The citizens of Calcutta, Mumbai and Bangalore erupted in joy Saturday night as India defeated Sri Lanka in the Cricket World Cup. More than 7,000 miles away, an equal roar was heard inside Microsoft’s building 121. About 1,000 cricket fans, most hailing from India and nearly all having some tie to the software giant, tuned in to a live broadcast of the final match. The match started at 2 a.m. Seattle time on Saturday.
But that early morning start didn’t deter Microsoft’s large contingent of Indian developers, engineers and managers from turning out in force.
They sipped tea and snacked on Indian treats like pakoras and samosas while watching cricket heroes such as M.S. Dhoni on three large projector screens set up in the cafeteria.
“The atmosphere was really lively,” said Vijay Agrawal, who attended the event and shared his thoughts after the match with GeekWire. “People were full of enthusiasm and energy and some of the people had painted their face with Indian flags.”
You can get a sense of the enthusiasm inside the Microsoft cafeteria from this YouTube video, and organizer Pranav Kandula shared some photos which we’ve posted below.
Cricket is not understood by most Americans. But in India — and for those who have made their way to the U.S. — it is a passion. Agrawal, for one, called the match against Sri Lanka the “biggest event in cricket history.”
It is not uncommon to see cricket played on the many sports fields at Microsoft or at nearby Marymoor Park. The game’s popularity here is tied directly to Microsoft’s growth, which has steadily hired Indian software developers and engineers over the past two decades. In 2007, it was estimated that roughly 15 percent of the company’s 35,000 workers in the Seattle area were of Indian descent.