Friday, October 05, 2012

Misters of Cricket

Those Men. This Man. Their Management.

The next few paragraphs don’t just reflect agony or pain but refine my expression; my opinion about some Gods and their subjects.

When I tuned into the match between India and South Africa in the recently concluded — a conclusion for India — ICC World T20, I had my eyes on the Indian batting lineup and, in particular, Virat Kohli. I must say I didn't have my hopes high on the sluggers or the sluggish in the team. Minutes before the game, I spent a quiet moment with myself trying to raise the heat in my debate with my alter-ego. I strongly believe that the players who make the composition — for the paper and for the competitors — mighty and ruthless are, in clouded reality, deep inside a cocoon fighting their beleaguered and distraught spirit. My alter-ego, on the other hand, ridiculed my belief and expressed confidence like never before that the team is just like a fast ageing mouse. It crawls fast on young legs, but, all along its life, is surrounded by the fear of getting caught. I let the sound of the debate fade into questioning silence and waited with bated breath to get a glimpse of the young emerging Virat Kohli.

Virat walked in, like he always does, with unparalleled charisma. His determination and commitment was evident in the way he played his first shot through the covers. It didn’t have to result in a boundary but it had the mark of genius and characteristic brilliance that is often associated with his much older teammate. Weird, we wait for runs to be scored but we underestimate what stroke-play or defensive steadiness can present us! And I quote his commitment only because it carried the weight of truth and patriotism when he spoke to Rameez at the India-Pakistan post-match presentation.

I often have this discussion with my brother and my friends about how India is meeting its past — although it is making frequent visits to the unsatisfying times. My teenage days in the 90s remind me of how heavily dependent the country was on the legend and how we, despite occasional brilliances from the team, end up looking at the scoreboard to see x-runs-to-qualify-for-the-final. Latest praise and accolades poured over Virat’s improving brilliance suggest that we have a young legend who has the blood of a warrior and does not mind using his wrists and fingers — sometimes just one of them — to make a statement. And, most will agree, how he is today’s equivalent of those old days!

I vividly recall Sourav Ganguly’s opinion that this-pressure-is-bringing-the-best-in-him. True, if that means he has the stamina to carry a billion hopes along with his own. (Yes, even Nike’s #BleedBlue ad begins with Virat waking up to attend to the country’s hopes.) And he does possess the ability and magic that nobody else in the team has yet unleashed. He did talk about “carrying the burden” referring to Sachin whom he carried on his shoulders after last year’s World Cup victory against the lankans. The teary-eyed legend(s)’ comments stood out then and are slowly turning out to be true. His pain and disappointment after India’s loss to SA, like Harsha Bhogle said, is not something you can do for the camera.

While I write this in sincere admiration and subdued haste — for the fear of losing a budding genius — I constantly think about the group and the system the man is a part of.
With every passing day, my respect for MSD, the Indian captain, has only been growing. He, like nobody else, possesses the power of spitting truth in the face of cameras and counterparts and making bold moves that are sometimes termed “tricks” or “blind strokes” by people who have little knowledge of facing the heat of the post/sport. I will, however, admit that the captain panics and tries to play defensive or unconventional but he is a man aware of his responsibilities. I am sure he knows he is accountable for India’s poor form to the Indian people first and then to the management that manages him. The management, now, is a legend in itself!

I was reading a few articles and websites online that have called India’s failure to make it to the semis of World T20 a direct consequence of the cash-rich IPL and that that the team hasn't qualified even once since its inception. I am a huge fan of the tournament, of the format, of the players, and of the sport. But the bug is breeding in the system where the lords have their eyes set on future seasons of the premier league with miniscule attention given to the formats that breed players and grounds that build skill. Grounds aren’t just a platform to perform but a platform that also provides feedback for the players. If Ishant Sharma isn’t hitting the deck hard, the problem is not just in his ankle or his weak arm throwing the ball at a mere 130 kmph. Our pitches just aren’t good enough to make friends with live grass or the curator who complains of half-cut paychecks. Improvement begins with addressing the first mistake rather than taking a leap to show the world that boys in the country can travel the world and fight budding cricketers from New Zealand or Australia or USA. There is money that can be spent on giving the talent the atmosphere to perform. Most of the A-league players have seen enough of the world to travel places!

At the end of it all, I just wish to come to terms with all debates around the M’s. Or just shake hands with my alter-ego with whom I have had quite a tough time.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


First Fall

My shoe, caught between the cracks of the rocks, was turning into a raddled burden. My backpack got heavier with different colors of rocks I was always fascinated by. I sensed the danger in my hunch. My grip wobbled. My white shirt turned transparent from perspiration. Sweat trickled down my temple giving me an itch. I had to resist the urge to wipe my face with a shoulder-stroke. I wouldn’t want to make a fatal move. The weight would become a weightless fall, eventually.

I looked up in the sky. Huge dense clouds gathered to sound my thunderous fall. The forest beneath – with parched dry trees – was awaiting season’s first rain. A slip meant death from piercing!

I was already wet from the sweat and the slow dew.  My grip on the slippery cleft was weakening. My shoe refused to come out. I was past the point of praying for help. I couldn’t ease the weight on my back for the rocks were meant for a study. And, ironically, for my life. They had breakthroughs hidden inside them.

Help! Help! Help! Shit, not a rerun of 127 hours!

“You think you know the place?” the director of my research project asked me. “Yes, I do. Deep inside the jungle,” I said confidently but with a whispering “maybe” at the end of the statement. I was excited at the thought of getting him the stones. And visiting the haunted hills to prove that science heeds no myths. “You do know that this project is no secret and…” I cut him short, “Yes, I do. Could you just let me go?”

There was a legend around the jungle that said, “Natives of the place treated the valley as the home for the angels who brought dead men back to life. Strangers to the place, on the contrary, would be cursed with a life of nightmares.”

I thought it was true. I was living a nightmare. My limbs played the game of opposites: my leg wanted to let free, my hand wanted to hold tight. Rain came. My mouth went dry. A tiny stone plunked onto my head. A girl was rappelling down; to help me perhaps. “Hand...” I called out. And then I passed out.

“You got yourself into this without any gear?” she asked when I opened my eyes. I was dressed in brand new whites. I was caught in a shock; in awe of her beauty.

 I could have made a perfect poster! Instead, I was being photographed by the Gods! And then she got there in time to save me. 

It was derisive madness. The place was no haunted. It just helped me fall into something.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Of deprivation

On a false night

She called him in the dead of the night. "Here. Right now!" she said. "What? Why? It is three in the morning," he replied. "I want you here in 15," she retorted. He cleared his eyes drooping heavy with sleep. "Damn! How does she expect me to meet her now?" he thought. Last night's heavy dose of sleeping pills put him to sleep so deep that days of insomnia seemed to take leave.

He put on his trousers, torn and faded; reminding him of borrowing a new pair from his friend. He spent the last few months of his life living off his friend's pocket, and paying his huge visa bills with his savings. He could lose his wallet and not fear losing sleep!

He drank a bottle of water before he stepped out. It felt like the Sun left his heat with the Moon. The night temperature hovered around 32 degrees. After a day in the Sun doing market research, he now has the night to travel 10 miles. But how...

He locked the door to his 2-room apartment for which he pays a useless 3000 every month. Now left with how-to-travel question, he began walking cursing his shirt wet from sweat. He walked into a treeless street in the night's dead silence. He walked and waited for her call; his phone felt lighter with zero balance, and enjoyed a healthy battery for over a week. He walked past a 24/7 restaurant that flaunted a shiny board of 'all night pizza'. He walked in and took a glass of water. But he wanted more along his long walk to her place. "Pennyless," he recalled. Attempting to forget his misery, he decided to walk on singing Sinatra's 'Strangers in the night...'. 

"Excuse me, Sir," asked a blind old woman. It sent him creeps but replied, "Yes, how can I help you?" He suddenly felt the exchange of words like a role reversal of his job. "I need some water," asked the blind woman. He walked in to the restaurant, handed her a glass of water. And then bought a bottle of coke for himself. 

Heavy breeze began to blow across the street. Trees swayed with a whistling sound. He leaned on her friend's door and knocked on it several times while he waited for her to open it. "What the hell are you doing here at this time of the night?" she opened and yelled at him. "What? You called me a while ago, remember?" 
"When did I?" she replied.
"Half-an hour ago. I thought it was something urgent so here I am. And you say what and why and when?" he asked in frustration.
"No. You called me a while ago from a pay phone. Twice. I gave you directions too. And why did you even ask me the way here? You've visited me several times. Just when I asked you this, you disconnected the line," she said.
"No. I didn't. I didn't even call. And when did I visit you...ever? What are you talking about? Look into my pockets. I have not a single penny. How would I have called you at all?" he said in a fit of anger. "Look. Why are we arguing over this? I am drop dead drowsy. I need to get some sleep. Can you please tell me the reason you called me?" he asked calming his nerves.
"I did not call you and how in the world did you buy coke if you had no money" she asked.
"Look at this. This is your number," he showed her his call records.
"What? Wait. How do you know I had coke?"

The breeze got heavier and closed the door behind them.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Science. Dot.

An Idiot in the Story

Your thoughts can undergo such friction that you begin to wonder how your brain processes information. Seems senseless, you know. When you have two different thoughts served on a plate, raw, you would ideally have them one after the other. Unless your lifestyle and growth are marked by gluttony! The consequence of such a lifestyle choice is usually crap packed comedy. Here’s why.

I spent the day watching a programme of Science that talked about railway engines and USA’s Environmental Protection Agency. I quickly switched on to watching Air Crashinvestigation. Two different modes of transport, one common beauty – the physics of mechanics, I thought. I looked up Rolls –Royce on Wikipedia and with no proper means of justification, placed it above GE. Don’t ask me why. Sit in a Rolls-Royce and shut your mouth. Like Boeing & Airbus are the two largest makers of aeroplanes, the former two are the largest manufacturers of engines that are fitted in to these beauties. Now what? I could fly a plane. I know what’s what. Some pilot from Delta Airlines told me landing a plane with ILS is as easy as playing a videogame. [What!] I could make a brilliant pilot. [/What!]  If only I had 20/20 vision!

 I get disturbed by the ease of communication. Methods, rather. My twitter timeline keeps buzzing. My fingertips feel an itch. If I ignored reading them, the itch transforms in to pain. My diligence could fetch me several accolades. (That is how wonderfully well I check every tweet!) When renowned filmmakers, in their cataleptic state, rant about stalling the telecast of Vidya’s ‘The Dirty Picture’, you never question his ideas but begin to think before rejecting the insanity in every word of his. I switched on my TV to find it was another master on screen. Oh. It wasn’t beautiful Bidya. It was Amazing Aamir. Aamir began to give us a quiz. (I still miss @bhogleharsha. He was superb in his ESPN School quiz and was instrumental in shaping careers of many young men! I bitch about how much sense he made at IIM-A once. That was long ago when he was still bald.) So, Aamir asked me what Farhanitrate and Prerajulisation was. I, and the devil in the lisping giant Virus, began a frantic search for the definition. I used Google while the others used a textbook they were given. I didn’t know it was a test of Aamir’s skill as a teacher. At the end of the little exercise, he mentioned one point, fundamental to our learning, fundamental to our approach towards knowledge and life – Why the race? Why the herd mentality? Two big personalities taught me two big lessons - @bhogleharsha at IIM-A taught me about talent and attitude . Aamir taught me how to use it. I connected them. Getting caught in the crowd is easy. It is how you stand out and get noticed, matters.

It was past midnight when I put an end to Aamir’s class, a textbook written by Raju. [Putting on cool shades] In our names, there’s an intersection of 3 letters.[/Putting on cool shades] I then moved on to a class of my own – picking and processing thoughts served on a plate. It was a day with overflowing information and jigsawed knowledge. I take night classes for a bunch of idiots. I was to be a guest lecturer in an engineering college. I was called to teach dynamics. I took a metro and then it was bang! I met with an accident. (Well, I met with a metro that would go on to meet with an accident.) I called the fire department. I wasn't hurt. I found my way out of the debris. There were no casualties, luckily. I realized I was getting late for my class.

I stepped in to see quite a good student turnout. It was my first day with a chalk-piece. I began.

I hate introductions. Science is too vast and we engineers are too busy for crap. Writing an equation on the board, I asked how many of you can prove this? None came forward. A guy in dark glasses wanted to try his hand. Sure. Go ahead. While the guy-with-glasses does his bit, can you guys open your books to find the solution? He started writing, equating, assuming before arriving at a conclusion. ‘Hence, Qx = Ted(J,L),’ he wrote. Brilliant. Why this herd mentality? I saw no one attempting to prove it. This is basic science and math. You cannot get in to designing Rolls-Royce engines with this work ethic. That was the end of my speech. 
I received a call from the Train Crash Investigation team. A young boy on the line said to me ‘I saw you coming out of the train wreck while others were battling for life. I noticed two coaches locked in an angle that suggests shearing strain that gives us a clue about what caused such an impact.’ Young genius, I thought.

And that was that. My dream made a dirty concoction of events through the day. But science played significant role, a link to learning and attitude. 

Now for this idiot to make sense of it all.

P.S: I have no clue what Ted function does. That just might be a consequence of attempting an invention in a dream! I am not sure if there even is a TrainCrashInvestigation team. Yes, there are young geniuses for sure!

Saturday, January 21, 2012



His cup of noodles was lying on the table before him. Six times before today, he shared it with that someone who he thought would last. It was an instinct – a tingling wish to share time, a slice of life, a feeling that would only be fleeting. Alas. 

Not far away, she put an end to a long conversation - over the phone - with someone who would be an enjoyable part of life. ‘A filler of a fling,’ she calls it. She never bothered the aftermath. She spent most of her time ticking off conversations and crosses with a guy. 

He forced himself out of bed, kicked the table, cracked his cup, and combed his hair – after several washes to remove her perfumed stroke against his short brown hair. He dressed himself in shorts, locked his door and walked out with the sound of music in his ears. And She dressed herself in a stunning blue gown. She kissed her roommate, Jo, and left her room asking people for The Café. 

There is a remarkable quality in every individual story, today. There are impressive clichés. Yet, there is outstanding relevance to every life around. Every time I wake up to the morning light- occasionally by the disturbing darkness – I take the mirror and ask is today different? Stepping out to spend an entire day (and night, for the chosen few) with friends, presents a new chapter to observe and learn, outclassing the traditional way of learning lessons - if life is meant to live by learning. If you lived alone, you have the mirror. If you lived with people – chosen by choice or fate - you are obliged to share a word or two, necessitated by the acts of the previous day. And that’s where it begins. An exercise. An act of meeting with people titled friends. Until this point, there is neither a smile nor a frown. 

You are, at times, dragged by the force of bond, to wrap your hands around your love, or a partner. Otherwise, you walk in to a coffee shop for a cup of steamed bliss. It is usually the former that begins the day, I am informed. And then hour-by-hour, stories unfold, own and observed. The sight of misfits walking out of a friend’s house –probably after sleep hours - presents a story.  While it might be usual, there are revelations that happen through the day. Truth isn’t there to hide, I tell myself. When I pass on the story to others, there is almost a sense of responsibility (mixed with Déjà Vu and panic) in the other’s face. However, it is a moment of relief when the other brings it in the open to keep the score clear. Not just me, even she does it. 

When the Sun is at its brightest best, there is a plan – elaborate and scheduled – to drown in the beauty of intoxication. The next few hours are spent in countdown while there are usual sights of food-sharing. You could lend one ear to tales of marriage, or simply taking the relationship to the next level, a level that had everything in the forefront already. You could lend the other ear to miseries, long standing relationships seeing time dead useless after only a handful of hours – with better ones lasting unto days or longer. Discovery can happen, anytime. 

At the fall of the night when the Sun turns bright orange and the Moon rising with its help, you could be emotion-stricken, sometimes slapped by what happened to you. But, there is beauty in realizing opened truth – what has set rises with the setting Sun. I often see me in moist eyes but buoyed by grit. You would want to grip it hard and not let it go. There is a niggling worry of inviting drooping shoulders encouraging vengeful attitude. But the feelings have had their share and the observations must be dressed to escort tomorrow, battling those niggles.

As I lifted my glass of wine, I could think of more examples characterized as unique and ‘bookmarks’. These are the kind with the power to make an impact. Some could just be thankless and traitors of trust, marooning a blossoming something. Some could just paint a smile and send a fresh lease of life. 

I am glad there are Hes and Shes to flip pages called days. They are an important part of even those unnoticed lessons we learn, gleaning and meaningful. These might just be the Kindred.