Friday, 26 December 2014

Doomsday revisited ~ but now it is for real !

Somewhere on the beach in a South Indian Metro

6.00 am: December 21, 2014: Exactly 2 years after the Doomsday of 2012 that never happened

A weary Sam, who had moved on from the Metro City back to his hometown, slowly picked up the metal piece from the wet sand. It seemed very familiar and instantly Sam started rubbing it off on his shirt sleeve and held it up against the morning sun. He could not be wrong, the insignia on the belt buckle was distinct, it was the Gott Mit Uns, the German military symbol brought back memories of good friend Matt. He was sure it belonged to Matt, and could not hold on to the emotions any further.

“Where are you man, what are doing in this city and on the beach so early in the morning…? Er… WHAT… Hold on… I am coming there in half hour”, Ronnie hung up the phone, same response from a startled Joe, who too promised to meet in almost the same time.

Over the next 30 minutes, Sam’s mind took him back in time reminiscing the months he had spent in the city, the fun times with Ronnie and Joe two years back, then his own career and life that had taken him through various ups and downs. Regret was not the thought on his mind, but then yes the creative thinker was now short of reasoning and felt a deep thaw in his heart. Time had to be rewound, wish the clock turned back.

Sam’s thoughts now moved back to Christmas 2013, almost exactly a year back, a reunion of the trio at the same roadside tea shop, where in their heydays Sam and Joe endlessly pulled Ronnie’s legs and regaled. But this time around it was different; the meeting with Matt was the highlight.

The Globetrotting young man in his early thirties was introduced as an acquaintance by Ronnie to the other two. Impeccably dressed, sharp features, rich British accent and a fine sense of humour, Matt (his short name) was at ease with the dirt and dust of the surroundings, he was not new to the place. He even understood the local language. For someone who could pass off as an undercover agent, Matt was actually an architecture graduate whose interest in medieval history and civilizations had taken him across Europe. 

He shared as much of his knowledge of the 17th Century as of the World War II period. Sam remembered asking him about the belt buckle “Are you a Nazi sympathizer?” “No”, replied Matt nonchalantly, “this is one of the rare pieces that I picked up during my recent visit to Bali in Indonesia from a street side hawker”. 

He told the trio that it was an original Nazi piece that must have landed in the South East Asian island through some travellers.
Matt was not very religious but a quite worshipper who explained Gott Mit Uns meant ‘God With Us’.

Matt was affluent and much affable, over the next three days he hit out well with Joe, Sam and Ronnie. They went around the southern town 60 km from the metro city known for its 9th century monolithic temples. Matt would click pictures endlessly and speak of the architectural marvel that place was. Soon they were discussing evolution from the monolithic days to the scientific era with its technological advancement and the internet revolution. Matt seemed lost in thought and would in bits and pieces keep mumbling “technological advancement is a myth” and rub off the sand on the shore temple carvings and keenly observe the beauty and make notes. “December 26th 2004 is just an example that humans can’t withstand nature’s fury, technological advancement is a myth and the world will be more clueless soon”, Matt sounded sad talking of the Tsunami, but there was more to come.

Joe asked Matt jokingly “are you predicting something like Nostradamus’ end of the World?” Ronnie turned away, Sam laughed loud, Matt just muttered “an end the World may never decipher” and his last statement was quite cryptic.

On Christmas eve Matt bid good bye to the friends and flew off to Bangkok, the pagodas and the Thai architecture attracted him much. While parting he promised the trio to meet again in the same city a day before Christmas next year.

7.00 am: Sipping tea on the beach Joe and Ronnie join Sam in unravelling the events over the last year, the mysterious disappearance of Matt and the cluelessness of the World in locating him. Ronnie held the Gott Mit Uns in his palm and spoke out loud “it is his, I have no doubt”. Joe, still in his tennis apparel, queried “how sure are you”? Sam had the same question in mind and Ronnie replied “The blunted beak of the Eagle has got the scratch when Matt fell while rock climbing last year, he showed me that”.

Next question all three came up with – Did Matt return here after leaving India last? The answer was No.

Ronnie turned towards the sea and said “last anyone heard from him was me, he called and wished on my birthday - March 6th, said he was flying to China in couple of days and will be in Netherlands a fortnight later”.

In fact that was the last anyone heard from him, Ronnie tried contacting Matt’s other friends who too knew nothing much.

In the days after Matt’s disappearance endless search for the slightest of clue of his whereabouts seemed to no avail, conspiracy theories floated even as billions of dollars were spent by multiple nations bearing no trace of any evidence of the big bird Matt was flying in.

For someone who seemed like a clairvoyant through his utterings Matt surely knew more than the World would ever know – How else could one explain ‘an end the World will never decipher’ and ‘Gott Mit Uns’?

As 2014 ends there are absolutely no answers to when the mystery will be solved, will this remain as the most mysterious of happenings ever? The disappearance of MH 370 continues to perplex the World and is a challenge the ultra modern technological know-how is puzzled of.

The 'God With Us' is silent.

Rest in Peace!
This is purely a work of fiction and Matt is just a figment of imagination.
Sam, Joe and Ronnie are fictitious characters inspired from real life friends. 

Friday, 3 October 2014

Why this Hockey Gold in the Asian Games cheers more than anything else!

I remember as a High School student watching the 1982 Asian Games on the community TV in our neighbourhood, it was the first sports extravaganza that I remember inspiring me and our entire generation. The loss in the Hockey final notwithstanding, I still got hooked to the stick sport.

Though the folklore of Dhyan Chand and Olympic Gold Medals were irresistible, another Hockey Gold at the Olympics was not what I was looking forward for India to win, it was an Asian Games Gold defeating Pakistan that mattered most now.

A year later everything changed, India won the Cricket World Cup and as they say, the rest is history. In the next 3 decades since then, Cricket swept away all other sports into... well, almost oblivion.

In secondary school in 1986, there was fond hope of revival of Indian Hockey at the Asian Games, after thrashing all in the Group stage India met its nemesis in Pakistan again, that day I cried but told myself never to cry again for Indian Hockey.

Three years later a certain Sachin Tendulkar came on the Cricket stage and over the next two and half decades ruled the sport and the hearts of Indians slowly but surely erasing the bad memories of Hockey.

A dozen years later India won the Asiad Gold, but that was also the year when Tendulkar was at his mesmerising best ‘causing nightmares’ to the best of opponent bowlers. The Hockey win that year was made not so memorable by the Indian Hockey Federation sacking the coach and a few stars of the Gold winning team, not very impressive or inspiring for the youngsters to take up the sport for glory.

Years passed and Indian Hockey fortunes fluctuated reaching the peaks and nadirs consistently.

While Cricket took precedence, I continued to follow Hockey silently hoping to see better days. The last two years had been really pathetic, almost all hope seemed lost.

The expectation of India winning the Gold in the Incheon Asian Games wasn’t too high. As the tournament progressed and having defeated the host in the Semi-Final all hope returned. Harrowing memories of loss to arch rival started playing in the mind as India trailed 0-1 in the 1st quarter of the Final. 

While the game entered the final Penalty phase, I sat in silence glued to the TV – praying! As the entire nation erupted at the heroic moment from goalkeeper Sreejesh, I shed a tear. Yes, this was different, it had to happen at the Asian Games, against Pakistan, in the Final and it did.

----- Dedicated to all my classmates and friends at Kendriya Vidyalaya, who went through similar emotions -------

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Telangana Survey - What they asked and what they didn't!

The much publicised and over hyped in media Telangana Survey also known as the Samagra Kutumba Survey evoked tremendous response according to the Chief Minister, who called it a 'Hit'. 

However the Questions in the Survey itself didn't seem to serve much purpose personally!  For a forward caste, private employed, middle class Tamilian this survey had no expectations though!

I have enlisted a few Questions that amused me and a few that really didn't:

Aadhar Card number - Yes | Ration Card - NO
~ Wasn't this exercise all about weeding out bogus ration cards in the first place?

Mobile Number - Yes | Fixed Land line number - NO. 
~ "House" hold survey right?

Water Connection & Can Number - Yes |  But not how frequently water is supplied in the locality? - NO
~  For the record: Once a week for 1 hour.

Electricity Bill number - Yes | But not how many hours electricity is supplied (or not supplied)? - NO 
~ For the record - presently 5 to 6 hours power cut every day.

Type of Asset: Air Conditioner? - Yes | Why not Automatic Washing Machine, Double Door Refrigerator, Geysers, LCD Televisions, Persian Carpets and lot more such luxury items?
~ Who decided this query?

Pet Dogs - Yes |  Why No cognizance of the dozen rabid stray dogs on the street lying right in front of the house? - They make life miserable!

Epic signing off:  I solemnly declare the above in the name of God / Self. No other options?

Forced Bandh: Buses, Autos, Taxis, Shops, Schools, Colleges, Offices, Banks, Diagnostic Centres, Petrol Bunks and even a few Hospitals - every thing was closed - Roads Deserted Wine Shops remain open whole day!
~ It's a topsy-tipsy survey !

Tail piece:

My wife was enlisted as 'Housewife' but Mother was not - Reason: There is only 1 Kitchen in your house. - Outrageous.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Of niceties in Sport and punishing law breakers!

Lahore October 16, 1987: It was almost twilight and West Indies were on the threshold of entering their fourth consecutive Semi Final place in World Cups. Pakistan required 2 runs from the last ball with Abdul Qadir on strike, the non striker Saleem Jaffar was backing up too far and should have been out ‘Mankaded’. 

But the Caribbean giant Courtney Walsh decided to play gentleman and stopped in his tracks to allow the Pakistan no. 11 back in his crease. The next ball Qadir got the runs for a famous victory. West Indies lost, but Walsh won a million hearts and the incident remains etched even after 26 years.

That was then. Cricket and the World have traversed millions of miles around the Sun and human life has evolved much around the principal of vengeance.

While cricket is now played with fierce competitive spirit with no team missing a chance to sledge and disturb the other team, the Englishmen, credited with inventing the game of Cricket and branding it a gentleman’s game, are no saints either and have a fair share of bringing disrepute to the tag. Not new to breaking the law, crying hoarse and playing victim is something the English cricketers are not new to either.

The recent incident involving English batsman Jos Buttler and Sri Lankan spinner Sachitra Senanayake is moot case in point.

After a whirlwind century in a losing cause Jos had come into this deciding fifth One Day International with a huge responsibility. What was irresponsible on his part was his constant ambling outside the crease at the non striker’s end while the bowler ran up to bowl. Having been warned a few times in the earlier match and twice by Senanayake, Jos was in for a rude shock when the bowler coolly ran him out Mankaded. That hastened the end of the English innings and a seemingly achievable target meant the Lankan side won the match and series.

While it would be fair for the home crowd to feel cheated and boo the opposition for the alleged un-sportive act of the Lankan captain upholding the appeal for Out, it also brings to fore the unfair  advantage sportsmen take by breaking the law. Yes, lawfully Buttler was out and he didn’t deserve a third warning.

For a strong believer in sportsmanship and fairplay, I may not have Mankaded a non striker while bowling, but as a stickler to rules I always believed, the one who breaks the rule deserves to be punished. 

On this day English Cricket had to be punished, and they were!


Summer Rains

...and I love the Petichor! Petrichor: the scent of rain on dry earth, or the scent of dust after rain. The Hyderabad summer has ...