An Open Letter to Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin Tendulkar Wallpaper 0101

Hi Sachin,

First, wish you a very happy birthday! You turn forty today, and in a few days, I’ll turn 25. You have stepped into middle age, I am now practically middle aged (okay let me stop, the similarities shall end here). So what is so special about a sportsperson turning 40? I think it’s the fact that you are probably one of the few present-day sportspersons who has turned the big four oh and still continue to play the sport at the top level. Well, who are the others? Frankly, I don’t care. I don’t want to know either. Today is your day. So let me concentrate on you.

I still remember the first time I watched you on television. It is seared into my memory. I don’t remember which match, which year. I saw you lifting your bat for some milestone you had achieved (was it a 50, a 100?). However, what I do remember is that you were 22 years old then. It was the infant era of cable television, and our home was the first on the street to have cable TV. I never watched a cricket match before, and there were lots of boys from neighboring houses and our house-owners’ children who huddled into one big group to watch the match. “What’s Sachin’s strike rate?” somebody asked. As I was sitting in front of the TV, and could read the statistics screen , I confidently answered “It’s 22.” Giggles erupted, and a friend whispered to me “Hey dumbo! That’s not his strike rate, that’s his age.”

So it’s been 18 years since I saw you first on TV. Eighteen glorious years spent learning absolutely nothing about the technicalities of cricket but more about the guy who defined the game. You have been conferred with so many epithets, “God of Cricket,” “Master Blaster,” “The Little Master,” and when you went through a slump in form, the same people who hoisted you on a pedestal were lightning quick in tearing you down to the ground. Unfortunately, that’s how fickle minded we “normal” people are.

But you know what I really, like really, admire in you the most? Your tenacity, and the way you conduct yourself in public. Your tenacity, because you never bother, or succumb to the temptation, to respond to double-tongued critics verbally. It was always by creating a new record, reaching a new milestone, going where no human being has never gone before. And that’s how I learned lesson number 1: let your actions do the talking. Of course, I did fumble one, twice (still do), in putting your philosophy to practical use. I’m human after all. And there was also a side-lesson I learned. Let’s put that as 1(a): Never let your critics beat you down, believe in yourself, and your dreams.

And the way you conduct yourself in public. I’ve never heard you badmouth anybody, on the field, or off the field. Playing alongside the so-called “new generation” of cricketers, you must have heard the “F” word a billion times already. But never have you berated an opposition player; stood your ground and stared at an umpire, shaking your head at his bad decision; swore at a bowler after he bowled a bouncer that almost hit you; or used the F word. And for that, I salute you. The present generation thinks swearing is “cool” and that unprovoked verbal and physical aggression is “in”. Well, it is not. And it will never be. Unless of course you choose to use a swear word or throw your bat down and proceed to box an opposition player’s ears for constantly sledging you from his fielding position. And I know, just know, that you never will. So that’s lesson number 2 (the simplest, yet the hardest):  Be nice.

You must have noticed that I spoke nothing about your cover drives or your wrist work. I have absolutely no idea what they mean. I only know to cheer each time you enter a stadium and hit a six or a four or take a single. Or even just stand there. So Happy Birthday once again Sachin. I love you, respect you and admire you.

Let the celebrations begin.:)

 

Picture Courtesy: Google Images

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SentOhSa

 

So this happened like a year back. Some of us from our office were selected to attend a training in Singapore (psst here comes the “yeah, of course I’ve been to a foreign country” insinuation). We were to be there for a grand total of four days and since the entire group consisted of girls, we had a whale of a time planning where all to go and what all to see. Plans were made and cab fares were studiously calculated. Since we were to spend 4 nights there, the itinerary was drawn up as follows: Clark Qay/Boat Qay, Night Safari, Sentosa, Chinatown. I will not burden you with all the stuff we did the first two days (The item of importance here is the Sentosa Island.) We were bursting with excitement at all the pictorials on the official website. It looked like a wonderland. There was a cable car that you could take to reach the island. It cost about S$35 I think… Again frantic calculations were made, and we decided to go via cable car ride anyway. “It’ll be fun,” my colleague said excitedly. “It better be,” I prayed.

So we reached Sentosa via cable car. I remember being really excited that it was an Angry Birds Cable Car Ride. Note the point that I never ever played Angry Birds before in my life. But that didn’t stop me from falling in love with the winged creatures. Once we bought the tickets, we were handed a complimentary drink, a sipper with a suspicious looking red-colored liquid, and were told to wait. We did. I did not touch the drink, but kept bugging my colleagues to finish theirs so I could empty the contents of my drink and take the sipper as a souvenir back home (it was an Angry Birds sipper, in my defense).

The cable car ride was, well, frightening. It did not help that the cab driver who took us to Sentosa kept telling us of all the accidents that happened on Sentosa Island, in chronological order. He also helpfully supplied us with the very vital information that some people died when a cable car snapped and fell down. So you must understand how jittery we all were. The Carpenters’ “Close to You” was on repeat in the cable car that we travelled. Did not help much, I must add.

Soon we reached Sentosa, the “so-called” baap of all entertainment spots in Singapore. But I was quite underwhelmed because all we could see were just dragons and snakes; well it would’ve been interesting atleast if they were real. The Merlion was a bright spot, but then I lost hope when no one could take a picture of me with the head of the Merlion showing in the background. I’m still stuck with tens of photos of myself grinning like an idiot in the backdrop of a large curvy wall of concrete.

“We should get to the Sentosa beach!” someone suggested. We all nodded our heads in unison and proceeded in the general direction of the sea. We reached what looked like a timid lake, and took turns rolling our eyes. But the sand was clean, there were not a lot of tourists around for some reason, and we thankfully rested our tired feet. I decided to take a walk around the beach. But to my horror, there were about seven couples sitting behind us, all in various stages of, um, intense tongue action. I hurriedly traced back my steps and told our group not to look back. They all turned their heads back in unison (of course they did), and faces became red. “Is this some kind of a lover’s point?” one girl innocently suggested. We shot daggers at her, and she receded back to silence.

We remained still for an awkward 10 minutes, a group of girls with reddening faces, not able to turn back and retrace our steps. “Would it be uncivilized to walk between couples who are kissing? Is that, like against the law? Would we be fined? How do they hold their breath like that while kissing?” were some of the thoughts that were on my mind. That was the first (and until now, I think, the only time) the bunch of us saw non-TV/movie-type, real-couple kissing. We sat there, silent, for about an hour until sunset, watching so-called “waves” (they were actually ripples) and then made our way back to the cab stand, intently studied different constellations in the sky, avoiding the, em, “action” going on all around. “Not very fun eh?” one of the girls commented, during the ride back to the hotel. We nodded, tired and sleepy, none of us wanting to admit that, we indeed learned an important lesson that day: Never trust professional photography.

Being Ma(u)lled

Okay, I hate malls. I find them to be the most unproductive man-made structures ever created on earth. Even worse than the concept of marriage, so to speak. I do not find any charm whatsoever in going to a mall, wasting a very expensive, non-renewable source for an hour just to find a parking spot, fighting off blood-thirsty contenders for that precious parking spot, then totally ignoring the weird omnipresent smell of chicken that seems to permeate each and every column of the basement parking lot, walking a thousand miles to reach the main shopping center, and then what? Loitering around aimlessly for about three hours until you are so weak in your knees that all you ever want is to flop back in your precious torn sofa and sleep.

So I’m not this Robin Sharma type person who is constantly berating people to have some aim in life. I would love nothing more than wandering aimlessly somewhere. Actually, that was what I wrote in the “My Aim” part of many high school slam books. “Be aimless.” But I want to wander aimlessly somewhere in tune with nature. Like on a beach. Not in a place where recycled air is pumped in, and it smells of chicken everywhere I go, and a tub of ice cream costs one-day’s salary.

Nevertheless, I visit malls more often that I would want to. It’s like the “hip” thing to do right now in India, I guess? Go to a newly opened mall, spend sometime in the sweltering heat inside (because, face it, there is no power and centralized AC is just a term) get jostled and elbowed by people who you don’t (want to) know, and pay through your nose for a cup of coffee that anyway tastes  really, well, like mud mixed with water, keep walking aimlessly until you can count the bones in your body and then come back home and watch Fightclub, oohing and aahing simultaneously at the pain in the joints and at a shirtless Brad Pitt .

Coming from a place where there is really not much to do than keep looking at the clock and see when the mandatory 2-hour power cut is due, I am left with very few options. I can either go to the beach or to a mall. Both have parking space shortages, and both usually smell (former like fish, latter like chicken). But atleast, on a beach, I can watch the waves. In a shopping mall, I get flustered enough navigating the escalators that I usually break down more than the machines.  And don’t even get me started with the “shopping” part of a shopping mall. Well, let me put it this way: Nobody watches Baywatch to finetune their life-saving skills.

Boy Boy

Yesterday was a milestone in the area of Indian girl rights. Yes, you read that right. My mom agreed that I’d have a “love” marriage (as opposed to, say, a “non-love” marriage). She had been furiously searching grooms for the past one year, someone who’d respect me, care for me and watch cricket (and surreptitiously, Fashion TV) all round the clock in the hospital reception TV as I battle for my life in the ICU during the last days. Whatever. I said “no” each time she showed a picture of a prospective serial cricket watcher. (Actually I never did look at the photographs clearly. Okay, I was lying. I did, but didn’t want to get married to an utter stranger.) My dad thought I was being narcissistic and sat down and patiently explained to me that it is the inner beauty that matters. “Ok, so why didn’t I win the Miss Universe contest?” I shot back. He fell silent, and never brought up the marriage topic ever again.

Yesterday, mom decided enough was enough. And so did I. We both decided to end the search mutually. Her search, I mean. Not mine. (Are you kidding me?) And then, as I was preparing to go to sleep, she wearily asked me to search a guy for myself.

“You know, you should have found someone for you while you were in college,” she advised me.
“Too late for that, eh?” I murmured, as I thought of all the sleepless nights I spent, crying silently for my parents to come and take me home from the college hostel. Precious time lost that could have been put to good use.
“Hmm,” she said.
“You should go out and meet people,” she said as a matter of fact.
“Hmm,” I said, not at all liking the way she insinuated that I did not have a “social” life. Okay, I didn’t, but she didn’t have to be so, “in your face” about it.
“Then maybe, you would find someone,” she continued undeterred.
Not at all liking the way the conversation was panning out, I decided to redeem myself of the however-little self-respect I had left.
“You know I’ve been seeing someone…” I mentioned casually.
“Oh,” was her only reply. Gotcha!
“What’s his name?”
Didn’t see that one coming.
“Boy,” I blurted. (I honestly didn’t know why I said that.)
“Oh, what’s his first name?” she enquired.
“Boy,” I said again, and fervently wished I’d sink into a hole under the ground right then.
“Boy as in BYE or BOY?” my mom asked sweetly.
“B.O.Y,” I spelt out patiently.
“Hmm… Boy Boy,” she repeated to herself. I sunk back lower and lower into the ground.
“So what does he do?” she continued.
“Err hmmm, work,” I said.
“Yeah, what kind of work?” she pursued doggedly.
“Office work…” I replied, cringing and mentally facepalming myself a million times.
“Hmm.. ‘Boy Boy’ who does ‘office work’…why don’t you ask him to come and meet us sometime?” she suggested.
“Yeah, eventually,” I croaked, unable to bear the humiliation anymore.
“Good,” she said.
I didn’t reply, because I was fake sleeping by then.

So much for girl rights. Gah!

Fooling around in April

Frankly, if you ask me, April Fool’s Day is the most dangerous of all days ever celebrated in the history of mankind. Seriously. It is more dangerous than the “Feeding Men to Lions” day, celebrated with great gusto in the Roman Empire. More dangerous than the “Feeding Mice to Snakes and Vice Versa” day, still celebrated clandestinely in some parts of North and South America, and Asia, And Africa, and Antarctica. And Europe. And on the moon.

Still not convinced? Well here’s a scenario.

Let’s say Kim Jong-un decides to nuke the world today. Imagine how the conversation would pan out

 

North Korea: We are nuking the world

Rest of World (ROW):  What the… Oh, it’s April 1.

North Korea: No really, see, we have aimed rockets in the general direction of the entire world (shows live TV feed of rockets in launch position).

ROW: What the… Oh, nice try! The dummy rockets look so real!

North Korea: Swearing in North Korean at the general world

ROW: Wahahaha. Pseudo-swearing. Love it! So dramatic…

North Korea: Seriously guys, you are getting on our nerves and we are this close to getting our men on our unmanned rockets

ROW: Hahahahahaa

North Korea: Attack!

 

BLACKOUTBLACKOUTBLACKOUTBLACKOUTBLACKOUTBLACKOUTBLACKOUTBLACKOUTBLACKOUT

 

And that’s how the world came to an end.

Now who’s looking foolish?

Eh?

The Way We Are…

If you didn’t know already, I’m from India. And if you did know that, well here’s another thing you might not have known: I live in one of the southern states in India, called Tamil Nadu (meaning Land of the Tamils). It is situated near the country of Sri Lanka, I think its a one-hour flight from the state capital Chennai to Colombo, the erstwhile capital of Sri Lanka.
So there, I’ve explained the geography.
The northern part of Sri Lanka is mostly populated by settlers from Tamil Nadu who were transported to the country to work on plantations there by, who else, the British, during the colonial times. The Sinhalese comprise the majority population in Sri Lanka. The Tamils were routinely looked down upon by the Sinhalese, and do not enjoy all the consitutional rights and freedom that the Sinhalese enjoy. Once Sri Lanka gained independence, the Tamils began their demand for equal rights, which were studiously ignored by the Sinhalese. Soon protests turned violent, and after a series of massacres on either sides, (I’m not going to research who started it first, what’s the point?) the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE) morphed into a terrorist group, de facto assuming the voice of the Tamils in Sri Lanka. It demanded a separate autonomous state for Tamils, and was headed by “Col” Velupillai Prabhakaran, who orchestrated a series of daring attacks ad assasinations on political leaders: the Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi (in 1991) and the Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa (in 1993) lost their lives in brazen suicide missions by LTTE members.

Sri Lanka was torn by strife as a result of civil war for over 30 odd years. The army finally managed to rout out the LTTE, culminating in the death of its leader Prabhakaran. His entire family was wiped out in the final stages of the war. His younger son, daughter and wife were shot dead in the final days of the war, while his elder son, who headed the airforce of the LTTE (yes, they had an airforce) was killed in action. Thousands of innocent civilians were killed during the final stages of the war. The Sri Lanka president Mahinda Rajapaksa finally declared the end of civil war in 2009 and promised to rehabilate the thousands of Tamils displaced as a result of the war and integrate them into mainstream Sri Lankan society.

So there, you have the history.

It has been almost 4 years since the civil war ended in Sri Lanka. Now this is the tough part. I really don’t know what’s happening in Sri Lanka now. Are the Tamil civilians really being treated well? Those who had to live through the war that claimed their loved ones’ lives, are their lives returning back to “normalcy,” whatever that means? Has the Sri Lankan government started atleast partially fulfilling its promises that it made after the war ended? I don’t know, I really don’t.

But here’s what I do know for sure. Political parties in the state of Tamil Nadu, have seized the Eelam issue in the most shameful way and are leveraging it to attracting votes. A major regional party in Tamil Nadu, the DMK, walked out of the Central government, stating that the Center was not concerned about the plight of the Tamils in Sri Lanka. This, after the party stayed with the Center for over 10 years, throughout the duration of the last days of the civil war, and not raising a single objection about the strife going on there. It was transparent as to why the DMK walked out. The UPA government at the center is literally in shambles now, beset by allegations of corruption, favoritism and general lack of faith of the public in the government. Elections are not far away, and DMK realized it would not bode well to be associated with the UPA. As simple as that.

Protests were being held all over Tamil Nadu as the UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka was passed last week, demanding that the word “genocide” be added to the resolution, while independent credible investigations are being called upon to investigate the alleged war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan army during the war. Graphic video footage and photographic evidence show that people were indeed massacred during the war, but the Sri Lankan government claims the evidence is doctored.

But I am more ashamed of myself rather than these political parties. I did know that a civil war was going on in Sri Lanka, that people were being killed, but I did not give much thought to it until a couple of months ago, when politicians, intellectuals and diplomats began to routinely appear on Indian news channels, debating the issue. When photographs showing Prabhakaran’s 12-year-old son well and alive in an army bunker were splashed in the front pages of newspapers, I, for a moment thought the earlier news of his death was false, as were the evidence of the killings of innocent civilans caught up in the war. But no, when I read the news, I came to know the photographs were taken moments before he was clinically shot dead, not in the crossfire, as earlier claimed by the Sri Lankan government. At that point, I couldn’t control my tears. I shut myself in the bathroom and cried. I cried for all the people caught up in wars around the world. I cried for the senselessness that accompanies the killing of a young boy at the hands of his captors. I cried for all the children who lost their lives, because that is the worst. Children should not die, they are much too innocent and pure. But they lose their lives every single day due to callousness, greed, or other some stupid reason. If we cannot guarantee a child’s life, his/her right to grow up and experience all the things that normal people experience, happiness, laughter, ambition, then what’s the point of the existence? When you are heartless enough to shoot a child point blank, you might as well turn around the gun and shoot yourself, because there is no point in living anymore in a future tainted by a child’s blood.

First page of a novel that I started writing today and would probably never complete…

“OMG, this is so like Hangover,” she said, as she lay under the bed, clearly uncomfortable.

“Except we are not hung over,” I helpfully added.

“Hmm…” was her only reply.

I patted my hair for the brazillionth time, trying to frantically dust off imaginary friendly spiders that may have crawled into it.

“Stop fidgeting!” she whispered, pretty loudly. “He may find us,” she added as an afterthought.

I acquiesced.

I was going to turn 25 in a month. And here I was, playing Hide & Seek with my precocious seven-year-old cousin who was mature enough to reference Hangover movie and understand the term “hung over” (considering the fact that she was probably born at the time the script writing sessions for the movie began).

I suddenly felt unsure about my choice.

“Do you think he is going to find us here?” I whispered.

“Yeah, just keep talking loudly like this,” she shot back, her eyes literally blazing now.

Uh oh, somebody has taken the game very seriously.

I smoothed my unruly hair again and my elbow hit the underside of the bed, making a thud that seemed to magnify a thousand times in the death silence that engulfed the house.

I did not turn toward her for fear of being engulfed by the flames that threatened to shoot out of her eyes. There was a sudden patter of footsteps. I could see a pair of feet that came to rest near our hiding place. The feet went around the bed, checking behind the bureau.

 I almost snorted sarcastically. Behind the bureau, really?

The feet proceeded to walk out of the room. I turned to my cousin and raised my eyebrows at her, in a superior way, highlighting the fact that my choice of hiding place turned out to be a winner. She just rolled her eyes.

I suddenly shrieked as I could feel my feet being pulled out from under the bed. My head hit the bed again in the melee as sinister laughter echoed all around.

I climbed out of my hiding place, sat up groggily and stared at my younger cousin brother, source of the sinister sound, looking back at me triumphantly with a wide grin on his face.

“OMG, this is so like Taken!” he said, proceeding to jump up and down in happiness as he declared me “out”.

Kids, I thought as I rolled my eyes. It then idly crossed my mind that this was another movie that a young child should not have referenced.

“Don’t you have parental controls on your TV remote at home?” I asked him, screwing up my eyes as I rubbed the fast-growing lump on my head.

“No,” he replied, “do you?”

I decided it was best not to pursue that line of conversation. I was a mature 24-year-old girl, and I would not be drawn into a verbal ping-pong exchange with a 5-year-old.

Suddenly, I sensed something amiss.

I looked at him and frantically signed that his elder sister was hiding under the bed too. He put his finger on his lips and stealthily urged me to get up and walk out of the door alongside him. He then left me at the door as he suddenly pounced back into the room, shrieking loudly at his elder sister hiding under the bed.

“Out, OUt, OUT!” I heard him chanting gleefully as he completely disregarded accusations of cheating that spewed forth from his obviously irritated elder sister.

“OMG, this is so like Taken,” I murmured to myself excitedly.