Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Monday, November 05, 2012
Saturday, March 10, 2012
Much as I'd expected this day to come, I wasn't quite prepared for it. I thought I was - it was perfectly logical and clear, and made so much sense. In fact, it seemed fitting.
I had tried to rationalise it in my own head - The guy is 39. And it's obviously his decision.
I tried to rationalise it with my emotional friend who felt he deserved to go out on a high - "But it doesn't matter", I'd argued. " I think he's done enough in his career to retire on his own terms". And though my friend had expressly stated that he didn't care about logic at that moment and that it just pained him to see him leave on a low, I plodded on nevertheless - " I don't think he needs to leave on a high (especially if it is going to come at the cost of bullying other teams at home). If he scores 3 centuries in 3 tests, helps India win 3-0 and leaves, would it make a difference to how you remember him? Good players deserve to leave on a high to prolong their stay in public memory. Doesn't matter as much for great players."
And as if to ensure I wasn't an unemotional piece of rock, I'd added, "if anything, his retirement is fitting. With two years of no away tests, this is the best time to ring in the next gen. Even while retiring, he's putting India first da".
And then, he officially announced it. That was when things started getting difficult. Rationality took a graceful dive out of the window. I went through the scores of tributes that poured in. It was probably not the best idea to read them in office. I realised how choked up I was only when I answered the phone with a croak instead of a hello.
By late evening, I was pointedly trying to think about anything but his retirement. I read ridiculous things I'd written years ago in the name of poetry, watched old Crazy Mohan plays and Lollu Sabha episodes, tweeted dialogues, made plans for the weekend. I didn't want it to really sink in. And I most definitely didn't want to write anything to say goodbye. Not a blog post, not a facebook status, not even a tweet.
But early this morning, I had the most vivid dream. I watched as the two openers walked in on day one; as Viru hit a streaky four in the first over; as Gambhir laced a more assured boundary in the second over and promptly edged to second slip next ball. For what seemed like eternity, no one walked out to bat.
And I woke up in cold sweat.
That's when I felt I'd to write something. If not as a tribute to the legend, at least as a favour to myself.
Thanks for all the memories, Rahul. For being instrumental in changing Indian cricket to an extent where us fans actually feel pain when we lose abroad. For rescuing India time and again, and showing us the value of never giving up. For being the most selfless cricketer ever - the only thing I haven't seen you do on the cricket field is stand in for the umpire. For showing us that nice guys can succeed too.
As I watched India play cricket all these years, amidst all my screams of "Shot!", "Two two TWO!", "Beauty!", there was one particular thing I'd yell that seemed to be reserved almost exclusively for you. And I say it for the last time.
Thursday, February 09, 2012
The following is a note my uncle sent me after coming back home from the hospital. I was amazed by how he could see the lighter side of things even in a place as grim and scary as an ICU. Just had to share it! :)
On our way back home, I saw a huge hoarding showing a big palm. It said “accurate palm reading and predictions. Meet astrologer so and so to know your future”. I told my son, “ Stop the car. I want to hurl a stone at that hoarding.”
Wednesday, January 04, 2012
It's days like these that make me appreciate the inherent brilliance of limited overs cricket. You can get mauled all day, but at least the carnage is over at the end of day's play.
For the second day in a row, I slept past midnight and woke up at five. Makes me wonder if it's worth all the trouble and if I should just switch that alarm off before I go to bed. But I'm sure I'll find myself waking up in the middle of the night, switching that alarm back on with a look of shame on my face.
Even as the Aussies went about their business this morning, from 5 AM to 7 AM, my face fell in slow motion. I was looking so grumpy by the time the umpires called lunch that my mom didn't even ask me her usual morning question - "iniku gym pogalaya?"
I dragged myself to the gym with a long face. Considering how round I've become, it was probably a slightly oval face. By the time I hit the elliptical trainer, play (read: torture) resumed. That's when I had the worst brainwave ever. I decided, in a rather twisted way, to hedge my happiness. For every easy double they ran, for every boundary they hit, I was going to push myself harder. I figured if we get tonked around, I might as well lose weight in the process.
35 excruciating minutes (of watching India bowl and going full tilt on the bloody elliptical) later, I realised I'd only doubled my self-inflicted punishment. Yes, yes, I need help, I know. In the middle of all this, Punter had reached that elusive three-figure mark. Given that I hate his guts, was that triple punishment?
In case you didn't know already, my hatred for Ricky Ponting is so extreme, even I find it a tad unfair. His talent, I've grudgingly acknowledged. But him, I loathe with every fibre of my being. His perpetually surly face, his overt aggression, his constant spitting, his annoying smirk as he takes position at silly point without a helmet, the fact that he decimated a nation's morale on that fateful night in March 2003, his arrogant gesture to Sharad Pawar to hand over the Champions Trophy, his general in-your-face attitude.. none of this has helped his cause either.
I was enjoying the pressure India was putting on him post lunch. His 97 to 99 took a while, and there he remained for a little while longer. As he knocked one down to mid-on in search of a quick single, our man Sachin went screaming across the turf to deny him that single. It was almost a "yaam petra inbam..." moment. I chuckled nervously. To my dismay, I realised that a small part of me actually wanted him to take that single.
When he did get that run, complete with a desperate full-length dive, I found myself applauding. When he took an extra second or so to get up, you could almost sense the wave of numb relief wash over him. Clarke was finding the situation hilarious, Ian Gould was laughing along, Ishant had his hands on his head with a "What have I done?" expression - but all eyes were on Punter as he looked down at his soiled shirt, removed his helmet and raised his bat. There was childlike glee in his eyes as he wore an an almost embarrassed smile on his face. That expression made him look almost... human.
Hate it when that happens.
As my friend pointed out, when they shed their arrogance, you realise they have the potential to be likeable. He'd experienced the same when he read McGrath's book.
Right. That's one book off my to-read list.
Monday, October 03, 2011
The first time I listened to the album, I remember allowing a thought to flit through my mind - that Tum Ko was probably the only weak link in an otherwise near flawless album. Rahman, as he has done innumerable times before, proved just how wrong I was. If there is one thing I'm thankful for, it's my habit of looping the entire album instead of looping specific songs. The sudden "aha" moments that you encounter from the least expected places are what I live for. Such instances are what makes listening to Rahman such a joy. From "weak link", Tum Ko has risen rather swiftly in my estimation. I wouldn't be too surprised if it ends up becoming my favourite track of the album within a week.
RGV (in a rather brilliant piece on Rahman) had once observed that Rahman's orchestration seems to rise from the depth of the singer's voice. I could see what he was talking about in Tum Ko. The soft strings in the background, as Kavita Subramaniam croons the first few lines in a breathy voice, give way to the absolutely divine sarangi. For a very brief moment her voice branches out from the sarangi as she continues to hum along. Sheer magic.
There's something about the sarangi that allows it to bypass normal channels (of being processed by the brain) and finds its way straight to your heart. (insert predictable pun on marketing it to the West as heartstrings)
And those tablas. How does Rahman make them sound so unique? Remember the brilliantly placed tabla bits in Kilimanjaro? I'd developed a sort of aversion to tablas as I got increasingly frustrated with the tedious dinkchak beats in hindi music through the 90s. But under his helm, they seem to have their own quirks, their own character almost. The flourishes in Tum Ko have a mind of their own as they stop and start without warning. If that interlude hadn't knocked you breathless yet, Rahman throws in (or simulates) a panflute for good measure. Out for the count. I could play this song on an unending loop just for this interlude.
Her tremendous vocal depth carries the song along to the end. The way each line is completed without allowing it to taper away, the way the full depth of her voice kicks in as it hangs in the air for a fraction of a second longer than you expect it to... makes me wish I'd learnt music just to be able to appreciate it better. And to know what to say :)