- Cricket is a huge obsession in India.
- Movies are an equal craze in this country.
- India has played 646 ODI matches in 23 years. That would make around 30 ODIs per year.
- Indian cinema makes about 1200 movies a year, Bollywood alone accounting for 200.
- Cricketers and cricket establishment make tons of money, with zero professionalism.
- Movie stars and producers earn billions making pseudo-emotional NRI Indianism garbage.
- Half of the major brand ambassadors are cricketers.
- The rest are film stars.
- Our cricket is rarely world-class.
- Our movies in general are nothing to write home about.
- For all you time conscious people, a person watching all the India ODIs in one year spends 30*7=210 hours on cricket.
- An average man in India watches at least one movie a week (either in cinema halls or television), which comes to 52*3=156 hours a year.
- India had won the 1983 World Cup. There were a few other achievements like reaching finals of 2003 World Cup, beating Australia in a test series in Australia. Apart from that, our performance has been consistently inconsistent.
- Indian movies have been nominated only 3 times in best films category in the history of Oscars, not once winning. I will be surprised if the statistics differs at other international awards.
- One out of every three persons I talk to wants cricket to be banned in India, as if banning cricket for 10 years would make India the world beaters by 2017.
- I am yet to meet a person who wants movies to be banned in India.
Why the difference? :)
I am not too much of a sports person, but I have had my decent share of association with sports. I am quite a talent when it comes to domestic cricket (playing in front of homes) I used to play shuttle badminton and carrom as a child. I am crazy about playing table tennis. And hey, I did not count watching the girls of my class play throw ball during my high school days ;)
So, why are people basically interested in sports and games? The easiest explanation I can think of is that games pose tremendous physical and mental challenges, overcoming which gives people a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Now, some of the games are played between two people - like carrom, table tennis or boxing. And some are between two groups of people - like soccer, basketball, cricket. In some games, both the parties play simultaneously and try to outsmart or outpower each other, while some are asynchronous. You can even count computer games, as these ones are played against virtual opponents. But, the biggest reason why games attract people is the infinite possibilities they offer. The way a carrom game goes on starts with the way it opens up and how other players respond, so no two games are alike. A cricket match between two teams is different from all other matches played before because of so many other parameters like pitch, weather, tactics - and not to forget the influence of bookies!
You might think why I am writing on sports and games, all of a sudden. Its because, I narrowly escaped going to a bowling alley last week! Now, before you start branding me as thrash king (or trash king, whatever!) let me clarify. I have played bowling more than a couple of times before. I dont thrash a game just because I dont play it. Though I feel that golf is boring (I have never played it, so I could be prejudiced and totally wrong) I think every golf game is not the same, because there are so many parameters like the shape of the course, the club you are using, wind etc. etc. I feel that rugby is no better than WWF, but I can understand that there is a challenge in fighting so many people and reaching the other side, whatever. So, even though I dont like those games, I am not stunned when others love those games. But, this bowling? I just cant understand what makes people like it!
This amazing game called bowling has 10 pins placed in the form of a triangle. And you have got a huge ball (no pun intended!) to knock those pins down. So, here the pins are placed in exactly the same way and there is "nothing" else that can change a game. Yes, I know the pain in your fingers is the only parameter. And if you have a bad opening, then you need to think a bit how to finish the remaining pins. But, if you master the art of knocking down the pins in the first attempt itself, there is no challenge (I think anybody who has played enough can easily master that) A bit of wikipediaing tells me that there are various versions of this game, but again, this is a game where there are no other parameters that can alter a game, unless you screw it up.
And there are people who play it weekend after weekend - wearing those lousy shoes, listening to that loud music being played on giant televisions and giving hi-fis every time they are awarded a strike. A whole generation that thinks that this is a great way to hang out with buddies (its hang-out mind you, not spending quality time)
If there are any bowling freaks out there, please enlighten me why this game is so loved.
"Its raining", shouted a colleague as he entered the floor.
"No!", I wince as I am getting ready to catch the cab.
I remember that I dont even have my raincoat. With due respect to the Yash Chopra brigade, I somehow dont like going out in the rain. I love watching the rains, but I dont like getting drenched in the rains. I always prefer drizzles. By the time I go down, the rain has stopped. Thank God! The smell of the soil hits me, I love it. The weather has never been this cool from a very long time. I get a window seat in my cab. I open the window, the cool breeze hits my face. The breeze is so powerful, that I can barely think. I listen to the albums "Sky Kisses Earth" and "Water Down The Ganges". Nothing suits a rainy day better than sitar. May be Santoor, only in some cases.
The day that comprised of working on traceability matrix, hot weather in the afternoon, having lousy lunch while FM played "Shakalaka lakalaka boom boom" (forgive me if the number of 'lakalaka' is wrong! I heard the police are using this song on tough criminals while interrogations!) was driving me nuts. The rainy night had really brightened my mood. The roads with potholes, chaotic traffic, those old lorries with brown color - somehow did not evoke the usual strong reaction from me.
Bangalore badly needed a rain. Me too.
The law of averages had to catch up!
I was browsing through the TV channels inside the living room of a resort in Kerala. A foreigner walks into the room.
"Whats the score?", he asks. He is a tall man, with green eyes and a nose so sharp that would give Hrithik Roshan some serious complex! He is wearing an orange T-shirt with some sanskrit letters and strange sybolisms, and a rudrakshi maala that perfectly compliments his shirt.
"80 odd for 3", I remember the score I had seen before switching on some other channels. I switch back to the cricket channel.
"You like cricket?", he asks me.
"Yes, I love it. Like any other person in this country"
"India were out so early, must be disappointing"
"Not exactly, they did not play well this time, they did not deserve to go to the next level". Rahul Dravid would have been proud of my diplomatic answer!
"Where are you from?"
"I am working in Bangalore. I am basically from Mysore"
"Oh yeah? I had been to Bangalore last week. I know Mysore too, nice place". I was so glad I was talking to a person who was not interested in the real estate prices in Mysore.
"What do you do?"
"Software". He nods his head and I can see that very familiar 'I-guessed-so-by-the-stupid-look-on-you' expression on his face.
"Where are you from?"
"I am from Scotland basically". He takes very long pauses before speaking every phrase. I always thought that "umm", "hmm", "ahh", "well", "...." constituted fillers for thinking, but for him, it was spaces, tabs and new line characters! "Its a small country, just 6 million people, yeah. I am in India from the last 6 months. My girlfriend studies here in Kannur. Yeah, she is doing her Ayurvedic Panchakama". Panchakama?! Is this some hybrid curriculum introduced jointly by Shushrutha and Vatsyayana? No, for a moment I had forgotten that they dont pronounce 'r' very significantly. He just meant 'Panchakarma'!
"Scotland played in the last world cup right?"
"Yeah, but its not that popular over there. They like soccer more"
"Oh, then how come you are so interested in cricket?"
"I played a lot of games as a child. Soccer, tennis, badminton. And even cricket. I had a few English friends, thats how I started playing the game. Do you play?"
"I just play with friends. Nothing professionally. We usually play on streets. In front of our homes. We call it domestic cricket", I smile.
"I used to play club cricket. Nothing major though. My highest score was 89", he is slipping into nostalgic mode. "My biggest moment was when I had caught Gordon Greenidge. You know Greenidge? He used to play with Desmond Haynes. Yeah, I had caught him at point", he enacted the australian-way-of-catch.
"You fielded at point? You must have been a good fielder then", the expert analyst in me speaks.
"Yeah, I was athletic, I had a safe pair of hands too. I usually fielded at point, gully or cover. I was mainly a batsman, I could bowl some leg spin too"
My friend walks into the room and calls me. I get up.
"You are leaving?", the foreigner asks me.
"Yeah, we are going to the lake now. It was nice talking to you".
I come out and ten pairs of eyes stare at me.
"I think you had a big talk with your friend. Can we go to the lake now?"
"Yeah", I smile sheepishly.
Sometimes I just cannot resist talking to strangers!
Its late evening. I am inside a bus, half asleep. When did I get into it? Where am I traveling to? Are these questions so very important? No, I will search for those answers when I wake up fully. The bus stopped. The electronic display sign on the bus reads "Stop Requested". A fat old man wearing a green t-shirt carries his bag and gets down. I hate these fat people, they take so much time to even get down from the bus, I crib. I cannot sleep if the bus is not moving. I curse the old man for spoiling my sleep and wake up fully.
I look outside. All I can see is a broad, long road (may be 12 lanes) and no other traffic, I love it. Feels so peaceful. Why did the old man get down here? I dont see any bus stops here. The sky seems to have that bluish gray effect on the whole place. Is it the effect of the sky? Or the blue cooling paper on the window? The land on either side of the road looks barren and I dont see any other persons there.
The light is very dim inside the bus, I can hardly see any other passengers. The electronic display is now showing the date and its moving pretty fast. Is it really the date or there is some problem with the display? Who cares, these are anyway fancy stuffs. All I care is that I have got an isolated window seat and the air conditioning is cool, at a very optimal level. I see a tree outside for the very first time. An old man who is wearing a hat is playing a clarinet. A few minutes later, I see a huge crowd of foreigners. They look very European - may be Austrian or something.
The journey is quite comfortable, but at one moment I have the sudden urge to get down from the bus. I raise my hand to pull the string for stop request. I suddenly remember the old man who got down. I had almost overlooked the words "BOB" on his t-shirt! Bob. Bob Woolmer! I freeze. Things become very clear now. The old man near the tree was O P Nayyar. The crowd I saw may be the ones who got killed in the concentration camps or something. I hear the sound "ting" and the electronic display reads "Stop Requested". Did somebody else request for a stop? Or did I pull the string in panic?
I wake up, sweating profusely. Its 4.13 am. It takes me more than 60 seconds to realize that I am inside a tent in the jungle. I remember coming here for a trek this morning. Uff, I take a deep breath. I come out of the tent. The camp fire is off. I hear a lion roar!
(Before anyone starts psychoanalyzing me, let me make it very clear - I did not get this dream. Its just an idea I got when I was traveling by bus yesterday!)
P.S : As I finish writing this, I realize that there are at least 4 inspirations for this - one, that nice forwarded story called 'Appraisal'; two, the short film I saw called 'the void'; three, Ingmar Bergman movies, of course; four, a mythological story called 'Lavana' I had read last year!