Monday, April 23, 2007

Greatest entertainer of our generation


Bless BBC and their old world cricket commentary team back in 1994, and their hourly commentary updates with Jonathan Agnew. At a time when watching anything but an India match was a rarity, we were kept updated and had extended commentary sessions of test matches and county championships from far away. I recall that late April night when they excitedly switched back to Antigua to report about a certain Brian Lara batting on 365, just about to break the single most important batting record. A pull shot, that went for four, later he had done exactly that, in what was just his third century. Considering that his first two were that famous 277 against Australia and 167 against England, this was not very surprising. He had arrived a long time ago, this was just stamping his authority.

Lara was one of the reasons why I became a compulsive test match cricket watcher. Mark Waugh's finesse, Warne's magic, wrists of Azhar and Laxman, patience of Atherton, fire of Donald, concentration of Dravid, swing and reverse of Waqar and Wasim also rank high up. But Lara and his single handed genius, focus and resolve has to take the cake. You just have to recall the series in which West Indies were all out for 51 in the first innings of the series against Australia and were ridiculed throughout. Lara took over after that, and two unforgettable test matches later had the much less talented West Indies side win the series 2-1.

Sure there were disappointments. His 5-0 test series loss in South Africa, frequent disciplinary actions, fickle ODI form, the never ending cycle of sacking and re-appointing as captain and the but natural loss of form. There always are. But, if ever the form-is-temporary-class-is-permanent cliche was personified, it was through Brian Charles Lara. What else could explain a horrid run of form going into Murali's territory and coming out with 650+ runs in a 3 match series. Widely regarded as the best single handed batting performance in a series.

Then he has to get all those records to statistically prove that he is a cut above the rest. England come to Antigua again and he gets 400. Scores 501 for Warwickshire. Destroys Peterson to get the maximum in an over. The maximum centuries. The maximum runs. Every record that's worth anything is against his name. Even for someone who doesn't watch cricket and looks at figures that define the game, choosing the best would be but a formality.

A year which sees first Warne and then Lara retire. What would happen to test cricket now?

Friday, April 13, 2007

BTP

B Tech Project: what we stand for, what separates us from them, what is the showcase of all that we possess and can deliver and a lot more. At least that was the idea. For me, and a whole lot of other people, it has been the hugest obstacle to the oh-so-near degree that we spent our 4 years here for. As always it all boils down to the very last moment where things have to be done. Only this time there are no tutorials to cog, no photocopied notes to cram and no guarantee of the time spent being in direct proportion to the result achieved. Unpredictability makes it so different.

Nevertheless the last few days have been a great experience, working like we have never ever worked before. Amidst all this gloom and apprehension small joys like speaker in a lab or the company of friends with similar fate at 4 am in the lab come as divine blessings.

Lab floor for bed, Giddu for pillow

I would be lying if I said that the joy of doing something new and not done before, at least in our department hasn't spurred me on. But enthusiasm doesn't always count for everything. Deva, my BTP soul mate, and I am finding that out the hard way right now. In fact both of us decided to stay back in the summers for one month and complete the project properly. We approached our guide, who happened to be the JEE chairman by the way, and told him so.

"Sir, we would like to stay back in the summers and do this properly", said I.
"Stay back? I think that is a ridiculous idea. Don't you think that is a ridiculous idea?", said he.

The only option that was left with me was to brand my own idea ridiculous. For others, like Rajeev, things are just the opposite. His guide asks him for his summer plans and joining date and casually says that he has enough time to complete it in May. We realise that we are not the worst affected. Giddu has to wait for 3 hours everyday to get an error message in his simulation, and then start all over again. At such inhumane hours like 3 in the morning. Giving up is not an option. Joshi broke the only sample he had prepared all this while and has had to prepare three more in the space of one week with the promise of 2 more in the recent future. The only thing that guide, or for that matter anyone says, is that we should have started early. Easy thing to say.

I fell into a burning ring of fire

Nevertheless we continue to play with fire. Literally.

I don't know what memories I'll take with me from here. But things like staying till dawn in a lab with a couple of friends for company, talking about everything from the futility of such existence to out of place feeling that grips us daily and the uneasy apprehension of the life ahead, chatting (the real life kind), singing, sometimes dancing to keep us awake, singing the sickest of Hindi songs in chorus, shouting at every passerby from our safe positions on the bike while going back at 5 am and singing at the top of our voices simultaneously will surely stand out for long. Taking pictures to remember these moments by too :)

For now the report is submitted. The work and fight for survival continues.

Friday, April 06, 2007

110 meter hurdles

Until late, poems meant but rhyming words;
Without the rhyme they seemed utter nonsense.
I would read through Birches or Mending Wall,
And wonder how they were poems at all?
The worst part of this all being that in
School this apparent anomaly was
Not even discussed. Infuriates me.
My sincere thanks- that wretched lit course,
For teaching me at least this much in time
That it always is not about the rhyme.
I wish now to be a Birch swinger too.