Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Journeymen.

They were both heavy footed,
with a lot on their mind.
Treading drearily,  
staying with the grind.

Unyielding, unflinching,  
they walk on through.
Slackening, then slow,
as their burden grew.

They kept up their pretense,
not a trace of trouble shown.
Offering to help,
but one's weight was their own.

With the end finally in sight,
they march on,
cajoling each other.
The long last mile now conquered,
emanate cries of holy mother.

Their job now done, the labour-men,
embrace like long forgotten friends.
Having seen the other's burden up close,
they seem to be glad, at how it ends.

Is this not how we all are.
in this winding journey of life?
Burdened, travelling journeymen,
walking others through their strife.

So next time you see somebody,
creaking under their weight,
lend a hand and walk with them,
don't worry about finishing late.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A New Day Has Come.

A New Day Has Come.

You wake up, grumbling softly, climbing out of bed, 
Too early, you realise, the night is far from dead.

You look out your window, linger there awhile,
as your thoughts wander, into an infinite space.
The colorless night, slowly drifting away,
as you begin to revisit, a familiar place.

Your spirit unwilling, and heart too heavy,
as the troubles of yesterday you remember.
Even as the first rays of light, the chirping of birds,
and morning glory you discover.

Unraveling before you, in nature's grand theatre,
are tufts of clouds flirting with the rising sun.
Drops of dew parading as shiny crystals,
and the golden mist that drapes the mountains.

You walk into this stage, slightly humbled,
taken in by the beauty of beginnings,
the cold morning air rushing through your veins,
your senses awakened and spirit now soaring.

And it takes just a moment for you to see,
to leave behind the pain and the travesty,
mistakes are for all, glory is for some,
rejoice for now! A new day has come.

Picture courtesy : Yours Truly.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Remembering Rahul.

Circa 1996-Lords, England. A gangly and freckled 23 year old from karnataka stroked a fluent 95 on debut, making the purists sit up and take notice of his copybook technique and unflappable temperament. The more pronounced Dominic Cork's outswinger became, the more the debutant stretched and leaned into his crisp cover drives. Not many, however, remember that match for that particular innings, as he was eclipsed by another debutant from Kolkata who went to cross the 3 figure mark and get his name on the honors board at the Mecca of Cricket. The man who missed the feat by 5 runs was Rahul Sharad Dravid. An ironic prescedent of being overshadowed alongwith a glorious career were set in motion.

The Rahul Dravid story goes well beyond numbers, like it does with most sporting heroes. But for the statistically inclined, lets get them out of the way. 13288 Test runs at 51.7 with 36 hundreds and 63 fifties to go with nearly 11000 ODI runs with 12 hundreds and 83 fifties. One of only 5 men to achieve the grand double of crossing the 10k mark in both formats. The only man to have scored a hundred in all Test playing nations and the holder of most catches in Tests. The man who has taken strike against most number of deliveries. If you break it down further, he scored 50 or more in 1 out of every 3 times that he took guard for India. Numbers the best would envy, but numbers dont do him justice.

Being upstaged all through out your career by your teammates cant have been a very pleasant feeling, especially in a country like India where public memory lasts a little more than 3 days. Let it be Taunton 1999, Kolkata 2001, Hyderabad 2000. Not letting this affect him and almost enjoying working away arduously in the background is an indicator of his character and self belief, an important victory that he achieved against himself.
In this age of fist-pumping, chest-beating, expletive-mouthing showmanship, his manner was more poise and calm. Almost as though the only point he was proving was to himself. He brought a zen-like serenity to the proceedings when he was in his zone. Though you never got to see many over the top moments with him, the sight of him waving his Britannia stickered bat to acknowledge the crowd became a common one over the last decade and a half.

There weren't many theatrics with Dravid, but there was never any dearth of drama either. When he walked out to bat, the cricket field doubled up as a stage, the 11 men on it became the quintessential villains, and Dravid the hero of restoration who took them on till they were ground into dust. He took you into a world of battle, drawing you in further with every delivery he left alone, every square cut he essayed off the front foot, and every ball that he protected his wicket. You were no longer a viewer, but became a part of the drama with every time he tapped his bat incessantly behind his right toe, left elbow prominently sticking out, sweat dripping from the chin-strap of his helmet. He would leave you exhausted at the end of a Dravid Special, sated and spoilt. His dismissal was often followed by self admonishment, never seeming satisfied with his efforts, berating himself till he disappeared into the change rooms. And nothing anyone else did after he left the field of play seemed half as attractive or classy.

If Tendulkar's greatness is in part a product of being a gifted genius, Rahul's greatness lies in how human he is and how acquired his genius seems to be over hours of dedicated repitition. If SRT's charm lies in how impossible his achievements seem, Dravid appeals to us by how he makes it all seem possible through hard work and perseverance. While this humane element makes Rahul Dravid so endearing, the real reason he strikes a chord with most people who have followed his career closely, is that he is the embodiment of virtues we would all love to possess. He makes us want to be more gentlemanly and fair spirited, more competitve yet respectful, more dedicated, focussed and selfless. He makes us wonder how someone with so much behind him can still be so humble and self depreciating.
He didnt just show you how to make a sharp rising delivery drop dead right at your toes, he taught you lessons of life.

Before he can ride into the sunset and into the pantheon of all time cricketing greats, he has one last challenge to face. The attention, tributes, praise as he announces his retirement. Today, the spotlight is all his. And I hope to God he savours it, because he sure as hell deserves it!

The thought of an Indian Test XI without The Wall at no 3 is a scary one. To not watch him in white flannels, impeccable and impregnable, doing battle for his team and country seems a travesty.

Test cricket is going to be a poorer place without that high left elbow and extravagant front foot stride.

And yes, that man did get his name up on the Honors Board.
Thank you, Sir, for all the memories and inspiration.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Being an Indian.

Today morning, India woke up to mark its 65th Independence Day. A journey that began all those years ago by unshackling the chains of colonialism. Our well documented struggle for freedom tells us how many noble and lion-hearted men and women led the freedom movement, taking the initiative and giving shape to a massive idea, and refusing to rest till they lived to see a free India or lost their lives in an attempt to do so. It was not the handiwork of any one man but a collective and relentless charge that paved the way for a nation's birth.
Today, at 64, India stands at the crossroads, and it has been here for a while now. We, as a country, have come a long way and the journey that spluttered and started with conservatism and self-doubt, slowly but eventually took a turn into the land of self-discovery and Indians began to expand their horizons and explore their horizons with confidence and verve. The cocoon was left behind as we all learnt to fly. Inhibitions were shed and we learnt to be take risks. The mostly stagnant, sometimes slow growth of industry, agriculture, trade and infrastructure upto the mid 1980's picked up pace with the economic liberalization of India in 1991. Since then our economy has gone from strength to strength, relatively speaking, and thanks largely to the IT boom and outsourcing business, India is now the 4th most attractive investment destination in the world.
It is not just the GDP that has changed over the years, but also a large part of India's character. The narrow minded, illiberal, savings oriented Indian made way for the risk-taking, entrepreneurial Indian, who dared to dream big and reach for more. Somewhere along the line, Indians in all fields began to lose their inferiority complex and prepared themselves to stand toe to toe with the world.
We are, today, a country thats driving to the future but every now and again takes a detour to the past. A visit to the cynical and fatalistic mindset. Where we believe everything is wrong and beyond repair. Yes, a lot is wrong and we still remain a third world country. The social evils of untouchability, sati, widow remarriages, illiteracy, poverty, child labour, corrpution, naxalism and female infanticide to name a few do exist and need to be addressed and abolished, but reverting to cast disparaging shadows of negativity and hopelessness is what our country doesnt need. Do we really want to be a country of disenchanted people with corrupt spirits who would rather pull out the dust from under the carpet but not sweep it clean? India doesnt need the populace to show helplessness when met with such challenges. She needs them to understand that if there wont be change now, there might never be one. She needs them to stand as one, how many ever of them and lead a struggle for freedom, this time from ourselves and all that we have created, like those noble men and women all those years ago. What will not suffice is the diligence of one man on a hunger strike in Delhi, but a collective quest for a second Independence.
We, as a people, have endured, evolved and emerged emboldened. We have a lot to be proud of and a lot to stand up for.
Words from Pandit Nehru's speech at the stroke of midnight on 14th August 1947 seem as apt now as they did then. " Long years ago, we made a tryst with destiny and now the time comes when we redeem our pledge....the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.."

Happy Independence Day!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Black, White and Gray.

Standing in the field, under the merciless sun,
from the far right, I see them come as one.
Dressed in black silk, masked and armed,
straddled on mighty elephants, the enemies of calm.

Then I see before me, and a little behind.
I hear their voices and I see them in my mind.
The eyes of the faceless, making their plea,
the limbs of the bound, waiting to flee.

Then far ahead in the distance, I see specks of white,
mixed with all that gray,that fails to see the light.

As the call gets louder and the moment beckons,
the whites are too less and spread too wide.
The elephants keep marching, as their rank swells,
as the ground trembles with each oncoming stride.

As the dark flags flutter high above their ranks,
they march on ahead with their misplaced pride.
Fuelled by power and blinded by greed,
plucking the fruit born of another's seed.

The mothers are wailing, holding their babies,
as the fathers find a place for them to lay.
The children pick up fallen pieces of white,
and make them shed their garb of gray.

If the enemy must stand conquered, now and forever,
banish the thought if the thought is to run,
for it will take more than a crusader or two,
if all that is black is to be UNDONE!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Love and Beyond!

As his languid gait took him along
through a familiar street in town,
he braced himself for what lay ahead,
yet couldnt help his frown.

The women, staring from windows and doorsteps,
curiosity their common trait,
some withdrew, while some sympathized,
and the men looked inanimate.

And so as he walked past them,
reminded of a different time,
those looks of silent understanding,
had put his thoughts on rewind.

He was not much older than twenty one,
when its hard for a man to stay true,
his eyes only went as far as hers,
those crystallised orbs of blue.

Soon both were blind enough to see the stars,
in the cloudy moonless sky,
weaving and stitching their paths together,
two truths for every lie.

Then one day, there was a call from the city,
for the young man, now deep in love.
And so he went, unknowingly,
that the Fates had this planned from above.

Back in the town, she felt the days grow long,
the week became a month, then two.
She must have been passing by the farms,
when she met his friend she always knew.

He let his mind dwell on thoughts of her,
as he made the long walk back.
Once in the village, he asked where she was,
and was told to take the farmers track.

His heart beat wildly against his chest,
as he made his way to the farms.
The world seemed to stop, as he watched
her gently swaying in his arms.

And the wild beating of his heart now stopped,
it was almost as if it knew,
that she would see no stars on a moonlit night,
through those crystal orbs of blue.

And tonight,before he stumbled on rewind,
their wedlock he had witnessed.
The marriage was for society,
their story was always blessed.

So on that fateful walk through town,
he found wisdom to match his age.
That theres a movie in each great love story,
and beyond the protagonists on screen,
there are the ones that write backstage,
but to the world shall be always UNSEEN.

Friday, January 23, 2009

So Much More!

So much there is to learn,
if you properly look around,
a reel, a song, a sunrise,
a love waiting to be found.

So much there is to dream,
let your visions to the fore.
They are all what we have,
keep knocking on the door.

So much there is to know,
from the glory in which we bask,
from the vicious cycle of doom,
if yourself you are ready to ask.

So much there is to love,
If you can tell a broken heart,
a troubled mind, a sullen face,
If you know just where to start.

And much there is to give and smile,
and much also to share.
But your sights are set clearly ahead,
and the winding roads you bear.

And one day when the race is over,
and you play it over in your mind,
you think of all the riches and fame,
and all those you left behind.

And all life's little lessons,
that it everyday seemed to teach,
you ran too fast,passing them all,
only knowing where you had to reach.

You wish you ran a little slower,
to have properly looked around.
A reel, a song, a sunrise,
or the love you never found.