Thursday, 27 November 2008

Whither next?

I am sad. I am shaken.

I thought terrorist encounters happened in Israel or in Beirut. Grenades were thrown in Afghanisthan.

I thought we were safe. I thought we had strong borders. I thought -----

AND then, there were TV channels showing gunmen and police running about on the streets with drawn weapons, bodies being flung onto ambulances, blasts happening on the elite monuments of Mumbai, the figures of the casualties were rising like mercury in heat.

I felt numb. I felt helpless.

Then the tears came. Tears of anger and rage at the incompetence -- the incompetence of the intelligence agencies, the incompetence of the authorities but above all the incompetence of myself.

I want to give it back in kind to these scums but I don't know how!!!!!

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Adios, Maharaj

It probably was in the year 1990. We were playing an inter college cricket tournament and on a day off for us we trooped in to watch St. Xavier’s ,Kolkata take on Hooghly Mohsin College. We had walked in to gauge the strength of probable opponents but we ended up seeing a young guy scorch the turf with impeccable timing and balance and make the game a rather one-sided farce.

At that time, he was unknown to the world.

In 1991, he was in the India team and he returned in disgrace unable to cope with the cut throat competition of the game at the highest levels. In 1996, under allegations of being a Quota selection, he returned with a test debut hundred on the hallowed turf of Lords. The Indian cricket scenario changed forever!

Sourav Ganguly – Sourav Chandidas Ganguly to the media, Maharaj to friends and fans, Dada to team mates had had a second coming. This time it was for real, though what followed is stuff that mere mortals just dream off.

The back to back test centuries on debut, the 5 match ODI series against Pakistan in Toronto, the fighting 144 against Australia under terrible assault with the ball and words, the chasing of 300 plus against Pakistan in Bangladesh, the first series win at Pakistan and the tremendous showing in the 2003 World Cup. One could also mention his 22 ODI and 16 Test Centuries , 19000 international runs and the world record holding , now legendary, opening partnerships with Sachin Tendulkar. But these are mere statistics.

But what really sets him apart is his character. His grit, his mental strength, his ability to lead from scratch, identify and back potential match winners to the hilt, his ability to rise over petty regionalism, and give it back to the opposition in the same coin without batting an eyelid. Steve Waugh and a whole generation of Aussie cricketers know it, Greg Chappel knows it , Andrew Flintoff knows it and even a lot of retired/ forced to retire Indian cricketers know it. Yuvraj, Kaif, Harbhajan , Nehra, Zaheer, Sehwag know it too.

Unfortunately, that is what brought his early exit from the world cricket scenario. No one likes to be proven wrong or exposed in public. The ‘know-it-all’ Shastris, Roebucks, Srikanths, Vengsarkars, Mores and Chappels were under pressure. Each time they picked up and highlighted the fallacies and shortcomings of him, Sourav shut them up with his bat or at times even the ball.

And what audacity? He never subscribed to any lobby and the traditional region controlled politics was under severe strain. People got worried. How would they hide their in- competencies if there was no ‘divide and rule’ policy. So drastic measures were required. A captain was dropped from the team after having scored a test century. Rumour mongering and character assassination was started in right earnest. The powers to be heaved a sigh of relief that their fiefdom was safe.

But again, this guy (what audacity ? ) worked his way back into the team and created a third fairytale comeback. It was a dream two years which showed that he still was miles ahead of his detractors. But insecure incompetents would always be the same. He was dropped from the ODI team on the pretext of creating a team for the future, even after him being the highest run getter in the previous year. One debacle in a test series and knives were out again.

Maharaj had had enough. He decided to call it a day in style. And what style!! A century and an average of well over 60 in the last series against the world champs. (No doubt the Aussies hate him).

Fare you well DADA. We will miss those flowing ethereal drives through the covers, the lofted sixers over long-on , the lofted drives over the point boundary, the innocuous outswinger befuddling the batsmen into edging to the wicketkeeper , the jaw set in fierce determination, the tensed chewing of the nails, the swagger to the middle of the pitch and above all, the clenched fist raised to the sky in victory.

And before I end, Indian cricket needs you even today – may be in a different avatar. We shall keep our hopes alive for a new innings on a different pitch which may take Indian cricket to new heights – the ‘know-it-all’s be damned.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Strange Month

It has been a rather strange month.

It was the biggest festival month of the year with the two biggest festivals falling in this month. It was deemed to be a month of fun, frolic and gaiety.

It was a ruthlessly depressing month which brought apprehension and despondency to the minds of a lot of people.

It started with the Nano factory being withdrawn and Sourav announcing retirement. For the individual worshipping and hoping for a resurgence Bengali, it was a double whammy. Then the international community joined in the fun!

Big names like Lehman Brothers fell like nine pins and the stock market fell as if it were out to reprove the theories of gravity. Across states and continents came the groans of bankruptcy and for the man on the street the future was an eerie unknown threat.

The Gods and Goddesses came on schedule and there was lights, pandals , works of art strewn on the roads, dhakis and cultural programmes. However, the prayers on the lips were slightly more fervent, the frolic slightly forced.

Diwali, the festival of lights, came with its normal cache of lights, diyas , firecrackers and also an abnormal package of bombs. With the government trying to concentrate on the ban on loud sounding firecrackers, there were actual bombs being blasted across the country and entire Bihar was in flames.

India sent its first vehicle to the moon and simultaneously local leaders worked up such regional passion that the country is seeing localised civil war. Anand re-established his world champion status and the Aussies were drubbed at the Mohali test. On the same day a labourer from the North of India got lynched in the West because he came from the North and Assam got hit by 18 bombs at one shot.

It was a month which was special, but who wanted a special month anyway!!!