Mumbai: "Is he inside? Will he speak to the media."
Waiting outside the Master Blaster's high-security bungalow near Carter Road in Bandra West, the expectation was that Sachin Tendulkar would indulge the media and open up one final time.
Anticipating a huge crowd of his fans and the media, the Mumbai police beefed up security, even adding a small contingent of the state reserve police force.
Residents from the building opposite his bungalow peered outside to get a better view. One old lady even comfortably positioned herself on a chair in her balcony, just in case her neighbors too joined in and there was a scramble for space.
After all it was his final exit from the sport he had played for nearly a quarter of a century.
Alas, as expected, that never happened. "Tendlya" didn't oblige even on his big day. The quiet superstar chose a quiet exit.
No drama, no flashiness. The humility with which he spent his active years, with that humility he has chosen to call it a day.
But the considerate cricketer, who has dealt with the media for so many years, graciously did send some hot tea for waiting reporters.
Luckily for the police the crowd didn't swell. A few fans did stop by, including a large group of kids from a nearby madrassa. The rest were curious passers-by who were happy to learn from us that Sachin lived right there. One youngster waited for two hours with a plastic bag carrying bananas. An enterprising journalist asked him if he had brought it for his hero.
"Nahin, boss. Apne liye hai," he said.
Respect, admiration and trust. Talk to any fan and this is basically what they think and feel about Sachin. But the fan is also a lover of the game. The announcement hardly comes as a surprise. After playing for so long, at 40, age had caught up. And India was ready to let Sachin go, but with his held high and with full honors.
And hence, their response was just apt. They saluted their hero, showered him with a million praises, wished him well and now want to see him bat like a legend in his last test match.
But even the city's die-hard fans realize: sometimes even God is human, even if he happens to be a "Mumbai cha Mulga." (Mumbai Boy)!