Saturday, April 10, 2010

Conditional Democracy..

Seven years old Ted was playing in his room on the Sunday morning. It was quarter to 12 and his Mom gave him a shout to come down for lunch. As per the usual routine, when Mom asks to come down for the meal, it means all the toys in the right places and the room tidied up. Today was different. He continued playing for ten more minutes and then went down for lunch. He obviously did not mention this on the lunch table and lunch was as usual. After lunch when Mom came upstairs and peeked into Ted’s room, she could see toys lying all over the place. Her temper shot up.
Ted what’s going on? Why are these toys outside? Why is your room in a mess?
You see Mom, in school we had a lesson on democracy. I know now that United States is a democracy and hence all the citizens have a right to their opinion. In my opinion I want my room to be my way and this is the way I think I want it to be. This is my federal a right as I am also an equal citizen.
Mom was dumbstruck for a second. But just for a second.
Ted, do you know the difference between democracy and dictatorship?
No, but I am aware dictatorship is the next lesson coming up in school.
Ok, follow me now. And she walked out of the door.
Mom where are we going? Ted followed Mom who was stepping down the stairs.
You will know in a minute.
She walked past the dining room to the garage door and opened the door.
Now step out into the garage.
He obliged, still perplexed clueless about this whole thing.
Ok Ted, now listen. This is the threshold. She pointed to the edge of step that went down into the garage. What goes on your side of the threshold is termed as Democracy. And what goes inside is called Dictatorship. So if you want to live in a democracy, do things your way, stay out. But if you want to live in this house, you will have to live by my rules. Take your pick.
Ted, visibly upset due to the introduction of this new dimension, asked - where will I go Mom?
That’s up to you son, if you want to live in democracy, figure out where you want to be. I can allow you to stay in the garage. I am your Mom after all. But if you want to go back to your room, you know what to do.
Yes Mom, said a disappointed Ted.
He came back in and headed straight to his room. All the toys were in place in the next 5 minutes. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

An excerpt..!

These streets often haunted my memories. There was a sepia picture stored somewhere, popped out time and again. Sweet but painful memories. Painful, because they lived just as past. I could not turn them into my present. Wish I could donate my future to someone else who could do something useful with it. 
Here I was, on the same streets, decades later. There was anxiety as there was fear. I stood in front of the gate that I had never seen before, of a majestic house, that looked aged but with dignity. I pressed the bell. I heard some foot-steps approaching. Could it be him? What will I say? Will he recognize me? Footsteps came closer and I could see across the bars at the bottom of the gate that these feet did not look old enough.. and not as fair either. Gate opened. I could see a man in his twenties. Could he be his son? He was a pleasant looking lad. Dark brown eyes glowing against the sun. Same eyes.
Bete, who are you?
Auntie who do you want to see?
Do they live here anymore at all? I did not even care to see the name plate. Is there one outside the gate? I could not spot one.
Well.. does Mr Ram Kumar live here?
He suddenly looked up and scanned my face. Was he looking for expressions? He looked at my face searching something in my eyes. His face fell a little, and eyes suddenly stopped glinting. I was looking at him for an answer. Pause was a little unsettling.
No Auntie. He does not live here.
He does not? Oh I am sorry? He lived here some years back. I did not mean to disturb, I just came looking, wondering if he still is here. But of course I am talking about many years back. He would have changed bases. Life does not..
Auntie, he did not change his bases. His eyes welled.
Oh! My eyes welled too at the possibility of the feared. Aa..I am..
No Auntie. He is here. You just did not ask right question. He does not live, he just exists… Please come in and meet him. He has waited for you long enough.
Tears streamed out of my eyes. I entered the gate feeling… guilty..

Monday, April 5, 2010

Missing the Mania...

I remember waking up to cricket (quite literally) during 92 world cup. It used to be some big occasion in my house. My dad would set an alarm for 3am. He would be up and tv switched on as soon as the alarm went off. My uncle who was visiting us would join him and my mom would rush to make some tea. It looked like some festival. Discussions going on endlessly in front of the television, variation in commentators voices according to the shots played and stage of the game, crowd cheering in the background, it was impossible not to let that excitement engulf you. Game was not difficult to understand, was lot of fun, and I felt part of the grown up discussion if I understood and appreciated what was worth. Soon I was glued to the game.

And then series after series, the fondness grew stronger. Addiction was such that tremendous restlessness would set in if a match is on and we are unaware of the score. In school, there were always some boys in the class who sneak out from the school fences and bring the latest scores from the nearest neighborhood. As much as there were celebrations when India won, there was crying and Leave-me-alones also when we lost. And if losing was against our arch-rivals, then whining continued a tad longer. Walkman with radio was sneaked into college classroom where we three friends, all cricket fanatics, would share the headphones and follow the entire commentary. Once we did get caught. Before we could even get scared the teacher in the class asked what the score was. :) They do not exaggerate when they say Cricket is a religion in India. It SO is.

As the whole household was cricket crazy, and friends no different, this one sport gave us so many splendid moments to rejoice, to celebrate, to laugh and to dance even. I remember my mom running out of the house bare feet and the next door aunty also coming out screaming with joy when Indian won in Bangladesh in 98. My brother was out on the streets dancing with joy when a stranger stopped his bike and asked – “did we win?” and joined him in right there on the middle of the road upon hearing the response.

There was party in the house when Kumble claimed all 10 in Feroze Shah Kotla. It was so awesome! And Sachin, time and again this one man gave us so many reasons to celebrate. Be it his Sachin-storm in Sharjah, or his flamboyant performance in the world cups, especially in 96 world cup. Sachin was a phenomenon and he still is no less! Less flamboyant but no less a genius.

When Dada removed and waved his shirt, it did not suit sensibilities of many. After all it is a gentleman’s game. But we absolutely loved what he did as this is how this game is played – with passion! Moreover, he was just returning the gesture, albeit a little stronger but who cares!

After coming to Bangalore, not having a tv for some years, and then with the working hours that we usually had, cricket was mostly followed on cricinfo and was strictly restricted to Indian matches.  It still gives me gooseflesh thinking about the India-Pakistan finals in the T20. We, few friends from office, rushed to Dominoes, the nearest location we could think of with a tv. And we reached there in a good time and got place to sit. There were so many like us who came in a while later and they were left standing. Not to forget scores of them standing outside and watching through the glass wall. This match went into the final over and the suspense was killing. I have never seen a place so crowded so silent. People were tensed, some hands clasped praying, some fingers fidgeting, some people taking deep sighs and trying to breathe when it is not coming easy, and then the last wicket fell when Misbah lofted the ball to short fine leg and was caught there. And the crowd went totally berserk. You could see absolute strangers congratulating each other, and celebrating together. Who cares who is sitting with whom and who knows whom? We all were cheering for one side, there was a commonality that bound us together, and hence we all celebrated together. Such is the spirit of the game.

After I came out of the county about 18 months back, Indian cricket continued seeing some splendid games. But somehow Indians here get so entwined in their lives, and some lose interest in the game, there isn’t that energy here. I kept following cricket on cricinfo. Between hectic days and frustrating work schedule, I woke up one morning, to catch on some pending work. Logged on to laptop and logged into gmail too to see a friend’s status saying – Sachin, Sachin, Sachin, Sachin! I knew this was special. I called my Dad immediately and he just knew why I called. There was unmistaken excitement in his voice too. No hello, he said “what?” And I replied with the same –what? replicating the excitement. He replied  - yes, he is playing on 198. He did not have to explain who and I had no doubts in my mind either. And when he finally reached the landmark figure, it was so incredible!! The crease on my forehead vanished not to return the same day at least. My day went so well after that. There were few who I could share the news with. Actually I shared with all, but very few who reciprocated the excitement.

And now IPL! I did not have favorites to begin with. But since I am a Sachin fan, Mumbai Indians it is. No one else looks excited here about IPL. And this makes me miss India so much. I want to feel the excitement. I want to go back :(