Sunday, March 25, 2012

Not Faking News

Thought of putting together some random WTF news/ posts from the last fortnight or so.
1) The Rail Budget (Ok will stop here).
2) An MP's security guard pissing on a passenger. In a Train. The MP is from TMC. Whatay delightful.
3) Maoists releasing hostage to NDTV. Yes, NDTV, not the police. And not Arnab Goswami !! What were they thinking ?
4) Poonam Pandey nearly caused a communal riot in Kolkata. Thanks to the Telegraph.
5) Delhi High Court saying that sex is important in marriage. Please read for more details. This is about a week after the Chennai high court said this
6) Came across this link on FB/ Twitter, where you can try and block a seat next to a "lady" in bus journeys. 
7) Bangladesh Cricket Board, seeking to reverse result of Asia Cup Final. Very soon, we will have court room battles to decide close cricket matches. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Well left

Determined. Dedicated. Disciplined.
Dependable.Reliable. Trustworthy.
Tough. Gritty. Solid.
Patient. Perservering. Persistent.
Adaptable. Selfless. Team-player.
Cool. Calm. Composed.
Committed. Consistent. Classy.
Just a collection of adjectives. Words used in management literature. Aspirational qualities that you write as strengths in your CV. Qualities that you want to have within you. Qualities, you secretly hope you will have one day. What else ? Oh well, words very often used to describe Rahul Dravid. He had all these, and so much more.
It is a good guess to say that he has been a role model for many people in this country. It will be difficult for kids or indeed their parents, to find too many better ones.
So many images keep flooding my mind today. The dream debut. The first 100 at Jo'burg. The six of Donald. Hundreds in both innings at Hamilton. Bristol with Sachin. Taunton with Dada. Hyderabad with Sachin......Eden with Laxman. Headingly with Bangar. The keeper batsman and the fininsher in WC 2003. Adelaide. Rawalpindi. The two 100s vs Pak at Eden. Kingston. Perth........England 2011...
It was 2006 November or December. I was travelling to Chennai from Kolkata, but had a long stop-over at the old Bangalore airport. Almost 5-6 hours I think. Sitting around, I suddenly saw a familiar face among the passengers in the waiting area. He was extremely slim I remember. Sharing a quiet moment with his wife and little kid. Kissing them good bye before proceeding for security check on his way to an overseas tour. He appeared just like anyone else and not like the star he was. There was no ruckus, no fuss, no fanfare. No one ran to him for an autograph, because probably no one noticed - he carried no extra baggage of security or followers. He was quiet, unassuming, dignified. I was enchanted, spellbound, smitten. Rahul Dravid, the man, was always, a classy bugger.
It was 2010 and after Australia finished Day 1 of the 2nd test at the Chinnaswamy at 280 odd for 5. I hung around after play was over. Within a couple of minutes, a man came out, quickly organising a net at the far end. And started batting. He was out of form and he looked it. But you could see that he was trying hard. "Working on it" as some of us keep saying these days. He got out cheaply the next day. I am pretty sure, he would have gone back to practice again. And again.
He kept "working on his game" always. Ever improving, adapting, improvising. His game became better and better with each year. He invented and re-invented himself as an ODI player. From being the sheet anchor, to a utility player, to a finisher par excellence, he did it all. For a cricketer branded a test player, he one day went on to become the best One Day player in the world.
But  it was in Tests, where he was best. He was our finest number three. And yet, time and again, he went out to open in Tests when we ran out of openers, due to form or injury, when we ran out of options. He always took up the challenge, and often succeded.
Without Dravid, there would be no Eden, 2001. No Headingley, 2002.  No Adelaide, 2003. No Rawaldpindi, 2004.  No Eden, 2005. No Kingston, 2006. No Perth, 2007. Each of these test wins, these cherished, precious treasures of memories, has him very much in the middle. As a friend told me, he has given us so much happiness.....
He was at his best, when we were in some strife. He was at his best, when partnerships were to be built. His mastery of playing the second fiddle was second to known. He let our Gun players blaze away to glory, while he displayed guts. He was our umbrella for a rainy day, our shield, our vigilante, our silent protector, guardian, our Dark Knight.
He played more balls than anyone else in test cricket. And he "well left" balls better than anyone else. He had a magnificient defence. But his strokes had his own unique style, his very own, elan. The wristy flick of his early days, the on drive, the inside out over cover. The pull shot. The cover drive. The square cut. He had it all. My favourite Dravid shot is his glide to Third Man. Controlled. Measured. Precise. Efficient. Effective. He could have been a much more flair player, but he chose to be tight.
But most of all, he was an integral part of our most incredible generation of cricketers. SRT, Dada, VVS, Jumbo and Dravid. And part of so many, happy, memorable moments, which he helped create on the field. And led the way, as Indian cricket and its fans experienced unprecedented success. We have been so, so  fortunate to have them together. And the best part was - you didn't have to choose between them - you could idolise them all.
Rahul Dravid, the Cricketer has retired. It fills me with sadness. The Indian cricket fan probably feels a bit like W.H. Auden here:
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Thanks Rahul. For your runs and catches. And more importantly for being such a class act. We will miss your grace and dignity. And your judgement around the off-stump. "Well left".

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