The cost of victory. #SandpaperGate

Everything comes at a cost. Including victory. Sometimes the cost of ‘victory at all costs’ is so mind-boggling that victory loses meaning. Today Australia (and the rest of the world) woke up to ‘ #SandpaperGate ‘. Just the other day, I was wondering about the ‘cost of victory’.

On that ‘other day’, I landed up at the attic at my mom’s place. I was looking to fill gaps in memory fuelled by gaps from WhatsApp conversations.

A few old cherished medals lay in one corner of a dusty trunk. Amongst other things that kept the medals company: an assortment of parched certificates, a couple of spent manuscripts, a dog-eared atlas, and some dull question papers from a ‘quarterly exam’ that ended decades ago.  Amidst these were some assorted pages from an old English textbook. Remnants of my school going years. I looked at the medals with wistfulness and the books with nostalgia.  And started flipping through the Engish textbook landing at ‘If’, Kipling’s much loved work.

I stayed there for a bit. There are poems that move. And then there are poems that stay with you and get you to move. Every poem is a work of art reaching places in the mind that barely existed. ‘If’ is perhaps ‘The’ poem with the shortest title while having the farthest reach. It has been a personal favourite. And as I tossed a few things around, I realised, that it has shaped my outlook too.

Today, as I was writing this post, I discovered I had a post in  2009 on ‘IF’ . It is something.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Back to the English textbook. It is in that book that I first read that two lines from ‘If’

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same”

stare at players as they walk into Wimbledon’s Centre Court.


I remember talking to my dad about it. And he saying that there is no meaning in victory or defeat without learning the lessons of victory and defeat. His clear voice about letting victories and defeats pass by and seek each new day as a new day sought to make their presence. He would say with emphasis often that there is a cost to victory! And if the cost of victory is greater than the victory itself, there is no point to the victory.

As I wistfully examined medals that were in the trunk, I realised that the real victory was not in getting to wear them then. It has been in moving past them, cherishing the experience of winning and later consigning the medals to the attic.

Pursuits of the present day are morphed forms of medals that I had won back then. Medals that now rest in the dark confines of an old trunk in the attic. To experience and cherish every moment, to be of value to someone, to be grateful for all that has happened. These are my aspirations now.

The medal that I seek is perhaps inner quiet, peace, and lightness. That perhaps is real victory while I scurry around looking for medals and podiums. Today there is even further realisation about real victory. Real victory is beyond paper victories. And certainly beyond sandpaper ones!


Yes We Are !

For a month and a half the nation has been huddled in conversation. You have noticed it. For everywhere from the office canteen, to official meetings to even your own bedroom this topic has made silent entry.

From wickets to balls. From heavy bats to bad bounce. Seam to spin ! Everything of such nature and beyond. The frenzy that accompanies newscasts, has had ready made fodder, for they have been quick to assemble an array of cricketers that once ran between the wickets to now give commentary on the ones that do!

Suddenly one Friday, your team beats Australia. The ensuing Wednesday they beat Pakistan. The following Sunday Sri Lanka is downed. Suddenly, the nation is crowned World Champions.

It’s a moment in cricketing history that must not escape the pages of this blog and hence must be written about.

The last several months have seen several scams. Parliament was held to ransom. A government that seems inept. A parents accused of murdering their own daughter. A overlaying general apathy that seems to have progressed as terminal cancer across the breadth of the population. The list is incomplete, incongruous, progressively more gross. Heaping many permutations of ‘oh-what-will-get-inflicted-on-us-today’ kind of a feeling. Everyday.

This was a divided country. Thick lines of religion interlaced with politics and served with an overarching base ingredient of corruption and moral degradation, over very many years added to continuous woe and misery.

Well, all of the above remain. Infact, nothing has changed. Not the cases that have been filed. The corrupt judges have not had a change of heart. The colourful politicians and their ever so creative means to greater means perhaps has only got new boosts.

Yet, for a few brief hours, the nation suspends its despondence and celebrates. On a sultry Saturday night every square in the country resembles the Tahrir square of Egypt. The nation today erupts in unanimity.

As the composed eyes of the captain scans the stadia to know of the six that is hit indeed clears the ropes, the slum dwellers clap and hoot. The rich pump their scotch drenched viens with little of the refinement that they usually swear by. Hindus hug muslims. Buddhists pump their fists with energy.

Soon, cars, scooters, bikes all pour into the road. Waving the Indian flag and shouting Vande Mataram.

The old reminisce 1983 even as the young don’t care anymore. They have a new story to tell. Men jump as though they have been injected with fresh bouts of testosterone.Women hug and hoot with frenzy that would befit little girls in school. The twitter feed is continuous.

Politicians are going slow in their campaigning. Airplanes have gone empty. Governments declare holidays. SMS messages pour in. “We have won” is the overriding theme, as though the victory is a result of the dint of hard labour of every single Indian.

But then, perhaps. That’s not too far from the truth.

This victory perhaps belongs to the faceless Indian cricket fan. Yes, the one that stands in queue to endure lathis and collect just one of the measly 4000 tickets on sale. The faceless fan that will wear the same T-shirt just so that we win !

Oh don’t forget those Non Resident Indians who beat the time zones and zone into You Tube, Facebook, twitter and whatever they could get shreds of information from ! And the abundance of others that borrow money to travel and cheer the team ! The fan puts all else, far below the pecking order that has only one entity up there : The Indian cricket team !

Today a billion people watched. For a moment the despondence disappears. People hug each other and laugh their hearts out. The tireless efforts to divide us all usually succeeds. This time there is some respite ! Our problems awaits us. The cases. The politicians. The judges. The corrupt and the corrupted. The vain and the vanity prone.

Yes. But that’s tomorrow. For today, we have won. We are world champions. As the fledgling hands of my almost four year old nephew struggling to hold a plastic bat, shows the strain, a loud screech escapes his lips : ‘I have never seen such a match in my life”. All of almost four years. Mind it !

Standing as tall as the TV stand, just as his dad claps and his mom hoots. Tomorrow, reality will drift back into our consciousness. But today, we are world champions.

Yes we are.

Cricket confessions !

This is cricket season. Everyone is glued to the TV sets. Tweeting simultaneously. Commenting on how squalid Ravi Shastri’s commentary is or how queer the pitch is and how this game could be a ‘cracker of the game’.

Ofcourse, expert comments come from people ranging from the next door aunty to the ex-gully cricketer who now spouts a belly and has a ton of stories from ‘my playing days’.

The eloquence that is waxed on players and their performance, is a perpetually swinging pendulum that swings from creative abuses that will shame the insipid listlessness of a laggard bowler and extend all the way to the elevation to a GODly status when a personal milestone is cracked !

Before you label me with definitively pronounced adjectives like ‘unpatriotic’, ‘unfit to be Indian’, let me hasten to add that I follow the game too. Not quite with the same intensity that people put on display in restaurants and public places. And boy who can forget twitter. Tweeting fervently, exhorting others to sit where they are or hold on to their pee until another man scores a century ! ( No, am certainly not making this up).

Am not necessarily an ignorant small towner. My own growing up years saw many a summer day that slipped by in battling bowlers from the next building with utter disrespect for the Sun and searing heat. To hit, to run, to roll arms over irrespective of where the sun was in the sky, as long as he was out there in the sky! Ah, it’s a lovely game. Yeah. G-A-M-E !

Much water has flowed under the bridge since then. Age takes a good catch, always. The hair on my head is receding and whatever is left of it is as stark as the black & white photograph. Cricket is well, different. The frenzy is several time more pronounced. Outlets to wear it on your sleeve, is multi pronged. TV channels are a famished lot without the game. The result: everybody is an expert. Vocally so !

Truth be told, I can never get myself to sit before the TV for many hours on end and confine my exercise to jumping to conclusions, stretching the statistical truth and pushing the country’s luck (exhorting people to stay still and hold their pee)!

I harbor no ill-will against the people that are more passionate. The world is made of all kinds. For long, several well meaning people have popped the obvious question at me : Why ? Why don’t you follow the game as closely ?

For an equally long time, I have either maintained a stoic silence. A silence that could outdo a hermit in deep penance. Or have hidden behind a decorated façade of ‘a game is meant to be sweated out’ argument. Now its time for a confession. The real reason is Statistics !

Yes. Really. Statistics.

The sheer magnitude of statistical trivia that International cricket can spew ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous, perpetually pushing the boundaries of both the sublime and the ridiculous! Quite obviously what is sublime to one has another searching for words that amplify ‘ridiculous’.

‘Dilshan is the seventh batsman to face Abdul Razzak when he is bowling from the Khetaramma end in the Premadasa stadium’.

Well, well. That could well be a rather tame concocted example.

The more informed amongst my friends rattle of statistics that could perk the ears of an encyclopedia maker and could go like “This is the third highest, seventh wicket partnership between Kenya & Zimbabwe, the second highest in in a one day game in Nagpur and is also the seventh highest in all world cups and 293rd in the history of one day internationals “.

Even as my mouth opens in awe, experience has taught me not to be surprised if someone else strikes a degage pose and throw a rejoinder that could go like “It actually is the 294th. The 167th got mired in a controversy because of a thunderstorm which sometimes is not counted…”.

Such powerful stuff is pregnant with poignant potential of sending the partially interested into perpetual coma!

That’s when I go looking for my running shoes.

Its Finally Over !

Small huddles of people stand on the pavement. Peering into phone stores. Restaurants. Offices. Pubs. Et el. At the same time. At pre-appointed hours.

Peering into a restaurant having glass for walls, can be unsettling. Especially for those that eat inside! But they dont seem to care ! And the crowd outside only swells. A foreign eye can mistake this for anything. Including a food deprived nation that gratiates itself by looking at others eat.

The answer however, lies in the TV that’s on. In a corner of the restaurant , phone store et al. No. Wrong again. The interest is not in the TV but on the cricket match that’s on ! The Indian Premier League is on.

And animated conversation floats in the air. Will Chennai beat Kolkatta? Will Bangalore overrun Hyderabad? Will Mumbai win ? How can he sip beer in the middle of a match ? It is all rigged. Dont you thinks so…etc !

Answers and perspectives on this, will of course bring a paradigm shift to our lives and makes such a big difference to our daily living. But, this is cricket ! And as some cliched pundit astutely puts it…this is religion. OK?

A religion.

Where the same chap, is riled or feted for the same shot he played. Depending on whether the team won or lost.

Where funny coloured costumes, strange team names, wonderful astute commentary from the likes of a certain Ms.Bedi are centre stage

where an 4 year old acquaintance commented on a match, ‘ i haven’t seen this kind of a match in my entire lifetime’. And yes. All of a four year life time.

Where the dance of the cheer leaders is only matched by the beer belly of a certain Mr. Mallya,

where ‘square leg‘ has got nothing to do with anatomy or geometrical shapes. And ‘third man’ does not point to political machinations of cabinet formation.

Where the requirements of winning the cup ( with the history of the two tournaments thus far) are restricted to having an Australian captain pulled out from retirement and the team labeled ‘underdog’!

where the sulk of a certain Mr. Khan is best matched by bringing of the blog world more fame

huh !

What a waste of time. Thankfully, its over. The finals. As they say. And this circus top will fold up. And there are talks of one more season coming your way soon. Thankfully its all coming to an end.

And those soap operas on TV can resume again. Tomorrow strange family issues that would resurface. Stuff that was talked about just before the opening ceremony… And from tomorrow onwards, when the boss asks how was last night, remember he is talking about the meeting and not the match.

Our lives return to ‘normal’ status from tomorrow. Thank God this is all getting over. What madness. Huh.

By the way, did you see how Mathew Hayden batted ! Phew it was worth the Orange cap with a strike rate of 144. And i guess the purple cap will stay with RP. Singh. And if Chennai with +0.94 run rate are any way a better team. And man this Manish Pandey has been a discovery…

Any idea if the dates for the next series has been decided ? Just asking..



Three young kids. One as a bowler. One as a batsman. One as a fielder.

Three bottles which held beer in them sometime back. For the three stumps !

A blue bisleri bottle’s cap as the ball.

A piece of wood that seemed to have been wrenched away from a branch, as the bat.

The Prince of Wales museum’s compund wall as the backdrop.

The Mumbai Pavement as the pitch.

2.00 PM on a Saturday afternoon. With a crowd waiting for the bus, more keen on following this cricket than the arrival of the bus. As the audience.

Ingenuity. Innovation. Indifference. Incredible. Incredulous. India !

Staying With Cricket..

This ad on the rear of a BEST bus got me thinking.

Why is Syed Kirmani advertising for a hearing aid ? He is not a model of great repute. As far as i know, he could hear properly. Am not sure of recent developments though. Or is it that he wants to convey a message to the powers that be that his thoughts on team selection et al be better heard. Is he sending a message to Vijay Mallya & the 45 crore loss !?!

Or is Widex his company ? Of the many mysteries that run in my mind, this perhaps is one more. Cricketers would know better i guess.

Hello ?

We are like this only !

Quite a lot of water has gone by beneath the bridge. Infact, under many bridges of the cricketing world. And i have watched it with feelings ranging from intense anger to complete amusement!

I think it was GB Shaw who wrote about cricket as a sport played by 11 fools and watched by 11 thousand fools. ( am not sure if i got that right, but i can distinctly recall something to that effect being said)

In the list of 11 fools he obviously did not include the umpires, the third umpire, the match referee, the boards, the ICC, the press. So, that number has changed. And of course, the other ‘11,000 fools’ …that in todays terms will be the number all the security men posted at matches !! So, it is much more than a game ( as many of my friends have argued). Yes sir. To GBS, it would be idiocy at its heights !

For some strange reason every time i saw Ponting say ‘we play cricket like this only’ i recalled Quick Gun Murugan belching : We are like this only !!

That started the trail..!

And whenever i saw the crowds burn up effigies of poor Bucknor and Benson, i saw quick gun Murugan gleaming through the effigies and saying “We are like this only”

And when Mike Proctor gave that sentence with aplomb, i saw quick gun Murugan appear in James Bond style and say “We are like this only”

And when Ricky Ponting said ‘My parents have been threatened’, guess what Quick Gun Murugan thinking came to my mind : Yes. We are all like this only !

So, QGM ( Quick Gun Murugan ) kept occupying my thoughts

a. when i read that Sachin Tendulkar sent SOS ( SMS) to Sharad Pawar.
b. when Sharad Pawar said ‘back off’ to ICC
c. when ICC withdrew Bucknor
d. when Malcom Speed said ICC wont be at the mercy of BCCI ( just before packing of Bucknor)
e. When a few million trees were cut and the lively hood of many wild animals & apes ( just being careful. Hopefully, ‘ape’ is not racial slur) destroyed in the making of newsprint made to write about all of this !
f. When all cricket administrators gave interviews to hungry news channels on ‘national patriotism’ (sic)
g. And so on.

The list is endless ! I am not sure where all this is headed. If it is headed anywhere at all !

And i guess this comedy circus will continue for some more time. In the meantime, my motto has been to have some fun at the expense of all of this. No matter what. So, when CVR forwarded this stuff, i thought it was a must share.

New cricketing words that have crept into lexicon.

Ponting: (n) (adj)
A substance or entity or even a person of unquestionable integrity
An act of uncivilised behaviour. [Also, pontingness (n)]


The judge was driven towards justice because he knew that the pontiff was a ponting.
Sir Bonkers said, “Don’t try to bully me. I surely can fathom the pontingness in your eyes”.

: (n) (adj)
1. Temporary blindness leading to missing out on the obvious.
2. To be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

3. Situations leading to grave judgemental errors.

Usage: I feel bucknored by my boss; Life often throws a bucknor at you.

Benson: (n) (adj)
1. Something that legitimises a severe bucknor.
Usage: First they bucknored me and then they bensoned it! I am toast.

Also see bucknor

What to do !

We are like this only !

PS: Hopefully soon all of this will end. And our focus will be on governance, better quality of life, reaching out, greater connectedness, true sportsmanship, environmental protection… I am talking like another of those fools. Aint i ?

What to do. I am like that only !