In the old days, when you wanted to bunk the office to go and watch cricket, it was difficult to get a day off but the arguments put up by the office for not giving it were different. Like there was too much work and schedules had to be met and anyway there was too much absenteeism.
Now also the office does not give a day off to watch cricket, but its arguments are totally different.
For instance, when I told the chief yesterday morning that I was taking a day off to watch the first day's play at the stadium, the chief said: "Why do you want to get bored? Everybody know that this Test is going to end in a slow draw, therefore only 5,000 people are at the stadium."
"You never can tell," I said. "You know, the glorious uncertainties of cricket and all that."
"But this is not one-day cricket, this is a five day Test, what glorious uncertainties can there be in that," the chief said. "I am sorry but I cannot allow you a day off so that you may bore yourself."
"But I was planning to take the children to cricket, they would be so disappointed if I cannot get a day off and take them," I said. "After all, this may be their last chance to see Gavaskar in a Test match."
"They will be much less disappointed if they don't see the cricket," the chief said. "We all know what is going to happen, Border will win the toss as usual and elect to bat. And then the Australians will plod on to a safe score. No, I am sorry, but you are not going to get any off today to watch the Australians plodding and the Indians toiling."
"We can never be sure," I said. "Kapil Dev may take four wickets in three overs and put the Australian innings in tatters. The office has to consider that and give me a day off. I will take casual leae."
"You cannot get casual leave to see Australia score 217 for two wickets at the end of a day in which 87 overs have a better excuse than that for a casual leave."
"What is the point in keeping me in the office when my mind will be among 75,000 at the Wankhede Stadium thinking of Geoff Marsh and David Boon putting the Indian bowling to the sword," I said.
"First of all there will not be 75,000 spectators at the stadium. There are not 75,000 people in cricket-conscious Bombay who will waste their casual leave to see a Test like this. And Marsh and Boon are not going to put any bowling side to the sword. At the end of the day, Marsh will be still batting side to the sword. At the end of the day, Marsh will be still batting with a painstaking 89," the chief said.
"That's tough," I said. "All the same I would like to go. If you will not give me casual leave, I will take sick leave."
"Very well, then, take sick leave, and get sick watching the match," the chief said.
Which, I think, is exactly what has happened.