A reserved kid barely 7 years old, I struggled to make a place for myself in my peer group.
I did not have the courage to go out there and announce to the 'cool confident' people, that this is me.. I also want to play with you.
I was too reserved and gawky to do that.
Each day, I would think I'll join my neighbours the next day and each day would pass.
Looking outside the window every night, a jambul tree swayed and the air made shrill noises.
I looked outside each night and prayed for a day when I play the game that I loved the most, with 'them'.
But it just did not seem to happen.
WARNING : The pictures are copyrighted and are Akshay Kakkar's property.
You will be prosecuted for copying the images.
It was the beginning of May, 2012.
It had been really long since I went out for a vacation.
The weather wasn't encouraging in the least.
An idea popped in my mind which I made public.
Ranthambhore National Park.
My wifey's reaction : Are you crazy? Rajasthan in May?
My dad/mom said : Rajasthan in May would be 45 degrees.
I scratched my head in desperation. I knew tigers would be easy to spot in summer.
But an Indian summer came with its own maladies.
The day has come. History has once again been made.
He is the superman from India. The man of the century.
The date : 16th March, 2012.
The name : Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.
The record : A 100 international 100s.
Till yesterday, there were illiterates having an opinion on Sachin Tendulkar.
People were advising him on how his future should be handled.
Spare a thought gentlemen, he has spent 23 years in this profession and is by far the most unparalleled icon the world has ever produced.
Today, the ever so incorrigible Nasser Hussain, said he should be placed above Sir Don Bradman for there is no doubt that when it comes to longevity, consistency & brilliance, even the Don could not come close.
The country has been in a delirium since 5 pm today.
Festivals being celebrated, sweets distributed across the nation.
The same media houses , the same cricket illiterates who asked for his head till yesterday come up with nothing else on them but Sachin.
There are aartis being performed on the news channels. Bloody hypocrites.
Kapil Dev(please refer to my previous blog post), pops up on the TV today, sticks out his head & says, "Sachin is a legend, looking at him, I want him to play, to continue & maybe score 15 more."
What an irony!
But what I witnessed today, isn't something I would like to dampen with the pedestrian opinions of media houses.
I do not have a memory of Sachin Tendulkar when he played first in 1989.
I was too young to assimilate the genius of the man then.
The first I saw of him was 1993 world cup, where he made a couple of 50s.
I liked his name then. The sound of Ten-dul-kar felt nice.
Through the next 6 years, he became not just mine, but the country's obsession.
The 'desert storm' innings is a part of the folklore now.
15 years down the line, I am going to, like millions of others, tell my kid : "Hey look, you wanna know what dedication, hardwork & patriotism is? Watch this.. the desert storm...on youtube(provided google doesn't go bust by then)"
His ferocity for runs at 39 is something which people have at 23.
His popularity is such that Shah Rukh Khan would be embarrassed if he and Sachin ever shared the stage.
Despite all this, he chooses to be mum, polite & humble all the time.
Through the 23 years, people have taunted him, ridiculed and slighted him with terms like
'Endulkar', he has remained the same humble, mellow person.
Everytime he replied, but only with his bat.
Not once in his 23 years did I ever hear him using expletives or retorting angrily to the raucous media.
The endulkar was predicted by the media and cricket pundits in 1996.
Some of those people must be in their graves by now.
Sachin has continued 16 years after that and mind you, like a star.
People come up with all kinds of false statistics saying that whenever he scores a ton, India loses.
Out of his 49 ODI 100s till date, India has won 33, lost 14, drawn 1, no result 1.
The true measure of his following is illustrated by the below video.
This was shot at my workplace today.
Despite hectic work, people chose to stop, pause & come to watch their hero.
They came to a place where they would otherwise not go to.
We went to the drivers' retiring room in the multi-level-parking-lot. That's the only place a television is available.
The small room was filled to capacity.
People trickled in when Sachin reached 50 and stayed on exactly till he got out.
Even the 'helicopter baba' in the slog overs couldn't keep the crowd on. People left as soon as Sachin got out.
Check out the feverish adulation that this man got. Scroll to 2 mins & 59 seconds directly because this video isn't particularly a short one.
Please excuse the poor quality of the video and the bad angles. Shooting through the crowd was a challenge.
A 100 100s and look at his reaction in HD now.
Muted, satisfied and content. His trademark 'look-to-the-sky' also a part of it.
Don't miss the uncharacteristic tap on his helmet, showing something to the dressing room.
Check the video at 0:23 seconds for this.
He is almost saying, this milestone is for an Indian to achieve (tapping the helmet pointing to the Indian flag).
His interview after reaching the milesone.
It's true when they say that you don't realize a person's worth till he is long gone.
But this man isn't yet gone. He is amidst us.
We live the spectacle every time he comes on field.
We watch him in awe, we adore him, we can't get enough of him.
Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, you have achieved the unthinkable.
Live on. Rock on.
Today I ran into a young opinionated guy at my work, who accidentally drew me into a discussion on my hero.
Sachin Tendulkar, ladies and gentlemen, needs no introduction.
A simple google search for his name would yield 36 million results.
Roger Federer returns 35 million results.
So my friends not in the know of cricket would know what they are reading about.
Ok, to cut a long story short, there have been a lot of discussions in the last month about Sachin Tendulkar hanging up his boots.
The critics, some from the famed cricketing world and some lame(like the bubbly young stag I ran into at work today), are demanding his head on basis of non-performance.
I want to write an open letter to them and let the ghost to rest for the time being.
So here goes :
Dear Sachin detractor,
Taking into consideration, your frustrations & constant bickering on social platforms, on media, both TV & print, I want to discuss with you the logic of your superfluous arguments.
1. You want Sachin to leave because he hasn't performed in Australia.
May I remind you, most of you were wetting your panties when he played in Australia first.
He just had his first ODI tour after the World cup last year. In the previous year, he has played 0 ODIs, so the bad performance of the last 5 ODIs is isolated.
This isn't in line with your constant ranting about prolonged non-performance.
In his last outing in the world cup, he was the second highest scorer of the tournament, coming second only by 18 runs.
It's time you re-looked your allegations.
2. You think young talent in India is blocked of opportunity because Sachin is hanging on to his spot.
Well, let's get it straight, straight away.
He isn't blocking anyone's slot. Currently, there is no one who is able to topple him and take his place.
When he was 16, he came like a lightening and blazed his way into the team.
He played at #6 for India, his performances spoke for him & made it to the opening slot.
He had no godfathers like current dumb & non performing players like Ravindra Jadeja have in MS. Dhoni.
And trust me, I am completely in my senses & my heart isn't taking precedence over my brain when I say this :
Who in Indian cricket can replace SRT even with his current form?
And I am referring to youngsters.
You cannot give a chance to youngsters just because they are young. They also need to perform.
Jadeja, Raina, Rohit Sharma have been given umpteen chances, none of them have performed.
This way, I am beginning to fancy my chances of getting into the Indian team.
Come on, for God's sake.
If you give me 20 chances, I can at least do better than Rohit Sharma.
3. You need to groom a team for 2015, so get Sachin out
What nonsense? He has played international cricket for 23 years now. For God's sake can 20 odd year people stop advising him?
In just his last tournament he was the second highest run scorer in the world in ODI cricket.
And just 5 ODIs later, you say, he is old?
Mind you, if you need to groom a team, then take Gambhir, Sehwag, Zaheer, Irfaan, Yousouf & MSD out too.
They too might not be around till then.
What you would be left with is a bunch of sitting ducks who would go and get killed on the pitch.
Then people would say, there is no experience to guide them.
I am done with people like you.
If you have the stats to prove, call me, we'll discuss, else keep your pie-holes shut.
Now, coming to the so-called established greats who are calling for his head.
We'll start with this gentleman Kapil Dev.
He says, Sachin should have retired after the world cup.
My question to him is : Why the hell?
He was comfortable, his body was responding well, he felt like playing more, he was the second highest scorer in the world cup. Why should he have retired?
And look who's talking?
KD, I know you were one of the best 'in your era'.
You reached the landmark of 400 test wickets in 1992.
Since then, you huffed and puffed for 3 long painful years to reach this personal milestone.
You took 34 wickets in 3 years.
Harbhajan Singh took 31 in one series in 2001.
The whole team had to offer you crutches to cross the finish line.
Azharuddin had to instruct Kumble to bowl outside the leg stump in the final match so that you could take your 434th victim.
You were in the team as an all-rounder, forget a 100, you did not score a fifty in your last 105 matches.
You prolonged your non-performance for 3 years and now you have developed the balls to question another great who had offered his unflinching support to his country for 23 years.
Agreed, you were great, you were up there & now you are nowhere.
The need to grab eyeballs has gotten better of you. You are the Rakhi Sawant of cricket.
I feel bad desecrating you, but you asked for it.
Now, the next offender:
He has been whining since 4 years now about Sachin's form and every year he gets a slap on his face from Sachin's bat. I think it is blasphemous even to compare him with Sachin.
Have a look at his stats. It's a joke to even compare them
Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave BF SR 100 50 4s 6s Ct St
Tests 37 61 6 2043 218 37.14 5282 38.67 4 9 220 1 25 1
ODIs 74 70 10 1994 105 33.23 3101 64.30 1 15 99 10 23 0
He has scored 5 hundreds all his life, tests + ODIs.
Sachin scored 9 in 1998 alone.
Sachin has scored 99 hundreds in all.
Stack up his 8000 runs against Sachin Tendulkar's 33000 runs & you'll know why the dogs bark.
One last offender, this time from down under.
He too is of the Manjrekar league, has been whining for a long while now.
Again, I will spare myself the pain. Check out his stats :
Mat Inns NO Runs HS Ave BF SR 100 50 4s 6s Ct St
Tests 75 136 10 5345 196 42.42 14 26 15 105 0
ODIs 16 16 2 673 86 48.07 874 77.00 0 8 74 7 5 0
At best, he is an average Australian player, let alone international.
There is one thing common in the above people. They make a living by desecrating Sachin Tendulkar.
To me, Sachin Tendulkar is the man who captured the imagination of a nation worth a billion people.
He became the hero when there was poverty and lawlessness all around.
People needed a hero. He stood up.
He could bind India like nothing could.
The country came to a standstill every time he walked out to bat. They would turn off their TV sets once he got out.
He has been the one for 23 years.
In his twilight, he at least deserves a rational farewell.
He is not the one who will hang around just because he is making money.
He has had enough of it all his life.
He was the one who stood up and said, I will not play T20 for India, because it's a youngsters game and I don't fit in.
Be rest assured, he won't rob anyone of his place in the team.
At least stop being ungrateful bastards, and give him his due right to decide his retirement.
We are a selfish lot, and I am ashamed.
The end for him may not be far ahead, but a true human, a true sports person & a great role model deserves better from a selfish nation.
I had this status message on FB when he made his 50th test ton :
"I won't bow specially for this one, because I have been in that position since 1989".
All respect to you sir.
A Sachin Tendulkar fan.
Ok, so here's the deal. No crap.
What do you get out of the below two pictures?
If you find something common, mail me. I owe you 50 bucks for possessing common sense.
If not, then abuse me in the comments section(you will, by the time you finish reading this).
Did you ever try comparing the Homo sapien with Panthera Leo?
The commonalities could be interesting.
Men are just like lions. Women, lionesses.
1. Lions and lionesses are born similar.
Ditto men and women.
2. Lions build more muscular mass and heft. Lionesses are more gracious and beautiful.
Ditto men and women
3. Lions have ugly manes, lionesses look suave without body hair.
Ditto men and women(minus the metrosexual, chest shaving pseudo andro).
4. Lions hunt hard till they achieve success.
Success would mean skills of hunting and a companion. That’s the end for them.
Lionesses continue to do the good work, earning bread, doing the daily jobs while the lazy lions look around, sleep and gaze at trees.
The country has witnessed the brouhaha over Lokpal bill over the last few months.
Reaching a fever pitch, it finally ended yesterday with the civil society of India claiming victory.
But was it a victory? Yes and no.
What exactly is a daddy? The head of the family?
Father of a child?
Characteristically yes, but in reality, much more.
Father is a term, societally. Through the heart, a lot more.
A lot of us, including me, wondered, what the dad-to-be's role was during pregnancy and labor.
My best friend, Google, helped me a lot.
But still, the differing opinions of each single individual only added to the confusion.
Apart from the questions about what the father's role is to be, there are also a multitude of questions on what is good for the baby and what is not.
The questions, trust me, just tear you apart.
Because it's your baby and not somebody else's.
Unborn still, yet you feel like questioning the doctor, the medication, doing a lot of research over the internet, even though your doc is trustworthy.
Is the baby doing fine? Is the position right? Are so many scans ok for the baby?
I had most of these questions like any other doting, worried dad-to-be.
The bottomline was : We did not have prior knowledge. We were first time parents.
All we relied on, was reviews and learnings on the internet(the internet was quite helpful though :) )
Now, my wife, Tina, is a voracious internet reader. She googled a lot and came to know of an institue which had their Lamaze classes in Hyderabad, India.
We chose this particular one, Healthy Mother India.
You can find them here.
Lamaze classes are subtle exercises which both mom and dad can learn, they wont change things dramatically or exponentially, but can definitely help you weather the storm and make it appear like a manageable wind.
That night, we decided, let's give it a shot, we'll learn some exercises, even if nothing else helps.
So we took the leap, and what a life-changing leap it was.
Through the classes, we learnt that exercises were a small part of the course, any exercise cannot last 6 weeks with a session for 3 hours every week. We hadn't signed up for gymming.
It included counselling and the essence of what motherhood and fatherhood are like.
Tips on what to do and how most of the 'what-not-to-dos' are just myths.
Two weeks into it, we were now more clear in the mind, on what is a myth and what is hearsay.
We started questioning, not just doctors who take undue advantage of the ignorance of the people on the subject, but our own traditional unfound beliefs as well.
People always raised an eye-brow on why Tina continued to go to work even in her 8th and 9th month of pregnancy.
We were now confident of what we were doing.
This is very important, because as a parent, if you are not confident of what you are doing, then you will start believing whatever people around you say. Most of it, again would not be trustworthy.
Knowledge is the key, and there are multiple ways of getting it.
Internet, personal counselling, classes like the one we attended, all help.
Specially in India, there would be lot of people telling you what to eat and what not to eat, where to go and what not to do.
Advice is free like air!
But, right advice? not free... you gotta earn it.
Let me tell you, in the ninth month, Tina and I went to watch movies in normal multiplexes on weekends with good amount of crowd. We had dinner in restaurants.
Tina continued her office till the day just before delivery.
To be frank, the only 'to-do' thing is to be normal.
Apart from this, the one question which will haunt most 'aware' parents(to the ignorant and muharat fans, this won't matter, enjoy the bliss of your ignorance) is whether a normal delivery can be ensured.
This question was also stinging our minds.
Fortunately for us, our instructor Dr. Vijaya Krishnan, put a lot of sanity in the thought process.
We then questioned our OB/gynaec whom we had been consulting for a good long 6 months.
The hospital was super reputed, so was the gynaec.
For obvious reasons, I wouldn't name both of them, take this, they are considered to be really good and their C-section rates are close to 80%, I gave them a lot of benefit of doubt there.
But for that benefit of doubt, I think they would cross 80% conveniently.
Our OB would hardly recognize us among the scores of patients everyday.
Slowly but surely, the practices of the corporate hospital were also putting us off.
Every visit would entail a scan, new medicines, checkups and appointments for the next visit.
It was like a completely well thought out business strategy.
On the other hand, 3-4 weeks of Lamaze classes and counselling had a telling effect on our psyche, on how to deal with the problem on hand.
No longer, were we just audience, we were the players, the game was ours, we had to play.
We couldn't be allowed to just sit and watch, we had to take control.
That's when we decided, it was time to quit.
We quit the hospital we followed for months, we did not have any complaints against the doctor we visited, it was just the unfriendliness and the mechanization of the whole process which prompted us to cut off.
Now, actively, we pursued the midwifery model of delivery, prenatal checks which revolved more around asking the mother how she felt in the past few days and analyzing each single detail in case there were any troubles.
This was in stark contrast against the atmosphere of assembly line tests that we were used to.
Each session lasted half to an hour and it revolved only around one thing - the Mother.
The baby checks were minimal. Apart from the position and the heart rate check, as long as the mother was fine, we always concluded the baby was fine.
Now, isn't this how mother nature meant it to be?
Are any of the mammals around us subjected to the kind of assembly line business oriented checks prenatally?
All through this, I was a part, not just a spectator.
I was with her in the room always, not just a driver who drove her to the clinic.
Clinic is the wrong word, its a natural birthing center.
Through the thick and thin, like they say, in illness and health, I was with her, every checkup, every visit... noting every detail of the supplements she needed, every food which would help her.
I asked her, is there something else I could do?
She said, is there something else I could ask for? This is all.
Those are the kind of words which made my day everyday!
The day was nearing... we waited with bated breath.
She broke her bag of waters on the morning of 3rd August.
Did we panic? Yes.
Did the education help us? A big yes, inspite of the panic, we knew what to do.
Note the color and the texture and call Vijaya :)
That's what we did, the support was tremendous, 6 in the morning, she was on the phone asking Tina the details she needed.
We went for an intermediary check that afternoon to the birthing center.
All was well, but it could happen anytime, with this result we drove back home.
That night the contractions started, I panicked again... but that's the thing.
You would anyway panic, because you are human and it concerns you... but few minutes into it, sanity prevailed.
I got a diary out, started timing the contractions.
It was 930 PM on the 3rd of August.
They progressed well, started occurring more frequently and for longer durations.
We called Vijaya again, she just asked us to keep timing them and informing her about it every few hours.
I was thankful for that kind of support in the midnight.
It was about 230 AM on 4th August, when I thought that writing the timings of the contractions needed some innovation.
I googled a bit and found the contraction timer.
For all you people reading this, you can find it here.
It's an easy to use tool. All you have to do is press a Start/Stop button and it gives you the exact timings to milliseconds and also tells you the time between contractions. :)
Wow, some good innovation!
Next morning, 4th of August at about 5 AM, Vijaya called us to the birthing center.
Armed with our delivery bag, we set out, the roads were empty... drive was smooth.
All through the drive I just remembered one thing I learnt, "Babies don't fly out"
Even if there was traffic, they would give you a cool 3-4 hours time so that you reach your care provider.
So all you dads worried about the travel time to the care provider, relax. It happens only in movies!
And if its a bluemoon and it happens with you in the car, then whoa.. you are a movie star!
The contractions kept getting stronger, by now, I was moving like a trained mid...maybe husband :D
Just stayed with her, held her, wherever she needed help, helped her with various positions.
Vijaya and Marianne, the two docs who helped us through the whole thing stood there like pillars who gave strength to the whole structure to stand.
They kept analyzing how and when what was happening, the heartrate of the baby every 15 mins.
They told us positions we hadn't heard about in the classes too.
It was on the job learning. I held Tina right through it.
It was a long long labor. But with it I saw the beauty of all of it.
Nothing is left to chance, nothing is left unplanned by the nature.
Each single contraction, each single pain produces hormones which release endorphins which act like pain killers and help you weather the process.
The birthing process is so beautifully crafted in a way that you cannot imagine, its a process that will teach you that no amount of science can replicate such a deeply intricate process.
Each step in itself is a marvel.
Step 1 releases a hormone that leads to Step 2, Step 2 releases another which leads to step 3.
You can only marvel at all this as a Dad, simply because your body is not capable of this.
The female body is.
I was astounded, a little scared to see the lengths to which Tina was able to pull it off, she grunted like a beast, possessed, to deliver her baby.
This is the nature's path breaking moment which comes in every mother's life, and I would plead to all the ladies, let it come the way it is meant to come.
Do not tamper, unless there is some complication you are going through.
After a long labor and pushing using multiple positions, the angel surfaced.
Surfaced at 1540 India time, 4th of August, 2011.
Tired after a lot of work, the baby looked a little worn out too :)
But a pat on her back and she screamed... screamed like there was no tomorrow.
And I, I just stood there standing.
I stood standing without a single word escaping my lips.
My eyes were not moist, they were wet.
I had just experienced the spectacle, the birth of my daughter.
Words failed me, I thanked God and nature for what they built into a small square foot of the mother's body.
I thanked God and nature for the intricate processes which they built, processes which are foolproof, processes which never had to go through a CmmI or an ISO rating.
I thanked Vijaya and Marianne for all their experience and support.
But yet, I just stood there standing.
What's a dad anyway?
Nothing much, but he can support. Support that his baby will call him by a name tomorrow : 'Papa'.
Love to my baby Advika, my wife Tina(or Shiva as she is officially known), to my parents and my care providers Vijaya and Marianne without whom it wouldn't have been possible.
I'll leave you with a few pictures of the cutie!
What's new with me?
I feel i have grown up.. because these days i look down on the younger generation :)
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