Friday, August 21, 2009

it was never about jinnah! we desperately needs demon!

Two things at the outset – I haven’t read Jaswant’s book (who has?) and I am not interested in the internal ideological gymnastics within the BJP-RSS conglomerate. So please don’t expect me to assess whether Rajnath is right or Jaswant is, and whether the BJP’s current position on disowning Jaswant’s admiration of Jinnah is in sync with Advani’s profuse praise of the Qaid-E-Azam at the Minar-e-Pakistan the last time he was there. I can’t understand the acrobatic agility of the party’s ideology, and have quite given up trying to make any sense out of it.
Now, having got that out of the way, I want to get back to what engaged me to comment on this. “I think we have misunderstood him (Jinnah) because we needed to create a demon... We needed a demon because in the 20th century the most telling event in the subcontinent was the partition of the country,” says Jaswant. Well, fair enough. Irrespective of what you think of Jinnah – and am not a diehard fan of either Nehru or Jinnah, so I am not arguing the who-was-responsible case here – I don’t think it is about we needing a demon in this particular context. We need demons, period.

In the world where Bollywood scripts are churned out, the scriptwriter is faced with the fundamental question in maybe eight out of ten scripts that ever get to the production stage – which character will play the villain? You need a villain to make a good movie. Not that Hollywood is very different. Or any good story, for that matter. Where would the Mahabharata be without Duryodhana and the Ramayana without Ravana? How can the hero be a hero unless the anti-hero is there to provide the contrast and to shoulder the blame for all the mess? Of course, not all anti-heroes can be as mass-appeal evoking as SRK in Baazigar or as definitive as the Joker in the Batman movies, but that’s another story. In the larger, real world, where stories of drama, pain and conflict, involving thousands or millions are shaped and structured, especially where defining events are accompanied by large-scale costs in human suffering, demons are absolutely integral to the subsequent presentation of things. Of course a lot went wrong – and this guy did it!

The idea of fixing a name to the episodes where people behave like beasts or are slaughtered like them is perhaps a cathartic one. Who was the demon of WWII? Adolf Hitler. Who was the demon of post war Europe? Josef Stalin. Who was the demon of the Middle East? Saddam. Who is the current demon of the civilised world? Osama. Everyone else’s accountability is washed away, when we can pin massive chaos and death to a single name, and isn’t that a nice thing? Socially, when we look back at horrendous events, oppressive regimes, massacres and things that make us retch and consider if the “nasty, brutish and short” paradigm of life is the only consistent one, we need to pin the blame somewhere, to take it off the collective conscience. Politically, regimes that take extreme positions on issues find demons very handy. Nothing pushes up a government’s ratings quicker than taking on the bad guy and saving the world from him. The US – since its leaders have needed those ratings to stay on in power – has been saving the world from a lot of demons, for instance. During the war, it was Hitler. After the war, it was Stalin, Khruschev, whosoever – Reagan fighting the Evil Empire. Close home, it was Fidel. Ayatollah Khomeini. Saddam. Kim Jong-Il. Osama Bin Laden. Etc, etc, etc. The slot has rarely been left vacant. These are, of course, the top league, but the ‘lesser’ ones closer home for us are aplenty too. Who is the demon of Mumbai? Dawood or Balasaheb, depending where you see it from (Raj just doesn’t have the stature yet, though he tries). Who is the demon of Bihar? Nah, no prizes for guessing that one, too easy, it shouldn’t even be on the list. Who was the demon of the sandalwood belt? Veerappan. Prabhakaran would be top league for us too, but it needs to be remembered that he shifted from ally to demon status only after the Rajiv Gandhi assassination. One could go on and on. So far as Jinnah goes, he is not the only leader who can be judged afresh in the light of the was-he-guilty-was-he-not perspective. These things have changed and been repositioned depending on who calls the shots. Beyond the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, we have had a fairly grey zone and a lot of selective memory in terms of deciding who our saints and demons should be. But that is to be expected in a culture where Ravana is a demon in the North and is close to a deity in portions of the South – we pick and choose our demons depending on which side our instincts and roots go. I also think that the Indian need for demons is higher than many other cultures given that we need to play out the Dussehra exercise of effigy burning all the time at a more decentralised level by burning effigies of anyone from Obama to Osama to Greg Chappell to the neighbourhood politician whenever we are aggrieved. No hate-able enough demons, ergo, no effigies to burn. How boring! Jinnah is hardly the only politician who has ‘not been given his due’ – which is not to say I believe that he was a great man or agree with Jaswant. Patel is someone who hasn’t been given his due, even by Jaswant, from the very skeletal info I have about his book, though I daresay today it is politically incorrect to talk of the “Gujarati strongman” since it gives Narendra Modi a legacy to inherit. Subhash Bose was viciously abused by a wide spectrum of people, including the Congress and the Communists and was well on his way to Demon status at one point – Fascist stooge and what not. On his birth centenary, I was thoroughly confused and read a piece on the TOI’s edit page asking how come 1) the Congress seemed to fall in love with him and wanted to reappropriate him as a Congressman all of a sudden, 2) the BJP was lashing out at the Congress for not giving him his due and describing him as a great leader, and 3) Jyoti babu was giving speeches saying how the Left was wrong in not realising what a great man Bose was. I mean, how could he have a political ideology that appealed to the Congress, the BJP and the Communists all in one go? The INA was affiliated to neither, last I checked. But that was perhaps Bose’s moment of de-demonisation, to coin a phrase. He was suddenly no longer a proper demon. There are many other instances of transitional phases where it has been cool to slam someone and subsequently ‘rediscover’ them. Perhaps it is too much to aspire for everlasting Demonhood, in a world of constantly changing affiliations. One random observation before closing this – you have to have that sharp edge to your individuality, a stubborn streak, a headstrong temperament, to make it to the list. Gentle agreeable leaders don’t ever get there. A Narasimha Rao, an IK Gujaral, a Manmohan Singh can be criticised and attacked – but they never run the risk of being demons in history books, no matter who writes the official history. Two interesting things, though. The US has never found a demon in Pakistan, where staging coups and establishing military regimes and creating nuclear programmes or such is supposedly pretty ok as things go – but if you do the same in North Korea, or much less in Cuba, you are promptly a Demon with a capital D. Perhaps there could be a process of formal demonification (the way the Vatican does the beatification and anoints you a saint, the flip version of that?). It would be so much fun. The UN’s Ethics Panel or some such thing voting to formally confer Demon status on X, Y and Z. And the casting vote rests with the US prez. The second interesting thought that comes to mind is that while we have a name and a face as official demon to affix to almost every large scale death inflicted on man by man in the recent past, in all the years of school, college and life after that, I don’t recall anyone being anointed as a demon for the definitive moments of death by human hands – Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

my name is khan! who cares?

After a long time actor Salman Khan has come up with a real gem. On hearing about Shah Rukh Khan being questioned by US security at Newark, New Jersey, he said it’s good that the country has such a tight set-up. And that ``there has been no attack after 9/11 because of this.’’Salman has a point.

SRK might be an icon to Indians and many in the subcontinent, even to the desi diaspora spread across the globe, but to America he’s just a visitor. We may be convinced he cannot be involved in anything that’s remotely violent, but the guard given the responsibility of stopping something like 9/11 from happening in his country again will want to take no chances. And what is the possibility that he’s a die hard fan of the Khan and Bollywood? Very slim.

SRK says he’s ``upset and angry’’ because it was his Muslim name that caused all this. Thousands of Muslims are made to go through extra security checks everyday in America and a host of Western countries. Is he equally upset at that? He's probably just pissed that it happened to him, India's mega star. We all know how a lot of Muslims have been subjected to prejudice around the world because many countries see terrorism as an Islamic phenomenon. Yes, it is uncalled for, unjust and maybe wrong. But America is a country that takes the killings of its people with the seriousness it deserves, unlike India whose record on this is shameful, to say the least.

Also, because most of the perpetrators of 9/11 were Muslims, America thinks it has to be doubly careful where they are concerned. Had the terrorists been Jews, perhaps it would have looked at Jews with similar suspicion. I was much more aggrieved at President Kalam being frisked.

There are two layers to the SRK incident and we must peel them off with care. One, it is quite ridiculous that Indians feel their icons and superstars are everybody’s icons and superstars. What the heck? If Jet Li came to India tomorrow, the man on the street here would probably call him ‘`Chinky’’ and not give a second look.Moreover, America doesn’t have a culture of fawning the way India has. Mike Tyson was treated like a common rapist and spent most part of his youth in the slammer. Laura bush was sent to jail for violating the rules.Can one expect the same for rahul Gandhi? Oh forgot rahul even any mp’s son or daughter?

More importantly, we are actually aggrieved because we are ``not like them’’. Well, guess what. It isn’t a virtue. We should be like them and take the security of our country and its people with solemn, no-nonsense professionalism. Frisk Brad Pitt when he lands in India next. Give Tom Cruise the same dose. Don’t spare Bill Clinton either. Isn’t he an ex-prez just like Kalam? Who’s stopping you and what’s stopping you? Colonial hangover? Or is it plain lethargy and callousness. Looks like both.

There’s a lesson in this. And it is a positive one. A day after our own 26/11, there was hardly any security at CST in Mumbai. It can’t get worse than that. The bottom line: Stop fawning, shed the colonial hangover and make no compromise where the country’s safety is concerned. Can we do that or is it too much to ask from a country that’s been free for 62 years but was ruled by white sahibs for 200?

The ludicrous fracas by politicians over the "frisking" of APJ Abdul Kalam and shahrukh khan was an example of how we continue to overthrow the principle of equality. Pray, how is a routine security check a violation of anyone's self respect? We live in a democracy yet strangely we continue to regard democratic norms as insulting. Not only do we refuse to stand in queue and patiently wait our turn, but when a wonderfully idealistic citizen and archetypal aam admi like Kalam happily stands in queue and submits to a check by Continental Airlines, we are on our feet screaming about national honour and protocol. Our netas and top babus all send their children to the US for higher studies. Surely, when taking the SAT and GRE exams, these students submit to American rules. In applying for visas they also submit to US legal requirements. But when Kalam submits to US laws when traveling on an American airline, we are suddenly shaken to our foundations.

The VIP culture of India is truly a slur on our Constitution. The "don't-you-know-who-I-am" syndrome violates every principle for which our freedom fathers toiled. As the Delhi High Court held in 2008: VIP security is an obnoxious status symbol. When common men are killed on the street, why should the tax payer pay for so much security for politicians?" That great jurist Fali Nariman has long campaigned against VIP culture, saying it is time to get rid of it. This Independence Day, lets all take a solemn pledge. We will never again utter the phrase: `Don't you know who I am'. Instead we will all emulate the dignified Kalam who, quietly and unobtrusively, took his place in a queue not like the shahrukh khan vip syndrome perhaps has taken into his mind.

And yeah shahrukh is not any national icon like kalam or manmohan singh or even the sportsperson who go to other nation's to represent our country.Like always, Shahrukh went to dance to some patriotic songs, make a million bucks for his own good and make a complete mockery of Indians and himself in some other country. This time it was an Independence day function unlike weddings, Birthdays and inauguration functions where Shahrukh is known to dance for money. It's completely like the old saying ,'Begaani Shaadi mein Shahrukh deewana!!!!!" Oops!!! Its Abdullah deewana.It was a business tour for Shahrukh to earn some moolah for himself ,and in no way was the US government or the US security going to benefit from Shahrukh's visit.They didn't even call him to their country.Why the hell on Earth would they then compromise on their security procedures.Moreover, Indian actors, politicians and page 3 celebs have earned a name for themselves in cases involving illegally helping people immigate to other countries, have been caught with illegal items like drugs during security checks at international airports.
In fact we should learn a lesson from US authorities,who treat a pompous bollywood star and a common man in the same way.No wonder why there has not been even a single terror attack on American soil after 9/11. And in India hundreds die every year in terror attacks. Everytime time a terror attack takes place, the Indian government and security personnels are awestruck.And there are some people who are making the whole thing a communal issue.They dont know that while they are reading this comment, the already richie rich Shahrukh has become richer by a couple of millions with this controversial visit to US.Shahrukh might have thought that he was at Chhatrapati Shivaji terminous where a fat constable with tobacco stained teeth would put up a sugary smile wen he wld see shahrukh, say salam saab and ask for an autograph for his kid at home, all in the name of security check.

SO what was all this? IS this a gimmick - is this a publicity stunt? Who cares, quite frankly, as a non-SRK-fan. Want to frisk Brad Pitt? Go ahead, do it. You know what - when it is done Pitt isn't going to go on record and then claim the Indians were racist. Shah Rukh should have shut his trap and gone through the process. IT is he who wishes to do business with the USA and not exactly the other way around. IF you don't like the rules of the game then you don't play it.

Srk fans can say me to talk the talk only you have walked the talk!then let me tell you,Well I am ready to sacrifice my privacy,I am ready for continuous check-ups of my bag provided our government also give assurance that next 8 years we will be terror free.I think its still better to be in detention for 1 hour than to remain in constant terror for 1 decade.But then that’s what I can think,you can think.Why would srk n our ministers think same? When they know that none of the bombs are made for them.Its our destiny to get such lethargic n shameless death not there and that’s what you pay price to be in INDIA the world’s greatest democracy.

Friday, August 14, 2009


How many years are we independent? Sixty-two years you say! Well your math is right. Have you ever consulted the dictionary to find the meaning of independence! Well you are not alone. Many of us assume we attained our independence in 1947! Are we really independent?

WHILE I was in my ninth standard, I read a quote of an eminent personality in our compulsory history book that sent a shiver down my body and mind. The quote was given on much awaited midnight of 14th august 1947 by our first prime minister who announced on radio that "Long year ago, we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we will redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.... We end today a period of ill fortune, and India discovers herself again."
After that 62 years have passed with varied colours, India has also been gradually growing from its nascent stage each day. Now, standing on the 62nd year of its valued independence, I would like to draw your kind attention towards some issues that have been haunting me.
The first and foremost issue that occupies frequently is how independent we are in reality and whether we are really independent? Before Independence, we were ruled by the Britishers; for every purpose, we had to bow down in front of the foreign power. After much bloodshed, we got independence from the British, but undivided India was broken into two dominions – India and Pakistan. Though both of the two dominions were declared secular at the time of independence, Pakistan turned into an Islamic country. India has maintained the ideal of secularism till date as mentioned in the Constitution, ignoring all heinous attempts by some political organisations to make it a ’Hindu’ land. Every five years, we, the proud citizens of India, cast our votes and elect our representatives in the Parliament (the very citadel of democracy) and in the legislative assemblies. But the overall procedure of election is well known to us. Except for some major cities in India [where nobody go to vote by the way]election is considered neither a fair nor a peaceful event in the rest of our country. Booth-jam, rigging, terrorising the common masses to remain away from casting their vote and various other malpractices take place in order to secure maximum seats in those socially and economically backward areas. Casting a vote pressurised by some goons is equal to staying inside a prison and acting like convicts. After the voting, while the winner along with his/ her supporters conducts a rally, an imbecile like me also can’t suppress the laughter.
Earlier, we were under the British rule. With independence, a transformation of power took place. Those who were oppressed, deprived and neglected in those days, still remained the same. No change has appeared in their life style. The ’Sun of Liberty’ has risen for those who can move the stick and dominate over the less fortunate by any and all means.

Shocked! well Then tell me what will make you happy to call India an independent nation! That depends.A country cannot be independent till it can freely express its opinion and act based on its national and strategic interests. Is Iraq an independent nation? Why not? Well you say their Government is hand picked exiled puppets of America. Well it is true! Then who is Manmohan Singh? Can he or Sonia madam really oppose Iraq war knowing very well that Saddam was India’s real friend! Well why are we negotiating with Pakistan knowing very well what Pakistanis are up to! Well you will say it is better to live in peace with neighbors! Well that is what Pandit Nehru and Natwar Singh said in early fifties about Pancha Seal with China! Did the Chinese give a damn about India in 1962?

So what are the prerequisites of independence?First, we must be a self-sustaining nation with least dependence on foreign culture, money, power and influence. Let us start with culture – are we not eager to shed our “ego and parampara” and embrace the Americanism for money and status symbol? Money – isn’t our national reserve dependent on how much foreign money comes through foreign institutional investments? Let us take power – did we not withdraw from Kashmir border on insistence of America? Did we not settle in Kargil and not cross the LOC because of what the super powers will do in United Nation? Are we not compromising with China to keep America and Pakistan in check?

OK,for a moment lets forget about international relations.lets talk about basics ? After 62 years of independence, the Central government has failed completely to fulfill three basic needs of the common people – food, clothing and employment. At least 9.05 per cent of youth community are still fighting against ’unemployment’. Yojanas after yojanas arrived, a number of policies and plans were executed, but the water has remained stagnant.
Our Central governments as well as state governments shout a lot about development, but that is very much limited within the boundaries of the metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai and a few more. But what about the villages?Shortage of pure drinking water comes first in this list. May be the residents of A-1 cities/metropolitan cities get volumes of drinking water regularly through municipal corporation but those who dwell in the remote villages, strive daily for a bucket of fresh drinking water. Keeping apart Rajasthan, the only desert state of India, until you visit the villages of Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamilnadu, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, you will not realise the level of distress. Everyday, women in groups from these places cover a long distance just to get one or two buckets of drinking water.

Electricity is the next issue. India is a country consisting of over six lakh villages. But alas! After sunset, a major percentage of Indian villages go under an impregnable curtain of darkness due to lack of electricity. Thermal power, hydro power, nuclear much power, but still a large portion of Indian population lives without electricity.

Just read any newspaper thoroughly.It will be full of news of people getting starved to death.Such a news is nothing but a shame for India, which is globally known as a developing country. It is a striking fact that while a large amount of food grains are wasted each year, people starve to death due to non-availability of foods.

Ok lets forget about basics also.Let us peer deeper into ourselves rather than taking a dig at government and its functioning.What does we feel about independence? Do we feel we are independent?Let me tell you “yes” – we are independent according to the definition’s minimum benchmark. We have an independent army, our people think that we are independent and we have an independent political system and most important we are free to express ourself.

Still pondering about last point whether we are really free to express ourselves?Here are some of the many examples about our freedom.

1.Just check our independence during frequent power-cuts.What we do?We have a readymade solution to these problems, don’t we? We like to gather some angry friends, uncles and chachas and storm the nearest power office. There, when the heated arguments get hotter than the weather outside, we resort to throwing stones. Unfortunately, getting stoned is not what it is made out to be. Sticks and stones will break their bones but won’t get power into your homes.In return the power office workers also dont forget the matter,afterall they are also independent? Aren't they? So, they follow a strike and ultimately even with power present in stations it doesn't reach to our homes n then the process continues.Wow ain't it independence?

2.We are independent in raising voices against the racist attacks in far situated australlia and thus making situation more worse for our fellowmen present there.But wait aren't we racist? Well,more than aussies n americans i guess.But then why do we react?It's because we are so racist ourselves that we are so quick to react to a racist slur: it takes a racist to catch a racist. And our racism is colour-coded in black-and-white terms: white is intrinsically superior and desirable; black is inferior and undesirable.In the Indian colour scheme of things,black is far from beautiful.For us,fair is lovely, as those abominably tasteless TV commercials keep proclaiming: Don't get sunburnt, use skin whitening creams, or you'll end up dark and no one will marry you. (When did you last see a matrimonial ad seeking an 'attractive, dark-complexioned life partner'?).Even the trucks on our road had a racist comment on back of it ''buri nazar waale tera mooh kaala''.What more can we say it proves that being black is a sin n only bad people performs them.Our racism is largely, but not exclusively, based on colour. Caste is India's unique contribution to the lexicon of racial bigotry. Whether 'caste' - a result of cultural and social segmentation - can legitimately be conflated with 'race'.Then one of the latest racist item comes in our long menu-regionalism.well,less said is better[after all raj thacrey is also free n independent n he is just keeping his,what if 100s lost their life].But then why we are over-reacting?we cannt stand racism racism because It reminds us disquietingly of the face we see in our own mirror.But then we are independent to even break that mirror or maybe change those eyes.

3.We are free to make movies like Newyork which justifies the terrorism yeah the same terrorism from which we are worst affected.We justify the concept and make that movie a blockbuster.Yeah i agree FBI was harsh that time but seeing the end result i dont entirely blame them.Afterall America hasnt suffered any terrorist attack after 9/11.Had our government taken such harsh or ok rude step we had been terror free also and i guess its better to feel the pain for 1 month rather than to reamin in contant terror for nearly one decade .But then we don't like our government,buerocrats to be rude no matter how much we became the same? still shocked just go with a 500 rupee to nearest shop and deamnd the change.see his face,what is rudeness may become clear to you.Even then if you doubt me,just remember the situation of second class compartment in train when in place of 4 ,six peoples sit n 7th one comes n says plzz adjust and then at next station the 8th one come n says the same the most quicker to react will be the 7th one.But then that's what we call freedom? isn't it?

4. Girls are free to wear what they want ,not what their parent's want.And in return we boys are free to make comment on them.yes even the biggest slap on humankind face the adam and eve teasing is nothing but a result of independence.

let me clear you I am not anti-independence.i also love to be independent.But my question remains the same.Are we really independent?

well,forget about our activities[some of them which i mentioned above].Just follow my advice.
Go through the streets of the metropolitan cities at night, you’ll find a number of homeless sleeping under the sky after day long hard work. Each day, these homeless come to your house to clear your dustbin, to clean your car or to polish your shoes

But we fail to provide those, with whose help we all are moving faster, a shelter. If your air conditioned car stands near a red light in a busy road, little hands holding some noted magazines appear outside the film-coated glass, begging for some money to have a piece of bread in lieu of these books. Girls fear to come out alone in cities as well in villages at night as they anticipate rape and molestation. Children are kidnapped for money; people vanish and then their dead bodies are found without kidneys and other rare organs. Blinded by religious fanaticism, one community mercilessly kills the other and pose as if they have done a feat.
So, are we really independent? We were under the bondage of British, and now we are under the bondage of poverty and darkness. If we are really free, then why are we still under the curtain of poverty and backwardness? Crackers worth of millions will be burnt on the eve of 62nd Independence Day, hope all the scars of negativity will be wiped away by the light and sound of firepower. Hope a new India, a real ’Independent – India’ will take birth again.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


NOTE-This isnt an attempt to write an elegy about the man. Better and gifted pens have already done that. Neither is this an attempt to "statistically" prove the "greatness" of this man and how he is "non pareil". Those have been done to death as well. This is an artcle which deals with celebrating a phenomenon called sachin (plzz ignore the gramaratical n vocabulary aspect this time as this article is like a love letter where only feelings are important not the words)

It is not everynight you suddenly woke up at 2.00 a.m with heart beating fast,full of sweating and tears on your eyes.No,it is not an asthma attack,neither i had taken any drink or smoke before sleeping.It was a nightmare ,a nightmare which i always pray to never happen but is aware that it will happen one day and more saddingly its perhaps only some days away.

What i saw in nightmare was a little man with bat on his hand is on his way to pavillion,having tricolour flag on helmet,face not clear but people are sad and the commentator says ''hold on your breath as the master blaster takes the last walk".My eyes got wet as everyone else was also crying and my heart filled with thoughts that oh my god! it is last time i had seen sachin batting.The nature will be there,the earth will be there ,I will be there,You will be there but one man will not be and that is sachin and this last line broke my sleep and i kept sitting on bed till whole night,i dont want to sleep that night coz of the fear of nightmare coming once again.

Now,that can surprise many but not me.For a guy like me whose friendship n foeness depends on the love with which the person aside me adores sachin.the one who if ever try to make a girlfreind will firstly try to know whether she is a fan of sachin or not.I and my freinds quarelled ,broken relationships not because they were bashing him but because a one inning failure had crept a thought in their mind that sachin is not god.My skipping of breakfast,my delaying of lunch n dinner were all due to sachin.Sachin's retirement will not only mark end of cricket for me n plenty like me ,it will be the end of their passion,end of joy,end of belief.there will be no waiting for series then,neithere will be treats for sachin's century.There will be no google home page with sachin typed on it 24*7 .our life is frightened to become a car without engine.

The first question that can arise now is what is so big about this little man that is so special.Actually its not one but collection of many things.What influence can a sportperson have in our childhood that makes us so emotional even about thinking of his retirement?

Actually,I am just representative of the categorie of preponderant number of people who entered their teenage world with the entry of cable TV, liberalized economy, rapidly changing middle class dynamics, clandestinely purchased Debonairs, paradigm shift in middle class values, increased access to happenings in "western world", highly accommodative parents, over achieving siblings, the ravishing Steffi Grafs, vanishing Sabatinis', sizzling samprasses and one man whose presence in the currently playing Indian Cricket team could bring our whole day to a standstill. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.
In hindsight it is amazing how the Sachin phenomenon had perpetrated into the Indian collective consciousness ( especially the middle class the one I was intimately acquainted with ). I am an unabashed Sachin fan ( using it as loosely as possible ) not because of his exquisite strokeplay, his dazzling cover drives, his scintillating straight drives, his pulverizing pulls or the impeccable prancing down the tracks to hoist the hapless fast bowler for a maximum.
It was for all this and so much more.
Again going down the nostalgic lane it is amazing how much of my teenage life I remember revolving around Sachin and his innings.There would be plenty in this forum who, I am sure ,like me would have feigned illness on a match day just to watch the little Master play. There would be plenty who would have sneaked a radio into the class just to be updated ball by ball how Sachin (ostensibly "India" ) was progressing. There would be plenty who like me would have dreamed before a match day the Little Master would yet again score a century. Assuming they slept. There would be plenty who like me could recount in amazing detail the exact words he spoke in the man of the match ceremony, the way he got off the mark, the number of balls he took to do it, the way he "unfortunately" got out, the number of fours and sixes you ask? Child's play.

There would be plenty of people like me who would have had a knot in their stomach every ball he faced. Waiting. Hoping against hope hopen. The desperate of us even praying. There would be plenty of people who like me would have hurled imprecations on the poor non striker who didn't have the "common sense" to "take a single" and give "strike" to the Little Master. There would again be plenty like me who would have missed the practicals ( oh what is the wrath of the principle and parents when compared to the master dancing down the track and giving Warne the nightmares of his life? Nothing was comparable to it and nothing could have compensated missing it.) and have make an early exit from the annual examination just because sachin was making 10000 runs that day.There would be plenty like me who when introduced to a girl who professed interest in cricket and actually remembered how much Sachin scored in the last match would immediately start believing in soul mates. There would be plenty like me who would have devoured every article about the Master ( Favorite being R. Mohan's ) and still feeling no adjectives could do justice to him. There would be plenty like me who would have expressed an undisguised scorn at the disinterest shown by the sis and the parents with their callous and blasphemous "I don't understand what the big deal is!!" There would be plenty like me who would have thought spending a whole three hours seeing the Little master striking a ball with a wood a life well spent. There would be plenty like me who would have stayed well late into the night just to catch the highlights after watching the full match in the morning. Sometimes watch a re run of the match again in the night.Sometimes I remember watching matches, when I would agree within myself to strike an imaginary deal with the God that I am ready to sacrifice my exam grades for a Sachin century (it was so silly but I still do it at times and I feel proud at the end if he makes it).

Lets face it there are probably people like me out there for whom it was never really about India actually "winning". ( If Sachin plays and they win it would be just a "nice feeling". ) Who really cares about how many matches India actually "won" because of his contribution?It's like arguing Himesh reshamiya sells more than mohammed rafi so himesh is a better artist. Yes that's bad logic but logic, teenage life and Sachin didn't really go hand in hand.

He made us believe that we as Indians could take on the world, we could dictate our own terms and we could actually be the world's best. For a nation that had shaken from its economic slumber and was entering a new era of opening its doors to the world here was the perfect poster boy. Young, fearless, talented, world class but with a value system that was so endearingly rooted and Indian that he gave the burgeoning middle class of our nation hope that any dream was possible.

No one is irreplaceable. But can one imagine how watching cricket will be after he retires? Sure the show goes on but it does leave a horrible feeling in the pit of the stomach. Legends come about once a while and even sans the media hype around the man there is no taking away from the fact that he is one. The ritual of Sachin actually donning his helmet is a metaphor for carrying the hopes of a billion people. Maybe that's why he never removed his helmet during the storm in Sharjah; perhaps he was aware of what he was carrying.

Let the man be and let him go when he desires. I don't think he will linger longer than that moment when he knows he is not at his best, let no one else make that judgement for him. For someone who has given us countless moments of joy, hope and salvation over the last twenty years we owe him that much.

For some of us it wasn't really about winning at all. It is the realization how far we would have gone to just see him play that shot. Oh just to see him on the pitch.Oh the unbridled pure adulation for a man whose dismissal could break a billion hearts.Oh if there was heaven it would be just it.It's a moment of epiphany which plenty of people like me would have gone through.