Kudix Mug Holder of the MonthMeet the Civil Engineer turned Cricket Journalist turned Kudix Mug Holder, Kritika.

At Toit, our customers have always been our primary focus. They’re the ones who bring life to the place, create memories and end up giving the place its familiar, friendly vibe.

And there are so many different kinds of people who come through our doors daily, that we wanted to get to know their stories.

The Kudix Mug Holder of the Month is our little way of celebrating our customers, and their unique stories.

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What do you get when you put together 18 years of cricket viewing + 4 years of Civil Engineering + 4 years of drinking at a brewpub ?
A cricket journalist, of course! You’ll find out how in just a mo, but say hello to our Mug Holder of the month, Kritika.

Why do you think you were selected as the Mug holder of the month?

I’m not sure actually. It came as quite a surprise when Arun told me.
It’s probably because Toit is like a second home—I practically live here.
That’s pretty much what it is.

Toit is like a second home—I practically live here.

So, it has nothing to do with the beer drinking?

No, it does. I wouldn’t come to Toit if I didn’t like beer.
In fact, I’d say I’ve developed a taste for it.

I was never really a beer person when I was in Hyderabad. More of a whiskey person.
Oh, so I’m from Hyderabad. I moved here in 2013 and ever since I moved here, Toit has been my go-to place.

Are you working? 

Yes, I am. I did my schooling in Pune, actually. And moved to Hyderabad for college. Now I’m working here.

I’m a journalist. A cricket journalist. I work for Cricbuzz right now. I’ve been working for them for the last two years. I was working with Wisden India before that.

So you’ve been in Bangalore for about 4 years now.

Yes! I was in Bangalore for about 8 months before I officially moved here, with Sportskeeda. That was my first stint here.

Has sports journalism always been something you wanted to do?

Not really. I studied Civil Engineering and I worked for a year in an infrastructure company in Hyderabad, which is where I realised that this was just not for me.

Are you a big cricket fan then? Do you play?

I don’t play. But I’ve been watching now since forever—think since ’99 is when I’ve been following really closely.

How did that switch happen?

What happened was that the one year I was working in that infrastructure company, I was pretty much bored of what I was doing. And I used to go to work every morning thinking “What the hell am I doing with my life?”
I just figured at one point that this was not how I wanted to live for the rest of my life.

And I used to go to work every morning thinking “What the hell am I doing with my life?”

Yeah, it’s comfortable job, it’s a 9-5 job, it’ll probably pay me well in the long run, but really, if I’m feeling that demotivated to go to work everyday then it’s not something that I’d want to do.

That’s when I started writing about cricket for a lot of sites, and I started contributing. They didn’t pay me anything, but I feel the experience counted. That’s how I started and that’s how I got my job at Sportskeeda.

Did you ever face any resistance—one for your background not being journalism, and also for being a girl writing about sports?

Not really. I think the first form of resistance usually tends to come from families, and I’m just lucky it never came from mine.

My parents have been very supportive. I just went and told my mother that I’m quitting my job and moving to Bangalore, and she said “If that’s what you want, then that’s what you want.”

As far as resistance because I’m not from a journalism or sports background is concerned, when you have stuff that you’ve written, and people like it, then it’s great. I don’t think nowadays you need a degree for journalism necessarily.

People have judged me, being a girl. They’re like, “How can she know so much about Cricket?”

You just need to take it in your stride. They can say whatever they want, it really doesn’t matter to me because I know where I’m coming from. You develop that attitude after a point.

The women’s cricket team has been working hard for a while, but has only recently been spoken about widely thanks to their recent success—in the last 4 years that you’ve been doing this, have you seen a shift in focus?

In the perception, yes! There has been a massive shift. This time, them going to the finals has done a great deal not just for them, but also for the country and level of interest everyone has suddenly developed for women’s cricket.

It wasn’t there earlier. It’s changed in just the last year, and I’ll even go to the extent of saying just the last two months. Everyone has taken notice and started saying that they’re doing well.

Initially, I don’t think there was so much of a hype around women’s cricket.

What do you like and dislike the most about your job?

I do not dislike anything about my job.
Like, touchwood. I think I’m really lucky to be where I am, so no complaints.

Initially, I don’t think there was so much of a hype around women’s cricket.

What is the best part about being a cricket journalist?

I think what I love about my current job in particular, is that I have the freedom to write whatever. I can pursue any story I want and there’s nobody binding you in shackles saying you have to write a certain way.

We get to experiment, we get to do our own stories, explore different angles; I think it’s really nice for a writer to grow like that, when you have that freedom to experiment and explore.

Do you meet a lot of cricketers? Have you managed to meet your favourite? And who might that be?

Ricky Ponting! I haven’t yet interviewed him, but I met him few years ago before I got into journalism.
But he has been my inspiration since forever.

My other favourite player, who was another idol growing up, is Matthew Hayden and I met him a few times now for interviews.
So yeah, my job has helped me tick those boxes.

Do you also follow the IPL passionately?

Yes. I mean, we have to cover it as part of our job.

Ricky Ponting (…) has been my inspiration since forever.

But do you like it?

Not really. I love Test cricket.

I remember waking up at 4:30 in the morning to watch the first Summer Test of Australia, which usually happens in Brisbane, in November.

And I remember my mum would say “what the hell, you don’t even bother waking up for your exams to study at 4:30 am but you’re up to watch cricket?” This was during college.

Test cricket is just something else.

How did Toit become a part of your life then?

I don’t quite remember.
It’s funny, because when I was in Hyderabad, that ‘check-in’ thing was the fad back then. Everyone would check-in wherever they went.
All of my friends who travelled to Bangalore would check-in at Toit and I used to wonder what this Toit place is. I checked the page out and everything but that was it.

I moved to Bangalore in 2013 and I was staying with my cousin who lives in Bellandur. So we came here just once when the entire family was together.

But then I moved to Indiranagar, and my house is literally 500 meters from here. I’m not even exaggerating.

We literally were here from 12:30 in the afternoon till 10:30 in the night.

I started coming here really often, with friends too. There’s great beer, it’s a great place, has great people, and later I also realised that Sibi’s mum knows my mum. So, it’s a very small world.

In the four years that you’ve been coming here, anything memorable happen?

This one time, some of the commentators from work wanted a place to hang out at, and we came to Toit.
We were here from 12:30 in the afternoon till 10:30 in the night. But we had a really nice time.

There was a lot of conversation, and philosophy, and of course, cricket. It was just one of those perfect evenings with decent conversations and good company.

Gender roles are becoming more and more fluid today, but it is still a pleasant surprise when a woman is a cricket journalist. Have boys been pleasantly surprised by this too?

Ya! And it has been annoying too, to be very honest. I’ll tell you why.

The problem is, when I’m working, it’s 9-10 hours of only cricket. So when I come out, I don’t want to talk about cricket.
I want to talk about life and different things like travel, or the last place you’ve been to.

But these boys want to have cricket conversations and I’m like, no! Let me have a few drinks and come back to cricket. So yes, boys are quite fascinated by it which is not the best at times.

Have boys tried to fact-check you only to be schooled in return?

Yes! It’s happened. This one house party, we were all really drunk and this guy said something about the 2003 World Cup between India and Australia, and I said no, you’re getting it all wrong.

That underestimation, that used to piss me off. But not anymore.

It ended up becoming a mini-argument. I didn’t even remember this, but the next morning I got a message on Facebook from him and he said you were actually right about that conversation last night.

That underestimation, that used to piss me off. But not anymore.

Are there a lot of women doing what you’re doing? Is it a misconception that we think there aren’t too many women doing this?

I wouldn’t say there are a lot but there could be a lot.

It is a male dominated field, the sport and even journalism. But if you really want it, then you want it.
Yes, there might be resistance but that’s true of any field right? Challenges are there everywhere.

I knew that cricket was it for me! (Even though I studied Civil Engineering.)

So you studied Civil Engineering for 4 years and worked for a year after in that field, and then shifted—what was that transition like?

To be honest, mine is the best example for people looking to make the shift.

Journalism doesn’t really pay too much. But it’s about the satisfaction at the end of the day—that you’re happy doing what you’re doing and for me, that’s what matters.

I want to be happy. A job, or any kind of work, occupies most of your day. You’re sleeping and then you spend the rest of your day working. Work is what takes up most of your time, and if you’re unhappy all that time, then you’re pretty much psyching yourself into that unhappiness, that zone, which is really hard to come out of.

…you’re happy doing what you’re doing and for me, that’s what matters.

I realised that was the point I’d hit when I’d ask my mum everyday, “Why am I going to work? Do I have to?”
And I knew this was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Was the decision hard? Were you scared at any point?

I was. Because I was taking a risk of leaving home, leaving a job, leaving Engineering, which has massive scope. Civil engineering has massive scope all over the world, to be honest, so it could have taken me places.

At that point I was like what’s the worst that can happen? I’ll fail. Then I can always come back to this. I have a degree, and I can try whatever I want and if it doesn’t work I can come back. I’ll have to start over, but at least I’ll start somewhere.

But it’s worth the experiment. And it worked out for me, touchwood.

So you’re saying, take that leap and figure it out, right?

Ya! I genuinely believe that everything happens for a reason. And I think that there is always a right place and time for everything in life.

If something is not working out now, then maybe it’s not the right time. If it has to, it will at some point. You just have to believe. And if you really want it, then I’m certain that it will happen.

Have you always been such a life-affirming person?

I think so. I do backtrack at times, and everyone has their own demons.

In fact my sister, who is seven years younger, did her journalism and she’s now working with the Kerala Blasters in the ISL.
She’s into football and I’m into cricket. She’s a massive Liverpool fan.

The point being that I was telling her, what’s the worst that could happen? Just try. If it doesn’t work, you’ll find something else. There are so many things to do nowadays.

I genuinely believe that everything happens for a reason.

Football is even worse, because the scene is still growing when compared to cricket. And there are very few women there right now. So she’s had her share of challenges already in the one year that she’s been doing this. But I told her that if you really like it, keep trying. I tell her that she’s so young, if she doesn’t try now, then when?

What people say doesn’t matter because they’re only looking at it from the outside. It’s ultimately your life.