The Lords of the Kings…

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The champions of the world

There are times when a few of my ‘not so cricket crazy’ friends ask – “How can a sport be so important to a country that it stops people from going to work and almost brings the entire nation to a halt”. I usually respond with a smile, frankly because i have no clue to the answer myself. Since i was a young boy, probably 6 years old, i have had this crazy obsession with the game, which has not faltered a bit, in spite of the trials and tribulations that Indian cricket has been through.

When i was young, my father used to tell me stories about the 1983 world cup – how the team qualified for the finals against all odds, and then how he turned off his radio set after India’s innings and then could not help himself and switched it on again and found India on the brink of a famous famous victory. The glint in his eyes and the expression on his face while narrating the story – priceless!!

Here is the thing with stories though, especially the unbelievable ones. If you have been a part of that story, and have witnessed it, you feel like telling it over and over again, and the spark in your voice never dies down. You want everyone to realize the importance of the moment when you witnessed a great thing happen, and you never get tired of it. On the contrary, if you were only 2 years old when the phenomenon happened, and have no memory of it, you would grow up looking for such a story around you and try to be a part of something that can be shared for generations to come.

My such moment has come…On April 2nd’2011, at around 11:00 pm in the evening, I was sitting with my hands folded and a prayer in my mind, in front of the television set, when the captain of the Indian Cricket team, Mahendra Singh Dhoni the magnificent, used the pretty version of the much hyped “helicopter” shot to dispatch Nuwan Kulasekara over the long on boundary for a six. A special six that was too, for it won India the Cricket World cup, a moment that entire country had been waiting for. I shouted, hugged my wife, danced, and almost cried with excitement. The story I was looking for was here, and no one could have taken that moment from me for I was there, I witnessed it, I saw my team win the cricket world cup. Unbelievable feeling.

The wait was well worth it. The scenes of jubilation, the tears of joy in the eyes of the players, the hugs, the shouts, the fist pumping, the cheers from the Mumbai crowd, the victory lap, the lifting of the trophy, the flowing champagne…aaah…indeed the wait was well worth it…

I’ll keep it short and not write about the various moments of the game, the ups and the downs and so forth, because they are already permanently etched in our minds for the rest of our lives, but there were a couple of moments from the after match celebrations that just blew me away:

1. When Sachin Tendulkar was asked about his 22 year long wait before he could actually lay his hands on the ultimate prize, he said “22 years haan…I dint give up, did I??” Awesome awesome…everyone can take a cue from the great book that Sachin Tendulkar is.

2. When Virat Kohli was asked about the gesture of carrying Sachin Tendulkar on his shoulder around the stadium he replied “He has carried the burden of Indian cricket on his shoulders for 21 years, the least we can do is carry him on our shoulders”. Take a bow Virat Kohli…you are awesome.

There are lords of the game and then there kings of the game…but I can proudly say that the Indian cricket team has proven themselves to be the “Lord of the Kings”. The ultimate prize is ours, the ultimate feeling is ours…thanks Team India…we are immensely proud of you.

And now as i go back to basking in the glory of the victory, something that i have not been able to get over yet, probably wont get over it anytime soon, i have only one thing to say  to the folks not yet around- “Be ready kids – daddy has a story to tell!!”

(Photo courtesy Cricinfo.com)

Visiting Zombai – 2020

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Disclaimer – Before someone gets offended, I would like to clarify that this article is a complete fabrication of my mind. There are times when I am unable to control the crap my mind doles out and thus I use this medium to clear my head. I would like to believe that all I have written here is fiction, and hope that it never comes true. I don’t even know what triggered these thoughts in the first place.

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I hate waking up early…even though my daily duties have forced me to abandon my beloved bed early in the morning, I still hate it. Today was one of those days when I had to wake up early, not to go to my office but to catch a 5:45 AM flight to Zombai; I had spent quite a bit of time and energy preparing for this trip so I got up reluctantly and started to make my last-minute preparations for the trip.

Traveling to Zombai these days is not as easy an affair as it was 15 years back. Things have changed dramatically (literally…there was a lot of drama). Before calling up the taxi to the airport, I made a final scan of all things in my travel bag:

  • A 2-day visa to Zombai
  • An address proof confirming that I have been living in Delhi for more than 10 years
  • Few packets of Maggi which were made in Megarashtra (had to ask my sisters who live in Zombai to courier me some)
  • A pair of shirts and 2 trousers both of which I had ordered from an online store in Zombai
  • My English to local language handbook.
  • Receipts of all of the above indicating that all items were indeed from Megarashtra, including the suitcase.

If the inventory above sounds confusing, you probably need some education. I dont want you to get into trouble when its your turn to visit Zombai.

Some 8 years back there were a few changes made to the constitution of India to include a few restrictions while traveling to Zombai and all cities of Megarashtra. These included:

  • A visa is needed to travel to any part of Megarashtra.
  • Only short-term visas (2-7 days) would be given to people from outside states to avoid them from settling down in the great state of Megarashtra
  • No one from UP or Bihar would be allowed in Megarashtra unless they have a valid proof indicating that they have been living in another state for   more than 10 years. (I am from UP, hence the certificate)
  • All entrants into the state must address the local people in the local language. Not doing so may attract a series of slapping exercises, which would involve a local hand and the entrant’s cheeks.
  • All items used while traveling to Megarashtra should be at least purchased in the state itself, if not manufactured there.

So as you can clearly see, I had to work pretty hard procuring things for my short trip to Zombai. Damn these business visits.

While traveling in the taxi to the airport the driver casually asked me where I was flying to. The concern on his face when I told him that I was traveling to Zombai was not too comforting. In fact, it reminded me of the time some 15 years back, when I was traveling to Australia amidst some cases of racial attacks on Indians. Not the best of the feelings anyways…

After getting to airport, one thing that I could clearly notice was the fact that all announcements for flights to any of the cities of Megarashtra were being made in their local language. Although I had a handbook with me, it was tough figuring out the gate to my flight and the boarding time. After struggling to find that piece of information and going through the security check in, I noticed some instructions in the local language, but I was in a hurry to board the flight and hence I ignored them.

The inside experience in the flight was a riddle in itself…all the instructions, the written ones and the ones being enacted by the air hostesses were in the local language only. I chose to sleep through most of it; I would have anyway not understood a thing.

There were a few more surprises for me as I moved out of the airport after landing in Zombai. Right outside the airport I saw a few people distributing sarees to all the ladies who were wearing western clothes. I asked someone casually why this was being done and they said that the flight instructions (the ones I chose to ignore) had clearly specified the kind of clothing that’s compulsory in Zombai…

Moving further ahead to the taxi stand I heard people discussing whether they should have been bold enough to protest the continuous ranting from one of the political parties about Sachin Tendulkar not being a true local. Sadly, even after more than 8 years of his retirement from cricket, people seem undecided on this topic. As I leant into the conversation hoping to provide a few inputs, I heard a roar from behind. Some people were moving towards me, in fact running towards me shouting something in the local language…I could only understand “UP…UP…” in all the commotion, but it was enough for me to start running the other way round…just a few steps ahead I hit an electricity pole hard and fell down…

As I got up rubbing my eyes, wondering whether these people were actually running after me, and also wondering if there was some special scanning system to identify people from UP, I realized that I was not on the street…I was in fact in my bed, dreaming…thank god.

Feeling a bit more relaxed and safe to be back in 2009, I turned on the television and started flipping through the news channels…as I continued, I immediately realized why I was dreaming the dream I had…it was still not funny though…not even a bit.

A lost soul!!

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I had been trying to find a good topic to write something on my blog for quite some time now. I had been thinking something on the lines of the India/England cricket series and the great cricket, India has been playing lately. I was in fact watching the fifth game on Wednesday, and did not bother to switch onto any other channel until India scored another victory over England. When i did switch over though, my heart sank. For the next 3 days i watched in shock and horror as a group of insane men held Mumbai hostage and threatened to blow up India’s heart, piece by piece.

Watching the events unfold on television was like watching a reality show, the only difference was that you already knew that there will be no winner at the end of it. I waited with bated breath, hour after hour hoping that the ordeal would end, but it just kept going on. I slept in the night thinking that the morning would bring some good news, but it never did. It was like a never ending 3 day period. It was horrible, something that took all the life i had in me and made me feel helpless, unsafe, sad and betrayed. I felt betrayed by our system, betrayed by our netas, betrayed by the representatives that we elect just so that we can go around doing our daily insignificant tasks.

The only thing that gave me a confidence during these dreadful hours was the dedication with which our defense forces kept going on and on trying to exterminate those cockroaches from their hideouts. At the end of it all, our forces were successful in regaining Mumbai and ending the siege, but the cost was too big. Even though i waited for the operation to end, i had always known at the back of my mind that the aftermath would be even more depressing than the actual events. And it was…the never ending death count, the horror stories of innocent people stuck with sick men who only wanted to kill them, and finally the rodents of our political system , who only aimed at gaining political mileage out of the situation.

The fact is that yet another siege has ended, and that India has been hurt like it has never before. This is not the first time we have lost innocent lives and brave soldiers and quite likely it wont be the last. I have had the courage of standing up each time , thinking that i should trust my government, that they would so something to make a difference, but this time around its a different story. I have never felt so unsafe in my country as i do now, not only for me but for everyone else as well. These kind of attacks not only result in lost lives and grieved families, but also in denting the psyche of any individual. I am afraid that this is what has happened to me.

It would be a difficult task for people who have been affected directly in this insane act, to recuperate and rebuild, whether it is the families who lost their loved ones, or the hotel owners whose buildings were completely destroyed, but the most difficult task would be to repair the dented psyche of an individual who has seen or felt this atrocious act of terror. This is where our system has miserably failed earlier and i hope against hope that this is what does not happen again.

I am angry and my anger is justified, and it is not directed against any individual. I want to feel safe and i have every right to do so. I never want to be in a situation where i feel that a bomb blast is probably better than what happened in Mumbai, just because everything at least ends in a matter of minutes. It will take some time before things get back to normal and probably they never will, but we do have to move on.

The compulsion of life is such that it forces you to move on, but to forget would be as good as putting a gun on your own head and pulling the trigger. I hope that people remember what happened, i hope our government and politicians have the will to improve the situation and not make it a political buck, i hope that our media, newspapers and television channels keep this topic alive and not close the chapter after a few days just like they do for everything else, i hope that the people who lost their dear ones get enough strength to cope up with the situation, i hope things get better in the coming days and finally i hope that i regain my lost soul, the soul which was punctured, hurt and damaged while the ghastly events were taking place in Mumbai. Until that happens i would keep looking for something which can repair my soul..a soul lost to terror.

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