Sunday, August 16, 2015

221st Page of my 300 page autobiography

There are two kinds of life for every human being. The first and front-end life is about  what we live, what constitutes our memory and what is tangibly evident. This is a life  which is in arena. We know almost all things and many others know something about it  as well. The second life is an alter life. A life we never lived but something which we could have. We may also call the life of “What if”. What if I haven’t studied engineering? What if I pursued my hobbies with more passion than what I did? And So on..... 

The way we live our life not only depends on these inevitable questions, Instead it also thrives on them. And what better way to answer these questions than an autobiography? As a reader of this book I expect first 220 pages have given you enough information about my life, from this page it will be about the roads I haven’t taken. The reason for not choosing them and going down the memory lane if I can relive those moments what could have been my path now?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

THE TWITTER ICON TWEETS WELL?

If the twitterati were India's voting class, then Shashi Tharoor would be the Supreme Leader. A few weeks ago, when Tharoor's tweet on the government's visa policies generated much fuss among his ministerial colleagues,many journalists commented Maybe, Tharoor should quit politics and join journalism. He would have greater freedom as an edit page writer than as a neta!" Within minutes, they were hit by an avalanche of angry Tharoor followers on Twitter, suggesting that they had committed the ultimate 'sin' by questioning their twitter icon's credentials to hold public office.
Unfortunately for Tharoor, his parliamentary constituency of Thiruvananthapuram is not quite the Twitter universe while his Congress party workers reserve their blind adoration for only one Family. Which is why Tharoor the politician is at odds with Tharoor the twitterer. The success of Twitter is built on the idea of having an open and constant conversation between a mix of anonymous and influential people and is designed to bridge social divides. Indian politics, by contrast, thrives on being an exclusive club of the power elite, with minimal contact with the masses. Notions of transparency which the twitter world claims is its defining badge are alien to those who reside in the forbidding corridors of Lutyens Delhi.
The Congress party increasingly resembles a closed shop, with little space for internal debate and dissent. When was the last time we knew what exactly transpired in a Congress working committee meeting? When did a post-election Congress legislature party meeting result in anything other than a one line message authorizing the ubiquitous high command to decide leadership issues? Banal press releases and platitudinous statements is the staple diet of political communication in the Congress.
Its not just the Congress party which is secretive. The left is, if anything, even more inclined to stifle internal democracy. Politburo meetings are, by all accounts, an exercise in Soviet-style functioning where no one is allowed to question the prevailing party line. A majority of regional parties are run like tightly controlled family businesses. Perhaps, the BJP has been the most 'open' of our major political parties, often at some cost to its well-being. Witness a series of public 'rebellions' in recent years, the most graphic of which was undoubtedly Uma Bharti's infamous walk-out from a party meeting in 2004.
Tharoor, of course, faces another peculiar problem. As a first time MP who has been catapulted into a ministership, he arouses envy and insecurity among his contemporaries. For the many netas waiting in the queue, the fact that a 53-year-old electoral debutante has taken the elevator to political success is enough for them to look for ways to cut him to size. Lateral entrants are still a novelty in Indian politics: the many years that Tharoor spent as a UN diplomat count for little in the heat and dust of Bharat. An anglicized, accented, foreign returned Tharoor is almost a caricature for a vast majority of netas who derive their legitimacy by claiming to be genuine desi 'sons of the soil' .
In a sense, by turning to Twitter, Tharoor is seeking to legitimize himself amongst a constituency he more naturally identifies with: the youthful, urban, English speaking middle class. This is the class which uses social networking as a weapon to express its solidarity against a 'system' it has lost faith in. Just as a candle has become the preferred symbol of middle class activism, the 140 character limit of Twitter is perfect to express a strong opinion without having to actually get involved in the muck of public life. For this chattering class which despises the traditional dhoti-kurta politician, Tharoor is a role model: an educated Indian who 'sacrificed' professional comfort to plunge into the uncertainty of political life.
As India's first twitter hero, one can appreciate just why Tharoor feels this incessant urge to reach out to this large constituency. If a Lalu and a Mulayam have their caste alliances, a Rahul has the family name, a Narendra Modi has a Hindutva appeal, for someone like Tharoor with no mass base, Twitter is integral to his brand recognition in the political marketplace.
And yet, there are limits to Twitter power that Tharoor must come to terms with. For a film star like a Shah Rukh Khan or a Priyanka Chopra, being on twitter adds to their celebrity quotient and perhaps promotes their films. For a journalists twitter is another means with which to engage with the viewer and share news breaks. Tharoor is neither a glamorous film personality nor is he a journalist. At the end of the day, he is a minister in the government of India, bound by the oath of secrecy and the principle of the 'collective responsibility' of the cabinet system. He does not have the same freedom that an ordinary citizen would have in sharing information or expressing an opinion in a public space like Twitter. The opaqueness of the state may infuriate us but to expect Twitter to effect a radical transformation in government functioning is to overestimate its capacity.
Moreover, Tharoor in the end will be judged not by the number of followers he has on Twitter (or for that matter, the number of books he releases), but simply by the work he does for his constituency and his achievements as a minister. But then it must be noticed that even as a minister he had performed fairly well [the right to vote 4 NRI is a huge step which was undoubtedly his brainchild].So, this criticism also fails and is thrown out of window straightaway. However for his betterment he should learn something from One contemporary elite politician who has realized this better than most is the Orissa chief minister, Naveen Patnaik. The Doon school-educated urban sophisticate who lived on plush Aurangzeb road, night clubbed in New York with Jackie Onassis and Gore Vidal, wrote books on herbs and gardens and relished his smoke and scotch, is now transformed into a tough and rooted regional satrap. When in Delhi, he stays at Orissa Bhavan, hasn't traveled abroad since becoming chief minister, will happily entertain tribal dancers from his state and is always seen in public in a crumpled kurta-pajama. He may still drink the finest chota pegs in private, but in public he is what his followers want to see him as: an austere, committed mass leader.

batsman of the last decade?

Cricket is such a pernickety game, not just anyone can get termed a "great". Indeed, of all major sports, only tennis and golf would have a more exclusive club of "all time greats." A decade is a long time. It is long enough to end most careers.It is not often that one gets to see players standing out consistently for such a period of time. Hence, when you decide to sit down and gauge the best of the best men over the past decade, the list is pretty short, and more easily compiled, than say when the plan is to pick a player of the year.
Due to the great variety of skills the game employs, I will be picking four different cricketers of the decade: a batsman, a bowler, a fielder and a wicketkeeper, each in a separate article. I will also compile the best Test and ODI XIs for the decade (T20 has been omitted due to the relatively small amount of time spent in this decade) in additional pieces. The reason I am going to pick only one set of players as the players of the decade, but different XIs is because the cricketer of the 2000s is, and should be, expected to excel consistently in all disciplines of the game to be considered as the best among his contemporaries. Yet the functions these players play in the different forms of the game may differ. A player can only be considered outstanding if he outperforms his contemporaries in all forms of the game, not just one.
So let us begin with the most enigmatic element of Cricket.
Batsman
Cricket fans have always been blessed with outstanding talent in front of them for as long as Test cricket has flourished. Grace, Bradman, Sobers, Greg Chappell, Richards, Gavaskar, all ruled the world in their time. Each of the aforementioned batsmen has been many a cut above the rest. Gavaskar and Richards enthralled crowds simultaneously, and set the benchmark for two geniuses to follow in the '90s, and much of the 2000s.
Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar followed in the footsteps of their respective countrymen from an era ago, and took the art of batsmanship to an all new high. Indeed Lara and Tendulkar were like Bradman split into two. Tendulkar epitomized Bradman's technical purity, competitive spirit, never dying hunger for the art and fierce temperament, while Lara took on the responsibility of reeling of batting marathons, absolutely scintillating stroke play, charismatic personality, and a peculiar fetish for the turning ball. Between them, Tendulkar and Lara reduced the best pacemen and spinners, respectively, to club class players, sometimes even mere spectators.
Though the peak of their careers came in the '90s, the turn of the millennium didn't deter either. While Tendulkar was hit with injury after injury and Lara with slumps in form and off field distractions, each came through and left his mark on the decade. It is beyond doubt that both of these gents were at different times, the best of their time. Of course, their dominance of the profession was punctuated by others occupying their throne for brief periods of time.
Matthew Hayden and Jacques Kallis occupied the top spot ever so briefly. Hayden laid his claim by eclipsing Lara's 375 against England, setting the record five runs higher. Kallis reached his peak when he went on a run of five consecutive matches in which he got a Test century. But each fell by the way side when it came to the test of Time.
Sterner competition came in the form of the two best number three batsmen the world has seen for eons. Ricky Ponting, the assertive Australian, and Rahul Dravid, India's "Wall," ran both the Genius and the Wizard close on numerous occasion. Dravid, synonym to the word "consistent," and Ponting, fearless stroke maker, dazzled crowds across the globe.Dravid signaled his rise with a dramatic tour of England, where he held fort for the Indian middle order time and again in 2002. Ponting signaled his arrival with the highest score in a World Cup final in 2003 by a captain. The two have since achieved great peaks, Ponting winning back to back World Cups as captain, and the first Ashes whitewash since early in the 20th century. And simultaneously, each has reached scandalous depths. Ponting won the un-enviable tag of becoming the first Australian captain in about two decades to lose the Ashes to England, and repeated the feat earlier this year. Dravid, in the meanwhile, got thrown out of the ODI team right after he quit as captain, made a comeback, and then lost his place again and suffered a horrendous loss of form, a period in which he went four consecutive seasons averaging less than 40. Ponting has undergone a similar loss in form, with the loss of match winners in his team finally taking toll of the Australian captain's batting.Ponting is on the verge of finishing off his third consecutive year averaging below 50, averaging in the thirties for two of those three. Yet, the two remain, till date, the closest to the Tendulkar-Lara axis of all batsmen from the last two decades.
This vastly middle order party (barring Hayden, of course) has been crashed by a couple of openers in recent times. Graeme Smith took to captaining the South African team like a zebra to the forests of Africa. Two double tons on his first Test tour as captain against England, was the cake, which Smith finished icing by beating Australia in Australia, the first captain to do so in over a decade.
The other opener in the list, probably the most entertaining batsman to grace the game since Viv Richards, maybe even Bradman, Virender Sehwag. India's portly opener staked his claim on the back of two triple centuries, and total of six double centuries in the past five years, five of them in the top ten list of fastest double tons, in terms of ball faced, of all time.
Sehwag's indomitable spirit and sheer consistency in all conditions, he averages over fifty against all but three test playing nations, England, New Zealand and Bangladesh, and averages over fifty in all but four countries, South Africa and the aforementioned three nations, makes it difficult to ignore this man's credentials.
So who wins?
Hayden, Kallis and Smith have all been good at bursts, but fail to make the cut for the final list. Lara had a phenomenal start to the decade with THAT tour of Sri Lanka, and it continued with him reclaiming his record from Hayden for the highest individual inning with the 400* against England.
But he fell away into gloomy form far too often, and apart from the series against South Africa and Pakistan, and the innings at Adelaide apart, didn't have too much to write home about. Add to it the fact that he retired in mid 2007 right after West Indies' World Cup exit, and suddenly the great man's case becomes weak.
Ponting has been the highest run getter in either forms of the game. Dravid has probably been the most consistent. But both have succumbed to terrible lows without any external injury concerns. Ponting especially has failed to address his weakness against spin bowling and the swinging conditions of England. His captaincy, too, has come under question, with series defeats to South Africa, England, India and close shaves at home to India in 2007-08 and the recently concluded series against lowly West Indies coupled with repeated failures in the limited overs format.
So that leaves us with the two Indian heavy weights, the pair that was once dubbed "The Guru and Chela " (Teacher and Pupil), Sachin and Sehwag. The fact that a lad, unknown in the '90s when Tendulkar was already the best batsman in the world is today competing with the man he credits with igniting the cricketing flame in him is credit to both.
To Sehwag, because it has been one of the most entertaining decade of Test cricket since the Second World War, and definitely the most entertaining since Richards hung his boots. Even Gilchrist's late order bursts couldn't match up to Sehwag's antics at the very top of the order against the likes of Lee, McGrath, Steyn, Akhtar, in short the best fast bowlers in the world. At the same time he has taken the likes of Warne and Murali to the cleaners too. Each of his centuries since he was promoted to open the innings for India have been magnificent to watch, and have elevated him above Tendulkar and Dravid to become probably India's most important batsman. Whether chasing a score in the fourth inning of a Test match, or trying to set up a match in the first, Sehwag's wicket is fast turning out to be the most important. M.S. Dhoni has won seven matches as captain, and Sehwag has been the catalyst in most of them.
To Tendulkar, because it adds another feather to his burgeoning hat, that of longevity. Twenty years after he first set foot in a ground as a player for the Indian national team, Tendulkar still retains the same youthful exuberance for the game at the age of 36 that he did at sixteen. When Ryan Giggs was crowned the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, the whole award show was criticized for lacking credibility and turning it into a "Lifetime Achievement Award" instead. There would be no such criticism if Tendulkar were chosen as the best batsman of the past decade. Through thick and thin, Tendulkar has held out to produce breathtaking moments time and again. It's tough to pick the moments simply because there have been so many. So many centuries, so many records broken, so many salutes to the crowd, so many jaw dropping moments, so many waving of the fore arm by umpires, so many tributes, so many criticisms, so many nay sayers, so many non believers.Indeed, so many injuries. From Ian Chappell to Moin Khan, from hair line fractures to tennis elbow, Tendulkar has weathered a storm, body and soul, which no cricketer ever has. A combined total of over 600 international appearances later, it is phenomenal that people are wondering whether he is at his best. It is especially surreal because just two years ago we had Ian Chappell finishing off his career, in newspaper columns anyway. We had past cricketers such as Moin Khan suggesting to us that Tendulkar was afraid and couldn't stand the pressure of the modern day game.
The decade has seen Tendulkar at his most vulnerable. Indeed, the tennis elbow threatened to end the great man's career at one point. The whole period from mid 2004 right up until the end of 2006, the tennis elbow haunted not only cricket's greatest icon of all time, but also the entire cricketing nation of India.But right up till that disastrous day in the Netherlands and ever since his complete recovery from the wound Tendulkar has been at his enthralling best. Highs included some outstanding innings in electrifying run chases against the likes of Pakistan and Australia. Not once has Tendulkar hit a bad patch when fit. Arguably his worst Test year was 2003 when he didn't manage a single ton, but he more than made up for that with a most memorable World Cup, the leading force behind India's run to its first World Cup Final appearance in exactly twenty years. A Man of the Tournament performance was capped by impressive outings against Australia and New Zealand at home and culminating in that memorable inning at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
While 2004 was an injury plagued year, Tendulkar sill managed nearly a thousand runs in Test cricket at a Bradmanesque average. Repeated surgeries then ravaged Tendulkar's game, forcing a very tame Tendulkar to appear on the pitch, that is, when he did appear. Sporadic bursts of form were the only windows of joy during an otherwise gloomy period. His 55 against Australia at Mumbai was a throwback into a time which was by then nearly forgotten, Tendulkar repeatedly charging Australia's rooky spinners. The innings helped India win the match and redeem some respect from a series which saw India surrender a final frontier to the Ausies.
But all Tendulkar needed was a fine run of regular match practice and he was back in the groove by the time India travelled to South Africa in the winter (summer down under) of 2006. He repeatedly got starts, but failed to convert them.It was almost a relearning curve for Tendulkar, as he made his way back into the spot light of batting-dom. Back to back centuries against Bangladesh did little to justify selector's faith in him after the World Cup debacle, but a stoic Test tour of England, and an explosive pair of ODI series against South Africa (in Ireland, preceding the Test series versus England) was followed by a short but effective series against Pakistan. A brief injury scare later, Tendulkar was ready to take on his favourite team in their backyard, Australia.
That series re-established him in the eyes of many as the pinnacle of modern day batting. Three centuries and an ODI tournament victory over the hosts later, Tendulkar was set.
He was crowned the No. 1 batsman in ODI's by the ICC, and he has been ahead of all the other nominated batsmen on this list ever since.
His recent exploits need to reminding, but it must be done for justice. An unbeaten hundred in the thrilling chase against England in the wake of the Mumbai terror attack, surpassing Lara as the highest run getter in Test cricket, and most recently scoring the highest score ever by a batsman against Australia, that too in a thrilling run chase, Tendulkar's 175 took him past the 17,000 run mark.
Batsman of the Decade: Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar

Monday, December 7, 2009

MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN CONFUSES ME MOST!

Like every ordinary Indian people I love movies, their concepts, stories and every other thing. It is usual that it affects my mind, body as well as instincts. Nowhere is this more significant than the habit of mine to assign an angel status and a demon status to everybody in this world. According to me you can either be a hero or a devil but nobody in between. To say in scientific words i consider world as nucleus where only protons and electrons resides. To me James Chadwick [founder of neutron] was never born. [P.S-I extended two statements by using clutches of science just to satisfy the sheded egos of some of my engineering friends who usually complains that I don’t write like an science stream student].This habit although I know is not exact and good but still i follow this with my whole heart. Bose is a super-hero, so is sachin, Mahatma Gandhi was also an angel and similarly there are many demons [names of whom is irrelevant to the topic and are controversial].However hard I try I can’t assign status to midnight’s children Jawaharlal Nehru and Mohammed Ali Jinnah. It is not that I had never assigned them any status but now-a-days my opinions about them had changed and presently their status is complicated [ahem himeshbhai is happy].

Jawaharlal Nehru the first prime minister of modern India was a moody, idealistic intellectual who felt an almost mystical empathy with the toiling peasant masses; an aristocrat accustomed to privilege, who had passionate socialist convictions, an anglicized product of harrow and Cambridge and an agonist radical who became an unlikely protégé of saintly mahatma Gandhi. A pampered youth, he always had little connections about grass-root problems. Even he himself had written in his biography that an only son to prosperous parents is apt to be spoilt and if he remains alone till 11 the chances of left unspoiled is nil especially in India.

There are many fine things which Nehru gave us. He united a nation out of most heterogeneous people on the earth. He nurtured democracy. More than any other individuals we owe him our present day attachments to democratic institutions. He respected minorities and made us secular in our temperament. Most important he injected in us the modernist idea of liberty and equality. He gave us youthful hope and optimism. But there are equal bad things which Nehru gave us if not more. His failed economic promises which have cost us two generations of missed opportunities. Instead of socialism, his path led to a corrupt, domineering state which we are desperately trying to dismantle today with the economic reforms. He lacks vision, the blind faith on China who later backstabbed us. His failed policies, overconfidence had made India backward by at least two generation from what it deserves. The uncompromisable attitude which led to the partition of India and his more than desired idealistic attitude which lacks realism still cost us and after seeing the condition of today I can say that even the Fabians socialist ideology went wrong at some point and what was more pathetic was his reluctance to improve. That’s what we call ego.

Mahomedali Jinnahbhai, as the world knows, was a Gujarati-speaking khoja Muslim, a westernized liberal constitutionalist who believed the mass movement unleashed by Gandhi was also leading to widespread religious divisions in the public because of the way Gandhi was mixing religion with politics. His break with the Congress was ironic because at heart Jinnah was a diehard Congressman, whose early associates were Gopalkrishna Gokhale and SN Banerjea.

Jinnah was a towering national leader much before Gandhi returned from South Africa and entered public life. He was better known than Motilal Nehru, Tej Bahadur Sapru and M.R. Jayakar. Gandhi’s rise to prominence lies in the Khilafat movement which Jinnah bitterly opposed. Jinnah was a permanent secular liberal while Gandhi adjusted his secularism according to the prevalent condition and the requirement. He was constantly humiliated by congressmen and was not treated nicely.

All this did not dishearten Jinnah to such an extent that he demands a separate homeland for Muslims. Till 1937, Jinnah saw “no difference between the ideals of the Muslim League and of the Congress, the ideal being complete freedom for India. In October 1937, he said that “all safeguards and settlements would be a scrap of paper unless they were backed up by power.” In Britain the parties alternate in holding power. “But such is not the case in India. Here we have a permanent Hindu majority....”This is where Jinnah went horribly wrong. His constant humiliation led him to majority-minority trap. He forgot that the key issue to Muslim development was through empowerment on all fronts including politics. Jinnah was so frustrated and in that he raised the slogan of “permanent Hindu majority”

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, aristocrat by temperament, catholic in taste, sectarian in politics, and the father of Pakistan, was the unlikeliest parent that an Islamic republic could possibly have. He was the most British of the generation of Indians that won freedom in August 1947. As a child in the elite Christian Mission High School in Karachi, he changed his birthday from 20 October to Christmas Day. As a student at Lincoln's Inn, he anglicised his name from Jinnahbhai to Jinnah. He wore Savile Row suits, heavily starched shirts and two-tone leather or suede shoes……Despite being the Quaid-e-Azam, or the Great Leader of Muslims, he drank a moderate amount of alcohol and was embarrassingly unfamiliar with Islamic methods of prayer. He was uncomfortable in any language but English, and made his demand for Pakistan — in 1940 at Lahore — in English, despite catcalls from an audience that wanted to hear Urdu.”

However the status assigned by Indian historians and media-persons to both persons is sharp contradicting. Nehru is a super-hero, jinnah is the all purpose villain. But the reality is If Nehru compromised on minorities’ rights then Jinnah on India’s unity although both men were secularists. A.G. Noorani writes, “Therein lies the tragedy. Nehru harmed secularism by denying the legitimacy of minority rights. Jinnah ruined it by the two-nation theory.” He adds, “ Yet, it is doubtful if, in the entire history of India’s struggle for freedom, anyone else has been subjected to such a sustained, determined denigration and demonization as Jinnah has been from 1940 to this day, by almost everyone - from the leaders at the very top to academics and journalists.”The Cabinet Mission’s Plan of May 16, 1946, for a united India failed and dragged it “into the abyss of inevitability.” Everyone including Nehru and Patel had given up; only Maulana Abul Kalam Azad remained opposed to it.

India would have been surely different and better had Nehru taken some realistic steps or had sardar vallabh bhai Patel became the first prime minister of India? Similarly for Jinnah, had he been somewhat less egoist, History would have been different.
[Note:-Being an Indian I had not touched Jinnah’s aspects as a nation head and had only focussed on his role before partition]

20 YEARS OF HAPPINESS,BELIEF AND STRENGTH

After living in the hearts of over a billion people since his teenage days, can he yearn for anything else? Can there still be a void in his life, really, something more to be accomplished in this ephemeral world?

Well, Sachin Tendulkar is a man of possibilities, of the unthinkable: in his quest for perfection, if not greatness, he has shattered stereotypes and smothered barriers; indeed, he has dignified so many records that even history books rise in ovation.

Yet, Sachin might feel he is still an incomplete epic, an unfinished masterpiece: he cannot, and won’t, rest on his laurels until the World Cup too snuggles into his teeming trophy chest. For that, of course, he has to wait two more years; and yet, cruelly, there’s no guarantee that the dream will be fulfilled.

Today, he will complete 20 years at the pinnacle of the sport. One has seen many Sachin gems during his voyage, right from Old Trafford in Manchester to Newlands in Cape Town, to SCG in Sydney to Basin Reserve in Wellington; one has seen many more dangerous-looking deliveries too disintegrate from his presence, bedazzled by his sparkling strokeplay.

The personal favourite, however, is from lower climes, from the Ranji stratosphere: the 1991 final against Kapil Dev’s Haryana. It’s not for sentimental reasons though: it was the first time one saw him bat in flesh[although not me], blood and with gay abandon; it was love at first sight, of course.

Chasing an impossible 355 on the last day, Mumbai were quickly reduced to 34 for three. And then Sachin arrived. The script, as it would happen many times later, immediately changed on its head: it was an innings of pure genius, almost blasphemous to even think possible from a lanky lad’s seemingly too-heavy willow.

That is when one first witnessed the Sachin Tendulkar phenomenon too: with each boundary, the monstrous Wankhede seemed to get smaller and smaller, and noisier and noisier; by the evening, it was nearly full, and the ambience inside had turned electric. Amazingly though, his shots could be heard even over this aching din.

Later, when he would make the progression to live television, the country regularly came to a stop when he got going, and got going only when he stopped, or indeed when an insolent delivery stopped him.

It was the first imprint in the mind of a glorious, free-flowing Sachin: commanding and yet so humble, regal yet so simple. With him, it’s usually a matter of time before the assault reaches a crescendo; every stroke is a high point, every drive the climax.

Alas, however, Mumbai lost by a mere two runs: he was, of course, heroic in defeat, and calm and assured even in the face of imminent doom; that evening, as time stood still, even a veteran like Vengsarkar could only cry like a child.

In many ways, that near-victory heralded a pattern, a vignette for the future: he would be dominant yet remain vulnerable; he would seem all-conquering yet be susceptible. How many times has he been reduced to that little boy on the burning deck? How many times has the team crumbled, and the players become distraught enough to give up the fight after his fall?

Only he knows how many tears he shed each time India spurned a victory; only he knows how many times sleep evaded him after seeing the taunting face of defeat.

In a merciless country, not too surprisingly, that is one of the grouses against him: oh, he hasn’t helped India win many matches; oh, he hasn’t delivered in the big ones. As wicked as that might be, not to forget how untrue as well, nobody seems to notice the mountains on his shoulders when he comes in to bat; one just has to look into his eye to understand that even sleep had run away in fear the previous night.

How many people can withstand this kind of pressure, this size of expectation? Tendulkar doesn’t face just the fury of one bowler, or the cunning of a team; he faces the anxiety of an entire country each time he pads up for India: one false stroke, indeed one good delivery, can wipe out a million smiles faster than a tsunami.

Is it really possible to see the ball through such a crowd? Can the feet move in such a throng? Can the mind communicate its command to the body in such deafening silence? It’s a miracle, really, that Sachin can even walk into the cauldron of a World Cup final; yet he goes in, erases the million pleading eyes, tames the demons and comes back unscathed for another mauling, for another day.

Sachin, the captain

If Sachin was born to bat, Tendulkar was clearly ordained to lead: after all, there is no nuance of the game that escapes his eye. He catches the tiniest weakness in each batsman and unravels the shrewdest and most-guarded secret of every bowler; he has Plan A and Plan Z, and a million ideas in between.

Yet, somehow Sachin has never been a successful captain; more damningly, there’s hardly been a great batsman who has not gone on to become a great captain, with or without the resources.

Sachin’s record shrieks mainly because he is almost always ahead of the game; it may be only into its first over, but he is already thinking of the fifth, the tenth or possibly the fiftieth. His mind is processing data, nay tactics, at the speed of a dual core; sadly, it’s impossible for the lesser mortals to keep up with him. More significantly, perhaps, they may have found it difficult to execute his plans; at the peak of his own batting, of course, India were hardly a bowling side either: his attack was never good enough to account for 20 wickets. What could he do?

Sachin could only despair as his pacers tired, his spinners flagged and other shoulders sagged; as for him, even in defeat he never had to hunt for enthusiasm or energy. Only his body language betrayed the grief, and the quiver in his voice the trauma.

Actually, Tendulkar the captain needed ten other Sachin s to make India the most formidable side in the world.

The moment he realized it was an untenable dream, he gave up captaincy; he dedicated the rest of his life to other captains, in pursuit of the same goal. For Sachin, the planning never ceases, the plotting (of the rival batsman’s downfall) is an unending process.

Indeed, he remains the biggest cog in the think-tank; not a single stratagem is devised without a little finetuning by him, not a single match has been won without a particularly sweet coup from him. Sachin has always been the captain of the team without officially being one.

He is not Sachin

As the advancing years slowly rendered him back to mortality, he encounters a new charge: he is not the same batsman anymore; he doesn’t bat like he used to. True, this is not Sachin at all; this is some other imposter batting in his frame, scoring the same number of runs but in a much, much more human way.

Those who have seen the real thing up close, of course, will lament in hope; those who have heard the crack of his rasping shots will continue to long for the vintage little boy: the others can only snigger and make crude remarks about his role in the team.

Luckily, just a couple of weeks ago, Hyderabad happened, the 175 materialized; let us, however, be assured that it was an accident, that we may not see it again, at least not in a hurry; but yes, it very clearly showed that the old little Sachin still resides in Tendulkar’s body.

The bitter truth, however, is that it’s not the same body any longer. In fact, it has probably been dissected more than even his own batting; there isn’t a single part inside which hasn’t seen an injury or met a surgeon. He has gone through so much pain that it’s a marvel that he can even walk, forget run or play.

Indeed, there came a time when he couldn’t even lift a spoon with his left hand; the tennis elbow was so excruciating and humbling that he actually thought he could never wield a bat again. In his mind, the end had already etched in big, bold letters. Yet, Sachin didn’t give up; he had come on a mission to this planet and he would finish it.

Eventually, through true grit and a numbing fitness regime, he got his elbow back on its feet. He was tempted to use a lighter bat but he gave up the idea almost the next instant; now THAT wouldn’t be Sachin: he subtracted a few dynamic strokes, including the stunning lofted drive over mid-on against pacers, and added a few pedestrian ones.

Runs started coming from behind the wicket, rather than from the front; the booming cover-drives and cascading straight-drives are a distant dream now. Why, he seems to have even lost that special ability to read the ball before it was delivered, or be in position to play before it reached him. Yet, the hundreds keep coming almost as if out of their own will.

What else could one want? What else could one ask of him? Well, how about turning back the clock and becoming that precocious kid all over again? Yes, we want the little Sachin, just one more time. For ever.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

thank you!! sachin.....

The common room was empty... not a soul inside! And there I was, rushing like rushing to save my soul! Sachin was about to cross 17000 any moment now! I simply had to watch that... but exam time and college life, at times doesn't permit you to do all that u wish to do. So I was frantically trying to reach in front of the newly installed LCD TV in our hostel common room. So I sat alone! All alone in that big common room, but actually not there....Sachin took me far far away! The innings tonight were indeed one of his best ever! It had the fearlessness and ruthlessness of Sharjah, the patience of Sydney, the cheekiness of Perth and the sheer brilliance which is a trademark of every sachin innings! Each and every shot was picture perfect, proper textbook style cricket with which any child may start learning. At the same time, the innovation was all over the place to see. The best part was to see him dominating the bowlers and the field setting , being so very aggressive , at the same time , so keen to take those all important singles. It was perfect!The running between the wickets was so good, it often left the likes of Raina and Yuvraj two steps behind, the youthful excitement when something went according to the plan, the aggressiveness of stroke, the elegance of footwork, the rhythm of stance and the total harmony, a confluence of youth and experience, rebellious and conventional, a treasure to watch, a sight to behold! I shouted and shrieked and clapped like mad. My voice still isn't back to normal and my hands hurt a bit. But who cares! I saw Sachin erupt like a volcano today! I saw him coming down the ground and give Aussies a sense of déjà vu , with the Sharjah style sixes . Of course I shouted! The result being, slowly the common room started filling up...first in ones and twos and later in groups of 5 and 6! As more and more people got to hear about Sachins century and hitting, and as they heard me getting excited, they probably felt like being a part of this simple celebration of existence. Before i knew, the common room was fuller than i had ever seen. Interested cricket enthusiasts , casual followers, people who had come attracted by the commotion, people who had come to watch sachin score yet another century, people who had nothing else to do... Each and every shot drew deafening roars and cheers... it bubbled up like a crescendo inside us all. Within a matter of few minutes, everybody had gotten over their depressing/miserable/busy/tensed day...they had forgotten that exams were a week away, they had forgotten the tests coming up , the unfinished assignments, the home and peer troubles... in that one moment when sachin lifted his bat and looked towards the sky once again, everybody forgot about everything else and simply exalted ...excited to be witnessing this moment , mind blank from all the gory details , a curious mixture of calm and adrenaline rush flowing inside us all , we were just alive, really truly alive, celebrating our lives, celebrating the joy of living !!Of course , as is often the case ,once sachin gets out , the whole team decides to leave on a vacation so that foolish critics can get the chance to say ‘sachin is not a match winner'... nobody will ever think that chasing 350 under lights , with all major batsman already back in the pavilion , a flawless, effortless , single handed mammoth innings of 175 is an effort only sachin is capable of. It hurt to see that effort go in vain, it hurt to see the pain in sachin's eyes, to see him dejected, to see such an innings prove inconsequential! But then Sachin’s innings have that amazing quality nobody, not even Bradman had! When Sachin bats, nations, regions, religions, wins, losses, results, become nonexistent and irrelevant. All that remains is a sense of limitless, boundless ecstasy! So yes, we lost a very important game, despite sachin’s 17k , and despite the majestic 175. But at the end of the game, u know what, it hardly mattered ! by the time sachin finished with his innings , he had already united a small hostel common room , and countless other common rooms, tea shops ,boulevards ,streets and homes, across the nation and the world.... because of him , for an hour or two , people got over their busy , stopwatch lives and sat back to enjoy each moment passing, because of him unknown , separate voices united as one to cheer for their nation, cheer for cricket , cheer for their lives and cheer for one majestic man !! and as long as sachin continues to do this , I for one, won’t mind the result of the game. My hero truly unites the nation , brings the nation to a standstill , uplifts people and makes them become kids again !!Thank you sachin for making our days so special, for giving such memories! Tonight i sleep peaceful and happy. Tomorrow i will wake up enthusiastic and very happy. Thank you for making my many many days!! This 17k is another gigantic feat only you are capable of and may such feats continue to be in your way. Thank you for the effort and enthusiasm you have, even after 20 years! Thank you for being there for us all!!! Thank you !!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

GANDHI,JINNAH AND INDIAN MUSLIMS!

It is curious that six decades after 1947 a debate on Jinnah can pack halls in Delhi and Mumbai but a discussion on Gandhi might not fill a front row. Is this because Jinnah offers the drama of a court trial, the speakers being advocates for defense or prosecution, and the audience a silent, but ultimately decisive, jury? Jinnah, one of the great barristers of his age, would have relished the metaphor.


Has Gandhi become, in our subconscious, an irritating nuisance, a mirror before our guilty conscience? Who wants to be measured by the yardstick of a saint who was so disconcertingly honest that he turned his autobiography into a confessional? Jinnah, on the other hand, was so private, and even secretive in life that, in death, he is vulnerable to endless post-mortem dissection. Gandhi has become as ephemeral as an ideal. We can disturb the memory of Jinnah. Gandhi’s memory disturbs us.


Where would Gandhi have been on his 140th birthday, October 2, 2009, if he were not safely dead? He would have been on a fast in Maharashtra. Why? The state police has slipped into the public space a statistic made even more astonishing by the indifference with which it has been received: there has been, on an average, a riot every 20 days in Maharashtra during the last five years. Print media consigned it to a couple of statutory paragraphs inside. Television, crowded with high-decibel celebrities, ignored this completely. It seems that our innumerable guardians of secularism need familiar villains for their rage. Faceless violence is not attractive enough.


Gandhi placed the facts of violence above the politics of conflict. He would have been an inconvenient presence for those who profess to live by his creed today. As for the heroes of modern India: they would not recognize him. There is no way to reinvent Gandhi as a happy symbol of a rising sensex, checking out the value of an investment portfolio at five every evening. It makes sense on every side to convert Gandhi into a token portrait on the wall of a government office.


Jinnah’s problem, conversely, has been that he has been appropriated, or misappropriated, by a range of vested interests, each determined to resurrect him in its own image, to serve its agenda. Pakistan’s political elite, forced to compromise with the culture of theocracy, has converted the natty, lean, handsome owner of 200-odd London-tailored suits into a shalwar-and-cap chameleon. If, instead of being clean-shaven, Jinnah had sported a slight, fashionable beard, they would have extended the beard by six inches in official portraits. Most Pakistanis would be shocked today to discover that Jinnah did not know Urdu, never fasted during Ramzan, had little interest in the rituals of religion, and that his concept of spiritual sustenance was very worldly indeed. Jinnah sent out invitations for a formal lunch-banquet in honour of the visiting Mountbattens for August 14, 1947, the day the new nation was born. The meal had to be cancelled when someone realized that they were in the middle of Ramzan. Jinnah had been oblivious of the fact that observant Muslims had been fasting for three weeks.


Indian politicians have restructured Jinnah more subtly. Contemporary Congressmen needed a cardboard Jinnah as the all-purpose villain who could soak up all the guilt of Partition. An obstinate, communal hate figure was planted into Indian schoolbook history. This was then morphed into something more insidious.


When Jinnah’s utility as the father of Pakistan receded, he was transformed, surreptitiously, into the symbol of the guilt of Indian Muslims, who became the whipping boys of Indian nationalism as practiced on all sides of the spectrum. The Bharatiya Jana Sangh, forerunner of the BJP, latched on to this projection with great glee, since it perpetuated the politics of isolation and accusation. Indian Muslims, in this construct, were genetically unpatriotic and therefore, deservedly condemned to the status of second-class citizens. When Jaswant Singh challenged this single-dimension mythology by lifting the record from the private domain of academic archives and flinging it into public discourse, he had to be expelled. He had spread the guilt to others, who were Hindus, and disturbed the equanimity of a half-truth.


The secular parties, whose expertise in the dynamics of electoral behaviour has always been more astute, quickly understood that fear is the easiest route to the Indian Muslim vote. Fear of the past, Partition, was compounded by fear of its future consequences. Muslims had to choose between the communal cage and the secular trap. One offered a diet of gruel, and the other a scrap of cheese. After six decades, Indian Muslims are beginning to bang on the door of both the cage and the trap.