Stop War and Start Tennis

At a time when Indo-Pak anything seems to be depressing under an onslaught of undesirable stuff, “The Indo-Pak Express” as the tennis duo Rohan and Aisam from India and Pakistan respectively come as a refreshing shock as you blink in disbelief at the utterly energizing attitude the two bring to the relationship. Its crisp, refreshing and leaves one rooting for them.

The duo reached to the finals in the US Opens Men’s Doubles Finals on the eve of the 9/11 Anniversary. If one believes in fate, look at the symbolism here. Hindu-Indian Muslim-Pakistani partnering in an international arena with the message “Stop War and Start Tennis”. Add to it that 9/11 is also Eid here as well as Ganesh Chaturthi, it is certainly enough to trigger a pause to breathe the clean air of excellent teamwork and sportsmanship.

The UN Ambassadors from India and Pakistan, Hardeep Suri and Abdullah H Haroon sitting next to each other and cheering or that the Indian and Pakistani crowds in the stands rooting for the same side is something I would have liked to witness in person. And the impact was profound. They lost the finals to the Bryan brothers, who said that they would have been rooting for their 16th seeded rivals if it hadn’t been the Grand Slam Finals:

“We would have been rooting for them. Great guys. It’s great to see another marquee team out there. They’re gonna gather a lot of attention for doubles. They’re going to be spokesmen for doubles, which we love. I think this is gonna raise the profile,” said Bob.

“It choked me up. I could see him (Qureshi); he was quivering a little bit; he was very choked up. Just to give that message to everyone was very heartfelt. You know, even said before, he’s like, I’m gonna say something about Pakistan. I hope you don’t mind. I don’t want to steal your limelight. We said, That’s great,” he added.

From all accounts, as we hear about the sad scenario with Pakistan’s cricket team, I only wish this country loved tennis like that, because Aisam is bringing home great joy and respectability as a sportsman. The duo charmed their way into their fan’s hearts with their dignified presence and skill.

I was touched that we can have players from India remembering Pakistan in their acknowledgments and vice versa.

“All those people from Pakistan and India supporting us these past two weeks, I thank everyone for helping me out but most importantly I would like to thank Aisam for playing with me and sticking with me we have had a great year together,” said Bopanna.

“I must thank my parents, brother, sister for supporting me throughout my career. People in Pakistan and India for supporting us, I must thank Rohan for sticking by me when I needed him the most and for playing with me and helping me with my cause and helping me to send some positive news to people back home in Pakistan and making them smile,” added Qureshi.

What a wonderful, vibrant way to begin my day!

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