Sachin and his ‘Bidai’

If you are an Indian, irrespective of whether you follow cricket or not (non-followers would anyway be in a miniscule minority), you know Sachin Tendulkar.  And like all other Indians, and cricket followers all over the world, you would have, for most part of his glorious cricketing career, been in awe of this amazing gentleman. He is one rare combination of extraordinary talent and remarkable humility. Soft-spoken. Professional. Unassuming in personality, imposing in stature. The world is at his feet, yet his feet are firmly grounded. It would appear that God created him to demonstrate something to humanity. If only we are observing.

While he continues to travel on his chosen path, still attracting huge crowds wherever he plays, discussions on his retirement plans have now started appearing at every medium. Questions are now being asked about his role and future in the Indian team. What started as a murmur has now become a noise.  So, should be retire now? Why? Why not?

At the outset, I must admit that my achievements in my field of endeavor would be less than 1% of what Sachin has achieved in his field. While Sachin has been an inspiration, admirable and positive influence on countless kids and adults alike, I am hardly such a person even within my close circle of loved ones. And, I am, only like most other people. Yet, I venture to suggest to Sachin that it is time he hung up his boots. He must retire now. I say this out of affection and concern, not disrespect. And I say this fondly to the 16-year-old who debuted for India with starry eyes.

To many, Sachin has never been an ordinary player. He has been a great one. A legend. And he has set up the mark so high for himself that today even he may be finding it difficult for him to match. So what should he do? Arguably, he may still be better than most ordinary cricketers. So, does he stoop to the level of mortals to compete with them? Please, NO! Let not the lion become a dog for the sake of a bone. Leave us with just the memories of how you ruled on field, not of how you struggled to progress from 96 to 100.

I believe that anyone who has in mind the best interest of Sachin, should venture to suggest him to retire now. His body, enthusiasm, commitment, and all the positive virtues that he has, may allow him to play, at the most, a couple of years more in the international circuit, and may be fetch India a few more wins, and personally to him a few more centuries and laurels. But they will all come at a very heavy cost. He has gifted us with countless memories. But his greatest gift to us has been this image of a committed professional who performed for the team’s cause. A professional who battled to triumph, not a professional who struggled to survive. He runs the risk of having to pay for this extended run with his stature, standing, reputation, and goodwill.

Sachin, on field today, resembles a shadow of his past. Don’t read a lot into the scores – whether he is making them or not; whether they are favourable to him or not. I do not attach a great deal of reverence to statistics. Not because they don’t help, but they can be easily manipulated. Anyone can be pleased. You just have to pick the right numbers.

Ever since he first made début as a teenager, Sachin Tendulkar has come across as someone who put the interests of the team above himself. What is in the best interest of the team today? That is a question that he has to answer himself honestly. And he will be judged by his answer, as much as by the amount of runs he has scored.

Retirement is not the end of the world. We would like to see Sachin often, in one form or the other. And we will see him of course. But however we see him, we like to see him as someone who excels. Never as someone who struggles. He is not like us. Let him not become like us.

Agreed I haven’t played cricket even at school level. Agreed that I cheered for him till not so long ago. While I can’t cook, I complain if the food served to me in a restaurant is stale. I love Madhuri Dixit and her smile. Yet, should a movie be made today, I would not prefer her to be the college-going heroine opposite Ranbir Kapoor.

Majestic voyage, it has been. But the ship is running aground now. And the sooner the captain acts, the better it would be.

Finally, Sachin, at this point of time, reminds me of an Indian bride at her ‘Bidai’, shortly after her wedding. Surrounded by loved ones in tears. Loved ones who are pained at the thought that she has to leave, even while realizing within themselves that she has to leave. Loved ones hoping to make the most of the few moments left. Loved ones hoping that time would stand still and the bidai would freeze in time.

However, that doesn’t happen. The bride must leave. She must set up her own household. We must allow her to leave. And advise her to leave. And fulfill her destiny. Before the Groom loses patience and heads home alone.

Categories: Society | 4 Comments

Life Journal: Korattur Days – 4

Continued from Part 4

Childhood is generally associated with innocence. Some fond memories when you look back. Here are a few funny incidents while I was at Korattur:

13. Like everywhere else in India, Cricket was the most popular sport in our locality too. However, there were not many kids of my age group [and those that were there were also mostly girls!]. That meant I was always playing with guys who were a lot older than me. And that in turn meant I was mostly a ball boy!

14. I used to watch cricket matches with all those older boys. I don’t remember watching any ODIs while at Korattur. It was all mostly Test matches. And all those times, I had a great doubt. I felt embarrassed to even ask anyone about it. I had a feeling that maybe it was a stupid doubt, and I would be made fun of if I asked anyone about it. My doubt was this – when a batsman gets out, he walks out, and a new batsman walks in. That’s it. He alone walks out. Then why is it that when a batsman named ‘All’ gets out [that’s what I understood when everyone said All Out], everyone walks out of the ground? Why is that guy ‘All’ so special? I don’t remember when exactly I figured this out. But glad that I didn’t ask anyone this doubt!

15. There were times when dad used to leave me and mom alone and go on work related out-station trips. I was very young then – around 4-5 years old, and me and mom used to sleep in our neighbouring house for safety. During such times, Mom used to wake up early and head back home. Being young, I used to sleep till the sun was up very brightly, and most times I would be woken up by the servant maid who came to clean the room. She derived some pleasure in teasing me for sleeping late, and I used to head home very angry. And my neighbours used to have a good laugh watching all this!

To be continued …..

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2012: Let The Play Begin!

Beginning of the New Year, and I am as nervous as a novice opening batsman, taking guard on the first session of an important series, against a pair of fast bowling legends, under perfect bowling conditions. And no, it has got nothing to do with whether or not the world will come to an end in 2012!

2012 brings with it for me, some of the gravest challenges that I am yet to face. Challenges that I feel can only be overcome with the support, cooperation and efforts of many others surrounding me. Support, cooperation and efforts, which at the moment, do not seem to be forthcoming. I hope and pray that I be blessed with strength and perseverance to continue working on these challenges without quitting, and also be blessed with strength and understanding to accept all that emerges out of this exercise.

On a personal note, lots of happy moments to look forward to in 2012. Marriages, new additions to the extended family, and more happy occasions. Trips, as usual. But nothing yet planned to Vizag and Tirupathi. And, not hurrying on them, as well.

In the public arena, guess Lokpal would continue to hog the headlines. Along with elections in UP. And all the high-profile corruption cases. And without any need to mention, Telangana. And many people seem to be working hard to make 2012 too, the year of the Protester. Hope we stop here and don’t push it further in an attempt to register the ‘Decade of the Protester’.

2012 is not only a leap year – it is also the Olympics year. Think many people will start celebrating the event once the center stage shifts from the agitations against DoW’s sponsorship, to main event itself. A few however, many never celebrate at all. So, how will the nation of 1 billion perform?

Also wondering, will Sangeeth be ready in 2012? At least, looks like it would!

I would guess that in 2012 too, much like 2011, the economists are going to be discussing about Eurozone, intellects are going to be discussing about right to free speech and protests, government is going to be engaged more in protecting the government than governance, and the common man will be standing alone fighting inflation.

So, no doubt, the novice batsman is going to be tested. But, amidst all that nervousness, there is also an instinctive feeling, and confidence flowing out of such feeling, that he will emerge victorious. Will he or won’t he? Not long before we find out the answer, for 2012 is already in its stride to deliver the opening salvo. Game On !!

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2011: A Year in Review

2011 has come to an end. So, how good was it?

The year was filled with many memorable moments. Lot of marriages and happy family gatherings. Got more closer to the few who mattered, and more distanced from the rest. Plans and experiments falling in place. And giving rise to newer ideas and focus items.

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In the political arena, 2011 was the year of Anna. Lokpal, Jan Lokpal, Team Anna, I am Anna, India against corruption, Swami Agnivesh, Baba Ramdev, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Ghoongat, Kashmir, Travel claims, and so many other things that, half way through, I totally lost track of what was happening. And in many sense, it really doesn’t matter much to me now.

2011 was also the year of scams. CWG, 2G, Cash for Votes, Mining, CVC appointment, and more. Tihar hosted some high-profile visitors. FIRs, charge-sheets, and bails competed with inflation for newspaper headlines. And government strayed from one crisis to another, leaving it with little time, resource or inclination for policy issues.

In the states, the Telengana confusion continued. It’s now a year since the Sri Krishna Committee report was submitted. The 40-odd day general strike in the region was near total. And just for the record, Amma and Didi were voted to power, Yeddy was asked to vacate, and Rahul continued his lunch and dinner at dalit homes.

2011 will also be remembered as Steve Job’s last year on this planet. Cyrus Mistry was announced as the successor to Ratan Tata. google launched google+. And if you too, are ignorant about economics like me, then you can just refer to ‘that Eurozone debt crisis’ and leave it there.

2011 was a bit unkind to the art world. Pt. Bhimsen Joshi, MF Hussain, Shammi Kapoor, Jagjith Singh, Bhupen Hazarika, Mario Miranda, were all called to discharge their duties in heaven, along with Sathya Sai Baba and Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi. 2011 also exposed that Dev saab was not immortal. And that Osama was not invincible. And that Gaddafi cannot be always victorious.

The year saw some big movies hitting the screens – Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Bodyguard, Don 2, Ra.One, Dhobi Ghat, Delhi Belly, Rockstar, Dirty Picture, Aarakshan, to name a few. It will also be recorded that 7 Khoon Maaf and Mausam too, hit the theatres this year.  But for many, 2011 will exclusively be the year of Mangatha. And one thing that all these movies share in common – I didn’t get a chance to watch any of them! At least, not yet.

Along with Lokpal, 2011 also introduced many new terms to pan-India public – Beti B, Dhanush, Kolaveri, Soup Boys, and more. No doubt we will be hearing more of these terms in the years to come.

2011 placed India on the F-1 map. The much awaited Cricket World Cup was here, and it didn’t disappoint – at least result wise. The year also saw the ‘imposter’ following the legend in notching a double-century in ODIs. And on the other side, 2011 also saw the sentencing of Pakistan cricketers on match-fixing allegations, the Peter Roebuck tragedy, and the thrashing we received in England. Scales appear even!

2011 was also the year of the Joker. He scored 3 out of the 4 Grand Slams leaving just one for Rafa, and none for Fedex. On the women’s end, though, there were 4 different Grand Slam winners, with all, except the super mom, doing it for the first time.

All in all a very eventful year. A year full of activity, noise and engagement. Now, was it also a year of progress? That, my friends, only time will tell.

Categories: Life | 2 Comments

The Wait

The book was very happy. It now had a reader. It was now going home.

Lying on the cash counter, waiting to be packed and delivered to the purchaser, it bid goodbye to its friends on the various shelves of the bookstore. Some of them had been lying there for days, few even for months. Yet, this one was sold within a week of its arrival at the store. The other books looked at it in envy. And at the purchaser longingly. And the book observed all this proudly.

It did not have a fancy cover. It was not printed on glossy paper. It didn’t even have a catchy name. It had no pictures, few diagrams, and lots of text. Long paragraphs of boring text. It belonged to a genre that would be described as informative. A description of which it was proud outwardly. A description that made it anxious within itself.

It remembered its author. He was a simple man. It remembered the pains and sacrifices he had undertaken to create it. He tried. And he created it. And in that sense, the book considered him to be its God. But he was only human, and had his limitations. What was important was not how it judged its author, but how the world judged it, and thereby its author.

The book also remembered its publisher. And the designer who designed the cover. And the printer. The transporter. The bookshop owner. The salesman in the bookshop. It had come across so many people in its short journey. It silently thanked them all. Even while being aware that most of them didn’t even notice its existence properly. It thanked them anyway. And it thanked them sincerely.

The purchaser picked it up and headed out of the store. Reached home. Settled down. Picked it up and started reading. It suddenly realized that it was making its debut. This was the moment for which it had been created. It will now be scrutinized. And the verdict would be out pretty soon.

So, will he like it? Will he re-read it? Recommend it to his friends? Discuss it? Store it? Save the copy for his children? It was both excited and anxious to know the answers. But it will have to wait. Answers would emerge only after the reader is finished with reading it.

And so, the wait began.

Categories: Leisure | 4 Comments

Hyderabad Diaries: Ganesh Festival 2011

Continued from Part 5

Like most parts of India, the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations at Hyderabad too, are very grand each year. Attractive idols of Lord Ganesha are installed, and pujas are performed, in elaborately decorated ‘Ganesh Pandals’ all over the city. And, as per tradition, the idols are taken out in a procession and immersed in one among the many water-bodies that adorn the city – with the immersion being carried out on the odd days of the festival. On the 11th day, which is the final day of the festival, all the major Ganesh idols are immersed in the Hussain Sagar Lake in the middle of the city.

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The excitement and commotion, in fact, begins long before the actual festival. As the festival approaches, one can find groups of young boys, with notebooks and receipts books in their hands, visiting the neighborhood houses for contributions. ‘Anna, Ganeshuin Chanda’ becomes a familiar call [Honestly though, for the last few years it has been ‘Uncul, Ganeshuin Chanda’, but that would be a different story, reserved for another day!].

Ganesh pandals are arranged and organized by colonies, apartments, office complexes, individual offices, and even at a few homes. Varied reports suggested that this year, the number of such pandals in the city, were somewhere from 40,000 to exceeding 50,000. They come in all sizes, and while some of them are simple, most others have a theme, with elaborate settings effectively portraying the theme. These pandals are required to obtain prior permission from the Police, and permissions are granted subject to terms and conditions, to maintain peace and order.

Prominent Pandals

Among all the Ganesha pandals put up in the city, the most popular, and the most prestigious one is the one put up by Ganesh Utsav Committee at Khairatabad, close to Hussain Sagar Lake. Popularly referred to as the ‘Khairatabad Ganesh’ it is the tallest in the city and a must visit for most Hyderabadis. On evenings and weekends, the entire area is chockablock with serpentine queues leading one up to the idol. With vendors swarming the place selling everything from toys for children, to snaps of the ‘Khairatabad Ganesh’, the entire area becomes lively and resembles a mela.

The pandal organized by Lorry Owner’s Association near YMCA-Siddi Vinayaka Temple is the most prominent one in the Secunderabad area, followed by two pandals that come up opposite to each other in the RP Road, near City Light Hotel. Every area and every locality, has its own, popular pandals. Every year a group of my friends come together to organize the Ever Green Association Ganesh Pandal in Malkajgiri, and this year, they celebrated their 30th year immersion procession.

Every year, pandal organizers also compete with each other to set up pandals with interesting, refreshing, and creative themes. This year too, one got to witness many such themes – some traditional, some not so traditional. The Khairatabad Ganesh pandal had a replica of Ananthapadmanabha Swamy idol (which became more popular after its hidden treasures were revealed recently), along with Lord Shiva and Parvathi. One pandal at RP Road had a simple Shirdi Sai Mandiram theme, while the other one had an elaborate Vamana Avatharam theme. Each one had its own flavor, and was remarkable in its own way.

Ganeshas 2011

Like every year, this year too, Lord Ganesha idols came in different sizes, and different themes. A few of the notable ones were:

  • The Khairatabad Ganesh measured over 50 feet, and was seated on a ‘Garuda Vahanam’, sheltered by 18 snakes with their hoods open. The organizers claimed that the ‘Vishnu Roopa’ avatar of Lord Ganesh was installed this year, seeking universal peace and harmony.
  • One pandal in RP Road had Lord Ganesh featured with Lord Shiva and Parvathi.
  • Lord Ganesh made of paper cups.
  • Lord Ganesh with idols of Anna and supporters, appearing to be on a fast seeking abolition of VAT on textiles.
  • Dry fruit Ganesha, made of about 51 kgs of dry fruits.
  • 10 headed, 30 foot Ganesha, with each head supposedly depicting a virtue.
  • Ganesha decorated with Diamonds and precious stones.
  • Cricket playing Ganesha, and many more…….

My personal favorite of this year, though, was the black based ‘Balaji Ganesh’ idol at MG Road.

Laddu Auction

A popular trend noticed in recent years is the ‘Laddu Auction’. Every year, a huge ‘Laddu’ is placed on the palm of the Ganesh idol by the organizers. On the day of the immersion, the laddu is auctioned off publicly to the highest bidder. The recent, tremendous growth in the popularity of these auctions is attributable to both the faith among believers that the ‘Laddu’ will bring with it prosperity, as well as the fact that today winning the auction is seen by some as a status-symbol, and short-cut to publicity. These are so popular that the auction of Laddu at ‘Balapur Ganesh’, which is considered as the pioneer of this ritual, is telecast live on all local channels on the day of immersion.

And just the record, this year at Balapur, the Laddu was auctioned for a price of Rs.5.45 Lakhs. The laddu auction fetched Rs.9.10 Lakhs at Ameerpet, and Rs.6.20 Lakhs at Badangpet. At Khairatabad, though, this year the organizers decided against conducting an auction. Instead, the laddu was distributed as prasadam to all devotees on the day after Immersion of the idol.

Immersion Day

The main immersion day, which falls on the 11th day of the festival, is a public holiday. All roads lead to the Tank Bund.  Before the immersion procession begins, most pandals have the customary ‘uttu’ ritual (uriyadi, in Tamil). While the target is supposed to be a pot filled with gifts, these days a fancy star is hung for the participants to aim at.

The main immersion procession begins around noon on that day, and continues late into the night. Most times, it often continues well into the morning of the next day. This year, the procession went on till 3 PM on the next day, at which time, the last idol was immersed! Needless to say, on that day the entire Tank Bund area is crowded. These days, the immersion procession is also telecast live across all television channels.

The immersion day is a tense day for the Police – both Traffic, and Law & Order. Elaborate arrangements are made by them to face the challenges that arise on that day, and everyone heaves a sigh of relief after the immersion procession is completed peacefully.

The ‘Environment’ Debate

As in other places, Hyderabad too, is becoming aware of the environmental hazards of erecting idols made using non-degradable materials and synthetic dyes. These idols have been polluting the water bodies in which they are immersed. The campaign to shift to environmentally safe idols keeps picking up with every passing year. It is hoped that in a few years, the festival would be celebrated using only environmentally safe idols.

Ganesh Festival is an integral part of Hyderabad’s culture. If you happen to be in Hyderabad during that period, make sure you don’t fail to at least visit the Khairatabad Ganesh or witness the main immersion procession. It will surely be an experience.

To be Continued …..

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Steve Jobs is no more.

It is natural for the World to pay homage whenever a prominent personality dies. In the case of many leaders, the tributes are mainly customary. Speech writers often scramble to identify characteristics that could be attributed to the departed soul, to make the homage appear realistic. At times they succeed, but often times soulless words get uttered and printed – words, which both the speaker and the reader know, make no meaning, have no impact, and establish no connection.

A select few personalities are, however, different. Their death generates spontaneous outpouring of grief, sense of loss, and emotions ranging from disappointment, to sorrow, and to pain. And Steve was never one in the crowd, to say the least. He was always among a select few. More than that, he was often unique.

Steve Jobs had so many positive qualities, inspiring traits, and admirable characteristics, that it would be a herculean task for an amateur like me to capture even a fraction of them. At the risk of sounding to be just another guy jumping on to the bandwagon of people expressing their homage to Steve, I venture to share my feelings about him, and a few characteristics of his that I admired the most.

First of all, he seemed to be blessed with an amazing sense of clarity in respect of what he wanted, an amazing clarity of thought. It seemed like he exactly knew what he wanted. Knowing what you really want is a trait not everyone is blessed with.

Secondly, his communication abilities were remarkable. He was a born presenter, communicating clear and simple. He got to the point quickly, and made them precisely, without leaving any room for misunderstanding. His ‘Stay Hungry Stay Foolish’ speech is one of the most inspirational and wise speeches of all time. I really wish that it is made part of curriculum at some level in high school.

Thirdly, it appeared that to him, everything was personal. Mostly, that is a limitation, but he gloriously displayed how that could be an asset. May be, that was one huge difference between him and the other boy genius of his times, Bill Gates. Jobs is credited to be behind every single, minute detail behind Apple products. Every face-off and competition he had in the commercial world, from Microsoft to Dell, he made it all personal. Even towards the end when reports started coming out about Google’s plans to come up with mobile handsets, he is famously reported to remarking ‘but we didn’t get into the search business.’

Fourthly, he made the world a better place – few could argue against that. In a world where speculators pass of as visionaries, he was a true visionary. He made bold moves, justified them when questioned, and they finally emerged as he predicted. He satisfied demands (at times after creating them), and fulfilled expectations. He raised the bar – be it while demanding from his team, or while delivering to his customers.

I must confess that I am not half as much a fan of Apple, as I am Steve. But for an iPod gifted to me by my brother, I have never used an Apple product. And pricing of Apple products, undeniably, had a major say in this. Even as a child, I was identified as ‘stingy’. As I grew up, I realized that as much as I got my priorities wrong at times, the world too, mixed my desire to evaluate ‘value for money’ with stinginess. And I, somehow, found the other mp3 players that come at a fraction of the cost of an iPod, to be serving my purpose. Similarly, I am not too inclined to spend money on an iPhone, when comparable utilities are available at lesser cost. And my views on the iPad are getting aligned in the same direction.

However, that does not mean I don’t respect or like Apple products. Apple products were always a statement. And they meant QUALITY – always! Seldom, did their products fail. No doubt, they appeared to be steeply priced, but regular Apple customers always trusted that Apple knew exactly what they wanted. They were seldom disappointed. And, in fact, Apple often delivered to them experiences that even they never imagined of.

Finally, I must also admit that as much as I admire him for all his abilities, talents and his achievements, I, by no means, can claim to have implemented any of the lessons that he shared with the world. True homage is reflected more in actions than words. And by that yardstick, I would be a miserable failure. That however should not take away any of my right to be in awe of this man. As a member of the human race, I am entitled to that much indulgence – to be in awe of an extraordinary genius and an inspirational personality.

Categories: Society | 2 Comments

Virtues for a Successful Life

Dear Son,

Here is a list of 10 virtues that I wish you would cultivate. Leave alone mastering them, I cannot even claim to possess them. Yet, I wish you would strive to make them a part of you. It is my belief, based on my experience in life, that these things will help you carry out your tasks, overcome challenges, and help you lead a happy, meaningful, and fulfilling life.

  1. Self-belief.
  2. Integrity.
  3. Respect towards fellow humans.
  4. Courage to do what is needed.
  5. Honesty in relationship.
  6. Candor in speech.
  7. Ability to forgive – both others and yourself.
  8. Perseverance.
  9. Doing, whatever it is that you do, with love, conviction and complete engagement.
  10. Trust in the divine plan – especially when things are appearing bad.

These are not in any particular order. These are by no means exclusive. And also, more of one of these will not make up lack of another.

Along with all those virtues that I want you to imbibe, I also want to share with you a few vices that you should be careful about, and not fall for:

  1. Don’t be angry about anything in life. Its never worth it. If needed, show that you are angry. That may be necessary as you grow up. But be clear – exhibit anger, don’t be angry.
  2. Don’t be judgmental. Some people will be better than you, and some people will not be as good as you. That’s how we all have been made – by God, or nature, or by various other forces over which we have no control.
  3. Never insult, belittle, any person. No one forgets it when they are insulted. You can never become big by making an another person look small. Also remember – insulting a person is insulting his creator.
  4. Don’t lose faith in miracles. I have seen them happen. I have seen the worst challenges blow over. I have seen people become successful, working back from seemingly hopeless situations. Don’t lose faith. Don’t lose hope. And don’t fall for the short-cuts.
  5. Never be tempted to get away by doing what is easy. Instead, aim to do what you know is right.
  6. Never allow yourself to be satisfied with anything sub-standard.
  7. Never be afraid to experience pain or disappointment.
  8. Don’t end up doing things merely because they offer you some material rewards. You may need to be doing a few of such things, but make sure you don’t end up doing them all the time.
  9. Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated – be it out of fear, greed or love.
  10. And finally, don’t fool yourself, don’t cheat yourself. Being true to yourself is the least you can do for yourself.

Success is widely pursued. It is also mostly relative. Contrary to what many people may say (and may be, what you may yourself feel at times), there are no short-cuts for success. Nature’s laws are pretty simple. To get something, you have to give something.

Also, even after giving everything, you may not always like what you receive. But that does not mean much. Tomorrow will be another day. Wake up, and continue your journey.

I know that the above things are not easy to follow. You may fail at times. These may appear meaningless at times. But you could continue trying. And I will be beside you, trying to do them myself.

Happy living.


– Vijven

Categories: Life | 5 Comments

Saving ODIs

Sachin Tendulkar’s recommendations to the ICC on ODIs, have yet again raised the debate on whether ODIs have become irrelevant, and if yes, what should be done to keep them alive and kicking?

I come from the ODI generation. I remember waking up at 4.30 in the mornings to watch Srikanth, Gavaskar, Shastri, Kapil Dev and others play against Australia and New Zealand down under. And elders at home never missed to notice the fact that I rarely got up early to study or during important occasions like festivals. ODIs have always been dear to me, and most honestly, I enjoy them over T20.

I must also confess that to me, a cricket team consisted of 2 regular openers, 3 middle order batsmen, a wicket-keeper batsman, and  5 bowlers, one of whom was generally an all-rounder, meaning he could score a hundred in Tests. Middle order batsmen didn’t open, and openers didn’t play in the middle order. If any of the other bowlers could bat, or if any of the batsmen could bowl, that was a bonus.

But alas, I seem to be in a minority. And a hopeless one at that. And nothing drives that fact to me more than the views of experts, who seem to unanimously agree that something needs to be done for ODIs – meaning, unless something is done, it is going to fade away. And as far as team combination is concerned, 7 batsmen and 4 bowlers have become a rule, even in Test cricket. And people who open in tests don’t necessarily get to play in ODIs, and people who open in ODIs, often play in the middle order in tests.

So, what do I do now? Fighting against experts, trying to prevent them from tinkering with the existing system could be futile exercise. So, I have tried to come up with a few suggestions of my own. While I am not sure whether anyone will like any of them, I will still share them with you.

First of all, I like the 2 innings, 25 overs each concept. It will introduce the 4 innings thrill that we get to see in Tests.

Secondly, I do not like to see the restriction of 5 bowlers being allowed to bowl only 10 overs each or even 4 bowlers being allowed to bowl only 12 overs each. Cricket is getting badly biased in favor of batsmen. Restricting a bowler to bowl only 10 overs is like asking a batsman to play only 60 balls. Do you think a batsman has to vacate crease, if he remains not-out after playing 60 deliveries? If not, why should a bowler? Furthermore, teams are already down to 3 ½ – 4 bowlers now, and no team is playing 5 bowlers.

To overcome this situation, and to re-establish cricket as a fair contest between bat and ball, without undue bias in favor of batsman, we must take off this restriction on maximum number of overs a bowler can bowl.  On the contrary, if needed, to encourage (force, would probably be a more appropriate word) teams to play regular bowlers, a condition can be imposed that at least 6 different bowlers must bowl a minimum of 4 or 5 overs each.

Thirdly, the Powerplays. I would like Powerplays to be abolished fully. Great batsmen, please face the bowling on its merit, score your runs and entertain us. However, there is a belief that Powerplays are the most crucial element of ODIs, that they infuse life into the game by allowing batsmen to play big shots, accelerate scoring and avoid boredom for spectators. If that is the conclusion of experts and if we want more of that, then here are some options to help batsman play some bigger shorts and further accelerate scoring:

  • Super Powerplay – 4 overs per each innings. Only 6 players from the fielding side, including the wicket-keeper and bowler, are allowed on field, and the remaining 5 get to relax in the dressing room.  Out of the 6 players, only 1 can be outside the 30 yard circle.
  • Bumper Powerplay – 2 overs per each innings. Same field restrictions of 6 players on field. Only change is, if the bowler bowls right handed normally, he must bowl this over left-handed and vice versa.
  • Mega Powerplay – 1 over per innings. Same field restriction of 6 players on field, and bowling with the wrong hand. Additionally, the batsman gets to select the bowler and also, no matter what happens in the over, both the batsmen cannot be declared out.

This will all be huge fun for the spectators.

Hope ICC would find these suggestions useful. And in case more are wanted, we can work on them too. Only, they must feel free to let me know.

Categories: Leisure | Leave a comment

Hyderabad Diaries: Hyderabadi Haleem

Continued from Part 4

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The holy month of Ramzan is something that Hyderabadis await eagerly every year. While Ramzan is observed as the month of fasting by the followers of Islam, Hyderabadis look forward to it as that part of the year when the hugely popular Hyderabadi Haleem would be available to feast on.

Haleem is a traditional dish made of meat, wheat, ghee, and spices, and cooked in a laborious and time-consuming process. Rich in calories (as the ingredients would suggest), the recipe was originally prepared keeping in mind followers who fast during daytime in Ramzan. It would be served in the evenings, after the fast was broken for the day.

Today however, Hyderabadi Haleem is more than just a food item. It is an industry.

Irani Cafés all over the city construct their own ‘Bhattis’ (a typical brick oven built around a copper vessel) in front of their café, in which the Haleem would be prepared. One could see them being occupied in the process of Haleem preparation the whole day and it would finally be ready to be served by evening. The end product would be a paste like dish that is scooped out of the vessel in the oven and served with fried onions, lemon and garnishing, in distinctive ceramic bowls (which are now being replaced by plastic ones).

Growth in the popularity of Hyderabadi Haleem would invariably be discussed in two periods – pre-Pista House days and post-Pista House days. Pista House converted Haleem from being a simple food item to a brand. So much so that today Hyderabadi Haleem even has a GI tag. Pista House revolutionized the Haleem field by offering ‘Haleem by Post’ and ‘Vegetable Haleem’. They revised the rules and transformed the arena. Haleem, which was till then a dish to be enjoyed at the nearby Irani cafes, suddenly shot to the center stage. Today you have newspaper adverts from leading joints, Take-away points, best Haleem contests, scratch cards, Haleem-Thums Up combos, family packs of Haleem and much more. In some sense, they did to Haleem what Reliance did to mobile phones.

Today, apart from the local and regular joints where they have been enjoying their Haleem for years, Hyderabadis also make it a point to taste as much of Haleems served by Pista House, Paradise, Garden, Café Bahar, Sarvi, City Light, Bawarchi, and many more joints, as possible. Keeping in mind that they have only a month to try them all.

However, not everyone would like the taste of Haleem very much the first time. It will not blow you away the first time you have it. Rather, it slowly seeps into your system. And the more you have, the more you begin to enjoy it. And then, after the season ends, you savor it in your memories, and look forward to tasting it again after 12 months.

If you happen to be in Hyderabad during the month of Ramzan, don’t miss the opportunity to taste Hyderabadi Haleem. It is one dish that you must absolutely taste.

To be continued …..

Categories: Hyderabad Diaries | Leave a comment

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