Monthly Archives: March 2011

Walker

To Walk or not to Walk?

now

A single droplet of sweat trickled down His brow before falling to the dry ground. As if to herald the fall, 30,000 cheers rang across the ground, and a freakish pipe-tune accompanied them.

He looked up and saw the maroon-shirted man from across 50 yards. A steely stare was affixed on the pacer’s bearded face as he wiped the ball across the seat of his maroon pants in a workmanlike fashion. A few seconds later, the Jamaican smiled in approval at the now dual-coloured ball.

He knew that the Jamaican wanted Him at any cost. It had long since ceased to be a trifling sporting matter between the two of them. It was now as personal as the mutual relationship between Ricky Ponting and the Indian public.

later

“WALKER!”, screamed the headline of the most circulated tabloid in Mumbai. “FAIR PLAY”, screamed the rival tabloid’s headline, in a font size slightly larger than it’s competitor’s. Grabbing eyeballs was crucial in their particular industry. Font size mattered. Almost as much as ‘Model of the Day’.

There were hundreds of copies of both papers in the 08.20 slow local from Andheri to Churchgate, and double that number of commuters read the story, whether it be by leaning over shoulders or by squeezing under forearms. Everyone was happy, everyone was proud.

Their God had walked. A beacon of fair play in these turbulent times of spot-fixing and Navjot Sidhu.

FTW.

now

He adjusted His helmet one last time and took guard. The discomfort was gradually increasing, spreading to other parts of his body.

“It would be a bouncer”, Ishwar Ghorpade told Him.

“You sure?”, He asked Ishwar silently.

Ishwar did not reply to that. Ishwar Ghorpade had the irritating habit of being an inner voice which spoke only when it felt like speaking.

Sometimes He wondered why the public called Him God. God, presumably, was a being which answered to no one and listened to no soul. But He regularly listened to Ishwar Ghorpade while batting. Ghorpade’s rather eccentric suggestion of an upper cut over backward point had resulted in one of His most famous shots back in 2003. Against Shoaib, no less.

I refuse to walk as I wanna bat forever. Waaaa.

later

Thomas Kilichundan walked into his queerly shaped office building, humming a happy tune about Sheila’s youth. He was particularly happy that day since his God had performed wonders again. Rather different from His usual exploits, but fair-play deserved as much credit as destructive hundreds, didn’t it? Thomas asked himself.

As soon as he nestled into his cushioned chair, his nemesis poked his head into the cubicle, in a manner not dissimilar to Dilbert’s boss.

“Saw the match dude?” Nemesis asked Thomas.

“Of course boss, fantastic stuff in the end. Our bowlers seem to be getting in form at the right time!”

“Abbe Ulloo, the Caribbeans were never gonna get 250+ even against an attack with Munaf Patel in it.. ”

“Yeah yeah.. But great gesture from God yesterday. Shows how different he is from the likes of Ponting, no?”

“LOL”

“What?”

“LOL”

“I heard that. Why are you LOLing though?”

“Because you are an ass. You think your God did that because he is a fair player?”

“Why else! Is he mad to walk like that after edging a ball?” Thomas asked Nemesis in a rather bemused manner.

Nemesis behaved strangely from then on. He looked around the cubicle rather furtively, and then looked up at the ceiling, presumably to see if someone was listening from there. When satisfied with his inspection, he leaned a bit too close to Thomas and replied in a noxious breath,

“Fix.”

“What?” Thomas hadn’t caught the world clearly while trying to block out the ciggy breath. “Vicks? I have Amrutanjan in the bag. Would that do?”

“Fix, beta, fix. FIX. Sab fixed hai.”

“What! The cricket? Are you saying he walked because..”

“Shhhh.. Not so loud. And yes, you are correct. There were crores of bets placed on him getting out in that exact over.”

“Rubbish”, Thomas was seething with fury, as many men seeth when mocked upon their religious beliefs, “He would never do such a thing. You can question the integrity of our entire political system and of the office filter coffee, but never of this man. He’s the last hope of a billion Indians.”

“And he bleeds blue, bla bla.. “, Nemesis mocked, “I know that you have fallen right into the trap of those marketing companies. This fellow is a mortal, just like you and me. A mortal who loves money. Have you never thought why he plays the IPL without fail every season, while begging off ODIs? And those insane advertisements. The man’s crazy about money. And I don’t blame him. I only laugh at fools like you.”

With that, Nemesis laughed to illustrate his point and bounded out of Thomas’ cubicle, mentioning an urgent need for a smoke.

The cubicle now had a doubting Thomas, wondering whether his God was indeed a mortal God.

now

The runup had begun. The crowd had fallen silent. It takes 4 seconds for the Jamaican to release the ball once he begins his run-up, His brain fed Him that fact immediately. The laptop-wielding coach had told Him that. And there was something else he had told Him. What was it?

Something about the slower ball.

Something that a finger in the Jamaican’s left hand did just before bowling one.

Think.

But He couldn’t. He was terribly distracted. The sweating had started again. Nope, this wasn’t going to work.

The Jamaican plonked his left foot firmly on the line which belongs to the umpire (Shastri, since forever), and released the ball with a loud grunt.

It bounced just short of what is considered a good length by knowledgeable people, and rared on it’s haunches, threatening to collide bang-on with the little man’s helmet.

He was in two minds as it was painful to focus. Distracted, He tried to paw the ball away but something that Ishwar Ghorpade whispered at that exact moment caused Him to pull back from the shot. “Phew, that was close”, He thought.

But in a raucous cacophony resembling that of a flock of maroon finches, every fielder and the Jamaican appealed loudly to the umpire. That man, fortunately, seemed undeterred by the ruckus and started gradually shaking his head.

But then.

The sweating started again.

It was unbearable. Painful. As irritating as the dreaded cold sweat in an exam hall.

And all this for a dead rubber?

……

He walked.

He walked the 22 yards as the umpires and fielders looked on, a bit bemused.

He walked in that inimitable rolling fashion, as thousands in the stadium and millions in their living rooms groaned loudly in anguish.

He walked faster and faster as the pavilion drew nearer. He had to get inside the dressing room.

A slow ovation had started in the stadium, (and in those living rooms), as commentators spewed forth adjectives to describe His noble deed.

But as the claps died down and He entered the cool comfort of His dressing room, He ran into the well-equipped washroom at a pace that the Jamaican would have been proud of.

“Never eat Butter Chicken before a match”, He thought, “Never.”

Remembrall

On the 18th day of the first month of the holy Tendulkarian year of 1998, a star was born. A young man from the by-lanes of Maharashtra blasted a boundary off the second* last ball of the match to give India an improbable victory over Pakistan and thus a trophy, which they rarely seemed to get those days.

Hrishikesh Kanitkar. Remember him?

Do not be ashamed if you do not. Because that is the premise of this post. The apparent stars who waltzed into our collective consciousness, and then faded out with un-nerving abruptness.

After that eventful day in January ’98, millions idolized Kanitkar. A lower-order batsman who could finally finish a chase! People went crazy over the kid overnight. Tattoos were tattooed, shirts were printed, faces were painted, babies were named…

Why speak of babies, even my spiritual friend Lord Sabnis changed his name to Hrisheekesh Sabnis, a burden which he still carries.

And what of Kanitkar now? He still plays cricket during the daytime, watches that Dhaka video in the evenings and cries himself to sleep. Poor soul.

Let us spend a minute in silence and then proceed to inspect more of such ‘real-deals’ which turned out to be damp squibs. For fun. A Top 8.

Kanitkar’s current status – Plays (and pretty OK) in domestic cricket. Shifted to Rajasthan from Maharashtra, presumably after wikiing Dhaka and stumbling on to this page.

(* Thanks for the correction, Ritwik Priya. There was one ball left when he scored the winning runs)

8. Jugal Hansraj

Just like Kanitkar batted his way into Indian male hearts, this boy Hansraj smiled his way into Indian female hearts.

How?

One fine day, he left his home and started walking around for a bit. And somewhere in his route was her house. And then he peeped in to see her doing her hair.

OK, I’m obviously talking about this –

With that one song, this dude became an overnight sensation. And that was it. His feminine fans waited years and years for him to turn on that magic once more, but nay, that never happened. The closest was when Hansraj Hans participated in a Jugalbandi somewhere, but no, just not the same.

Jugal’s current status – Produces flop movies.

7. Coke Vanilla

Wackao!! Remember this?

Vivek Oberoi stunned the entire nation with his strange war-cry of ‘Wackao’ as Coca-Cola launched a Vanilla variant, with the Oberoi dressed Elvis-style with psychedelic colours all around him.

Wackao!

Thirsty folks queued up to buy Vanilla Coke that fine Indian Summer, lured by the promise of the Vanilla flavour and Vivek Oberoi’s star status back then. Subsequently, they spent several unproductive minutes trying to understand whether there indeed was a vanilla flavour to the drink. This involved much shaking of the bottle, shaking of the head after drinking, and soon enough, confidence in the drink started shaking.

And yes, Vivek Oberoi himself missed making this top ten only by a thin margin.

Vanilla Coke’s current status – They have gone the usual route that most failed products do. Relaunched it in Canada last year.

6. Pager

For regular viewers of medical dramas, this might not really be relevant. Those fellows use pagers even now. But do you guys remember the hype this tiny device caused in the late 90s?

It was touted as the next big personal communication device, a step down from the brick mobile phones available those days. Yuppy youngsters queued up to get one, so that they could send short and crisp messages about the crispiness of the short snacks being served in the college canteen. Take a look at this funny, banned commercial

And then came SMS.

21st century’s premier communication device’s current status – Extensively used by doctors, because mobile phone coverage interferes with several medical devices. Also by police, coast guard etc as a backup system.

5. Kunchacko Boban

This one is specifically for Mallu readers. There was a time in the late 90s and early noughties when Mallu girls used to frequent Archies stores hoping to bump into Mr. Boban, in an event that would be reminiscent of the popular scene from his supermegatronicmonsterhit debut movie. And now in the new decade, sources tell me that Kunchacko makes his regular rounds of Archies stores and bumps into various ladies of varying ages, who all wonder whether he is wearing a wig or not.

To cut a long story short, the dude was supposed to be the next Mohanlal or Mammootty, when the aging superstars were both in their 40s. Well, Mammootty is in his late 50s now and has more superhit movies in a year than Kunchacko had in his entire career. On top of that, he even looks younger than Kunchacko.

Let us not speak about Mohanlal. Sensitive topic. Sob.

Kunchacko’s current status – Trying to relaunch his career for the 14th time. No verification regarding hair-weaving/wig etc.

4. Veerappan

Now this is not strictly fair, I know. The poor man is dead. But don’t you miss him like hell?

Does anyone have a moustache to rival his glorious piece, grown with such care in the jungles of Tamil Nadu-Andhra Pradesh? Take a minute off to think about that beauty, I implore you.

He had no advanced shampoo solutions, no conditioners and probably would have believed Dove with Micro Moisture Serum to be a non-vegetarian tribal poison (which it probably is, if ingested).

Overwhelmed by such hostile circumstances and despite being distracted by his day-jobs of smuggling sandal and bribing cops, the man grew his masterpiece of a moustache.

Do I not ooze kindness from my eyes?

I for one surely miss him and his mane in the front page of my newspaper.

Veerappan’s current status – Possibly preparing for a Mooch-Off contest in Heaven against Saddam Hussein.

3. Who invented Hotmail?

Was a question that popped up with predictable regularity in little quiz contests for little children back in the 90s. And the buzzers lit up with Usain Boltish urgency as every kid then knew Sabeer Bhatia.

How many of you have thought about him in the past one year? (OK, does not include followers of the Trinamool Congress who must have seen this article of him with Mamatadi)

Bhatia’s current status –┬áIn addition to his work for the Trinamool Congress, Bhatia is apparently trying to develop a city in India called Nanocity. I will choose to believe that a certain industrial house has nothing to do with this when I see no branding there.

2. Y! Messenger

Those were the days when the first thing one did upon logging on to the Interweb was to see whether any one of your 15 Y! Messenger buddies were online.

These days, one performs regular Spring Cleaning of Facebook, unfriending 50 people who were inexplicably friended in the first place. On a completely unrelated note, one should not go online when one is not sober.

Ah, the forgotten innocent days of the Yahoo Messenger!

The cute smileys, the private conferences, the lovely Beep and a little Bo Peep smiley…

John Smith's Y!

Interestingly, to connect two things in this list, the Yahoo Messenger was originally called Yahoo Pager when it was launched in the 90s. The product managers over there quickly realized the fate of the pager, but presumably did not see them falling prey to it eventually.

Y! Messenger’s current status – Still up and about, used substantially less by people enslaved n the instant gratification-filled world of Google.

1. Hero Pen

Before Chinese cheapo stuff flooded our market, there was a Chinese product which we all owned and loved. The Shanghai Hero Pen Company had produced a pen that wasn’t much of a hit in it’s home country, but strangely went on to become an iconic product in India in the 80s and 90s.

Back in school, a Hero pen was pretty much synonymous with ‘Ink Pen’. Reynolds and “Likhte likhte love ho jaaye” Rotomac were of course more useful while furiously scribbling in exam papers, but a few girls determined to maintain a beautiful hand used Hero pens even for the exams. I still remember Preethi Miss displaying one such woman’s answer paper to the entire class, not because she got 98/100, but because of the lovely ink-art that flowed from her Hero pen.

Hero pen’s current status – I haven’t seen one in the last 4 years.