Ranchi, Apr 4: With accolades pouring in from all quarters for steering India to a momentous victory in the World Cup, India Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is still remembered by his old friends in his hometown for his innate simplicity.
The most heartening moment for a hotel-owner, Sarajit Singh Situ, was the Mumbai to Ranchi flight about eight months ago when he was overwhelmed by Team India Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's gesture by travelling with him in economy class.
After admitting his cancer-afflicted wife in a Mumbai hospital, Situ was lost in his thoughts sitting alone in the last row of seats on the flight when his spirits lighted up at the sight of Dhoni.
"I was sitting alone with my thoughts inside the plane and to think positive I was recollecting the moments which I had spent with Dhoni as a cricketer when he walked into the executive class of the same plane.
"Already being encircled by admirers, I went and wished him. He enquired after my seat. After the plane took off, he came and sat beside me and we discussed several topics till we reached Ranchi," Situ, who along with Dhoni had played local tournaments in Ranchi for Youth Sporting, told PTI.
Congratulating Dhoni for his excellent performance that propelled Team India to a second World Cup triumph, Situ said "Every one should emulate Dhoni's simplicity, who even now doesn't forget his close friends."
"The last time we embraced each other was when he along with Deputy Chief Minister Sudesh Mahto came to see players in action at the National Games in Khelgaon in February this year," Situ, who owns a hotel in the state capital, said.
"When I requested Dhoni to speak to my son on phone, he not only spoke to him but also asked him to come to the airport with my parents so that all could meet in person", Situ said.
"It was a heartening sight when Dhoni touched the feet of my parents at the airport while people looked on. There are several other instances but travelling with him by plane will remain etched in my memory for ever," Situ added.
Giving a number of instances, Situ also confided how Dhoni and a few selected friends had chilly chicken in my hotel on the eve of his departure to his first international outing in Bangladesh.
Situ also recalled a match in the 'A' division cricket tournament in Ranchi several years ago where the two were in the opposing teams which reflected Dhoni's humane side.
"I got a nasty cut to a bouncer from a ball of a local bowler, Joseph Mathew, and blood was oozing. But I continued with my batting after first aid, ignoring the repeated requests of Dhoni, who was keeping behind the wickets, to retire hurt," Situ said.
"I never thought that this boy will one day become the toast of the nation and the world of cricket. It's really amazing," concluded the sardar, whom Dhoni fondly calls 'paaji'. PTI