Saturday Night Cricket Fever in Fordsburg

I’ve been looking for an excuse to hang out at the sprawling outdoor market in Fordsburg — Joburg’s “Little India” — on a Saturday night. The market, called “the Square,” is where Fordsburg residents go to see and be seen on Saturdays. It’s also a great place to buy clothes, DVDs, spices, jewelry, and tasty Indian and Pakistani street food.

Spices, packets of Indian food, and popcorn for sale at a stall in the Square.

The stars aligned yesterday: Not only was it a Saturday, but the Cricket World Cup Final between India and Sri Lanka was happening in Mumbai. (Side note: Despite high hopes for this year’s team, South Africa lost to New Zealand in the quarter-finals. Chokers.)

Cricket is a religion among Indians, as well as among South Africans of Indian descent. So Joe and I headed to the Square to soak in some South Asian culture and hopefully shoot a few pictures of cricket madness.

A typical sight at the market yesterday — stall owners watching cricket on tiny TVs.

The market was fairly quiet when we arrived late in the afternoon. There was a massive satellite TV set up at the entrance to the market, with just a handful of solemn spectators. India was batting and off to a bit of a slow start. And there is very little alcohol to be had in Fordsburg, which makes for very well-behaved sports fans. I think the hard-core fans were watching at home.

Cricket fans watch the big-screen TV. The man in front of me is holding a Sri Lankan flag. I think he was the only Sri Lanka fan at the market.

We took advantage of the down time to wander through the market stalls.

This guy wanted to sell me some jeans. He also wanted to know if I was married. His female customers weren’t amused.

We found Elliot peeling stalks of sugarcane in a stairwell on the outskirts of the market. Elliot does this job all day, every day. He works for the juice bar across the sidewalk.

I decided to sample the fruits of Elliot’s labor. The juice is pure sugarcane with a squeeze of lemon to cut the sweetness. Still a little sweet for my taste, but fun to try and it only cost R8 — just over $1. Photo courtesy of Joe.

Roasted sweet corn with spices and sea salt. Delicious. R7 for a small cup.

Ismail Joon runs the Al-Ameen Chicken Tikka Centre, an open-air stall on a side street in the market. He moved here from Pakistan three years ago and is trying to save enough money to bring his mother to South Africa. I bought the smallest tikka platter available — a quarter chicken fresh off the coals, huge piece of naan, salad with sour milk dressing, and a pile of fresh chips (fries). It cost R25 (about $3.50).

By 6:30, it was starting to look like India had the match in hand. The crowd around the big TV was swelling. But Joe and I had to go home — Joe had to file some rugby photos from earlier in the day. I got my tikka platter packed up for take-away, a little sadly, and we drove back to Melville.

An hour or so after we got home, I started seeing tweets about massive celebrations in Fordsburg. India had won the Cricket World Cup for the first time in almost 30 years. Joe was finished filing so we jumped into the Landrover and sped back.

The street was jammed and we couldn’t get near the market. We drove around the perimeter with the windows open, enjoying the smell of grilled meat, the sound of Indian music and vuvuzelas, and the sight of a few people dancing in the streets.

I snapped this pic through the window.

We decided to drive home. We turned a corner and out of nowhere, we were engulfed by flashing lights, horns, and people chanting and cheering. A caravan of vehicles was driving the slowly the other way — bakkies (pickup trucks) with dozens of people piled on top, sedans with small children hanging out the windows, and young men draped in Indian flags running in and out among the cars. They even had a police escort.

Joe stopped abruptly, grabbed a camera, and started shooting. I couldn’t get any pictures — the madness was on Joe’s side of the car and he was the one shooting for the news, anyway. I just sat back and took in the craziness.

Congratulations, India.

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16 Comments

  • Reply Fidel April 3, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    We’re like two peas in a pod. I would have done the exact same thing if I wasn’t presently out in the middle of the water. Even though I do not know a lot about cricket nor the rules, just knowing how important the Cricket World Cup is, I would have found a Little India somewhere and watched the finals with fans.

    I tried pure sugarcane drink too. It was way too sweet for my tastes.
    But mmmm, do my tastebuds love tikka!

    • Reply 2summers April 3, 2011 at 12:52 pm

      South Africa has such great Indian culture — it’s one of my favorite things about living here. Durban is even better than Joburg.

      The tikka was delicious and I couldn’t even eat it all. I have leftovers in the fridge.

  • Reply Fidel April 3, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Even though you only got the small plate? That’s another thing I like about Indian cuisine. They often give you more than you expect. How was the naan?

    • Reply 2summers April 3, 2011 at 1:04 pm

      The naan was my favorite part. Soft and chewy at the same time. I’ll definitely be going back there.

  • Reply eremophila April 3, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    I love the little trips you take me on! The best bit is of the real food and drinks – food as it’s intended to be. Wish I could have a taste!

    • Reply 2summers April 3, 2011 at 1:33 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it even though your taste buds couldn’t share the enjoyment!

  • Reply Sheryll April 3, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    The market stalls reminds me of the Philippines. The sugar cane? yum!

  • Reply tanner24 April 3, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    I’m loving my Sunday morning ‘trips’! Keep exploring!

  • Reply Joshi Mukard April 4, 2011 at 5:43 am

    As I have told on this blog before, I’m a great fan of your blog and regularily comes here. This time I’m quite overjoyed to see a post on cricket. We Indians in India celebrated this victory all night long. It’s great to know even Joburg celebrated this win.

    I would also like to let you know that we do not mind if South Africa wins the next edition. Every time SA starts the Finals as the favourite, but somehow manage to get themselves out on the knock-out games. Hope they can beat their jinx next time.

    • Reply 2summers April 4, 2011 at 9:36 am

      Thanks Joshi! Congrats to you and I’m glad you enjoyed the blog. Let’s hope SA can figure things out next time 🙂

  • Reply neha April 4, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Zagreb was not as colourful on Saturday, but we made sure to add a bit of Mumbai to the proceedings. Wonderful photos, the atmosphere must have electric!

    • Reply 2summers April 4, 2011 at 9:37 am

      Thanks and congrats! I saw your Twitter post after the win — you must have been ecstatic.

  • Reply tomorrowslices April 4, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    You really captured the sights and atmosphere in Fordsburg so well – I can almost smell those spices and hear the sounds of the cricket celebrations!

    • Reply 2summers April 4, 2011 at 1:14 pm

      Thanks so much. Fordsburg is such a visual and olfactory paradise. It’s fast becoming one of my favorite places in Joburg.

  • Reply Kathryn McCullough April 5, 2011 at 5:09 am

    What a great post! I’d have loved this outing, not because I’m a huge fan of cricket, but because I LOVE INDIA and all things INDIAN! (I took a group of 12 Univeristy of Kentucky students to Delhi last May as part of a service learning course. )

    Why do Indian men so often ask Western women if they are married?

    Kathy

    • Reply 2summers April 5, 2011 at 8:48 am

      I am also a fan of all things Indian (obviously). I went to Chennai for two weeks in 2005 and I’d love to go back.

      The guy in the shop was quick to clarify that he was “just asking” about my marital status. Not actually proposing or anything 🙂

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