Then and now: Mohinder Amarnath remembers the Delhi of his youth

Champion batsman Mohinder Amarnath on making sure he gets his due, his life in Goa today, and the Delhi of his youth in the ’60s

July 08, 2019 01:13 am | Updated 10:51 am IST

Mohinder Amarnath

Mohinder Amarnath

Is it the calmness of the sea that drew Mohinder Amarnath to Goa? Not a man to throw tantrums on the field, argue with the umpire, or reprimand a junior, he was known for his impeccable manners and gentle demeanour, even his celebration just a smile or a mild high-five, returning quickly to the job of making runs or taking wickets.

The decision to move out of Delhi was difficult, he says. Having studied at MB High School at Mandir Marg and Khalsa College in Delhi University’s north campus, life for Mohinder was about playing cricket at the Karnail Singh Stadium and Ferozeshah Kotla. But he came to love Mumbai during his cricket travels and shifted to India’s commercial capital in 1991, after spending more than 20 years in Delhi.

“Once I stopped playing cricket, there was little for me to do in Delhi. I always loved Mumbai for its culture and the proximity to the sea. Now I divide my time between Mumbai and Goa, and visit Delhi occasionally,” he says.

He comes to meet his brother Rajinder and for his work with TV channels. “I watch cricket on and off but love spending time with family [wife Inderjit and daughter Nikki].”

Like his batting, Mohinder has taken care to enjoy an organised life at an easy pace. His love for fitness is reflected in his schedule: basic yoga, meditation, and walking 5 km daily. His investments in property and well-thought savings allow him to take care of the comforts of his family. “My dad [cricketer Lala Amarnath] taught me to save. I don’t splurge my earnings [from media work]. I tell all young people to save money. I also don't compromise on my financial deals with TV channels. You pay me what I deserve.”

Playing the game

He stays in touch with the game through his academy in Baroda (Mohinder Lala Amarnath Cricket Academy) set up in 2005.

“It gives me the space to interact with youngsters of today. It also allows me to understand the modern game when some of my students go out and do well. I like coaching. My emphasis is mostly on teaching them good techniques. I tell my students that you can shine in all formats of the game if you develop a good technique. I learnt it from my dad.”

New Delhi, 01/07/2019: Former cricketer Mohinder Amarnath and his family. Photo: Special Arrangement

Former cricketer Mohinder Amarnath and his family.


Mohinder remembers his days in Delhi well. “We lived in different places — Model Town, Panchkuian Road, Prasad Nagar, Vithalbhai Patel House, Katwaria Sarai. Delhi darshan it was. I remember my college days and the cricket in Delhi. I was lucky to have the support of my college principal who taught English [Prof. G.S. Randhawa] and Dr. D.S. Claire, who taught Political Science. They were very lovely teachers.”

The Delhi of yore

“School classes were in tents. We would sit on the ground. It was fun. I remember carrying slates to school. At university, cricket was my priority. It was a great time to live in Delhi. A stroll in Connaught Place was a nice way to spend your time or go to India Gate where you could take a dip in the ponds.”

Mohinder recalls Standard Restaurant in Connaught Place, “on the top of Regal theatre. I would visit the place regularly with my parents. I loved their chocolate biscuits and the band, the softy ice cream. Movies at Regal, Shiela, Odeon, Plaza, were not to be missed. Wenger’s was my dad’s favourite. And the milkshake next to Devi Chand’s. We got special treatment there because of dad. That was the time when jukeboxes were introduced in restaurants.”

Delhi’s population was not bursting at the seams in the ’60s, and it pains Mohinder to see the city becoming rough and unsafe for women.

“It has grown in all directions. People are more hungry for success and everyone is in a hurry. I don’t know why Delhiites have become so aggressive. Law and order is an issue and women’s safety does not get priority. It is for the government to look into this because these incidents portray a poor image of Delhi.”

Gone Goa

In the classic Delhi-Mumbai battle, for Mohinder, the latter wins: It’s a cosmopolitan city, he feels. “It grows on you. It is a beautiful city to live in. Goa is wonderful too. The sunset is an amazing sight [in Mumbai and Goa]. The beach is less than a kilometre from my house and I just spend the time watching the waves. I must say that Delhi, Mumbai and Goa have been kind to me.”

A champion batsman against fast bowling, a fearless hooker of the ball, he also played spin with skill. He was among the few not averse to leaving the crease.

“Cricket has changed. There is a segment that appeals to those who look at it as entertainment. I don’t like comparisons. Each era has its own appeal and I am glad to have played in times when the quality of cricket was exceptionally high. You had to be very good to be good at international cricket.”

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