Is a cricketer’s house the newest trend in places to go on a date?

“Sachin is God”, reads the T-shirt that many fans surprisingly wear. One, muscles rippling beneath the words, actually had two women with him as he craned his neck to see what he could see. Fifteen minutes he was there—I know because I waited too, for my daughter’s school bus—as one woman spoke on her phone and the other filed her nails. Just a building, I couldn’t help saying as I walked past, just a man. The nail-filer flashed a smile no less condescending than a truck driver’s had been, months earlier. “Yes, but this is Sachin’s biggest fan!” She raised her voice enough that Tendulkar’s security guard—another new man—turned to look: “The BIGGEST!” Yes, but what was this biggest fan doing? He stood immobile, immovable, uncannily like a giant praying mantis clothed in white and suffering a neck problem.

It got me wondering: How will a god—this god—live any kind of normal life? Nonentity that I gladly am, I can stroll to the corner store without a thought, when we need bread. To the nearby mochi when there’s a sandal to be fixed. To the florist when it’s somebody’s birthday. Being rich and famous must have its pluses, but how sad that my new neighbour can never hope to indulge in the small pleasures his neighbourhood—our neighbourhood—offers.

Back to the morning he moved in. A petite reporter with a stylish hair arrangement stands at the mouth of our lane. “Unfortunately this is part of our job,” she says, looking less than pleased about waiting indefinitely for Tendulkar to appear. “But we have to be here. He might, you know, say something.”

Of such anticipation, a hundred news reports and YouTube videos are born. So welcome to the neighbourhood, Sachin Tendulkar. Whether or not you say something.



Dilip d'Souza is a Mumbai-based journalist who has won several awards for his writing, including the Outlook/Picador prize. His most recent book is Roadrunner: An Indian Quest in America.


61 thoughts on “Mr. Tendulkar’s Neighbourhood”

I like what I see of Dilip as of now. I understand he is dcaiedted and watches many Ranji matches scouting for new talent. I liked this statement, with clear accountability. Surely. Munaf was declared fit for the second Test at Durban, but since V.R.V. Singh had bowled well in the first Test we did not bring Munaf into the playing XI. But when he played in the third Test at Cape Town, in reality he was not 100 per cent fit at all. One could make it from his movements.He let the team down by saying he was fit. He bowled only one over in the second innings.

so u had a face to face darshan of god!! 😉 the real estate prices of that area now must be hitting the sky..lucky u from that point of view.

Dilip, you should be happy that your address is simplified now. Dilip D’Souza, Stone’s Throw from Teldulkar’s House, Mumbai. I live almost at the same distance from New South Wales Governor but still have to write full address like the Governor herself who lives in her own house down the street with no security.

That was a very interesting read. A well written, unbiased article with its funny moments. Do ignore the Sachin fans who will spam your comment section saying you have been blessed to be able to listen to even construction noises (for three long years! Gasp!) if they come from Sachin’s house :)

I dont understand why the people are bashing the author.. Nowhere he has criticised Sachin.. On the contrary this article has undertones of sympathy for the master batsmen who because of his fame and popularity must be missing out on simple things of life.

Wonderfully evocative article Dilip. The anecdotal descriptions made us also into bemused participants as the construction ground on over three years. I wonder how it will be after 3 more years? Will you guys get used to the fact that this street’s character has changed for ever? or will it, like Chinese torture, wear out your nerves? Will we see an article, "Why Tendulkar moved in and I moved out" If I may hazard a guess, I think you will get used to it (in a sense you already have). If Tendlya had been half-way through his career, the issue may have been in doubt but now as it sunsets, slowly the pilgrims will stop coming and one day, who knows, you may see him buying bread.

Oi…Tendulkar is not god. Krishna is god. So stop this writing of him god. I think Tendulkar is overrated, he was big flop in england and now he is old and fat. I dont understand why our people love him so much. Plus I think IRS must look at Tendulkars tax report he no pay tax.

For once, i can say i don’t understand what it feels like to be in your place. But first of all, lucky you! I am one of those million star-struck fans of Sachin. A brilliant piece of write-up..! Hats off…

But, if i was in your place, and let me tell you, not just me but a million like me, if we were in your place and Sachin’s construction site noise affected our sleeps for even 600 nights in a row, we wouldn’t have mind even a single moment of it. Rather, we would pray for the construction to even go on in the night and get completed fast, so that we can be sleep, for the next whatever life is left for us, knowing that we are sleeping with SACHIN being around in 100-metre vicinity! God….I can’t believe you complained to him… I was cringing even at the thought of complaining something to Sachin.

Be happy man! You are blessed. (After saying all this, just want to tell you that you write in a beautiful manner! Thank you for the piece!)

Nice article, Dilip. I think the building is a a bit of an eyesore. The old Bungalow if renovated would have gelled in better and looked classier. Cheers, Sankara

Sachin is god. I read this article because of SACHIN, not for the ordinary person like Dilip D’Souza. "Also, I’m unable to understand why it appears to offend you that someone says he doesn’t like Tendulkar" – simple, we doesn’t like sachin dislikers. To Dilip D’Souza, I’m unable to understand why it appears to offend you that someone says he doesn’t like or questions Tendulkar haters.

Nice article – very unbiased. Dont understand why people need to come on here and necessarily slate / defend Tendulkar! He is undoubtedly a great cricketer, and while there has definitely been inconvenience to people (as would be expected in any construction of this magnitude) he also did try to reduce some of the more painful activities which does reflect well on him as a person And something which Tendulkar has himself said multiple times is how he would really want to be able to live ‘normally’, and not wear disguises to cinema halls etc.. PS – The monster truck driver situation was hilarious! :)

Thanks to sachin another person has become famous………i am sure if this article spreads on the net….you might actually have few journos coming to your house for your interview… Secondly, he was humble enough to listen to complaints and the issue was stopped…..and as for people who flock outside his house ofr interviews/photos etc learn to deal with it as you yourself said "The Best known cricketer" And ramachandra is right on most counts, if you yourself were building a house like this you would know such disturbances happen everywhere……and yes most people don’t entertain complaints of their neighbours… Finally, i would say the reason why many people are reading any article of yours for the first time is because its about "Sachin"

Haha.. nice one Dilip. I could sense the BHEED during the house warming ceremony. I can even sense your position during the house construction !! But some corner of your mind there was this "house of Tendulkar’s" should be there while doing so. At the end you also sort complained against common man pausing at Tendulkar’s residance and taking pictures or whatever !! Do you think they will do the same thing opposite to any politisians house ? NO.. i am pretty sure about that.. !! tendulkar’s is such a loved person so it is obvious !! We all are such a blessed people that we could see Tendulkar batting, richards batting, Gavaskar batting !! so no offenses with those people !! I wish a happy and quite life for you dilip because i am sure these SUV’s will be frequent vistiors there…

HI Vinod Advani For every one like you, there are perhaps several "scycophantic" chaps me who adore Tendulkar. Ordinary human being? Sure But once in a lifetime cricketer? Damn right… Cheers

You are so lucky that The Lord himself blessed your neighbourhood with His Divine Presence. You have attained Moksha Dilip. Lucky you.

Interesting article. Plus is that Tendulkar remains a ‘guest appearance’ for the most part and you can replace him with your favourite big celebrity. More about living next to a celebrity’s house construction and life after the celeb moves in, along with the curiosity and the fan-nuisance factor. :)

A very good write-up and a different perspective of the way to look at the neighbours of celebrity. Looks like Sachin got in to a good neighbourhood, free of maniacal fans.
Also, understand the life of the great man. Can’t even go out of home peacefully in daylight, as if in a house arrest!!! Really a painful life.

Ramachandra, for what it’s worth, in the last few years three different plots around my building had buildings erected on them. I protested the noise and disturbance that those caused too, a couple of times calling the cops as well. What do you seek, equal opportunity complaining? Also, I’m unable to understand why it appears to offend you that someone says he doesn’t like Tendulkar. Why, is there some law that forbids this particular emotion? I suspect if you asked him, Tendulkar himself would say "please treat me like an ordinary person". I wish more of us had the sense and grace to do that.

I can sense this feeling. Its natural when a famous person comes to your neighbourhood. While all and sundry are rushing in to catch a glimpse you being a neighbour sit back with a false sense of pride saying ‘who the hell is he?’ Wondering why do these ‘idiots’ run after him you are finding problems in every single thing that he/someone related to him does. I am sure you guys complained just for the fact that it was Tendulkars house that was being constructed. I am not sure you did it intently, but the point that it was Sachin must surely have helped it. Now imagine if some ‘normal’ person was constructing a house and you go and complain to him about noise. I am sure that ‘normal’ person would have abused you saying " I am constructing my house and there will be noise while constructing one! You guys buy a flat or a house and know nothing of construction and you complain. Go to hell! " This would have been the reply. Yes its OK being normal and not going over the top. But that man is an icon a national icon. You can imagine what that is, i am sure. And Mr Advani, why exactly do you dont like Tendulkar? Because he is famous? Because he is a famous cricketer? Because he is a famous cricketer who is better than your favorite famous person/cricketer? A citizen is not respected on the basis of whether a certain Mr Advani likes him or not. Ordinary human being who has broken some records?! C’mon, dont be childish and grow up! An ‘ordinary’ person doesnt break records for fun. It takes ability and hardwork, whatever the feild may be. Otherwise Einstein is just an ‘ordinary’ huiman who said everything is relative! Anybody[Ordinary eprson] could have said that, but didnt.

Brilliant piece of writing Dilip! Love the content and the very stylish style of imagery. I actually dont like the tendulkar , so thank heavens for one less sycophantic piece about an ordinary human being who has broken some records. So? Keep up the great work, Cheers , Vinod

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *