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Barmy battles of the Bharat Army

September 6, 2007

Text and pics: Jitesh Chanchani

As dreary as they are, business trips can sometimes be fortuitous. On a recent trip to the UK I had the good fortune to watch the fifth match of the ongoing India-England ODI series.

Watching India win was thrilling, but what made the day truly memorable was experiencing the raucous exuberance of the Bharat Army - that ubiquitous band of supporters who have cheered the Indian team all over the world since 1999.

Having observed them on TV, I had often wondered what it would be like to actually watch a match with them. Rakesh 'Raks' Patel, a founding member of the fan club, responded to my email and assured me of a match ticket and a spot on the coach that was transporting the BA gang from London to Leeds.

Raks, as I would discover, is one of the most genial and hospitable guys you will ever meet, and part of the nucleus around which the entire group revolves (the club is now 60,000 strong and two-thirds of its members reside outside the UK).

On the bus ride to Leeds, I was presented an official Bharat Army shirt to wear at the game.

  • India in the United Kingdom 2007

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