Come on India–Let’s Football

India’s population- 125 crores. FIFA World rank- 158
Iceland population- 300,000. FIFA World Rank- 34
Yes, that is the difference between the quality of the game in two countries. Our country does not have 11 players who can compete at World Stage. Iceland (and many other African and Caribbean countries) is a force to reckon with, if not the strongest. And this, one of the sparsely populated European countries, almost made it to World Cup finals this year in Brazil, ousted only in the playoffs. African countries have regularly featured in World Cup.
Without going any further, it will be safe to assume that the fault does not lie in the quality of the young players India is producing. The problem lies in the structure. If won’t be an exaggeration to say that the basic facilities for football in India is around zero. The infrastructure lacks; the system is flawed.
You always wonder why so much is wrong with India’s football structure? And more importantly, why we do keep shunning this glaring problem? For the record, India has never played in a football world cup. With 120 crore people, we haven’t had a solitary appearance in so many editions of the world’s most watched event.
So when Indian Super League came to India, I was excited for many reasons. It is pretty obvious that this event is trying to cash on the success of IPL style franchisee owned city based tournament. And now that IPL has concluded 7 seven hugely successful seasons, ISL has a model to look at to work on its pluses and avoid the mistakes- both on field and off field. Indian premier league has been a huge hit in the country and apart from its commercial value, it has worked as a platform for young players to come forward and show the world what they have got. And mind you, it is not only Indian players but also the foreign players. Shane Watson, who almost lost his international career before he was awarded the Most Valuable Player in the first edition of IPL, will testify for this. ISL plans to do the same to football in India and the football fans here wants nothing else.
To be fair to the organizers, it has been a good start. The first game in Kolkata between Kolkata and Mumbai had a good crowd. Also, the presence of stars and renowned celebrities always feels good. There is lot of brand value associated with the tournament. Ranbir Kapoor, John Abraham, Hrithik Roshan, Abhishek Bachchan have stake in the teams. Also, Saurav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli had taken part in this. And then one or two marquee players whom the fans all around the world celebrate in each of the eight teams have been a big, big crowd puller. If you would have asked me whether you expect to see Alessandro Del Piero or Robert Pires or Nicolas Anelka playing in India in the twilight of their career; I would have bet anything against it. But today they are here, playing in front of Delhi and Kolkata crowds. I bet they will love this Indian affection as much as we want to see them here. And I will say again, this has been a perfect start. Big names who have bought teams, corporate houses involved- everything is perfect. If this extravaganza ends as enthusiastically as it has started; the Indian football can be on the verge of something very big.
But then, there is a big IF here. Everything new has some risk associated with it. ISL is not immune to it. Agreed, there is lot of money involved in this and they are serious about it but then, it is not just about the stars. The success depends on how the players perform on the pitch. That is the only success parameter. The teams have to look beyond the commercial deals, sponsors and moolah coming in. They have to get coaching staff, physios, scouts and act like a proper football club rather than a franchisee which is just interested for the 3 months they play. If they do not get the things on the field right, then in due course; their investments won’t fetch those returns which they are expecting and considering the start that looks probable in 4-5 years of time.
Having said that, I have pinned my hopes on this annual tournament to see football’s rise in India. As a fan, I should not be that concerned with how much money the respective people mentioned above are making with this. I am already indebted to them for starting ISL, for giving the fans of this game in India something to look forward to. The first step is always the hardest and that has been done and got over with. I wish them all the best for number of years to come.
To end, I will say that the initial response to this league has been good. Fans and media have been talking about it on the social media in a positive tone. There is a huge interest that has generated and the same is expected to last till December. And I personally believe if this doesn’t take off India’s football, then probably and sadly, nothing will. And if this kick starts, hopefully in next 10 years, we will hear the Indian national anthem one day in a World Cup Finals match and feel the goose bumps. And may be, some will cry.
Nothing betters that.
Amen.

Where Are Ya’, Gamers?

Have you ever heard of a game called “Football Manager”? No? No problem, read on.

It is a football management simulation game where you, as a player, take over the reign of a football club (virtually any club in the world football, thanks to their huge database and intensive research), build your own team and take it to glory. A quick search for this game on Google will tell you how popular this game among its players and why it has been continuously number 1 on the charts every time a new version is released. The game was first released in early 1990s and after regular refinements over the years, is released every year with updated teams, squads and game play experience.

I fumbled on to this game back in 2006 and since then, it has been my favourite computer game. It has always been a challenging and exciting task for me to make my team, buy and sell players, decide finances, soak appreciation when I win and face wrath after a crushing loss. It has almost everything that a real world football manager goes through except one thing.

You see, the real world is unpredictable. The reaction and responses changes from person to person depending on various situations. And that makes it so fun. You never know what’s coming next. The uncertainty factor is always there. The managers of Barcelona and Manchester United might be friends but any untoward decision in the game against a team might change each other’s opinion and answers to the press conference later. That creates controversy that give birth to gossips and god, how much we love it.

Now, this game, no doubt is just exceptional with flaws that only the hardest of critics will find, is not unpredictable. The developers have pre-fed numerous scenarios that give birth to different questions. There are lots of them and you need to play the game a lot to go through all of them. But when you have played the game time of 12-15 years; you get bored. Because you know what kind of questions will be asked, what will be the press reaction to it and how can you control the responses to generate a desired reaction.

Being a huge fan of this game, I wanted to find a solution to this game that would introduce unpredictability in this. And after few brainstorming sessions, I managed to find a way. I have thought of a game play where there will be more human interaction and more controversies. For obvious reasons, I can’t discuss or reveal the idea but I very firmly believe that will revolutionize the game and will make it more popular.

They say that if you can’t find what you are looking for, then do it yourself. I fiddled little bit, tried to get a hang of the software and codes used but it all looked alien to me. I am a computer engineer but now a banker and programming and coding has long been flushed out of my system.

So, I made a presentation with everything explained in detail- what is the game, why it is popular, what it lacks and how it can be improved to a level that would raise its popularity. And for someone who shows his interest, I made a detailed presentation explaining every aspect of the game play.

I searched extensively and mailed 20 gaming companies in India, hoping to hear from them. I was excited that somebody will reply, we will discuss the plan and the opportunities in this are endless. I was looking for some thrilling weeks ahead. It never happened.

May be I was too much moved with the thought but not a single one replied. They did not even have the courtesy to reply to my email, even if the answer was no. Guess they are happy with making mobile apps and games and nobody want to think big.

I know it is easy to rant and complain. But in a country where software industry is booming, there is not a single company that can come forward to code this game, Indians are at the helm of major IT companies all over the world but here, they stick to useless developments. The lack of opportunities here are appalling.

I am still trying to get in touch with few of them but now I am staring to lose hope. I fear that this will infest, manifest and die in my mind. And this will sadly be the worst conclusion of it.

Glenn Maxwell and India- It Is Awesome

Glenn Maxwell

One has to say, Kings XI Punjab has been a true revelation in this year’s IPL. Even with the well planned team that they bought in the auction in Feb 2014, very few expected them to dominate the points table. And now, when we are at the business end of the 7 th IPL season, they sit pretty at the top of the table, already qualified for the playoffs and look good for the title.

Take a name who has contributed in this huge, unexpected success of Kings XI this year and one name unanimously pops up- Glenn Maxwell. The Australian, who showed glimpses of his talent last year with Mumbai Indians but could never cement his place in the lineup in that star studded team has taken T20 cricket to an another level this year. His immense power coupled with proper cricketing shots has been a joy to watch and for Maxwell, who said that knowing the fact you are a regular in team helps him perform better, it has been his career defining tournament.

I happened to go to Delhi Daredevils vs Kings XI Punjab match in Delhi last Monday. Continuing the last season’s trend, Delhi offered nothing cheerful to its fans (one of them is me) and this match was more about watching Punjab, more specifically, Maxwell bat. Sitting on the top tier towards the square boundary, there are not many who can send the ball that distance. Maxwell is one of them. I was hoping for that.

It never happened. He did not do anything special- hit one six and got out to Imran Tahir’s wrong one. But something else happened that day that I won’t forget ever.

With Delhi’s dismal performance (2 wins out of 12), you can’t really blame the audience if they choose to stay away. But as I said, Maxwell has been a sensation this season. He has tore down almost every bowling attack and chased down targets like 180+ and 200+ with one over remaining. And he was one reason why Ferozhshah Kotla was witnessing a full house that evening.

Toss happened and Delhi decided to bat first. Then the teams were announced. Being Delhi’s home ground, you might not expect lot of cheers for the opposition. But I forgot Veeru (Virender Sehwag), the poster boy of Delhi cricket. There was a pandemonium in the crowd. For a moment, I thought Preity Zinta entered my stand. And then Maxwell happened.

You can go back a long, long way back and still could not name a foreign cricketer who could garner those cheers in India. The moment he entered the field, it was mayhem. The ferociously loyal, highly vocal Indian crowd was shouting, cheering and clapping for a Kangaroo. Glenn Maxwell (or Glenndeep Singh Maxwell, as his Punjabi incarnation would be) is the heart throb of IPL. I could bet a fortune if Maxwell can be cheered this much in Australia. Anyways, nobody can match the decibel levels of the Indians but this was a genuine praise and appreciation for a deserved player.

I am sure Maxwell has never experienced anything of this kind before. Crowd cheering his name, does not matter if they are on Punjab side or the opposition, will be a phenomenon he will never forget. How good this music would have been to his ears- Maxiiiii, Maxi…Maxiiiii, Maxi. And he will be looking forward to IPL 8. We too are, Maxwell although this one is yet to culminate.

And this is why I believe Kings XI has to play him in every game. The place in the qualifiers might have been secured but they cannot deny the audience a chance to witness a pure T20 innings. Full of entertainment and innovation and at the same time, effective. They are obliged to play Maxwell and the guy certainly can’t complain. He is being adored and loved here; it’s payback time

It was fitting that Maxwell entertained the Mumbai crowd last night with his attempt of Bhangra. He responded to them; the fans who keep shouting his name for 180 minutes. His ‘firangi’ bhangra had made millions Indians smile. If you ask me, I got goose bumps. And I am totally clueless about its reasons. I already liked him for his game; now I love him for his modesty.

And before he starts day dreaming; let me warn him.

Make no Glen Maxwell, the day you put on the Australian jersey and you will be up against Indian colors; we won’t recognize you anymore. This cricket is a religion in India and nobody is bigger when it is about nation. You will be loved and cheered for next time around too; on every other day, we don’t know you.

On that note, I would like to say- Welcome to India, Glen Maxwell.

Cricket and StarSports- What Else Would One Want?

109911901TS011_STREET_CRICK

One school of thought says that every game for Indian cricket team is a home game; such is the following and passion and love for the game globally. If there is one thing you just cannot separate from India, it is cricket. Although the list also includes the foods, the festivals, the culture and the movies but these things are, I should say, diversified. Every region and religion has its own taste. But when it comes to cricket, it will be absolutely safe to say that this is one single thread that binds the nation. The 100 crore plus population can be very proud of their country’s history in this game. Of course, in such a large fan base with different opinions, arguments are waiting to happen but that is a part of the game. India and cricket are inseparable. Our dear God, Shri Sachin Tendulkar will bear testimony to that.

The God

For me, the craziness started from 1996 World Cup held in India. I was 9, the perfect age to get yourself into the game. Like everyone, my hero was the God himself. And although the tournament ended on a bad note for Indian fans, it gave me enough fuel to play and follow this game for lifetime.

But as I grew up, with more studies and now office, watching cricket became difficult. Earlier, I used to watch highlights of old matches between India and Pakistan in Sharjah. Now, life has become hectic. Earlier, there were my parents to stop me from watching, now that no one is stopping me; I am short on time.

So, when you are at home, how do you make sure you don’t miss a single ball bowled? Or a single shot? Well, it is not easy.

1. No showers – who is coming to meet you on a holiday? And even if someone comes, it does not matter. I have skipped numerous showers in winters (and delayed in summers). And when it is an absolute necessity to take a bath, it is a mere formality. Stand  behind shower for maximum 1 minute, 30 seconds to dry myself up and I am back.

2. Lying – this is something I do very often. yaar, traffic jam tha. Actually, I was not feeling well .had some guest; these are some common lies. If I have to leave for somewhere, it is always once the innings end. It never mattered who was waiting- parents, friends, and girlfriend. Live telecast comes first. My nation needs me- this is how I backed myself.

3. SMS Group – the first two IPLs coincided with my engineering semester exams. So, it was hard to watch every game (primarily because of lack of studies and less because of guilt). Mobile internet was a luxury those days and so checking score was not as easy as it is today. Free message service was a trend. So, we made a message group of 10 friends and assigned matches to everyone to update the scores to the rest of the members of the group. I will watch one and update others. The rest will do the same. It often resulted in discussions which took most of time in which we could have studied but it spared the guilt of watching matches and not studying. Strange, is it?

4. I have held back my piss and sh*t – Frankly, this is the most common thing I do. But not to make this post sh*tty, I did not mention it in the beginning. I have delayed my washrooms trips by few minutes to sometimes an hour to see some important parts of the matches, in the hope that I do not miss out on something while I am relieving myself. Sounds gross and bad but as they say, you can’t run away from the truth.

Coming to the matches, sometimes the 11 players on the pitch and the support staff are not enough to win you matches. Sometimes, you need more than the on-field performances to bail you out. We, the fans, take care of that. In every single match, numerous people perform small superstitions that eventually lead to a win.

I am proud to say that I have done my bit in two most important matches in India’s cricketing history.

DADA in natwest final

1. India vs England Natwest Final 2002 – My father used to make me stand on his legs when I was young. I never liked it. In reality, it was my punishment for watching TV. I could stop doing it easily but that would mean no TV. That night, India were 150-5 in 25 overs chasing a target of 325 plus. I had watched the first 25 overs (2 hours) and as my father thought that it was my time to leave the idiot box, he asked me to stand. I did it, reluctantly, as I wanted to see few more overs. Yuvi and Kaif started scoring. I had a hunch that it will be disgraceful act of non-patriotism if I leave now; just for my disliking of standing on his legs. I vowed to stand until the end of the match, things started happening and as the history book says, India won famously. When Dada took off his Team India shirt and flaunted his six abs, he had no idea that I did not park my ass anywhere for 2 hours straight. I smiled and retired to sleep after 2 hours of leg stamping.

 

Pakistan-vs-India-Semi-Final-World-Cup-2011-01

2. India vs Pakistan, Semi final, 2011 World Cup – India did not post a big total and Pakistan made a good start. I needed washroom but as I said above, held back my piss as match was getting too gripping. At the end of 10 th over, Zaheer Khan got the first wicket and I hurriedly relieved myself. And I got a feeling that today, whenever India takes a wicket, I need to take a piss to make sure India wins and I did that. In 3 hours of Pakistani innings, I went to the loo 10 times. Don’t ask me how I managed each time, even when two wickets fell in an interval of 4 minutes. But I made sure I put 2 drops in the ocean. After all, it’s the contribution that matters and not the size of it.

And bringing a revolution in the field of cricket and online streaming, Star Sports has launched a very well thought, acutely planned strategy. They have realized the potential of sports in India and are actually working on it. And one thing that I love about this website is very simple, but untapped till date, feature- legal, adware free live streaming.

There have been instances when live telecast on TV is not available. This happens mostly in my office. So, I hop on to Google, search for “free live streaming” and jump from one site to other, hoping to find one good streaming site. To be honest, it was painful and time consuming. And after few attempts, I always gave up.

The 'Star' of the Show

Not anymore. Now, as StarSports.com has brought live streaming to India , it has truly surpassed every other sports channel/ brand in India. For Pepsi IPL 2014, they are the online streaming partners. For people like me, who spend most of the time in office, this is a boon. And icing on the cake is that this is “NO CONDITIONS ATTACHED” free. With the growing reach of internet; they have started embarking on a journey in which opportunities are endless. I wish them good luck for their further expansion plans.

And for me, the StarSports app is the best thing that has happened in a long time. Being an ardent follower of cricket and football, I want to view every match possible. But Delhi’s slow traffic does not allow me to reach home early. What do I do? I open StarSports app on my mobile and watch live matches. In this age of cheap internet where you get certain free data every month; this app makes watching matches live so easy. And it does not cost you anything. There is no separate subscription for mobile access. You can watch any match from any computer or mobile. How cool is that? This has certainly made my life easy- following and watching cricket on the go. It even helps when there is a power cut. Till my phone runs, I can watch any game, anywhere.

Seriously, how tough would have life been without cricket and StarSports.com

(It was supposed to be an at least 300 word article but I ended up writing 1400 + words. Actually, it is tough to stop when you are writing about cricket. It is such a sport. Bear with me, please. And if you liked it, please do share it.)

This post is a part of Cricket just got better! Activity by starsports.com in association with BlogAdda.com.

Perception

perception

On December 26, in Lucknow, when little Chintu woke up from his sleep; he was happy. Very happy, in fact. The weather was cloudy and a few drops of rain inadvertently made their way from the heavens to his balcony. He loved the rainy winter mornings. There was chillness in the air; a slight nip that was time and again entering the body and pinching it. This was good enough. Today, he need not ask his mother if he can skip his bath. His loving mother would herself stop her only child to enter the bathroom with water, cold like the glaciers of Siachen. And if she is in a really loving mood, she might even allow him to stay back at home and nurture him with her unending affection.

But in Chandigarh, Vicky was tensed. Terrified would suit more for his then state. It was 9 AM and he was trembling. He had genuine reasons with him. 1) His semester exam ended yesterday and after boozing for half the night, he was wide awake early to meet Nikki, his girlfriend who was leaving for Delhi by the afternoon train. 2) In the process of freshening up, he touched the ice cold water, which sent his entire body shivering. 3) He had to take a bath or Nikki would sniff the slightest lax in his readiness or the slightest hint of last booze night will be enough to ruin his after exam days. Yes, he loved Nikki but his freedom of being an “engineer” and doing what they want and the pride in living un-hygienically were being taken away. So much for stupid love, he murmured, and got up to switch on the geyser.

Netaji was not happy either. Delhi was freezing and foggy and he had a speech in a medical college in his constituency at 8 AM. Being one of the best leaders, his only weakness was winters. What if the students’ sense he has not bathed? That would be such a bad example to set (although half of those listening to him would be coming straight to the auditorium from their bed without even washing their faces). And more than that, he feared the social media. Bad experiences of other leaders on Twitter and Facebook scared him. One of his agenda items if he ever became something was that like the West, India will too would stop in December and January. But right now, his speech was impending. 6.30 AM, his clock read. There was not much noise around his residence and that made the task of getting up more tedious. He waited; he cursed his secretary for setting up the function at such an odd time and eventually, left the bed.

Unaware of all this, a sage was following his daily routine and readying himself at the ghats of the Ganges in Banaras. He was bare-chested, except a small dhoti, the saviour of his modesty. His body was not shaking, his hands were not trembling. Nonchalantly, he entered the holy river. It felt warm to him like it had every day for last 4 decades. No hesitations, no ifs and buts. The holy bath took 25 minutes. The seths of the city were still rubbing the eyes in some affluent locality of one of the oldest cities of the world. And as the sage came out, he reminded himself- he has to be here again for the rest of his life.

Perception- is not it? How differently we all look at the same thing? What is Gray to you might be black for me. Why and when did we become so judgmental? Why do we decide everyone on the basis of our thinking and behaviour?

When I first heard of the word perception, it was in 3rd year of my engineering (so much for my English medium schooling). It was a fantasizing concept. Before that, I was too immature to understand that everyone would look at things differently. If it is raining, it is raining for everyone, is not it? But it does not work that way. The guy who just cleared the interview will enjoy every drop of it. The one who got scolded by boss will hate his shoes getting all wet. On different days, the two will have opposite feelings. I, too, change myself time to time. From my office in 6 th floor in Connaught Place; I get a good enough view of Delhi’s fast paced lifestyle. In gloomy mood, I look at the crowd and vehicles and think how everyone is busy. On happy days, I look at the sky and buildings and smile to myself. I believe everyone does that.

But these are good things about perception. The problem starts when we start judging people as per our liking. A Brahman will always dislike a non-vegetarian. A drinker will despise the traditional values of his friend who stays away from all this. These small things when manifest and finds a larger platform, create a ruckus for the whole society. You form opinions, you pass them, you preach them and you create more like you; irrespective of how good or bad you are. And a beautiful concept turns into something nobody wants to be a part of.

I will leave you with a quote about perception- “There is no truth. There is only perception.”- Gustave Flaubert.

18 Year Old

that sums it up

You have never heard of Serge Gnabry? Right? Nothing to be ashamed of. You don’t need to reconsider how you read your newspaper and hogging on to social media habits. There is a small number of people in this world who knows him. But some people who know him, they adore him.

Let me introduce him to you. Serge is a German footballer who currently plays for Arsenal Football Club in England. He is 18 years old, an upcoming player and still finding his feet among the best of the trade. His counterparts rate him highly and predict a wonderful future in the world’s most loved game in the coming years.

A couple of months ago, due to high number of injuries in the squad, this young man got a chance to play in the first team and he did not disappoint. He scored his first ever senior goal for Arsenal in the league. And it was a goal under tough circumstances against a very good team. The delight was on his face was very obvious. On my face, apart from delight, I had an expression that said –dude, he is still 18. That is 8 years younger than me. What the hell you were doing then?

I still remember the days when I was tumbling towards my 18. I used the word ‘tumbling’ because I was very unsure about my future. My engineering entrance marks were totally messed up. My future was uncertain and my Driving License test was due. (Yeah, I am one of those individuals in India who appeared for a driving license test. Proud). On top of that, my parents had an option for me if I flunked in every possible engineering college exam- a mobile shop (the thought still shudders me).

That was me in 18. Last 12 years before I reached 18, I was in school, trying to make a future that, I believe, was never there. The books that read Newton’s law and Archimedes’ principles never interested me. The integration and differentiation were useless and Carbon, Oxygen and Hydrogen always blew above my head. At the same time, Serge was lifting weights, running madly, honing his skills so that his first steps become a spectacle. And buoy how good he did it.

This young man, at 18, had announced himself to the biggest stage possible. Arsenal fans always knew about him, it was just a matter of when he will make it big. And he made it in style. At the moment, he is the second youngest scorer for Arsenal. Can life get better? Yes will always be an answer to this question but for a person who have grown up dreaming a future like this, he has every right to be on cloud 9.

Sometimes, I really wonder when is the right age to start thinking about who you will gonna be? Some kids start at the age of 11-12 when their parents enroll them in “Super Foundation Course for IIT JEE 2020” (I pity those kids and I hate their parents). Anyhow, that is a step. And then there are many who, even after college, are unsure. MBA in London? Banking job? Civils? It’s funny that while some has plenty of options, some struggle to go after the only thing they can do. And 18 is just a number, I think. It’s all in the mind. If what you want is decided in your head, you will get it.

Shahrukh Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Saif Ali Khan, Gautam Gambhir, and M S Dhoni once said- It’s your life, make it large. At the age of 18, majority of us were, are and will be mugging to make a future that will give us few million per year but no time to spend it. Some will be Serge Gnabry (remember the name) who will arrive on the biggest platform in a way that witnesses won’t forget. Yeah, he has made it large.

Sachiiiiiiin, Sachiiiiiiiin !!

sachin452

 

Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.

My first encounter with this guy was 1996 ICC World Cup. I was 9, the right age to understand and indulge yourself entirely in cricket when you are an Indian kid. You have to have a role model, right? Somebody you can imitate when you are on the field; his shots, his antics, his celebrations. For me (and my friends), SRT was that person.

My father had a tradition which I keenly observed- he switched channels when Sachin got out. For them, the match was over. It was surprising considering how a game that had 11 players ended the moment first players had no more role to play. You wonder on these things and ask questions. He has the same answer- is team ki jaan bas yahi hai. (he is the pillar of this team)

In the coming years, he kept on scoring runs on the field and mesmerizing fans off the field. At that time, I was immature, young to understand what he really is, his stature and his persona. May be, then, Sachin was as unaware of all this like me. He was enjoying his cricket. At that moment, somewhere in late 1990’s, who would have thought that this little man, standing tall at 5’5’’ would be the reason behind the millions of smile, and tears.

Today, 15th November 2013, when he has probably played his last innings in Indian colors, I wonder how he was feeling. That pitch will be no more there for him to conquer. That bat won’t listen to his master’s voice anymore. For the ‘rest’ of the Indians, breaks in between work to watch Sachin bat will be the thing of the past. And there will be no more “Sachiiiiin, Sachiiiiiiiin”.

The DemiGod is now retiring and for the 24 years he was playing cricket, carrying the hopes of the entire nation on his shoulders (As Virat Kohli famously said after ICC World Cup 2011 final win at Mumbai), it is amazing how this little man kept his feet on earth throughout his career. He has been worshipped, adored, idoled, bragged by various individuals- he has been the same Sachin Tendulkar. How many out there would have lived the same life- surely the number will be very low.

Words elude me today. For a moment, I thought Sachin will bid good bye with a century. How wonderful a script that would be? But then, I realized- who could write the God’s script? He is the God himself. Without a doubt, I would have cherished his century. But I am happy. I saw his last innings. He was in the groove, played shots that had garnered millions of fans in last two decades. He might go over his decision to retire time and again but all good things should come to an end. Sachin’s cricket has.

And he walked his last walk to the dressing room. There won’t be any more. Applauses will be there but they will more of a formality than the passion, the respect. It’s not that a player has retired but an era has ended. Memories of 3 different generations are with him. And I am sure he will miss cricket and his fans as much as 120 crore Indians will. Out of 26 years of my life, 24 had been spent with him. Countless emotions, countless reasons to celebrate, to dance, to drink (I am not a saint)- asking for more will be unfair to this 40 year old legend.

I will leave you with some pictures collected from internet. I hope you have enjoyed your cricket with him as much as I had..

 

fab four

The Last One Bows Down

 

last walk to the pitch

That Walk to the Stadium

 

sachin_time300

Certified

 

sudhir gautam

His biggest fan had the largest grief today.

 

the kiss

Being Alone

alone

I am at home since last few days. I have caught chicken pox and the only treatment for that, I have learnt in these days, is to stay at home and have ample rest. That means that for the last one week, I was completely free.

In normal circumstances, I would have taken this as an opportunity to write. But I did not. I had no ideas in my mind and I don’t know why, I just did not feel like writing. Sitting with my laptop and punching keys looked a boring and tedious task. But still, I sat down to write this post. And the blog will be updated after around one and a half months of inactivity.

When I sat down to write this post, I was not sure what will be the topic of the post? I had a vague idea but was not getting the crux for some reason. This becomes so irritating sometimes. You are so near but yet it feels far away. But still, I started writing and the adulterated product is what you are reading right now.

While writing this, I was constantly thinking- Why I am not getting ideas to write? What was I doing earlier that I am not doing right now? And then I realized that this was not about doing; it was about getting time for me. 10 hours of office schedule and then ranting with friends had left me with no time for myself and this was something that was missing these days in my life.

I am not a boring person and it’s not about being an introvert. I like to be with friends and spend time with them. But I have always had a belief that being alone for some time every day is also very important. With too many people around you, there are too many obligations to be fulfilled which takes lot of time from you which was meant for you and between these obligations, you never get time for your hobbies, your favorite TV show, a much awaited football match and that gripping novel.

I realized the happiness and feeling of independence in solitude in a better sense couple of years ago when I was posted in Delhi. There, I was living alone and days always used to be fun. I used to return home from office by 7pm, switch on TV, go through newspaper and have dinner. It was always me, no body to entertain and nobody to listen to. On alternate weekends, friends used to visit me and that was the time I used to get ‘social’. And it was then when I developed the habit of writing. Being alone leaves us with so much time for ourselves that you might find the hidden artist with you.

Quoting one of the awesome dialogues from Vidya Balan starrer ‘The Dirty Picture’,

Zindagi jab maayus hoti hai

Tabhi mehsus hoti hai

This movie had many other relevant dialogues but coming back to this, it is so much relevant in our daily life. We feel things when we are alone. Being alone allows us to ponder on things, on events happening around us about which we would have never thought had we been occupied with family and friends. The solitude takes our mind to neglected, overlooked facts and truths of life which were always there in front of us; we simply ignored them because we were too busy.

At the end, I won’t say I am encouraging loneliness. That is an entirely different thing. But yes, finding an hour from the 24 hours should be your one of the priorities.

Strange Random Rambling..Stay Away from It

keep-calm-and-do-bakwaas

My hands were itching. I was having that restless urge. My fingers went to the keyboard many a times but after a few seconds; I realize it was a false start. And I came back to where I was- to square one. But I bloody needed to write.

If you are wondering what I am talking about, it is my blog. I wanted to scribble something in there, just to make a new blog entry. It has been since one month when I last wrote and I need to be regular. But I can’t write anything. It has to make sense.

Why am I in this dilemma? I don’t know. May be I am out of sorts. May be I have too many topics with me but no content to fill it. I won’t write a 200 word post. It will be a well knitted effort.

Did you ask what the false starts were? Read on.

1. I thought about writing how much the roads fascinate me. I have always loved travelling and by road is my favorite mode. And if I am going somewhere on the hills, the journey becomes more fascinating. The curves and the bends never cease to thrill me. It is not about driving fast or insanely, it is about savoring the beauty of the landscape. Unfortunately, I could not gather enough thoughts to make it in a full-fledged article and have to stop midway.

2. Next came to my mind was describing ‘heroes’. For an average Indian child, the first definition of a hero is a film actor. The hero can love, dance, kill, jump, run- he can do everything perfectly. I too grew up with the same notion. But as I learned the ways of the world, the definition of the hero has changed for me. I consider hero to be a one who has gone against adversaries to succeed and fame. There are many more unsung heroes in this world (you may not believe but for some people around you, you are one of those heroes) but the one reach the ultimate fame; I admire them. While writing, I stopped here. There weren’t just enough ideas.

3. Another thought popped into my head was if I can write about something from Bollywood. I have always been fascinated with Indian cinema, the larger than life scenes; the Spiderman-esque antics by normal human beings. And one thing that has always puzzled me is that ‘the girl with whom you are in love with in your childhood, will turn out to be the most beautiful in the entire city.’ How our filmmakers manage to make it happen every time, I am sure I won’t be able to make that out till the end of this world. The sad part is that even this so-full-of-potential failed to give me something to build upon.

Now, when I see back, it feels heartened that I have managed to crib for 500 words. This has to be one of the best random ramblings of mine.

The Sports Person in Me…or You

sports

 

Though not in literal sense  but I very firmly believe that I am a sportsperson. No, I don’t play in IPL, I was never named in my college team in any sports and I have no certificates and trophies in my showcase to display and gain appreciation; that does not deter me from my belief about who I consider myself to be.

I have played many sports in my life till date and I can claim that I am definitely an above average player of cricket, volleyball and badminton and an average player of football and table tennis. That makes it 5 sports.

I have many a times paid decent money out of my pocket to play two matches of badminton on Sundays or a weekend tourney of football.

And last few Saturdays, I  woke up at 4.30 AM to reach Noida (30 kms away from my house), play cricket from 6.00 to 9 AM and then reach office at 10.30 AM, all dirty and sweaty, without taking a shower (#truestory).

 

muhammad ali

My few friends have asked me many a times- why, what is the need? Why would you wake up at 4.30 in morning for some stupid cricket match. Initially, I tried explaining them but now I just smile. How would I explain them that a sportsperson just is just not the one whom  we watch on TV, who represents  your country in Olympics or world cups? He could be anyone; all it is about playing with the fire in the belly.

Playing sports has always been a passion inside me. Like a normal Indian kid, I grew up playing cricket mostly. But for other kids, it was about batting and bowling. They never dived, they never fielded. Some feared the clothes would get all muddy or torn or they will get wounds and scratches; others were just too lazy. But for me, fielding was an art. How can I let the bloody ball pass by me? I will dive and stop it. It won’t go past me without me giving my 100%. I applied the same in every sport I played- football, volleyball- giving my 100% every time. I got numerous scars in my childhood and every time I managed that , I  received a good haring from my father. I just could not stop myself.

They say sports instil qualities in you that you exhibit on the field. It can bring out the leader in you; it can inculcate the team spirit and hard work. With me this never happened. In the serious part of my life, I am not a hard worker and I certainly can’t lead. While playing, I am a quick learner and can read my opposition. When I work, I run away from learning and communicating was never my strength. What is wrong with me- I could never make out? One thing that has always nagged me is that I believed that I would have made a better sportsman only if I would have pushed my parents about it.

The people working with me- all have played some sports earlier in their life. Now when I ask them to come with me, they give me absurd excuses. Some say  they don’t feel paying the money to play; some are too lazy to move their bum on a holiday.

You know what- I am proud of myself that I never allowed myself to become like them. I could have also easily let my love for sports depart and decay citing the ‘professional’ reasons. For cricket, there was never an excuse and I am also lucky to have old friends (the college mates) who have the same keeda in them to play. It might be searing hot or freezing cold- we played in the college days, day in day out, 3 matches in a single day and now that everyone has settled in their lives,  we gather again to have a match on weekends. Going all the way 30 kms, playing the match, changing the clothes in an open ground  and then reaching office with sleep hovering- I could never mind it.

I have lied to and manipulated many people related to me when it comes to me playing sports. My parents, brother and girlfriend- all have been given silliest of excuses for not meeting them or not doing some work. In reality, I was playing. I do not feel guilty about it and I have no plans to discontinue my ‘cheating’ behaviour for this passion. I will keep playing- if I will have to lie, I will. I can postpone movies, I can quit meals and I can skip hangouts. My fellow batch mates used to go for movies the day exam ended; my group used to pick up bat and ball, find some open field and play. It never mattered whether the playing space had grass or not or for that matter, some cemented surface. I have played on roads with the same enthusiasm and fun and passion.

Enough of bragging, huh? Before I end this, I advise you that if you ever had a sportsperson in you which is dying due to lack of effort from your part, awake him. Take him to the field, let him grab his favorite ball and kick that favorite shot and he will be alive. Lie, cheat, postpone- do whatever to be among the lush green grasses or yellow soil- forget the rains, forget the sun, forget the stains on the clothes. Be prepared to see your mumma scolding and girlfriend sulking over this. That won’t end even if you sit at home and watch daily serials or become a shopaholic. 

Get that scar, take your team to the winning line, revel in the moment of ecstasy and celebrate the occasion over beers. But do find an excuse to play and bloody do it.