Thursday, March 29, 2012

Superstition galore

When Sachin Tendulkar completed his 100th century, entire India supposedly heaved a sigh of relief and like any other ardent cricket fan, believed that they had a contribution in Sachin's excellent track record for a career spanning two decades. It is normal for sportsmen to have lucky charms and wear them or have some superstitions they believe will make them perform better. But, isn't it a little strange that cricket fans are so much in love with the game that they think their actions could affect how their team performs? Of course, India is a country where cricket seems to be the ray of hope in an otherwise not such a sport-backed country. But, even in America, I have heard from friends about the things they would do to make their teams win, be it the Super Bowl or NBA Championships. What amazes me though, is the fact that, mot people refer to these anecdotes from the past, feeling nostalgic about it. Why is it that as we grow up, we stop following these superstitions?

Is it the fact that we are too grown up now, and understand that wearing the same T-shirt for every game your team plays is not practical? I mean, I remember wearing the same blue colored T-shirt for every World Cup game India played in 1999. And it is not that India won all the games in which I had worn the same T-shirt. They did lose one game, yet I found a reason to defend why the loss was because of something else and not the T-shirt. Now, World Cup advertising campaigns also rely heavily on people being superstitious and trying to support their team in some little way. If anybody remembers, we used to have the Pepsi Blue ( and Clinic All Clear commercials, where you were supposed to drink Pepsi Blue  to get that India blue inside of you and were supposed to wash your hair with Clinic All Clear. And to add to that, they had the cheesy tagline "Dho Daala" (Rival team is washed away). Can you believe the shampoo was an anti-dandruff one, and it is just amazing how they could relate it to cricket. But, as embarrassed as I am to admit it, I did believe, using Clinic All Clear would make the Team India win!

From my personal experience, I know I have stuck to my chair in the same position, not moving an inch, so that all the wickets would stay intact. I would prohibit my father from saying anything in favor of the Indian team or making comments which indicated that the Indian team would win. Just because a few times, when he said India would win, they lost. So, he couldn't say anything until we had actually and truly won the match! Now, when I think of it- could I have been any more childish? But, that is the conviction with which I believed  we could make a difference to our team winning or losing. Even in times, when our team was not doing well at all and had no chance of winning whatsoever, or even losing with some dignity. 

And span the camera to World Cup 2011, when we actually had a shot at winning the title. I couldn't see all the matches, I did not wear blue for all the match days, and I definitely did not sit in one position for the whole of the match. I was getting up constantly to get some work done, make lunch, take a call or something else. What was wrong that I did not feel like doing my bit for my team? For one, since my very favorite player  of all time, Saurav Ganguly had retired from cricket, I had kind of detached myself from cricket in protest. Just look at the intensity of my faith in him; as though me not watching cricket was going to do any good at all. But, that was my way of showing solidarity for a man, who according to me had been treated unjustly, but who would never know I even existed.

That aside, today, when I have a better understanding of worldly affairs, I no longer, believe that my actions or beliefs can have any effect on the performance of any team. Is it because I have grown up and have become sensible or is it because I have lost that passion, that zeal required to blindly follow your team, no matter what? The way I look at it, when we are younger, we are oblivious to the real world. Life and its multiple dimensions are unfathomable by us, and we live in an illusion. But this illusion is what makes us believe, have faith and be passionate about what we believe in.

Once we grow up, and face the harsh realities of life, our faith is crushed, the passion dies off and we are transformed into realistic and dull robots. We are so caught up with so many more relevant issues, the pressures of daily life, where we have to divert our energy, that we tend to ignore these petty issues. Like a lot of people say, "I would rather have loved and lost, than to not have loved at all". I would rather put my faith in some team, than not have faith at all. I would rather believe so strongly in something, that I think my beliefs will change things, than not believe in miracles at all. I would rather have that zest for life, than follow a monotonous routine where work is all that matters. I would rather enjoy life, being silly and following superstitions, than be serious and pragmatic to the extent that I no longer know what it felt like to be a child! I remember how bad it hurt to have lost so badly in the 2003 World Cup, when we had had such a wonderful run up to the finals. But, what I can't remember is when the last time was that I felt so strongly about something that the disappointment still brings up a lump in my throat.

I am sure there are a lot of people who still follow their favorite sport and favorite player, with that unshakable belief, and hats off to them for keeping the child within them alive. I am just hoping I can get over the fact that I will no longer see my hero, Saurav Ganguly on the field and will have to find someone else I can follow with as much as dedication! I am hoping I can go back to being so innocent and naive, that I can find life's little pleasures, without worrying about its intricacies  :)

Think about it! What would you want to bring back from your childhood days of innocence?

Some videos that will make cricket-lovers nostalgic


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Finding Friends

"Ansh, you are going to be four, what should we get you for your birthday? Do you want a car, or a ball, or our favorite: story books?"

"Papa, I have all of these things, I want something different. Why don't you get me a little puppy?"

"Ansh, you know, it is very difficult to take care of a puppy. You have to take the puppy for a walk, feed him, bathe him...Who will do all this?"

"But, you do all these things for me, and I am always well-fed, clean and happy. It does not seem to be that difficult!" said Ansh gleefully. "You have tried it on me, now I am sure, you will be very good with the puppy."

"Haha! Are you comparing yourself to a puppy?"

"Yes, how is it different? Like me, it needs food, loves to play, enjoys when people cuddle it and just wants to make lots of friends."

My brother, Ansh's father, started getting worried now. Ansh was about to get his way with his witty reasons, and a way had to be found to convince Ansh, with as much astuteness as possible. Ansh had grown up with books around, listening to stories of Birbal and Tenali Raman from his grandfather. It was then, no surprise that his mind had developed to be as quick-witted as Birbal.

Befuddled to find an appropriate reply, that would keep Ansh's demands at bay, his father said: "But, you see Ansh, you can talk and tell us what is wrong, you can tell us when you are hungry, when you want to play, when you want to sleep. With the puppy, how will you know what it wants? And without knowing, the poor puppy will be sad with us". Even while giving this explanation, my brother knew it was a very weak explanation, and he was just hoping that Ansh's silence meant that he agreed to what had been said.

Ansh came close to his father, and jumped up in his lap. As soon as Ansh positioned himself well enough, he said, "But, father, it was you who said, I could not speak when I was a little baby. You still could take good care of me, and always knew what I wanted. It will be same with the puppy, you and I will always know".

There went my brother's little excuse, and he knew he had run out of good reasons. He had nothing else but to say, "When I come back from work, we will talk with everyone else and then decide".

Hearing this, Ansh hugged his father and ran away in excitement, muttering something about thinking of names for the puppy. Ansh spent the rest of the day, thinking about things he would do, when the puppy would come home. He could play ball with the pup, he could run around the garden with it, he could feed it whatever he liked, and sometimes things that he didn't like too; he could listen to his grandfather's stories with the little puppy in his lap. There were so many things he wanted to do, he couldn't wait for the puppy to come home.

When his father came home, Ansh went rushing to him, held his hand and said "Let's talk! Everyone is ready".

Now, all this while Ansh's grandfather had been quietly listening to their conversation, and Ansh's demand for a puppy. He could understand why it was difficult to get a pet. Most of the day, there wasn't anybody at home. And taking care of the dog, would become impossible, leave aside, spending time with it. But, it was equally true that being around animals, would make Ansh more compassionate, understanding and responsible. So, a way had to be found to keep Ansh happy, at the same time, not create a burden.

"Ansh, come here son. I have something for you", said Ansh's grandfather. 
"How would you like, if you could have more than one dog as your pet, maybe even a cat?"

There were two distinct gasps in the room; one of horror from Ansh's father and one of disbelief from Ansh. 
"Father, what are you saying? It is going to be tough taking care of one dog, how can you think of more than one?"
"Oh Dadu, you are my favorite! When can I get my pets?"

Ansh's grandfather picked up Ansh, while hinting to his son not to worry. 

"It is your birthday tomorrow, so we will get up early and take you to a nice place; you can have your pets there."

Next morning, Ansh was up early with excitement. His family was waiting for him to wake up so that he could cut his cake. He loved anything that had chocolate in it, and his mother was sure Ansh would love the chocolate cake. When Ansh woke up, he cut the cake and tried to eat a lot of it in one bite, making a mess of his clothes and face. His family broke into laughter, and his mother picked him up to give him a bath.

As soon as Ansh was dressed up, he came running to his grandfather and tugged at his shirt to go out. Ansh, his father and grandfather started for this place, where he would get his birthday gift. Ansh kept asking questions as to how long it would take, what place was it. Once they reached there, Ansh could hear the barks, howls and meows of lots of dogs and cats. Listening to all the noises, Ansh asked, "How will I know which one to pick?".

Before anyone could answer, Ansh ran off trying to take a look at all the animals. There were cats, dogs, a donkey, some cows and a goat. It was an animal shelter, where animals could be adopted. Ansh's grandfather showed him how to fondle a dog, using the stroke of two fingers to massage the dog on its forehead. Ansh tried this on all the cats and dogs, and very soon had won their hearts. When Ansh had worn off his excitement, he came back to his grandfather, and said he couldn't decide which puppy to take home with him.

Ansh's grandfather, set him in his lap, and asked him why he wanted a pet. Pat came the reply, "So that I can have a friend to play with".

"So wouldn't it be nice if you could play with lots of friends, rather than just one or two?".
"Yes, yes....can we take home all of them?", excitedly blurted Ansh.

With a guffaw, Ansh's grandfather responded, "Our home would be too small for all of them, but their home would be large enough for you to come and visit them".

"See, if you just picked up one puppy, the others would feel sad, that their friend is going away. But, if you would play with them daily, they would have one more friend. Adding a friend is always more fun than loosing a friend."

Ansh pondered on the proposal and said, "I like the idea of having so many friends, but there is one problem".

"And what is that?"

"Dadu, I had thought of only one name, now you will have to help me find good names for all my friends".

Both Ansh's father and grandfather smiled at this and agreed to help him with finding names for all his new-found friends.

Ansh's grandfather spoke to the shelter authorities about helping out with the homeless animals, and they were thrilled to hear about this generous gesture. The shelter manager humbly mentioned, "We understand that a lot of the times, it isn't possible for people to provide a home for these animals, but even their time and effort makes a difference in the lives of these lovable animals".

To which, Ansh's grandfather replied, "Don't worry, it won't be too long, before we will be back here to adopt a dog. Our Ansh is too smart to be satisfied with this adjustment. He will see through it soon, and once he is old enough to take care of a pet, we would be more than willing to get him his own puppy. Until then, more the number of animals he can share his love with, more the joy on both sides."

Note: The above is a work of fiction and was written as part of a group blogging activity. The goal was to write a piece of fiction, based on the following prompts: a four year old kid, a food item, a finger, and a family member. 

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