Mumbai: At Stamford Bridge they chant and stomp their feet to the tunes of "Blue is the Colour". Liverpool fans and players become one whenever "You'll Never Walk Alone" plays over the PA. At Fenway Park, a legion of fans lifts its team from the gloom of a New England night with a slow-stomping chorus of "Let's Go Red Sox, Let's Go!" In India there is only one repeated vocal call-response catchphrase - "Saaaachin! Sachinnn!" - from Pune to Visakhapatnam and Gwalior to Cuttack, and it unites the country like few other things do.
The anticipation around Sachin Tendulkar emerging from the pavilion, and his walk from the boundary to the centre is almost surreal. To hear a passionate crowd chant his name, to be topped by an enormous roar when he emerges onto the field, is electrifying. To experience this at its most fervent you have to be sitting in the Wankhede Stadium when 40,000 boisterous voices reach a crescendo in anticipation of their favourite. There is no sense of loyalty towards a player like there is in Mumbai for Tendulkar (though ironically it is where he was booed by the crowd in 2006 during a Test against England).
Tendulkar is synonymous with Mumbai, his legend firmly entrenched in the fabric of the metropolis. A number of maidans spring to mind and with each is attached a memory - vivid or vague, depending on whether you saw it live or read about in or heard about it over a drink with a group of cricket fanatics - of Tendulkar's fascinating journey.