As India lifted the 2007 T20 World Cup, Prem had fallen hook, line and sinker with two things – Dhoni and his long locks of hair. Prem decided to grow his own locks replicating his hero Dhoni. A year’s investment and Prem was flaunting his beautifully grown mane to all and sundry. A bike ride on his pulsar was enough to make him the cynosure of the locality. Happy days but his joy was cut short!

A mandatory rule by the government to wear helmets meant Prem’s mane had to be hidden beneath the protective gear. But Prem was in no mood whatsoever to follow this rule. He did not grow his hair to leave it hidden. He did buy a helmet and used it only on seeing a policeman. It meant more or less the helmet was always on the petrol tank of the bike he rode.

On a fateful Sunday morning, Prem was on his way in his bike and the helmet neatly placed on top of his bike’s petrol tank. The cool breeze was fondling Prem’s locks as he rode faster and faster to relish the wonderful climate which was a rarity in Chennai. He soon reached an underground bridge and accelerated to reach the top. As he did, the bike hit a manhole on the way up and Prem lost balance for a few seconds. The helmet that was on the petrol tank fell to the ground as Prem struggled for balance. He managed to bring the bike to a halt and stopped to pick up his fallen helmet. Just then he saw a young couple, with a baby, who had been travelling behind Prem in their bike, hit his helmet that was lying down on the road. The man who drove the bike lost balance and the lady with a baby in the hand had to take evasive action. Luckily they were not riding as fast as Prem did. The lady had the presence of mind to jump with the baby in hand and had managed to escape unscathed. The man who drove the bike was not that lucky as he hit the ground and lost complete control of his vehicle. Prem was up and running to save the man who fell down as he realized the cardinal sin he had committed.

There were a few other riders who stopped by then and a small crowd had formed. Expletives were thrown at Prem generously and he deserved it all. The man who fell down was back on his feet now with few scratches on his hand and legs. Prem had the presence of mind to help him out even as people were ready to beat Prem up black and blue. Prem knew there was more coming his way once the man was stable and back to senses. Amidst taunts from the crowd for beating Prem, the wounded man simply told Prem “Wearing helmet will surely save you and it can also save others.” A little pat on Prem’s cheek with a smile, the man drove away along with his family.

Recollecting what had unfolded few seconds back, Prem by impulse wore his helmet and drove to the destination he had never planned to go for a long long time – “Royal Salon”!  He sat quietly and requested the barber to cut his locks neat and short!

(I wrote this story for telltaleclub – a blog that holds a trove of short stories )

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Live & Love!!

Posted: January 31, 2012 in Fiction, Story
Tags: ,

For the Tell tale Contest!!

“Coffeeee!! Teaa!!”

“Coffeeee!! Teaa!!”

The vendor called out as he passed the coupe.
“Thuddd!”
The baby fell on its knee trying to walk across to his mother.
The mother ran to pick up the child and is busy placating him.
Ravishing young lady sat across him checking her flock of hair in the mirror of her mini clutch bag.
The chatter from the group of young boys engrossed in a card game relayed from above.
The train had halted at Varnasi for 15 mins. He hadn’t moved or uttered a word from the time he got on.
The newspaper covered Sanjay’s face; his eyes peered through his bi-focal spectacles and his hair rested neatly combed sideways.
A pencil in his hand was losing his grip.

The pencil fell down. Sanjay observed the motley crowd in his coupe– the cute baby, the caring mother, a good looking young lady and an energetic group of young boys.  He slowly knelt down to pick up the pencil and wanted to continue scribbling a letter but he could not write anymore. He folded the newspaper and closed his eyes. Rest would help those tired eyelids that have been hyper active and over worked in the last 48 hours. He knew he was near and yet so far.

The train gathered steam slowly and left the Varnasi station. Hearing a loud wail, Sanjay’s eyes jumped to life. The baby had again fallen down but this time the impact seemed larger; at least the wail was loud enough to send the alarm bells ringing within Sanjay. The mother picked up the little kid and slowly started singing lullabies. The baby was in no mood to sleep and every time the mother would stop singing, the little brat would wake up and start crying. Sanjay’s forgotten smile broke out for a second but flash it was gone. He started visualizing the moments when his mother had taken care of him, singing lullabies and telling fascinating stories, making him believe that the world is a place to live and love wholeheartedly.

A loud cheer from the group of boys playing above disturbed Sanjay’s seamless transition into the past. One among the six had just won the game. The energy, spirit and liveliness had the power of youth written all over it and Sanjay could see his group of friends playing with him right in front of his eyes. Sanjay was sitting with them, laughing and egging one of his friends. Friends form a special part of one’s life and Sanjay’s friends – Ram, Surinder, Mankad, Vivesh and Kalyan all shared a special bonding. He wanted to meet them all today as today was the most important day in Sanjay’s life. He lived his best days with these friends and loved them so much. “Live and love”! He wanted to press that pause button of his brain box to simply stop these digressing transmissions.

The Phone rang sharply! With a sudden fit of rage, Sanjay jumped from his seat and lost balance completely. Thud! He hit the ground and the mobile phone in his shirt pocket popped out. The mother in the coupe immediately tried to lift Sanjay as the group of boys from the above berth jumped down to help the mother. Sanjay was surrounded by people now. The young lady, whose cell phone had rung, joined the helping party with a bottle of water and Sanjay gulped the water to his heart’s fill. Sanjay was back on his feet, assuring others that he was absolutely fine and carefully pocketed his cell phone. People went back to their respective activities. The young lady dialled back to return the call she got. Sanjay poured himself into the newspaper and observed the young lady very keenly as he kept flipping the pages slowly. The fluctuating emotions at every flip of the page kept him hooked. He was in rapt attention listening to what the young lady was speaking. He understood she was just engaged and was talking to her fiancée. Sanjay thought to himself “The period between engagement and marriage is one of those moments when two people start loving and living in each other’s cocoon.”  

The trauma of the loss was unbearable as the words love and live kept haunting him. He saw every life in front of him as an epitome of living and loving. Why was he born? Why did his mother shower so much love on him? Why his friends always wished the best for him? Why did his girl of dreams love him so much? Why did he have to lose them all? A bomb blast and all was over! His engagement celebrations came to a rude end. Could they have avoided going for shopping that fateful day? No one really cared and compensation can never compensate life. I wanted the world to take notice and what did I do? It might have been a religious factionalism that took my dear ones away but how did I think that this was the appropriate answer to my loss. Who are these people? I don’t know them but somehow the entire crowd reflects the family I lost. He rushed out of his coupe and every other person resembled the people who made Sanjay’s life colourful.

Two more minutes! Sanjay pushed the lavatory door close. He pulled out the bomb from his pocket. The devil was in it! A tight press and the mobile was diffused and switched off forever. Sanjay took one last look at it and dropped it through the hole.

My Nominations

Deepak 

Divya

Anand

An Overnight Star!

Posted: October 1, 2011 in Fiction, Story

Deafening loud cheers filled the atmosphere as I prayed for one last time and stepped into the bullring. There were 11 men waiting for me and another 11,000 cheering those 11 bulls. I knew that the deafening cheers were not for me and it was for the batsman who was just dismissed.  Sachin Tendulkar was out for a well-crafted 120. As we crossed each other, our eyes met for a moment and the great man was gone for good. As I continued taking those measured steps of mine towards the 22 yard battle strip, the pictures of the day I made my debut as the 779 Indian Test Batsman was flashing spasmodically back and forth. It did bring a smile but the smile died as quickly as it bloomed.

27th Nov, 2000 was the happiest day in my life as my captain Sourav Ganguly presented me the prestigious India cap. As a 19 year old, I was considered the next best thing which could happen to Indian cricket. I took to cricket as an iron to magnet at a very young age and a solid stint of 2 years with truck load of runs in the domestic circuit earned me the moment I dreamt as a child. We were playing Australia in its den and the venue was Perth. I knew it can’t get bigger and better than this. If I perform here, then nothing can stop me. We won the toss and elected to bat. With the cool breeze behind him, Glenn ‘Mean’ Mcgrath ran in hard and fast to jostle us. Soon we were reduced to 48/4 and it was lunch. The dressing room was in a state of shock and my happiest day was slowly turning out to be an anticlimax for us. In the first over after lunch, the 5th wicket fell and my wait to be a part of Indian Cricket history was over. 49/5 and I get my first opportunity. Truth be told, I was rattled and if I saw a silver lining amidst the darkness, it was obviously to stand in the non-striker’s place and not face the seething Australians directly. Luckily, Laxman took a single of the last ball. That gave me few minutes to compose myself and tell myself that I did belong to this place deservedly. After 6 balls, I took strike to face the wrecker-in-chief of the day, Glenn Mcgrath and the first ball I faced was a peach of a delivery. It breached my defense and crashed the timber behind. My first tryst with Cricket in International level was anything but a disaster. 27th Nov, 2000 was supposed to be the happiest day in my life. The scorecard read 50/6.

Today as I walk in, the scorecard reads 180/5 and needing another 220 runs to win the test match and with that the series. We played quite well in the first innings to muster 452 runs in response to Australia’s 430 but I ended up getting a miserly 2 runs of 40 deliveries. Australia hit back in their second innings setting us a monumental 401 to win. The series stood at 1-1. Everything was at stake – India’s pride, a billion people’s dream and also an unknown batsman’s career. I knew that this would be the last chance I would ever get to prove myself at this level. In fact I was lucky to get this chance as a string of injuries to the first choice batsmen forced the selectors to pick me and I don’t blame them.  

Blame reminds me of my debut match that ended in an innings defeat for us. I was run out in the second innings without even facing a ball as the striker’s straight drive clipped the bowler’s fingers and crashed into the stumps. I was backing up way too far and was caught napping. Thus, ended my debut match and with that the confidence that the selectors had in me. The selectors, media and cricketing experts who held me as a child prodigy just 5 days before, wrote me off stating that I lacked the right temperament to play cricket at this level. At 19 years, I realized the ways in which ‘The World’ works. Fickle World! I was not picked for the remaining matches in the series and I was dropped from the team at the end of the series. I joined the list of batsmen who had promised a lot, shown enough potential but failed to deliver when it mattered. I wanted to prove I can deliver and I set about repairing my fractured cricketing career. Three fruitful years of destroying many a bowlers’ confidence in the domestic circuit and a rage to succeed kept me going. The wilderness ended and I was picked as a part of the team to play against England. It was a 3 test series and I got my chance only in the second test. I was still searching for my first international run going into my second test match. After facing 23 deliveries, I opened my account in International Test Cricket with a simple push to mid on. It was a significant moment in my life.

Significant moments in my cricketing career have been few and far between. But every time an opportunity beckoned me, it was always in a match or series that had great significance. Needing 220 more runs and no specialist batsman to follow, I knew this match was also significantly poised as the series can go any way from here. I reached the pitch, had a chat with the senior partner at the other end and took an off stump guard.

After successfully opening my account, I took an off stump guard to face the off spinner. The ball spun, took my bat’s edge and flew to the first slip. My wicket opened up the lower order and the opposition was on the offensive. Three years of hard work yielded in 1 run. If my first innings was tragedy, my second innings was unfortunate to say the least. I stood there on zero notout as I saw batsman after batsman succumb and bite the dust. I was getting used to being a part of the losing side and the same script was re-enacted but with a different screen play. I was picked for the third and the final test and one thing which I badly wanted to do was to stay there in the middle and face as many deliveries as I could and then slowly take it from there. I knew I could do that because I had a glittering domestic career resume with 15 centuries and 20 fifties in 52 matches at a sky rocketing average of 64.47. Staying in the middle should never be an issue. Determined as a rock that cannot be dislodged, I stood facing delivery after delivery, playing dead bat and showing caution. I had eaten up 40 odd deliveries and was feeling confident to get off the mark and then came the howler – a ridiculous leg before decision especially considering the fact that the ball hit my bat and thudded into my pad. I felt cheated and at that moment I thought the powers above and the world in front of me have conspired to see me crumbling. Yes.. I crumbled and fizzled out completely in the second innings as I faced the bowler resigned to the fate that I would never be picked again. A furious swing of the bat to the very first ball and the wicket-keeper gleefully caught it and sealed the coffin with my career dead and buried inside! My test career innings’ read – 0, 0, 1, 0*, 0 and 0 – a potential that never prospered. I was dropped from the team for good and I thought it was forever. At 22 years, I was a done and dusted cricketer, soon to be former cricketer. I convinced myself that I lacked something but it was not the ability and if there was someone who believed in me, it was my coach who stood by me when I was down in dumps physically, mentally and emotionally.  The immortal words of wisdom, my coach kept hammering into my head helped me recover from the rustiness I willingly got into and I decided to play and enjoy the game again. My coach said..

“There are times in life when the ability really does not matter. What matters is the attitude to absorb the pressure and thrive in it – suppressing all those doubts within, fighting all those fears within and killing all those distresses within. After all you need to simply hit a piece of leather with a chunk of wood and that is something you have always loved doing!”

Yes.. I loved hitting the piece of leather, high and handsome, with a beautiful chunk of wood. At 22 years, I knew nothing other than cricket and I loved the game sincerely and passionately. So what if I cannot play for India, at least I would do what I love to do and stay in peace. The next four years were bliss as I remained in peace and played the game I loved with lots of rigor and passion pocketing every record and cherishing every win in my career in domestic cricket. The call for national duty came and I was rushed to the same Australia where I went 8 years ago. This time I was not the celebrated child prodigy but a secluded growing-old batsman who was coming in to fill the batting order simply because the preferred ones were injured. But I respected the call and joined the team with nothing to lose.

I knew I had nothing to lose. I wanted to enjoy the moment however significant the match stood. 220 runs on a fifth day pitch with 85 odd overs to be bowled and 5 wickets in hand, the Australians were slowly choking us. My coach’s words kept replaying in my mind as I saw the bowler gather steam and run in towards me. It was my first solid defense and ball went rolling back to the bowler. He picked the ball and muttered a sequence of numbers which obviously were my scores in International Cricket till date and the game was well and truly on. I kept blocking ball after ball. It was frustration for the Aussies and I was obviously enjoying it. But we needed runs and I knew I cannot keep blocking all day. The barrier was broken and the suppression of 8 years of pain, agony and suffering exploded – I hit that piece of leather hard and it soared beyond the boundary ropes. It was a six!

Epilogue:

Next day as I was having my breakfast, Sachin Tendulkar came up to me and showed me the headlines of a newspaper. It read “India wins a thriller… A star is born overnight” and the photograph of my first six was below those lines. I scored a maiden century and we won. It was my first victory! I retired to my room with the newspaper and somehow I was not able to take my eyes of that page in the newspaper and specifically that word ‘Overnight’.

‘Just that in my case the overnight took 8 long years to happen!’

(The above story is a work of fiction but the protagonist is one among us who keeps fighting failures and wants to succeed in life. Cricket and cricketers are just the medium I have used to tell a story which applies to everyone who wants to stand up a midst the ruins. Hope you had an enjoyable read!)

My Independence Day

Posted: September 5, 2011 in Speeches, Toastmasters
Tags: ,

(This was my CC project 2 – Organize Your Speech speech )

Slavery was never eradicated; it just got a new name – “Employee”. This is the best way to sum up my first month’s experience in software industry. I pulled myself from another hard day’s work and pushed myself into the cab as my mind started juxtaposing what I did in college and what I am made to do now in office. Let me compare and contrast my life in office and college. Office..be punctual..everyone is watching you ..College.. kick punctuality.. be late if everyone has to watch you especially the girls.., (Office)loads of documents made to read.. (College)studying itself was sin, (O)confusing software jargons forced to hear.. (C)I hear what I like to hear, (O)made to attend meaningless meetings… (C)attending classes itself was an achievement, (O)never ending knowledge sharing sessions made to sleep through..(C)no knowledge..so no sharing.. only sleeping.  To top it all, I was given a place just beside my manager. Welcome to hell on earth!

(Toastmaster of the Day, Fellow and future toastmasters and distinguished guests)

Did anyone realize that I did not mention about leaving the office? That never happens and even if it happens, it happens only when I am almost unconscious. Months rolled by in office.. slogging slogging slogging.. I knew I cannot continue like this. As my manager’s baritone voice often screeches “For every problem there is a solution”, I believed mine too had a solution. I started observing my illustrious colleagues and to my surprise, there was actually only one person in the whole team who was slogging – guess who – it was me. I started comprehending the method to the madness called ‘Working in a Software Industry’. At the end of it, it all boiled down to following certain beliefs with discipline and dedication.. beliefs that can set me on the path towards salvation from slogging.

Belief 1 – Google is God..All is Well

Has anyone ever wondered how it is possible for an engineer from any background to find his footing in software industry so easily and quickly??? The obvious response will be the tedious training he/she undergoes when they are inducted. But the thumb rule of software induction is someone trained in something actually never gets to work on it. The trainings are meant to train you and your mind to stay awake for the long nights in the rosy future. Then how does this transformation from an engineer to a geek occur? – Ask any software techie and the retort would be a single word – GOOGLE.  “Google knows everything, sees everything and has prepared for everything“. If software was ever a religion, then undoubtedly Google is God. In software industry, every problem has a solution and that solution comes from the God google. Every time a software engineer encounters an insurmountable problem, the only thing he needs to do is recite “Google is God.. All is well” and start googling.

Belief 2 – Sense of Humor is Programmed

How can sense of humor be programmed? It better be… because this trait would introduce a software engineer to the who’s who of his company. The flip side of this trait is that it demands your humor quotient to be fine tuned to laugh only when your manager cracks jokes. But the trickiest part is – whatever joke your manager tells might not even kindle a hint of interest in you..forget laughter and you may even think, Charlie Chaplin, had he been alive, would have murdered your manager for doing what he does in the name of humor but still the point is you have to laugh.. a mere smile is not enough. Top management calls this socializing. With experience if you can make yourself ready for such managerial torture in the name of jokes, then you are already on the path to greatness.

Belief 3 – Advertise and Attract

Why is advertizing yourself important? All managers have an awesome memory when it comes to dumping critical work on a software engineer (add an adjective ‘poor’ though it implicitly means poor software engineer). Similarly all managers suffer from short term memory loss after the work is completed. Neither the work nor the person seems critical any more. It is mandatory that you make your presence felt for your manager to remember that you are still alive and waiting to be appreciated. The most important aspect of this belief is that it has to be acted upon almost daily in whatever menial work you do. Constantly being in the thick of things always helps in attracting your manager towards making you, the man to go for when it comes to bigger and brighter opportunities. All this will increase the fat in your pay check and also in you.. and from then on your career would go only in one direction – upward and your physique would grow only in one direction – sideward!

I feel enlightened sharing such precious beliefs for the benefit of my computer starring community.

Salvation Begins:

I started following them sincerely and miracles happened. My career graph started peaking finally. Documents were no more read.. just skimmed through.. software jargons not only confused me.. but now were used effectively and efficiently to confuse others.. meetings now were meant for enhancing my sense of humor skills… knowledge sharing sessions now were used for advertising my knowledge… Slogging was no more slogging.. it became googling… And as for my place in my office.. My manager and I now sit poles apart. I knew I got my freedom and wished myself ‘Happy Independence Day’.

PS: My manager is calling me.. in fact yelling.. Signing off.. remember… Slavery was never eradicated!

(This speech was given in the month of April 2010 in Chennai Wordsmiths Toastmasters Club)

The Last Laugh…

Posted: August 24, 2011 in Speeches, Toastmasters
Tags: ,

(This was my CC Project 5 – Your Body Speaks speech )

Disclaimer:

This speech is an unadulterated imaginary sneak peek into the speaker’s prospective future problem and any resemblance to any person dead or alive is purely coincidental.

The year was 2025, day Friday the 13th. Darkness was the flavor of the night. I was scared to death. What I saw now in my hands was something that I never wanted to see again in my life. It sent chills down my spines, made my blood run cold, and engulfed me with nightmares… I suffered from the same trauma exactly about 20 years ago. Now it has come back to haunt me again! Oh no… I was a victim then. Now it has come to take my little daughter. No.. No.. I have to stop this. I have to act. I have to react. My world is collapsing.

(Good evening Fellow Toastmasters & dear guests)

All this started when my darling wife decided to attend her dear friend’s wedding. Damn that friend. I was expecting my wife to explain about our family situation and her inability to attend the wedding. But even in 2025, wives never listen to their husbands. Had she been here, I would not have to do this (eerie pause).. Studying Maths! On Monday, my daughter who is studying in her 5th class has her Maths exam and I was left all alone to teach her Maths!

MATHS, MATHS, MATHS – The thought about Maths brought back all those dark days of my past when I suffered and Maths laughed at me, scoffed at me and mocked at me!

I was in my 5th class and I remember very well that I was on the verge of getting the first rank in my class for the first time in my life. Only Maths paper had to be distributed. Even before the paper was distributed, I was imagining myself being crowned the king of the class. My dear friend Pooja who sits beside me, knowing my day dreaming gimmicks, reminded me not to count the chickens before they are hatched. Guess what.. They never hatched.. I ended up getting a big egg! The king became a pauper in no time. My parents scolded me, my dad never bought me the video game he promised, my dog never ate seeing my sorrow and more than anything Pooja changed her place to my enemy Mithun’s place. Maths laughed.. I suffered.

From 6th to 12th I scrapped through every Maths paper. Passing a Maths paper was like climbing Mt. Everest. But more than passing every hurdle, the loss I suffered due to Maths was immense – girls who smiled at me, sympathized with me after they knew my Maths mark, teachers who hold me in high regards were always ready to loosen that grip when it came to Maths,   and my friends always had a good laugh over my mathematics skills. In short – Maths subtracted my happiness, multiplied my miseries, added to my sorrows and finally divided my girl friends. Maths scoffed.. I suffered.

By the time I managed to cross the 12th peak of my life, I was left with indelible mental scars in my mind and I decided no more Maths again in my life. But my father had other plans as he put me in an engineering college. Again Maths in my life! Oh!!!

With mixed feelings, I went to college. Nothing changed. Now maths was no more laughing, it started mocking at me. This college Maths was merciless and I kept accumulating arrears after arrears in Maths until I met my savior. Diya..! Yes..she was my savior and she has been till she left for her friend’s marriage yesterday. She was my classmate then and one good thing which ever happened due to Maths was Diya. Maths brought her close to me. Maths created that pity in her heart for me. She helped me clear each and every arrear paper. Though I did not get 90s, I did manage to get those lucky 36s and in the process managed to win her heart. If she was with me, I managed to do the impossible.

But today she left me all alone to fight this battle. I have one night to prepare and then two days to teach Maths. Saturday morning we began! My daughter and I prepared, prepared and prepared. The weekend flew. Never in my life had I learnt so much Maths in so little time and that too not for me. It felt as though I surpassed my own expectations.

The D day Monday came – I took leave from my office as I could not handle the tension this day brought. I accompanied my daughter to her school and waited there praying for her and especially for myself. Hours rolled by.. my daughter came out finally after finishing her exams. I dared not ask her how she did. She was smiling and I left it there to not press further.

After an anxious wait of one week, my daughter’s results came and my daughter got not 36 but 96. For one time in my life, I laughted at Maths, silently celebrating my daughter’s success.. no no.. my success with a roof top dinner in a five star hotel. Bring it on!

(This speech was given in the month of October 2010 in Chennai Wordsmiths Toastmasters Club.)

(This was my CC Project 7 – Research Your Topic speech )

Dinner is ready. Will you all come? No response.. What are you all doing? Renu comes to the main hall shouting. Sshhhhhhhhhh. Her father-in-law was almost on the verge of getting a stroke. She could hear the loud thuds of her husband’s heart beats. Her son was a frozen statue. Suddenly, the whole house erupts in joy…Indiawon the T20 World Cup!

Cricket.. Today is unofficially our national sport. But if we look at the early days of this great game, it had a very humble beginning. The exact day when this game took birth inIndiaremains a mystery but the best available proof states that the first cricket match was played in the year 1864 betweenMadrasandCalcutta. In the year 1892-93, a European team and Parses team played the first ever officially declared first class match. But Cricket remained a colonial game in 1890s, controlled by the British in all the countries they ruled during that period includingIndia.

When the white masters played cricket in the Indian maidans, an Indian slave watched kneeling down with curiosity and anxiety. What his master was doing was new to him. Every time he heard the bat hitting the ball his heart skipped a beat. He wanted to play the game with all heart but was suppressed.

Towards the 1920s, the British started losing their strangle hold on their colonies as cricket was slowly gaining prominence. In 1932,Indiawas finally allowed to form its own test team.. the first test team. C.K. Nayadu was the first Indian Test captain.Indiawas defeated byEnglandin that match by an innings and 158 runs but an Indian slave’s dream became a reality. In defeat, we saw victory.

Things changed for the better asIndiagot her independence in 1947. The slave was gone forever. An Indian fan was born that day. Fittingly, an independent India’s first cricket team came alive. The frequency of playing cricket increased. In the early years, especially from 1947 to 1952 India was happy participating in cricket matches and winning was a distant dream.

Finally in the year 1952, the Indian fan realised something special.. something extra-ordinary.. something that happened for the first time in his life. Yes..Indiawon. Victory.. victory..!! Never had the Indian fan known what a winning feeling was until India defeated their arch rival Pakistan in 1952. What a feeling it was!Indiabasked in glory. SlowlyIndia’s performances improved with strong teams likeAustralia,EnglandandPakistanto draws and defeatingNew Zealandat home.

Two decades rolled by but a victory in the foreign soil remained elusive. Came 1971,Indiadislodged the mighty West Indies andEnglandon their home turf and the elusive foreign soil victory was achieved. Ajit Wadekar was the captain of the Indian team. This was the beginning of the golden era as the passionate Indian fan stood up in awe of his heroes – The Little master Sunil Gavaskar, the maverick Gundappa Viswanath, the dreaded spin quartet of Bishen Singh Bedi, Bhagavat Chandrasekar, Prassana and Venkatragavan and a lanky paceman from Haryana, Kapil Dev.

Indian cricket folklore would be incomplete if the year 1983 was omitted.Indiawon her first and till date the only one day world cup under the captaincy of Kapil Dev. That day the picture of a kneeling Indian slave was erased completely and the Indian fan was jumping in joy, applauding and crying in tears of ecstasy looking with pride at his men who became the ‘World Champions’. A watershed moment!

After 1983, the Indian fan was no more solitary as he gained more force & might as many inIndiaconverged onto him. Many started following the game in transistors; lucky few watched the live matches, interested few took to the sport seriously and one man among the masses rose to the Indian colours at the tender age of 16 in 1989 -Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. This man has been a true inspiration to modernIndiaand a superb ambassador of the game – 21 years of focus, dedication and love for the game.  Today, I can proudly say “I did not see Bradman play, but I have seen SachinTendulkar bat.”

The journey of Cricket inIndiafrom 1864 to 2010 is a fascinating one and today, the Indian fan is no more a mere fan.. he has become an unstoppable force – a Juggernaut! All this Indian Juggernaut prays for and desires today is another World cup victory in 2011. If 1983 was for the solitary Indian fan, this one will be for the Indian Juggernaut – I am proud to be one among the Juggernaut!

(When I gave this speech on Dec 18th 2010 I wanted India to lift the 2011 World Cup and that prayer was answered on April 2, 2011. Very happy to post this speech script especially after India being crowned the ‘World Champions’)

India - World Champions 2011 (courtesy: google images)

Fear of First Time

Posted: July 13, 2011 in Experience, Toastmasters
Tags: , , ,

It was a colorful Sunday evening and as usual the atmosphere in the park nearby my home was filled with enthusiasm, energy and enjoyment. It was a hub of activity similar to the Heathrow airport – children playing, parents running behind keeping pace with them, young and old people watching on as they were going about their walking and jogging exercises and few other onlookers like me who came to do ‘the’ one thing – relax!

I pushed myself in one corner of the park as my mind started wandering around the serene atmosphere. My eyes was capturing each and every image haphazardly until it came to a standstill looking at one little girl who was trying to climb the slide. For every step she took in the slide, she would throw a cautionary look towards her mother and her mother would return an assuring response.  This caution-assurance activity was happening for quite some time and I understood that this was the first time the child was climbing the slide. My curiosity reached sky high in waiting for this child to finish her slide ride. It took eons and eons. But in the end to my agony, the child stopped on the final step and started crying.  If that was not enough, she started climbing down the slide. My heart broke. What was the reason that made the child come down when she was agonizingly close to reaching what she desired? In life, similar to the little girl many of us would have stood on the hinge of achieving something for the first time but we gave up.

If we retrospect the many moments when we came down like the little girl, the one common reason behind all such moments would be the ‘FEAR’. This fear drowns us in a sea of self-doubts, envelops us with uncertainties and finally poses disturbing questions – What will be the outcome? Will it be worth the effort? Do I really have the ability? Will the world laugh at my mistakes? What will be the repercussions if I fail? Fear does strange things to human beings. But one has to remember that there is a threshold for everything in life and one cannot remain a slave to this fear lifelong. The first and the only thing which one has to do to break the shackles of fear is ‘ACT’.  Instead of overloading one’s mind with overflowing fears, one should step into the line of fire and act according to the situation, in short take the bull by its horns! Success or failure is anyway going to be a part and parcel of the deal. So worrying about the outcome even before trying is a cardinal sin.

Trying something gives us an invaluable experience and the fuel to move on. We may succeed or fail in the attempt, but at least there is learning when we try and this learning would help us approach things for the better. These actions we undertake set forth a thought process; the thought process gives us a valuable experience which in turn is useful when we embark on a new exploration. As a bonus of the act-think-experience cycle, one overcomes the fear of approaching new things slowly even without one’s knowledge and along the way would surely realize and device one’s own method towards exploring the unexplored.

When we draw parallels with Toastmasters about trying something new, every speech, every role and every leadership activity which one takes up is a new path towards reaching the same destination of becoming a fearless public speaker. In fact the joy doubles when one dons the same role for the second time and still manages to do it differently from his/her first attempt. Mistakes, failures and other shortcomings are going to happen along the journey. For example, one of your speeches may have hit the bull’s eye with the audience and another might not have reached the level as you expected. You may feel low on confidence to take up the next speech but viewing every speech as an attempt towards experimenting and expanding your boundaries would help you overcome such phases and make you understand your strengths and weakness. After all one learns with every speech given, every role enacted and every leadership activity led from the front.

Last but not the least; be eager, energetic and enthusiastic in each and every new activity you take up. Fears and failures are not to fret upon. March ahead and remember that behind every fear there is success waiting to hug you. Over come the fear and hug the success. I know the little girl who I saw in the park will one day break those shackles of fear and will hug success.

Keep Exploring! Keep Enjoying! Keep Evolving!

(This article was published in District 82 Toastmasters Annual Magazine – Ovations 2010.. This was one of the my very early articles)