The 'Toshino' gang meets evey Sunday noon at Masab Tank, a few members coming all the way from abroad! Cricket and friendship have bound these professionals from all walks of life together for the last 13 years now.
Even as Arjun Singh sets off the euphoric revelry crooning Tere jaisa yaar kaha... kaha aisa yaraana... the rest of the 21 forms chorus. What follows next is a melodious riot, inviting the nosy passersby to peek at the immaculate gathering in the Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad and Sports Coaching Foundation (SCF) sports complex, Masab Tank.
An every-Sunday-show for those visiting the sports complex, it's more than a family affair for the team. For, a few take flights from London and USA to wield bats. Welcome to the Toshino (meaning 'terror' in Japanese) gang where cricket has brought together a galaxy of professionals in the city to be friends - the 'forever' kind.
"It's been 13 years now and we're still counting," wows Satyanarayana Murthy, Manager, Orient Black Swan. It all started in 1997, chips in dermatologist (whose clientele include the Governor too!) Narsimha Rao, "When a chunk of us used to play sports in the nearby school ground only to be taken to task by the colony residents for breaking their window panes and disturbing the tranquility. We then rented out this sports complex where a few more crick lovers joined to launch Toshino."
The gangsters include dermatologists, homeopathic physicians, poets, ghazal singers, IT persons, entrepreneurs, interior decorators and government employees. Aged between 30s and 60s, they take pleasure in their marital bliss and professional commitments. "Would you mind finding a life partner for me," Y Shiva Prasad, spoken English tutor appeals. "He's an eligible bachelor," the blowing wind has a deafening shriek ruffle in my ears.
Just then, the players brawl over a petty thing and the issue settles down sooner. "Ego clashes, win-win situations and tu-tu-mein-mein episodes are all part of the game. But sportsman spirit prevails ultimately. In fact, this helps discover what we've lost in our primes," the Joint Director of Finance Department, A Sudarshan Reddy sports a smile.
Two matches of cricket and volleyball each, a rapid session over beer bottles pursues. "We do celebrate birthdays, promotions and marriage days with families. But, prefer to confine the revelry only to us, since our families love us not being home on Sundays," winks Srinivas Reddy, an advocate.
The 13-year saga of Toshino has inspired the budding players as well, to form teams. "This August 1 being special, we're celebrating our friendship. Hope our children take a cue from us too," they wonder. Yet another Sunday passes by and "the memories keep us rejuvenated for the rest of the week only to look forward to Sunday again," Manoj Kuriakose, a homeopath bids adieu.