Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Thanksgiving has never been the most joyous of occasions for me. Last year I sat at home, in Austin, reading up on network protocols and differential equations in order to tackle the multitude of exams that were to take place the following week. This year I’m sitting at home, in Austin, reading up on optics and probability to tackle the multitude of exams that will be taking place in the following week. A sad pattern, indeed. However, in a departure from last year’s celebration, this time a cheese pizza from 7/11 served as the main course. A pleasant change compared to the frozen tortillas and cheese that my friend and I made use of to appease our hunger this time last year.

The break hasn’t been all that bad though. I was invited over by a friend for dinner that easily made up for the 7/11 cuisine I had indulged in for lunch, I watched Alaipayuthey again only to wonder (again) if this would work in real life, and Texas beat A&M in its march towards the inevitable national championship. The roads are empty which definitely makes driving a lot more fun and the absence of college students means that I can walk through West Campus without the fear of being hit by beer bottles thrown from the roof-tops.

But clearly, the best thing about this break is the fact that the crazy dog that keeps barking at me has left town with its owner for Thanksgiving. Being able to walk out of the apartment without having to fear for my limbs, now that’s something to be thankful for.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

National Treasure

Originally published on Nazar.

I envy Sachin Tendulkar's team-mates; even more so, his fellow batsmen. If there is one thing I desire more than anything else, it is to be on the opposite end of the pitch when Sachin is batting. To see the front foot drives from up close, the measured flicks, the drilled sweeps, and the upper cuts over the slip cordon that would be considered audacious if played by anyone else. To listen to his take on the sport, for he cannot be wrong. To understand how he makes it look all so simple. Oh, the simplicity, isn't that the beauty of his game?

I remember the first cricket match I ever saw. It was the 1996 Cricket World Cup, and as fate would have it, the first cricketer I ever saw was Sachin Tendulkar. India was playing Kenya and this diminutive man, all of 22 years, scored 127 effortless runs. I fell in love with the game that day. Another vivid memory is watching him live at the stadium in Chennai as India took on Pakistan in 1997. Saeed Anwar, Pakistan's prolific opener, tried his best to quieten the crowd by scoring 194, but all that mattered to me and the numerous other Sachin fans that day was that our man took his wicket. We asked a lot from him, and he rarely let us down. And in the cases when he did, we were in unanimous agreement that it was the umpire's fault. How could the blind fool think that Sachin would knick a ball? Blasphemy.

I don't think it's possible to write an apt tribute to Sachin Tendulkar, for words surely can't be enough. He's been the darling of the Indian masses for years now, and that's saying a lot considering how fickle we cricket fans are. I used to learn in school, while growing up in Chennai, about unity in diversity - the need to bring the people of a diverse nation like India together. The solution was simple, really. Sachin Tendulkar only had to hit a straight drive for four and you would give a bear hug to the person next to you - screw his religion, caste, whatever. The cherubic genius let his bat do all the talking and in that, he taught us the most important lesson - shut up and let your actions speak for you.

He may be 36 now (yes, I refuse to accept that fact too) but he's still going strong. I hardly heard a word of what my English professor was saying about Pushkin a week ago, as I furiously refreshed Cricinfo every two seconds to see if Tendulkar could pull off another miracle. His 175 was in a losing effort, but the game was made richer just by his presence.

For twenty years now, he's worn the Indian colors with the greatest pride. For twenty years now, he's taken it up on himself to lead from the front. And even after twenty years of bearing the burden of his nation's hopes, he plays with the same childlike enthusiasm he displayed as a 16 year old prodigy.

That, to me, is his greatest achievement.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A Knock For The Ages

A nudge here,a nudge there
Would have gotten us nowhere
351 we needed to chase
And only 300 to face

He walked out with the marauder from Najafgarh
And played second fiddle
Singles and doubles would do just fine
While Sehwag was clearing the line

The crowd chanted his name
They wanted 17k, screw the game
A flick off the hips for run #7
God had taken a break from heaven

The wickets soon started to fall
A big target left to overhaul
He picked up the pace
To put the scowl back on Ponting's face

Nathan Hauritz came in and tossed a few
And that was his cue
To dance down the track
And give the ball a royal thwack

Up went the bat and the helmet
Ton #45, against him who would bet?
The master was turning back the clock
Not yet over was this knock

He swept the ball fine
No fielder could shout 'Mine!'
Victory was in sight
The game was ours, right?

In came McKay and bowled a slower one
Hauritz caught it, the genius was outdone
One by one, everyone fell
The clock had been turned back, you could tell

We fell 3 runs short
And the Aussies we couldn't thwart
It turned out to be the matter of one wicket
Of the guy who's the reason we love our Cricket.

Image Courtesy: Cricinfo