Norbiton to Oval is not really a photowalk. Firstly, photowalks are group walk, and secondly, this ‘photowalk’ involved watching the first day of the fifth test match between Australia and England. Nevertheless, let us call it a Photowalk.
The obvious first step is to go to the railways station, Norbiton. And from there to Vauxhall. The name Norbiton was originally Norberton(e) and it was named in a similar way to Surbiton on the opposite side of the Hogsmill River. The origin of the place-name is from the Old English words north, bere and tun (meaning northern grange or outlying farm). Norbiton railway station was used as a location for the British sitcom The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. (Wikipedia gives me this information)
Vauxhall is about twenty minutes away. That name brings some memories. In the late fifties and early sixties, Mumbai (or Bombay then) saw many Vauxhall cars. Those cars had beautiful headlights and tail lights, the latter were large circular with about 8 inches diameter. And the cars were attractive. People of my generation will remember the Vauxhall cars. The modern Vauxhall cars are seen in London, but not in India, where the Japs have taken over the auto industry! I downloaded this image from internet.
When you land at Vauxhall from Norbiton you have to climb down stairs and go to ‘underground’ level, and then climb up. Lifts are available for old men (and women, why exclude them?). The signs tell us the route to follow.
Once you are out, all you need to do is to follow the crowd. You have the same experience in Mumbai, if you are going to the old Brabourne or Wankhede stadiums. They discussed cricket while walking briskly. With Jonny Bairstow incident, and England at 2-1 loss thus far, the discussions were animated. Jonny (yes, that’s the correct spelling) is called Bluey because his eyes are blue. People with light grey eyes are called ‘Gharya’in Mumbai. Will they call him Nilya?
And just a five minutes’ walk from Vauxhall station takes you to the Kennington Oval. It is at Kennington so Kennington Oval. Now it is called KIA Oval. That’s what sponsorship does! For cricket lovers, it is just The Oval. As you come near you just can’t miss the stadium. A big sign ‘Alec Stewart Gate’ invites you in.
I clicked a wide-angle photograph of The Oval. It looks beautiful, right?
As you enter the stadium, you can walk around to find your gate. The stewards guide you and they are of Asian origin, almost all. Some smile, some don’t!
As you enter the stadium, you have this beautiful view. The Micky Stewart Pavilion is seen in the front. Micky Stewart was awarded the OBE in 1998 for services to cricket. Micky is 90 now. His son, Alec Stewart, went on to play over 100 Tests for England. At Lord’s in 1991, Stewart was able to watch his son Alec score a Test century. All this from Wikipedia
What do you do when you enter the Oval? We take a good view of both the sides. This was the view to my right …..
And this was the view to my left. If you look carefully, you will see a bunch of yellow dots. Those were Aussies Supporters. At least fifty! And the England supporters were everywhere, but a bit vocal were in the stand in front of the brown building stand. Mobile cameras have limitations when it comes to zooming.
I noticed that two persons were setting up the ‘SpiderCam’. I had not imagined it was so big! More than five feet tall. It always seemed so small up there. Someone said that ‘Proximity and Closeness are not the same.’ I remembered it.
Now the game is about to begin, and you see security guys everywhere. Ground is being prepared.
An announcement follows, and the two teams come out for the national anthems. They face the Pavilion and have their back to us so we can’t make out which team is on the right and left. Everybody in the stadium stands up. Pin drop silence. National anthems are played, Australian first followed by Host England’s.
The side screens on both sides of the ground show the score, the runs scored on a particular ball. When a four or six is scored the number is flashed on the electronic boards (Cinch) encircling the ground. You see them as blue or violet colour in this photograph.
They replay on the screen any important play worth watching again, like taking a catch, missing it, boundary hit, sixer, reviews etc. These are not just a few, they are plenty which ensures that even if you missed the live action, you can watch it on the screen in a minute. This makes watching the game live in stadium interesting otherwise TV telecast was about to score over it.
And runs score on every ball of the over ….
The ‘West Indies Terrace’ was just a few steps above my row. It served beer. Many people bought and carried three mugs of beer. In 2018 I had watched the test match between India and England at the Oval. If you returned your empty beer mug, they used to return on pound then; I don’t know if it is still done. Too much of rush it was for the bartenders to answer such a question.
And I sought permission of these happy young men to click their photograph, they readily agreed. I remembered my young days when I could gulp good quantities of beer, like them.
But drinking beer (and several mugs of it) has one problem – one must visit the Men’s room. No wonder it has a long queue. Not just at this place but at all men’s rooms in the stadium. You can see a gentleman drinking beer while in the queue! That’s a bit too much!
I strolled around in the stadium and discovered this familiar vehicle converted as a shop. (This is INSIDE the stadium). I see Indian influence everywhere!
And there is an Indian restaurant, I clicked this photograph as I entered the stadium so there was no customer. During the lunch hour it had people flocking to buy food. I did too. The long queue moved up very fast because the two persons at the counter were delivering the order within a minute, literally.
There were of course other restaurants. But on my way out of the stadium, this one caught my eye.
As I went out the lady and gentleman at the Gate wished me. Completely unexpected. Small things, but they matter. What say you?
And finally, one crosses this tunnel to reach Vauxhall station.
Did you photowalk virtually along with me? I noticed several interesting and beautiful things around me as I did my Photowalk, all alone. “Did I not mention Goethe’s famous quote ‘The soul that sees beauty may sometimes walk alone’”, asked Lulu, my parrot, who accompanies me everywhere. Well, I am still grasping its full meaning. Tell me if you know it or just how you feel doing this photowalk with me. (All photographs and material on this website is copyrighted).
Vivek S Patwardhan
“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”