Recently the cricket world was struck dumb by the news that India captain MS Dhoni had abruptly pulled the entire Chennai Super Kings squad from a hotel in Hyderabad and moved them to another hostelry establishment. Why? Because the original hotel had refused to let Dhoni partake of homemade biryani - a rich rice-and-meat dish perfected over centuries of cultural intermingling in India - dispatched to the team by the Ambati Rayudu household.
However, as Dhoni left the hotel in a precipitous huff, the talismanic wicketkeeper-batsman made a common error. He forgot to check his hotel room thoroughly before checking out.
Dear readers, how many times have we all left a hotel room, settled our bills, lied about minibar usage, hopped into a taxi, arrived at the airport, opened our luggage to make sure both table lamps from the hotel room are undamaged, only to suddenly realise that we left our mobile charger / umbrella / raincoat / passport / water bottle / leather restraining equipment / Johnson uncle behind in the room?
Too many times to count.
In the case of MSD, this left-behind item was a little floppy disk on which the Indian captain has maintained a meticulous food diary for the last many years. Thanks to a secret member of the hotel staff, who has been an ESPNcricinfo source for many years, only known by the codename "F&B Kesavan", this writer was able to access exclusive excerpts from MS Dhoni's food journal.
The following edited excerpts are available only on ESPNcricinfo.
January 16, 1982: Spent all morning eating carpet. Then around 11am mother-lady took me to the market to buy paneer, lady's finger and milk. What can you possibly make from this? Indian Okra Cheesecake? A savoury souffl ? I don't understand this woman at all sometimes. Anyway I was hopeful of paneer at some point the ensuing evening. Instead, as usual I was fed some horrible white sludge from a tin. I cried like anything for ten minutes and then urinated on the voltage stabiliser. Haven't pooped since Christmas.
September 2, 1983: Learnt to walk this morning. Just happened. One minute I was leaning on the fridge door. Next moment I was totally walking by myself without any support from anybody else. So I walked over to the coffee table and took one biscuit. Instantly father came, slapped me on the hand and took the plate away. "I have seven teeth, you monster," I screamed at him. "You have nothing but ear hair!" He gave me some nonsense about waiting for at least 18 months before having too much sugar. As usual, ended up drinking one huge glass of milk instead. So bored of milk. What is the point of milk? I hate milk.
February 23, 1997: Cloudy and overcast. Day started unexceptionally. Janaki Teacher asked us to write two compositions. One on What I Want To Become When I Grow Up: Sniper in the Indian Army, and then a second one on My Best Friend: Four-Stroke Motorcycle. Took a break between compositions to have lunch. Opened lunch box with high expectations, hoping to find kathi roll or Chicken Steak Diane or some such. Instead found rajma chawal. And not even separated into wet and dry components. Just one big lump of fermented roadkill. Went back home and set fire to room cooler. Blamed Malayali neighbour boy as usual. He is an idiot but has nice hair.
March 11, 2001: Busy day of ticket examining this morning in Kharagpur. Thankfully everybody had tickets. LOLOLOLOLOL. Just kidding. Caught 56 ticketless travellers from Kerala and handed them over to Railway Police for processing. Then went to railway staff canteen for lunch. Nonsense. Aloo bonda or Kookaburra ball? Asked canteen staff to watch as sub-divisional engineer threw bondas at me one by one and I hit them over the tracks into the shunting yard. Have made a mental note of a new style of underhanded flick shot that offers excellent distance with minimum effort. Thinking of calling it Bonda Blast. Or Kharagpur Cut.
December 22, 2004: Organised gala dinner for friends and family at Grand Plaza to mark India debut tomorrow. Unbearably watery dal. So got full refund and took friends and family to Jenny's Residency for gala debut dinner. Only to find that "Fruit-based Welcome Drink" is small paper cup of Maaza Mango with one piece of apple. Immediately arranged for full refund and relocated gala debut dinner to Harikrishna Holiday Home. Acceptable welcome drink but then they would only send cocktail samosas and nothing else for starters. I repeatedly asked them about the prawn toasts and they kept saying that it is coming, it is coming soon, it will come in ten minutes. Got fed up, got full refund and took everybody home. Only had 14 litres of milk at home. But then everybody was happy with three sets of welcome drink and starter. So made badaam milk for all.
April 2, 2011: Met Ashwin at 6am for a morning run. LOLOLOLOLOLOL. Just kidding. Ordered room-service breakfast while Ashwin and I planned strategy for the match. Clearly recall ordering plain dosa and onion rava. Instead they brought onion dosa and plain rava. Got very very upset and could not focus on the meeting at all. Finally agreed for meeting with hotel manager for full refund at 10pm. Got very impatient by around 9pm, so I quickly promoted myself, won the World Cup, and took taxi and rushed back to the hotel. By then manager had gone home. Asked Sree to spend all night in hotel disco. Let them suffer. Frauds.