World Chess ChampionViswanathan Anand arrived to a hero’s welcome at the Chennai airport on Saturday
At 9.15 p.m., the crowd's expectant hour-long wait precipitated into spontaneous exhilaration as Viswanathan Anand touched down in Chennai on Saturday.
The Anna International Terminal was draped in festivity with fans awaiting the return of Anand after his recent conquest – a fifth World Chess Championship title.
A ceremonial reception, complete with playing of the thavil and nadhaswaram besides a mayilaatam recital (Tamil folk dance form) was rolled out.
The fans, several of them school students were seen sporting ‘Anand masks.' They were also armed with placards celebrating the chess legend's achievements. Most of them reflected the theme of the day: “You have brought ‘anand' to a billion hearts.”
Predictably, everybody wanted a piece of Anand. The man himself was typically unflappable, flashing a serene smile and waving to the gathering. “I thank all those who came to receive me. I thank Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa's gesture (of announcing a cash award). I will meet her soon.
“I understand that chess is being introduced in schools. I am sure more champions will emerge from the State,” said Anand as he was leaving the airport.
The great man's kin, although evidently happy, remained as composed as ever. “We weren't nervous as we are used to seeing Anand play such high profile matches. Any father would be proud of such an achievement and needless to say I am very happy for him,” said Viswanathan, Anand's father.
Meanwhile, Aruna expressed relief at her husband's victory. “I am feeling very happy. It was a tense match but Anand played the tie-break really well. We are really looking forward to meeting son Akhil.”
Several rounds of celebration now await Anand as he has come back to his hometown with yet another rousing triumph.