After a painstaking 90-minutes long ride on a jalopy, the captain charged me only ‘one eleven’, especial cricketing discount in rhyme with World XI team. I should have seen it coming as I opted for Uber to reach my destination rather than driving by myself. Though I strongly believe it should have come with a pre-warning that first time riders will get to commute in a dilapidated car.

I walked towards the Qaddafi Stadium with many doubts and fears in my heart. Absorbed in my thoughts of extreme consciousness, a soft voice got my attention. In blue uniform she was the traffic police warden of Punjab, “Ma’am! This way please, this rose and candies are for you.” She took me to her group of welcoming traffic police personnel. They were distributing these tokens among the people boarding shuttles at the Liberty Roundabout for Qaddafi Stadium. A few steps forward, few men were greeting people with brushes and little bottles of paints in their hands, green and white. “How much will you charge for it? I inquired.” “Whatever suits you mam,” he replied. “Oye! Dussaan da vechay gatay gul bunni, vi vi rupay len da koi faida nayi.” (If you sell it for Rs. 10 only then you will get customers boy).

Suddenly, the shackles of uncertainty started to break.

Being a woman, I was offered the front and best seat of the shuttle. There were four check posts through which we passed, but unlike regular days, the female security personnel were in light mood and properly scanned through all our belongings that we were carrying and wearing. It went smooth.

I walked into the stadium two hours before the match had started. The atmosphere was a perfect depiction of Rameez Raja’s words, electrifying, exhilarating, spot on and mind blowing. All his words had come to life and were dancing in front of me. It is probably the only international cricket series where after getting stumped the batsman and wicketkeeper exchange smiles and hug each other. The bowler would blow a flying kiss to the batsman and he will catch it with a cheeky smize.

I am a cricket fan but not an expert, so my focus is on observations about the temporary environment created by different state institutions of Pakistan in order to project a soft image and bringing cricket back home. You all have a very good idea about the stadium atmosphere. In Gallery 2, a 10-year-old boy had his heart at stake. He was doing his own emotional and loud commentary. Other spectators were getting amused by that young and over expressive hunk dressed in green. There were other groups of girls and boys dancing, laughing, and cheering like regular cricketing fans. But there was a difference. They were shouting out for the World XI players as well. The people of Pakistan were present at the Qaddafi Stadium for good cricket and the international and national players brought the promised excitement to the cricket deprived country.

On my way back, to my surprise the otherwise lethargic Punjab Police personnel, were standing alert. There was another world waiting around the stadium. It was probably the most organised hustle I have witnessed in my life. Everybody was clear about their duties. Punjab police, rangers, traffic police all were on duties and seemed energised, as if their day has just started. A few steps further after reaching down the shuttle, I saw a group of senior policemen listening to a Bollywood track, “Dil dhak dhak dharkay zaalimaa meri baayien aankh bhi pharkay,” while their subordinates were standing guard. I could not stop myself from laughing at their choice of song. They kept themselves entertained throughout and indulged into hilarious interactions to keep the spirits high.

Our security forces have done a phenomenal job and all hail and salute to their courage and diligence for keeping us safe wholeheartedly. Moreover, there wasn’t a single wrapper swaying on the roads and stadium thanks to the Lahore Waste Management people. Thank you guys for keeping the site clean! It was a walk to remember and site to reminisce. Together we have done it. We have brought the world back to our doorsteps.