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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Politics of Cricket or the Cricket of Politics?

He is a batting genius, the greatest we have ever seen, my generation has spent one-third of its life watching, thinking and talking about him, still he remains humble, modest, calm and a man of integrity.

He is an economic genius, the greatest the country has ever produced, at least with the greatest impact, my generation has seen so many changes around us due to him, over the last few years he has carried a big burden, still he remains humble, modest, calm and a man of integrity?

It was 1991, he was touring Australia and facing an all out pace attack at Perth. He scored one of the best innings anyone had ever seen. And India’s favorite kid with his Power bat entered everyone’s heart and into the head of Australian pace attack led by a tall guy with a huge moustache.

He was led by a wristy, skillful and stylish Hyderabadi who himself had debuted in mid 80s and was now leading the Indian side. Under him for years to come India remained strong at home, almost invincible, and entered a modern era, the age of ODIs. ODI cricket fuelled a new generation with Colas, Color televisions and new consumerist life. All along this the Hyderabadi gave the maestro a free hand, and let him bloom into what we know of him today.

It was 1991, the economy was in shambles and he delivered a historic budget, which changed India, forever. India was opening up to the world and an entire generation of people was exposed to Colas, Color televisions and a consumerist life. He was drafted into the ministry by someone from Andhra, he had his own style, had mastery of multiple languages and had been in the Cabinet in the mid 80s. And similar to the man leading India on the Cricket field, he gave maestro a free hand, a shielding from the all the politics around him, and allowed him to bloom.

Eventually the Hyderabadi had his downfall, caught in the web of corruption, only to resurrect himself later as, guess what, a politician!

Eventually the man from Andhra had his downfall, caught in the web of corruption, but he couldn’t resurrect himself, maybe there wasn’t a dirtier profession left for him.

As India welcomed the new century, marred by corruption and allegations of match fixing, the most ardent fans had stopped watching cricket, they had lost faith in an institution revered by many, as the simplest expression of honesty. And we got a leader who believed in leading a fresh generation of player, who didn’t think about just thinking, they were there to do it. The skillful, and almost poetic batting of the prince of Kolkata was a precursor to his aggressive displays on the field, we had finally found a leader, who spoke his mind, and made us proud on the Cricket field.

As India welcomed the new century, marred by failed governments, weird games of parliament and the influence of regional parties, the most ardent believers in India’s democratic system had lost faith in the country’s functioning. And we got a leader, who came with his fresh set of ideas, and a team which promised to guide us in the next century. The poet from small place called Balrampur (U.P.) had seen it all, and his calm aggression, both on matters of national importance or economic importance made us proud Indians.

In 2003, India reached the world cup finals, it was lead by the leader whom we thought had it all, but at the finals it seems, his team was too charged up, maybe a bit over confident.

In 2004, India faced another election, it was lead by the same old veteran we talked about, but at the elections it seems, his team was too charged up, maybe a bit overconfident.


Our batting maestro still goes on, with his same passion for cricket, all these years might have taken away those curly locks, a bit of speed while running between the wickets, or while fielding. But it hasn’t taken away his dedication and integrity.

But what happened to our economic maestro, well we had immense faith in him. He was a calming influence to the erratic ruling coalition loosely held under the blessing of India’s royal family. We had faith in him, and we gave him his chances. Be it the reservations or the terror attacks everyone stood by him. The entire country showed confidence in the nuclear deal because we knew it was he who was backing it.

But then he stopped talking.

And let things happen, as he silently watched, like a boring Wimbledon crowd, clapping at each ace, be it 2G, CWG, or Adarsh or any such thing which comes up daily.

At one end I see the batting maestro, putting in everything so that he could win it for us.

At the other I see a person, who just keeps on losing everyday at work.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Past 2-3 months…

It was that kind of a mad night, winter just about knocking on the door, truck flipping on road, tyre busting and finally a bang bang happening. Although I was happy that nothing happened, but something which still happened was enough to create a churn in my mind. And my head went bang bang for a few days. As always I crumbled under this one too, simply because history was behind me. I used to love history lessons back in school though, but this history I am referring to, is bad. I am afraid of history now.

I don’t think she was stunningly beautiful or anything special, but as I observed her sitting there, I just felt that something. I am a very curious guy. I tried talking to her, but it didn’t work out. I love talking to people though, and I had a chat with her entire family, but not her. Then someone told me she is old, very old, well I left the case then. I hope she is happy doing whatever she is doing because I feel she is doing something really nice. I am very happy that I never talked to her.

I hate encounters, I love them too, I love to meet people, new ones are good, old ones are better and then there are always the awkward ones. I have become an awkward person in the past few years. I used to be so comfortable for everyone before that. Maybe I was an awkward person even before that. I think I am ok. I think people around me are awkward. I don’t know when it ends. I know I don’t want that stupid awkwardness around me, it should be nice and simple. I love all my friends, and I think I have become really nice and simple around them. I am comfortable, awkwardly.

I can go to Goa again right now. It’s the best place to be, and just be. I love the way they make omelets. Goa should be famous for omelets than Sea Food. I think most of the foreigners who visit Goa are beggars. I will buy Jenny an omelet if I meet her again. I should tell you that she wasn’t a beggar, she is decently educated. Few of my friends think they are not getting a girl on their life because I am around and I discourage them. I think they were talking about all the time, not just the time in Goa. I think they are all scared to have a girl in their life. I am scared too.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

गीत नया गाता हूँ

बचपन से ही मेरी राजनीति मैं काफी रूचि रही है। ९० के दशक मैं भारतीय राजनीति मैं खासे उलटफेर हुए, परन्तु उनमे से सबसे रोचक क्षण तब आया जब अटलजी ने प्रधानमंत्री का पद संभाला। बचपन में मैंने एक दिन पुस्तकालय से एक किताब उठायी, अटलजी की जीवनी जो रोचक भी थी, और काफी कुछ सिखाती थी। मुझे उनकी कवितायेँ पढना भी काफी पसंद आया। उनके बारे में समाचार पत्र में पढना, दूरदर्शन पर उन्हें सुनना काफी अच्छा लगा करता था।

अब जब में उन दिनों को वापिस देखता हू, तो पाता हूँ की राजनीति से सारा रस ही छीन गया हैं। परिवारवाद और घोटालो से घिरी यह राजनीति में उन अच्छे वाद-विवादों, रस भरी कविताओं, अच्छे वक्ताओ, और इमानदार लोगो की खासी कमी है। ऐसा नहीं की उन दिनों स्त्थिथि कुछ बेहतर थी, परन्तु अटलजी जब तक इसका हिस्सा थे, तब तक एक उम्मीद थी, और भरोसा भी था। अटलजी का राजनीति से दूर होना, मेरे और मेरे कई मित्रो का इस विषय से रूचि खोने का भी कारण बना।

२५ दिसम्बर को अटलजी ने अपना ८६वा जनादीन मनाया। मैं उनकी लम्बी आयु की कामना करता हूँ, और उम्मीद करता हूँ की भविष्य मैं हमें उन जैसे कुछ निर्विवाद, भरोसेमंद और प्यारे नेता मिले। अभी मैंने उनकी किताब मेरी ५१ कवितायेँ पढ़ रहा हूँ, सोचा मेरी पसंदीदा कविता के साथ इस लेख का अंत करू,

टूटे हुए तारो से फूटे वासंती स्वर,
पत्थर की छाती से उग आया नव अन्जौर,
झरे सब पीले पट,
कोयल की कुहुक रात
प्राची में अरुणिमा की रेख देख पाता हूँ।
गीत नया गाता हूँ।

टूटे हुए सपने की सुने कौन सिसकी?
अंतर को चीर व्यथा पलकों पर ठिठकी।
हार नहीं मानूंगा,
रार नहीं ठानूंगा,
काल के कपाल पर लिखता-मिटाता हूँ।
गीत नया गाता हूँ।

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Remembering Her

As everyday I reached the school gates on a cold winter morning in Korba. The rush of students, tens of buses (the one which stood out was always the Coal India township buses, white covered with layers of Coal dust), kids with their hair well-oiled, the sight of green blazers all over (a few scholar ones-red and blue), and the pink lady-birds and the black MTBs which had become so popular on those days welcomed me. As always Dutta bhaiya was on top of his voice, screaming on the gates and always giving that awesome smile when I entered the gates. That day I had not entered, I was standing at the front-gate with few of my friends, a green FIAT halted near the gates. Her green fiat is something which I distinctly remember, just like her red-shawl (which wa snever to be missed during winters), her commanding voice, and her accent which was very unique and just stays on with us. She got off the car and said, "Deshpande, clean your blazer properly before you come", and she walked away.

I was a four year old when I appeared for an admissions interview to DPS Korba, I vaguely remember a young handsome Thapar Sir (very little imagery, but I think its mostly constructed from the conversations I had with her) accompanied by her. She was the in-charge of junior sections and the interview was held at the Pragati Nagar campus. I was asked about my favorite cartoon character and I had danced all over the place like HE-MAN, and the panel had a nice laugh. I was given chocolates and an entry to DPS Korba- 8810 it was.

I met her last in 2004, she had lost a lot of weight, well that was the only thing which had changed, she looked the same, her eyes were still as expressive as always. She had made coffee and as she was talking about her new home at SADA and the change from the Yamuna Vihar home she suddenly mentioned, "Nowadays you don't watch He-Man, they don't show it anymore I believe?".

She was like that, she would recall the tiniest bits which would have happened, and bring them back to conversations. It was strange that despite being for my entire life in school I never got a chance to be her student. But I was fortunate it happened during my last year in school, Class 12th, it was just a coincidence that it was her last year too at the school. And as expected she was awesome, it was fun attending her classes, her voice modulations as she went through the English Literature stuff was brilliant, I vaguely remember the details, but it was a great feeling.

And in that year came a forgettable day, where for the first time she became so angry at us (I don't remember what had happened), she made the entire section stand and then she went and started punching back, this was not like her, she had become very angry with the behavior of few students in my section. Then as she finished the first column of benches, she came to one student and then she stopped (I believe it was Shameek or Swapnil) and then she cried. She then apologized for her actions, but conveyed how bad she had felt about the entire thing. Our entire class was not able to face her directly for a few days to come after that.

She was strict, but she was much more loving than that. Her touch was extremely special, she knew everyone's family in and out. Once in a while she would catch hold of me and ask me about home, about how my sis is finding the place, and am I enjoying my studies. She kept a tab on my studies as well that of 1000s others. I remember in Junior school Shameek used to be her favorite (or at-least that is what we presumed) and everyone wanted to be good in front of her. But she was never biased, she loved every student and really cared for us through all those years.

Also few things which I have memories of are that of her speech during Annual Function (she used to present an update of Junior school), she leading the assembly in case B Singh sir was absent (or later our other Principals), her screaming out for Kalpana Didi and Dashrath Bhaiya (that was actually funny, both of them were always scared when they reached her), her annual trip to U.S. and stories from her trip during assembly (I remember her talking about Yellow Stone national park, and Disneyland).

The last I had a really long conversation with her was in Dec, 2001. I was along with my family on a trip to South India and met her on Raipur airport. She was on the same flight with us to Mumbai (from where she was supposed to catch an international flight to Qatar maybe) and I took a seat next to her. This was my first flight ever, the first time I ever sat in a plane and I was lucky enough to experience my first flight with her. She talked about her trips, the years passed by in Korba, about her family in U.S. and a lot of other things. Even that was winter and she was wrapped in a red shawl.

I sometimes feel that over the years I should have tried to connect back with her, I think I called her once in 2006, to tell her my engineering was done and I would be joining job at Bangalore. Be it the meetups with school friends, or teacher's day or sometimes just like that, I would remember her and think that I should contact her. But I didn't do it for a few years, something which I would always regret.

We would all remember her, always...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wedding Bells!!!

This weekend came with a strange feeling, its not that I haven't attended a few weddings offlate, but this one was different. I have spent a considerable part of my life with him, those childhood days, stupid teenage discussions, my weird spin bowling and his super quick pacers, and just staying next to each other for so many years. And then we moved to different places, but those letters (one of which almost got me into superbig shit at school), STD calls, mobile calls, mails, and then reuniting properly after so many years at Gurgaon last year.

I don't think I will ever think about stupid concepts which have been introduced to the friendship lingo off-late with him, like having personal space, having a connect or a disconnect, the need to meet each other every other week, or to discuss the same old crap, it just stays simple and nice as it always was.

And I was nervous, I don't know why, but from the time he climbed the ghodi I suddenly had this feeling of how much things have changed, he is getting married, we have grown up, things have started changing. And even during the wedding when I was with him, we just needed a couple of words to convey whatever is going on, I hope it stays so nice and uncomplicated with everyone around me. The period between the jaimala and phere was full of nostalgia, lot of thoughts, tonnes of pineapple juice and mega tonnes of awesome Indori food.

And by the time it ended, I had realized maybe its time to change gears, maybe not marriage, but something which as we discussed brings isthirtha to life.

I don't know, with so many people around me getting married, how much more will I think, maybe Feb'11 in Kerala would be another such affair, I am clueless about the changes happening around me, maybe its the age for change, maybe its just that one desires a break from the routine, or maybe its just the way wedding bells have been ringing all around which makes me think. I meet a few people around me and I feel there life is changing, the topics of discussion are changing, and they are changing for the good. They have moved a couple of steps ahead in life, I am as always on the same page.

Whatever it is, its a fascinating and a happy period for me and my loved ones, and I hope it stays forever happy.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Death of Longer format

Watching the current India-NZ series made me think a bit. Gone are the awesome days of test cricket when there was a patient build up to the innings, each ball was played on its merit and there was a healthy competition between bat and ball. God, Dravid and Laxman are probably the last generation in World Cricket who can play the classical game the way it was played. So what has changed apart from the ho-hullah of T20 cricket, the flatness of the pitch, short grounds and lesser number of test matches due to jam packed T20 seasons.

I feel test cricket's biggest change has been the role of opening batsman. Where a Gavaskar or a Boycott labored for the entire morning session without a helmet to take the shine off the new ball, the likes of Sehwag, Smith, Gayle hit it all across the park to take the shine off the new ball. Opening batsman of the past were patient enough to see the new ball off, and pass on the responsibility to the middle order to accumulate the runs. Not that they were not scoring runs, but they usually used to stick around, anchoring the innings. A modern day Test opener wants to unsettle the opposition by thrashing him all around the park, then let the captain spread the field and then accumulate singles. They are fearless (given all the modern day equipment, and the lack of awesome fast bowlers). They want quick runs, so that there isn't much pressure on the middle order.

If we look at it both had similar intentions, but the way of achieving it was different.

Now think about how life has changed around you. Well the pitch has changed, there are lot of opportunities, life is faster now. You want to a good opening in life. Everyone wants quick success. Ask any MBA who has recently passed out and they will say, well I will work till I am 40, and then become a consultant, or work with NGO or do something on my own. Till then I want to earn. Everyone wants quick bucks, quick success. Everyone is secure financially, still they want more of it, and maybe few years from now give their children an awesome playschool so that he /she can enter a good school. Be it career, relationships, friendships, everyone wants to keep things short and uncomplicated.

Think of the previous generation, they used to labor it for years for getting things in place and give their next generation a better life. They would face the balls coming their way with courage despite much cover, lesser security, play off the new ball and then pass on the innings to their children to take it forward. It was all so courageous but brilliantly simple and happy.

And I think in between these two generations separating the Test Cricket generation and the T20 generation, we are stuck, the One Day generation- confused and unsure about our existence!