Monday, October 23, 2017

A Road-Trip to Rajasthan!!!

A road-trip to remember!!!
Woh zindagi hi kya jismein koi namumkin sapna na ho
- Annie, Khamoshi the Musical, 1996

One day I would like to own a BMW X6 and drive around the world. But then, the way my financials stand, I shall do well to hold on to the car I have. Or maybe, BMW X6 is that impossible dream for me.  
So after contemplating for over 2 years, I finally decided to hit the road. And unlike the Jack of Hit the Road Jack fame, I was going to come back home.
While I would have loved to go all the way to sand dunes of Jaisalmer, it wasn’t going to be possible to cramp up a 2500km+ road trip in a week which had Diwali falling on Thursday. Hence, I decided to make the farthest destination from home as Udaipur.
Day 1
We plan to start by 7 in the morning. We leave just before 10 in the morning. Soon we are at Mumbai – Pune Expressway. I go there every weekend with a friend and take a U-turn just before the toll booth. It has happened so many times that I am sure they would’ve recognized me by now. Finally, I oblige them, pay the toll and cross the toll booth. I see a surprised look on everyone’s faces there. Or so I hallucinate.
Every time I am on this road, I find it worse than the last time. But then, even in its worst form this road is better than the most. But the biggest problem with this road is, if you are entering from Pune, that it ends in Mumbai.
Mumbai. I hope you know what I mean.
But I cannot believe my luck. I just cruise through across the city, driving through the jungles and enter Gujarat. Little do I know what future holds for me.
Just before the Surat, on my left, I spot Hotel Decent. Remember Hotel Decent?
Damn, just after Surat, I spot it again. On my left.
Learning of the day – Hotel Decent is real.
Highlight of the day – The drive is average in patches. Good in patches. And is awesome every now and then.
Day 2
I roam around in Ahmedabad. I learn few important lessons in life.
If you are driving in Ahmedabad and see an Auto Rickshaw ahead of you, you might well spot the driver jerking his leg out of his vehicle on the right side. This doesn’t mean there is a snake on his body and the driver is trying to shake it off. It simply means, he is signaling you he would turn right. Just to make it clear, if its left leg, it means he would turn leg. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it’s a way to defy stereotypes.
If you see a man sitting on the back seat of a two wheeler with his legs on one side, it doesn’t mean he has some physical trouble. That’s how men normally sit on the backseat of a two wheeler in Ahmedabad. Women sit with their legs across. What does it mean? I don’t know. Maybe it’s a way to defy stereotypes.
I have seen many states in India – UP, MP, Delhi, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Sikkim, Andhra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Gujarat.
I have driven in many states in India – MP, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Gujarat.
No offence meant but I am yet to see worse driving sense than Gujarat. People don’t believe in using indicators or maybe they don’t know. People don’t use side mirrors anyways. Either they have it closed or have taken it off.
So if you are planning to drive to or in this state, be careful.
Learning of the day – Stereotypes can be defied. Yes, they can be.
Highlight of the day – Not much barring the turning signal techniques of Auto Rickshaw drivers.
Day 3
I start for Udaipur from Ahmedabad. Roads are good. Temperatures are high. For a state which has a huge desert, one can spot lot of greenery.
Soon I enter the royal city. But I cannot access the roads to my hotel. Apparently roads to the hotel are too narrow for a car to enter. No, I am not kidding. The hotel is at the heart of the city but inaccessible by car. What does one do? One has to park his car approximately 1 kilometer from the hotel in a government parking space, take an auto rickshaw which is narrow enough to enter the city roads and reach the hotel.
Damn.
On my way to the hotel I realize it wasn’t a joke. The roads are narrow. Narrowest roads I have ever seen.
Before reaching the hotel, I visit the vintage car museum. The age old Rolls Royce, the Mercedes, the Cadillac and all that which must have been owned by the kings staying in the city palace. I wonder how they got them through the narrow roads? Must have airlifted them.
Learning of the day – One can buy a Ferrari if he wants but without parking space, it could be as troublesome as a dead body is after murder.
Highlight of the day – Vintage car museum has some gorgeous cars. If you are a history buff, do not miss the light and sound show in the city palace. Even if you aren’t, still go for it. After all what is the point in vising the state of Rajasthan and not showing any interest in history. Also, do not miss the sunset from Monsoon Palace in Sajjangarh. Its serene.
Day 4
I have run out of cash courtesy the number of places I had to pay for toll. An ATM is the first point I visit.
Tip: In case you are planning a road trip, carry enough cash.
On popular demand from the little ones in the family, we decide to visit the zoo in Sajjangarh. Damn, its Tuesday. The zoo is closed on Tuesday.
Problem with this younger generation is that it is too smart for their own good. They know the monster called google. Google shows them there are not one but three zoos in the city. Google can find all three of them. All I can find is the zoo which is closed.
Dear google, please update your maps. You have no idea what false hopes given by a map can do to a father who has 2 sons who are yet to hit the double digit age. On top of it, you don’t even call them zoos. You call them wild life sanctuaries.
I try placating them by promising some adventure. I have no idea why but the adventure I choose is to drive into the city and park my car in a parking space nearer to my hotel.
Damn. Damn. Damn. It is like driving between the wicketkeeper and first slip. One needs absolute precision to scrape through without any scratches.  
Finally, I manage to park next to the city palace.
City palace is grand. They have preserved it well. Really well. This was the second time I was visiting it and I can safely say that of the very few historical monuments I have visited in India; this is one of the best maintained.
Staff is polite. Guides are professional.
And the place is full of history.
Next stop is Fateh Sagar lake but before that I need to drive safely through the first slip and the wicket keeper. I do that. Without a single scratch.
Chowpatty at Fateh Sagar lake is a heaven for street food lovers. Sun set is great. It’s not just the drive along the lake but also the walk around it fantastic. I need to stop here since with my limited vocabulary, I am running out of adjectives.
Next target is to look for the parking. Inside the city is out of question. I have forgotten the parking space where I had parked earlier. So after driving around in the same circle for over an hour, I manage to find that space and park.
Tip: It is always better to whatsapp the location of such points in an unknown city if you are driving around. It always helps in finding the place back. Or use some other way which my technically challenged mind isn’t aware off.
Learning of the day – When people in Rajasthan cross the road, they normally look straight. Even in case they manage to turn their neck, it isn’t in the direction from which vehicles are coming but in the direction in which vehicles are going. You find it strange? It's normal for them.
Highlight of the day – An awesome day. City Palace is a must visit. So is Fateh Sagar. I shall never forget the sunset at the lake. And the people. They are so polite you start to get a bit scared. Maybe it’s the regality which flows in the blood. You do get a sense of it for sure.
Day 5
Time to head back to the basecamp – Ahmedabad. Road conditions haven’t changed in last two days. In fact, I have become more experienced in these two days. So I drive. How often in India you get good roads which are deserted.
Soon I am driving in the vicinity of speed which I wouldn’t like to mention but you can guess. It is a bliss.
On my left there are hills after around 100 meters of plain ground. On my right there is a divider full of small plants.
Thrill appears. I see a gentleman appearing out of those plants on my right. Within a split second, I realize that the gentleman isn’t alone. He has his camel behind him. Camel’s neck is tied with a rope and this gentleman is holding the other end of it. As expected, he isn’t seeing in the direction I am coming from but he is seeing in the direction I shall be going.
I honk. He doesn’t buzz. I honk again. He looks into my direction. I honk again.
Seeing at my speed, he runs across the road. He is still holding the rope.
Now, there is him, there is the camel and there is this rope which this gentleman is holding. And then, there is yours truly putting more pressure on the horn than the breaks.
He lets the rope go.
No it is just me and the camel. I stop honking knowing that it might piss off the camel. I just drive.
Amongst all of us - me, the gentleman and the camel, camel is calmest and composed. He doesn’t buzz. Maybe he is holding his ground. Maybe he is hoping I shall drive around by his decisiveness to not move. After all it is indecisiveness which causes lot of accidents.
I pray to god and drive. Just below the camel’s nose. We all survive. I look into the rear mirror. The gentleman comes back, picks up the rope, takes his camel and crosses the road looking at me, in the direction I am going. Some consistency, that is.
Learning of the day – If I was driving BMW X6, it would have hit the camel since it is a taller car. Maybe some dreams are better off as impossible dreams.
Highlight of the day - What else but the road incident? If Ruskin Bond was witnessing this, I am sure he would have written a beautiful story named – The Camel and the Gentleman.
Day 6
I am back in base camp. It is Diwali. And yes, we do burst crackers. Take the environmentalist in you somewhere else.
Learning of the day – It is a holiday hence no learning.
Highlight of the day – Diwali.



Day 7
We have plans to go to Polo Forest if we get ready by 6 in the morning. We get up around 9 in the morning. Hence we decide to dedicate this day to the taste buds. For foodies, Ahmedabad is a great place to be.
Learning of the day – I deliberately took a break from learning today.
Highlight of the day – Food.
Day 8
The trip ends today. We plan to leave by 8. We start by 8:45. Talk about time management.
Roads from Ahmedabad to Vadodara look better in daytime than they looked during the night. Roads from Vadodara to Valsad look better than they looked last time. No, they haven’t got better in a matter of few days. It’s just that I had set my expectations really low for them. And they managed to beat them this time.
Drive from Valsad to Mumbai is absolutely gorgeous. Yes, G for gorgeous.
I am right on schedule to reach back to Pune. In fact, I am ahead of my schedule. I keep letting my friends know the distance I am covering along with time taken to cover it.
Everyone keeps responding to me with the message Aur kitne #AccheDin chhahiye?
Life is good.
Suddenly it goes back. I reach Mumbai. Next 3 hours are spent in covering 2 kilometers.
Finally, after a stopover of one hour at a family member’s place, I manage to reach home. Second half of the journey was less than half of first half of the journey but both the halves took same amount of time. Mumbai does bring you to the ground. It has its own ways.
Learning of the day – Mumbai, like life, is a great leveler. Doesn’t matter you are driving a Ferrari or walking, it often makes you move at the same pace.
Highlight of the day – The drive between Valsad and Mumbai. Do not miss it.
Like all good things in life or Sir Jadeja’s overs, this trip also ended in the blink of an eye. But I am not complaining – 7 days, 2200+ KM, INR 2500+ toll fee, 3 states, 2 cities, over 10 GB of photographs and lots of great memories.
Looking for my next road trip now.
 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Virat, the hero we’ve got


"He's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we'll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he's not our hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight." - Lt. James Gordon, Batman: The Dark Knight
Time around 1990 wasn’t really so good for the country – few years on either side of it. We had witnessed one of the biggest scams of that time. We had witnessed change of power in center, partially because of the scam, to become a game of musical chairs. We had witnessed ex-PM getting blown away to pieced. We had witnessed economy going nowhere. Riots weren’t a rarity - riots of gigantic magnitudes.
There was a more than a bit of gloom all around. Future wasn’t looking all that promising. Not that the future, the kids of my generation, was bothered but the generation raising this future surely must have been. The kids of my generation were just, well kids. While we had what kids of this generation don’t have in a plenty – acres of open space to play, we lacked something. Something was amiss. Maybe a hero. I think yes. Someone to idolize. Someone to follow. And in times when things were all too messed up, that someone needed to be good. That someone needed to be perfect. He needed to be all the good qualities our parents lectured about. The idol needed to be ideal.    
And cricket? Cricket was in dump as well. Performance on the ground wasn’t anything to boast about. We had seen people playing the game being at loggerheads with people running the game. BCCI wasn’t the big daddy it is now. Indians in the cricketing world were still treated as lesser mortals. Western world always complained about the pain they had to go through whenever they travelled India. Indians, when travelling abroad, often got a raw deal. There was a bit of gloom all around. Future wasn’t looking all that promising.
Something needed to change. For the country. For the game.
Economy opened up. We heard of the term globalization. Not sure what they did but I and most of my friends would’ve had found their current standards of living much lower than what it is had the government not brought about this change. It was a much needed one.
Sachin happened.
Future, the kids of my generation, found our hero. We found our idol which was ideal.
Parents were happy. Their kids were following someone who didn’t come from a rich background, who was humble, hardworking, possessed all the so called values which were termed as Indian and gave one thing which the country needed so desperately – hope. Not just the hope to survive. Not just the hope to last the next moment. He gave something more – hope to win. Ah, they were too complacent. Not to blame them but lot of them spent all their lives behind one single desk. They were satisfied with little. Sachin gave them more. He surprised them. Hence they were happy their kids following him, idolizing him.
Sachin was the hero India needed.
Decades passed by. As they always do.
Old warhorse has retired. A new hero has emerged.
Welcome Virat.
Times might have changed but the trend hasn’t.
Kids of my generation can claim that they’ve seen the biggest transition of the country. Kids of my generation have their own kids now. No, that’s not the biggest transition. Biggest transition is how the country has changed otherwise. From lining up in banks with gold colored token to withdraw cash to having money at the fingertip. From waiting for months to get a telephone connection at home to number of mobile connection fast racing past the population in the country. From Mamata Kulkarni to Sunny Leone. We have come a long way.    
Same can be said about BCCI – from being a mere pushovers, they rule the world of cricket as they should be.
Things have changed. And how?
So are the kids. Remember the parenting you got from your parents? Some of the virtues inculcated? Modesty was one of them. So much so that it often bordered along self-pity. Remember the dislike for flamboyance? Oh that was for rich brats, not you. Remember the hairstyle you were forced to bear with? Oh that your mother holding you from your cheeks and combing your oily hair sideways. Remember the shyness? The stuttering in front of strangers?   
This generation is different. We don’t want our kids’ modesty to go anywhere close to self-pity. If it does, we would rather do away with their modesty. At least I would. We want them to be flamboyant. Stylish. Suave. With the kind of exposure this generation has got, they are on their way to be that. The word is flamboyance.
All of that. Compare the awareness for fitness they have with what we used to have. Most of us, at least yours truly, hadn’t even heard of the word called fitness.  Look at the demand kids these days have for their haircuts even if they are yet to reach double figure in age. Even the smallest of them are pretty concerned about the style they carry with themselves. The word is self-awareness.
Who do they look up to, lot of them? It’s the new age hero. Virat is one of them. Yes, he is flamboyant.
He doesn’t bother about being too modest. Yet, one cannot really term him a high headed person. It’s the balance he maintains which is impressive. He is already a style icon. And the fitness? Have you heard about the story where he himself decided to change everything around his fitness? The word is self-awareness.
Gone are the days when kids used to idolize the away-from-limelight like lifestyle of Sachin or good-boy-image of Rahul (Dravid, not any other Rahul in case you are thinking). Virat has no qualms about keeping the limelight away. The actress, you remember? One cannot expect to get away after sledging him. In fact, one can find it difficult to get away from his sledging. Good boy image and Virat? No way.
Yet all good virtues are not lost yet. He still maintains the balance between good and bad with increasing regularity. Like greats of yesteryears, he always gives an impression that cricket is his number one priority. Like greats of yesteryears, he earns respect by giving it. Like greats of yesteryears, he stays away from uninvited controversies as much as possible.
World has changed. So have the generations. And the heroes. But what hasn’t changed is the fact that the generation idolizes with heroes they identify themselves closely. They idolize whom they want to be like.
Not sure if Virat is the hero we need or we deserve. But he is the hero we have got.
And the current generation has turned him into an idol.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Him, Her and the Truthfulness!!!

Read more about Him & Her series here.
He had a worried look as he reached his desk. The worries magnified as he saw his boss already waiting for him.
“Boss, what happened?”
“Nothing”
“Ok. Good morning”
“Good morning. Now it is my turn to ask. What happened?”
“Why? What happened?”
“You look a little worried as if you had murdered someone and forgot to move the body”
“Oh well. It is almost like that. Just that I might get murdered soon”
“Ah, I am in a kind mood today. Worry not”
“You aren’t the only scary person in my life” he said with tongue in cheek.
“Who am I competing with?” his boss had a sense of humor.
“Missus”
“Ah, there is no competition. Tell me what did you do?”
“As she was leaving for work, she asked me to close the tap”
“And you didn’t?”
“I did but not before the kitchen was flooded”
“Not following my orders is a crime big enough to get you fired. What was so important that you forgot something which can get you fried, roasted and eaten alive?”
“The Queen's Justice”
“Damn. You watched it already”
“Yes. Episode 4 of Game of Thrones was aired today morning. So I had to”
“Okay. We are surely not discussing GoT. Utter a single word about it and consider yourself fired. I wouldn't care even if I have to throw saxual harrassment charges to do that” Boss’ voice had a tone of stern warning.
“Speech is silver. Silence is gold” he said.
“So what did you do to repair the damage?”
“I mopped the floor as much as I could. Yet, one can make a wet floor dry. De-flooding takes time”
“Yes it does”  Boss said smilingly.
“I just hope it dries out before evening and also, the maid does her work”
“It will. Worry not. India being a hot country has its advantages for clumsy husbands”
“I know. And I am feeling bad for my wife”
“For marrying you? I agree”
“No. Every time she asks me something to do, she keeps on reminding me till I do it. She is as prolific in completing century of reminders as Sachin”
“Ah while I appreciate, for once, you are saying good words about Sachin. Do not discredit the bowlers who often fed him hit-me balls”
“That’s a sly on me?”
“Do I need to tell you even that?” Boss laughed.
“Well problem is that while her repeated reminders do irritate the hell out of me, I don’t do what I am asked to do unless she reminds me regularly. If she doesn’t remind me, I forget it”
“So?”
“We have had a few fights because of this. In fact more than a few. I think it is high time I tell her the truth and accept this downside of mine”
“Don’t do that”
“Why? I need to be truthful to her. That’s how it should be in love and marriage”
“Dude, whoever said that was either an idiot or a liar”
“Why?”
“You never do it unless you want to feel like how Suresh Raina would on a Brisbane pitch against the Mitchells - Starc and Johnson.”
“So?” he wondered.
“Never tell her the truth you are talking about. That’s bad relationship management”
“Boss, if you have to manage a relationship, it's not a relationship at all”
“Don’t tell me that. At least you to me” Boss said with a smirk and wink.
“Ok”
“Relationship management is more about management than relationship”
“Big words boss”
“Yes”
“So what should I do?” he wondered.
“Pray. Pray that the floor dries out. Pray that the maid does her work. And just don’t tell your wife that it was GoT which made you forget what she asked you to do. And please don’t tell her about how her reminders are effective and you see their importance. Just don’t”
“As the boss says”
“Now get back to work. My boss is coming tomorrow. I have a relationship to manage”
*Next morning*
“Hey, how did it go?” boss asked.
“Well it went well. She did not find out. We went out for dinner”
“Then why do you have a sad face?” boss wondered.
“Well, we spent some quality time yesterday. It was really good. We started discussing things”
“This is not going where I would like it to go. Don’t tell me you puked it all out?”
“Boss, you are you and I am me. I believe I have to be honest in my relationship. I told her everything”
“Even the reminder thing?” boss wondered again.
“Yes I did”
“Then?”
“Honesty is the best policy. She forgave me and said she would stop reminding me about things. I promised she would not need to remind me”
His phone buzzed. It was his wife. After 5 minutes of monologue from her side, he was free.
Boss asked, “What happened?”
“Boss. She had put on rice on stove before leaving for work”
“So?”
“She messaged me 4-5 times to remind me that I had to switch off the stove. When I did not respond, she called”
“But didn’t she tell you she would stop doing that”
“Yes she did”
“Doesn’t matter. After all you promised her that you would do things without reminders. Honesty and all that”
“I know boss. I am screwed”
“Why?”
“I forgot”
A deathly silence followed.
PS: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Cricket-Hers!!!

Once I played against a team, in my hometown, which had a girl as its captain. I don’t remember much about her barring the fact that she was of my age but much taller and stronger than I was. Oh well, I still am much shorter and weaker than people of my age. She had short hair, quite like Karishma Kapoor’s hairdo in one of the songs her debut film Prem Qaidi, kept wickets and batted.
I did play lot of cricket when I was a kid. Lot of competitive cricket. These weren’t any club matches. We guys often gathered 11 people, formed teams and played against similar teams. Normally one block of the area I lived in had one team. Although it were us building the team but one had to be good enough to come in final 11. Every match was played for a prize – paltry sum of money or the ball with which we played. The winner would take away the money or the ball. All of us had to contribute from whatever money we had. Being kids of middle class families, we didn’t have the luxury of well-defined pocket money. Hence we used to save from whatever avenues possible for these matches – walk back home from school instead of using paid transport to save money, use the money often guests gave us as gifts or things like that.
Since money was extremely hard to come by, we had to ensure we don’t lose it. And that was the motivation behind picking a perfect 11. No favors. No free cherries. And we fought tooth and nail to ensure not only we avoid losing whatever was on the bet but also to snatch it away from the other side so that we could have some buffer to play more of such matches. The matches were competitive. Very competitive. Sometimes they did end in a brawl with people losing blood and tooth in it. Hence not only teams needed guys who were good in cricket but also strong enough to fight in case there was a brawl at the end of the match.
So when a girl, often considered too weak to play this game, not only played but also led a side – it sent the eyes rolling. I remember quite a big crowd had gathered just to witness her play.
While she was a decent wicket keeper, what impressed everyone was the power of her shots and the command he had over her team. She was the captain of the side. Her shots, they were ferocious with full of power. When she hit our ace fast bowler, who later got an offer to play for a professional club which was quite a big achievement for people in my city, for three consecutive boundaries – he was hooted. He was hooted so badly about being hit by a girl that he lost control and bashed up someone from the crowd. Then he became abusive towards the girl.
That was my biggest surprise for that girl to play the game which was not just dominated by us males but owned by us. I had never seen someone from the other side of gender divide playing cricket. I wondered that even if she was a good player, how would she cope with such things at the ground. Didn’t she or her family worry about her safety? After all my part of city was, in fact the city itself, was full of rowdies.
Few months later we were going to participate in a tournament. Captain of my side wanted her to play for our side. So we visited her house. Her mother told her that she had given up playing cricket because it was not a girl’s game at all. One of her team members, we all had hit the teens, had misbehaved with her and the family didn’t want such things to reoccur.
That was the last I heard of her. But every time I heard about women’s cricket I did think about her. I wondered what would have happened to her.  Maybe she took the same route all of us did – moving cricket from the shelf called passion to the shelf called hobby and moved on with our lives. Maybe she did convince her family and played at some respectable level. I do not know. But all I know is that she was the only girl I had seen in person who played any kind of competitive cricket.
Hence whenever I hear about India’s women cricket team, I always wonder where do these cricketers come from. What would be the level of their passion to follow a sport which surely is a religion in the country but hardly has any space for women.
Because of my 8 year old, I have visited a few cricket coaching centers. I was pleasantly surprised by the kind and amount of cricketing talent those centers had. Oh well, how many times you see a 10 year old playing a perfect upper cut or a 9 year old playing a revers scoop or my own 8 year old playing a perfect helicopter shot? How many times do you see a 8 year old bowling with a perfect leg-spin action or kids learning to bowl googly just by watching Shane Warne videos?
What I do not remember is seeing a single girl in those centers. Need I has I have never seen an ad for girls-only cricket coaching?
So, where do these girls come from?
Over the years, general interest in India’s domestic cricket has increased. When I say domestic cricket, I do count IPL in it. IPL has given not only us but other countries too many talented cricketers in different ways – some got recognition through IPL, some got redemption. More importantly, it has increased the base at highest level. Now, one can dream of having just an IPL career instead of an international career. If you are good, monetary benefits are quite good. And it can always open the doors for international circuit.
Alas, women’s cricket do not have an IPL. I don’t know what is the status of their domestic cricket. While even a domestic cricketer, male, can make decent money these days thanks to BCCI’s hard work over the years, I am not sure what does a female cricketer at domestic level make. At international level, a grade A contract female cricketer makes 15% of their male counterparts. There are no other visible commercial benefits most probably. The fame is almost entirely missing. A Mithali Raj, quite the Tendulkar of women’s cricket, can still walk on the streets of Mumbai without getting noticed – high chances of that. I don’t know about the facilities even at the highest level. Where do they stack up with cricketers of Australia or England or South Africa? I have no clue but I can guess they aren’t really comparable going by the budget available for player’s salaries.
Process isn’t promising. Like the coaching facilities available in different parts of the country or domestic. End result isn’t too encouraging like money or fame.
So, what eggs these girls to take up cricket? Where do they come from?
The answer lies in passion and love for the game which take form when the mind is too innocent to recognize the existence of hurdles which may come in future. Like Harmanpreet Kaur said in her interview that she started playing and fell in love of the game even before she was old enough to recognize the fact that there is a gender divide in this world. But once she was in it, she game a damn.
Answer surely lies in the support the families of these cricketers provide to them. Even being full aware of the hurdles, they do promote and encourage them. Veda Krishnamurthy’s father moved from a small town in Karnataka to Bengaluru so that his daughter could play cricket.
And yes, credit has to be given to ICC for asking BCCI to take charge of India’s women’s cricket. Credit has to go to BCCI for giving it a structure, whatever form it is in, which will surely take time in gaining strength.
Right now India’s women’s cricket is somewhere where men’s cricket was in 70s or 80s – not much money, fame for only a few, struggling to keep pace with other sports and not much motivation for kids to pick it up as a career. At least men’s cricket had some heroes and 1983 world cup win with advent of TV in India transformed everything for them. Women’s cricket does need a strong impetus like that.
Oh yes, there have been chants about women’s IPL. While it does look like a noble idea, how to make it real and sustainable will hold the key for lot of answers in future.
From being ranked 7th in the tournament to being runners up is no mean achievement. That’s what we did in this year’s world cup. But we lost that match we should have won easily. We did what men’s team used to do so regularly in 90s. It was disappointing. It was disheartening.  
But yes, team did well. Really well. That is how the current sentiment is – “So what if we lost. We did really well”. That is a mature way to look at it which, to large extent, has come in fans for men’s cricket too. But that happened after a phase of immature fanaticism. The fanaticism which made the game the rage it is now in the country – remember all that effigy burning et al which doesn’t happen anymore, almost. I do not support it but for women’s cricket to evolve the way men’s cricket has done in the country, maybe it will have to go through that kind of craziness once. Maybe.
But more importantly, women’s cricket shall need to achieve sufficient amount of success, on and off the ground both, to inspire a generation of girls to start seeing cricket as a career. It shall have to generate enough career avenues, like IPL has done, for parents to see different possibilities for their daughter.
The process shall take time but if BCCI manages women’s cricket as well as it has done with men’s cricket. Such a day is more likely to come.
I just hope there is a day when a loss like yesterday doesn’t make me, the average cricket fan, feel like – “So what if we lost. We did really well”.  I hope it hurts and disturbs me. I hope it makes me lose sleep.
That would be the real victory for women’s cricket. Even in a loss.

 Image courtesy - Indian Express

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Cars - 2!!!

Envy is all about counting someone else’s blessings than your own.
  •               -Someone
Ever since a friend I had driven a new car of a friend of mine, I had started seeing all those shortcomings of my own Maruti Ritz which were non existent before that. Soon, I started noticing everyone was driving a newer car which was a better model than my own. Or it was otherway round - I noticed only those who had newer and better cars. I was feeling envious.
So finally, after shelling out all my savings, selling left kidney and few liters of blood and taking a loan of gigantic proportions, I managed to buy a new car. Not a very wise decision I must say considering the state of industry I work in. All I can do is hope that I shall not become a cab driver in my own car. Or I don’t have to ask my wife to sell her kidney.
Hyundai Creta is a fantastic car. It is even better unless you have paid for it. Well, then that’s true for most things. They look better till you have paid for them.
After having driven both of them on a single day, yesterday, I realized the subtle difference between driving the both.
Old car is like an old and well trusted ally. You know it well. You know it better. You know all its moves. You know how it shall behave in what circumstances. It is like wife when you have been married for considerable period of time. Yes, there shall be loads of surprises but you tend to expect them. Yes, it shall break down sometimes but you are prepared for it. Oh yes, it shall make lot of noise but you get used to of it. You are well versed with the knowledge of curves and shape and comfortable with the fact that there is and shall be wear & tear. You have been through accidents and know its is no big deal - damages can be repaired. You have practically become one with it.    
New car is like a new partner. While you would like to try everything to make a good start and henceforth a good journey, the trust factor is still missing. You don’t really know the true nature and behavior. You are yet to get comfortable with the curves, shapes, size and features of it. You still don’t feel the part. Oh yes, you fear the first dent or scratch. When that happens, it hurts. Second one also hurts but lesser. Third one even lesser. Slowly you get used to of it. See, it is like a new marriage. Slowly you realize damages are no big deal and can be repaired.
Then the fight begins for parking. Especially if your twin parking is not parallel but straight - cars can only be parked one after another. Who will get the inner parking space? Because one you have been parked inside, you are dependent upon the other one for getting out. Discrimination sets in. Newer member starts getting more preference. Oh yes, it is like two daughters in law in the same family. Friends and family turn up for the muh dikhai of the newer member of the house. People shower praises because that’s the only option that have to tell you on your face. Someone sometimes asks - where is the older one? And you shrug your shoulders and say - same old place. I am sure if Ekta Kapoor reads this piece, she shall surely draft a new soap opera named Kyonki Kar bhi ek Bahu hai. While older one keeps doing the dirty work, younger one is still given some leeway to learn the tricks of the trade of the family. While tantrums of elder daughter in law are often discarded as regularity, tantrums of young one surely get more attention. Having said that, older one still commands more respect and power than the younger one.
While on the roads, you feel like Toruk Makto who is riding on the great Toruk (remember James Cameron’s bollywood style romantic sci-fi Avatar which made a fortune). When you are diving the older car, you are so much in control that you feel like you are riding on the baddest ass in the sky and own it. You see a gap and can drive through it blindfolded. You see a turn and immediately know the radius at which you should be turning without banging the car somewhere and yet not let the biker coming from behind take the slightest of space to overtake your car. Forget the bike, you cannot let any car overtake your own unless you know the market value of the other car is 200% or more than your car. You can parallel park it without any hiccups. You have become such an expert that you start to even optimize the parking space. You are the king.
With new car, it is totally difficult. You feel like Satyen Kappu who has three young, beautiful daughters and lives in the neighborhood of the Shakti Kapoors, Rupesh Kumars, Prem Chopras, Amrish Puris and ilks. You realize beauty is a cruel mistress. The bold and expert driver in you transforms into a timid father whose sole objective is to save his daughters from these villains. Every time you take it out on the road, all you do is to save it from getting hit/dented/scratched by the all others on the roads. Everyone seems like a lunatic driver who ,if you introspect, is no different from you your self in your older car. You are always over cautious in your radius calculations. Even though the newer car has more power, you avoid using it in the interest of safety.         
It goes on. Till the first dent. Then it changes. With every dent, you become bolder and less timid. Slowly, this new daughters in law starts reaching the similar status which can be termed as “old enough to not to be called new”. Soon, the new car is termed as the second car.
The cycle is quite likely to be repeated once the new daughter in law comes in the family.
Till then, I shall pray for the safety for myself, people on the road and my wife’s kidney.